Tune into your body’s needs with long stretches in between days of more intense exercise.
Fall marching season is now in full swing, so it’s a good time to assess what you’re doing to and with your body.
First, take stock. Are you always in pain? Do you constantly feel like your body is dragging? Are you getting enough rest—as in actual sleep as well as days in between intense physical activities?
To help get in tune with my body, I like to incorporate really long stretches on rest days. These days come so infrequently it seems, so being able to really get into the muscle is almost a luxury.
I suggest first taking a warm bath or hot shower and then putting on sweats to get ready.
Start by sitting in straddle. Your legs do not need to go out 180 degrees from your hips; they might be 90 degrees. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings, and your knees should be flat on the floor. Your feet should be flexed with toes pointed up.
You can also incorporate light weights. Sit up tall and use five-pound weights to do some easy repetitions of bicep curls.
Put on your favorite Spotify channel. A typical pop song is about four minutes, so find one with a good beat and rep it out slowly. You should be able to have a conversation and keep your feet flexed while you do the curls.
After you’re done with the weights, start to come forward in between your legs. You might rest your forearms on the floor or even your chest. Wherever you are, the most important thing is to keep your back straight and your feet flexed with your knees down. Take deep breaths for one to two minutes.
When you’re ready to release, slowly lift up your body and then use your hands to bring your legs together. Keeping your feet flexed, raise your arms by your ears, keep your shoulders down, and release over your legs again to reach toward your toes. You should feel a similar stretch in your hamstring, but you should also feel a stretch and release across your lower back. Take deep breaths here for one to two minutes. Roll up slowly.
Sitting up tall in a crossed-legged position, take your right hand to your left ear and your left fingertips to the floor. Pull your head to the right. Breathe deeply. Take at least four to 10 deep breaths. Allow your left shoulder to drop. Repeat on the other side.
Finally, take your hands to your knees, bending your elbows, as you circle your body to the right for several breaths. When you’re ready, switch to the other side. Allow the circles to speed up and then slow way down until the circling is barely imperceptible and you’re sitting up with a straight spine again. This exercise should feel really good in the lower back and like a total body release.
Taking time to assess what your body needs is crucial to prevent injury and continue functioning at your maximum potential.