Look, I love Arm Day and Leg Day as much as the next person, and I have no plans to take them away from you if that’s your jam. I’m just gonna ask you for a small favor, on behalf of your muscles — and for your own good.
Limited mobility is something I see very often in people who lift heavy. The real shame is that it doesn’t have to be such a challenge, and it doesn’t have to cost you your beloved barbell.
If you’re all about them weights (no judgment, I am too), you’re shortening your muscles every time you contract them to lift a weight. Unless you give that muscle some time to hang out in a lengthened position, it may start to permanently tighten up on you over time.
Muscles work in pairs, so when one muscle is contracting (shortening) its “buddy muscle” is lengthening. Tight muscles are overactive muscles, which means that their poor little buddy muscle is being yanked on all the time. This situation leads to poor mobility, muscular imbalances, horrible posture and bad joint movement — and all of that equals significantly increased risk of injury. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Help those poor little overstretched muscles a little and give their overactive buddies a little stretch with the following yoga poses. Your joints and spine will definitely be thanking you in long run!
6 Yoga Poses to Give Your Muscles Some TLC
Too many push-ups or bench presses? Give Reverse Plank a go. Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands on the floor with your wrists directly under your shoulders, fingers pointing toward your feet, and lean back slightly. Press into your hands and feet to lift your hips off the ground, while keeping your legs straight. If it feels okay to you, you can allow your head to drop back a little. You can also take Reverse Table Pose with your knees bent if straight legs is too much for you. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then lower down.
Releases your shoulders and chest.
Lunge overload? Try Saddle. Kneel on the floor with your toes untucked, knees as wide as your hips. Lower your hips down to rest between your heels and place your hands on the floor behind you with your fingers pointing toward your toes. Lower down onto your forearms and allow your low back to arch a bit. You can also take this pose one leg at a time, keeping the other leg extended along the mat, if both legs simultaneously is too much. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then sit back up slowly.
Stretches your hip flexors and quads.
Overdid the deadlifting? Work your Half-Pigeon. From hands and knees, bring your right knee forward toward your right wrist and place your right foot down directly in front of your right hip. Extend your left leg long behind you, making sure that it’s straight back from your left hip. Aim to keep your hip bones level and pointing straight ahead. Sit up tall then walk your arms forward until you can rest your forehead on your forearms, a yoga block or the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then release and repeat on the other side.
Keeps your hips healthy and happy by stretching your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors.
Overdosing on squats? Do Downward-Facing Dog. From your hands and knees, align your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck your toes under. Spread your fingers wide and press the floor away as you lift your hips up and back and you work toward straightening your legs. Pull your shoulders away from your ears and slide your shoulders blades down your back. Pull your bellybutton in toward your spine as you press your torso back toward your thighs. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then release down to your hands and knees.
Decompresses your spine and stretches the back of your legs.
Overindulged on the ab work? Check out Cobra. Lie on your belly with your toes untucked. Place your hands under your shoulders. Squeeze your elbows in toward your side ribs and press into the floor to lift your chest off the floor. Drop your shoulders down away from your ears and broaden across your collarbones. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then release down.
Stretches your abs and hip flexors.
Does your everything hurt? Meet your new best buddy Bridge. Lie on your back, knees bent with your feet flat on the floor close to your hips and hips-width distance apart. Press into your heels to lift your hips. Slowly begin to work your shoulders in toward your spine so that you can interlace your fingers. Press the pinky side of your hands into the group to help open your chest and lift higher. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then release your hands and lower back down.
Releases your neck, shoulders, spine and low back while stretching the entire front of your body.
Which yoga poses do you use to unwind after a heavy lifting day? —Alison