Move Your Body: The Benefits of Daily Movement

Daily movement of some kind is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. I have always thought that exercise was important, but the older I get the more I find this to be TRUE based on experience.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or attend an aerobics class every day, I’m talking movement. The human body is designed to move, not stay still for hours at a time.

I’m not sure where I heard this, but I love the analogy. “Just as running water does not freeze, moving muscle and joints will not either!”

It is so true! I work with a lot of seniors and I have seen firsthand how simple movement can improve the way one feels physically and emotionally. Once you start moving every day, you are going to notice a big difference! On the days you skip, you’ll feel the tension and tightness start to creep in again.

I even advise people who experience arthritis, to not baby that joint, but to gently keep it moving. Movement will help improve and keep range of motion. The less we move, the more limited we will be.

What are the benefits of daily movement and exercise?

  • Improves your mood
  • Combats chronic diseases
  • Helps you manage your weight.
  • Strengthens your heart and lungs
  • Can put the spark back into your sex life
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Can be — gasp — fun!
  • Maintain optimal weight
  • Gives you energy
  • Better memory
  • Has been found to lower the risk of health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s

Unlike the blood circulatory system, which is pumped by the heart, the lymphatic system relies on the contraction of muscles to drain the lymphatic wastes back into the bloodstream via lymph nodes.

Exercise will help you stay well by helping your lymphatic system out. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you do, all that matters is that you MOVE YOUR BODY and do it daily!

Studies show exercise to not only help us physically but it helps us maintain mental fitness as well. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn cause us to have what is commonly known as a “natural high” or a “runners high”.

Psychological Benefits of movement

  • Helps with depression

“Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins; powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good”

  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Lowers stress

Are all types of exercise good for everyone?

Absolutely not! You have to find what works for you and what makes you feel good.

Years ago, after being diagnosed with a particular autoimmune condition and finding that running and aerobics were too harsh on my body system; I had to find another way to move my body. After trying my first yoga class, I was hooked and have been doing it ever since. It has helped me immensely on my path back to health and vitality. For me, I had to find a more gentle approach to move my body.

The Webster Dictionary defines ‘remedy’ as: a medicine, application, or treatment that relieves or cures a disease. I consider exercise to be just that, a “remedy”.

There are three types of exercise the body needs; Cardiovascular, Strength Training (Muscular Strength & Endurance), and Flexibility Training (stretching).

Cardiovascular Exercise involves continuous, rhythmic movements of large-muscle groups, such as:

  • Rebounding
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Pickle ball (my new love)

Ideally, this needs to be done 3-5 days a week.

Strength Training, sometimes called weight training or resistance training decreases the risk of osteoporosis and maintains muscle mass and function. Alternate these exercises with your cardio workouts and make sure to get all muscle groups to keep your body balanced. 

Flexibility Training will help with the ability to move the joints through their full range of motion. Pain free, flexible joints are important to good health and lifestyle. Inactivity causes us to become stiff and inflexible. It is amazing how fast you can lose range of motion.

Stiffness leads to improper posture that can lead to muscle imbalance, which causes a lot of other problems. An example of a great flexibility program is yoga. 

I LOVE yoga!  Flexibility exercises can be done daily and should be done at least 2-3 days per week. If you stretch just once a week, you will never progress, but always feel like you are just catching up.

Listen to your body

Some days you may wake up and not feel like doing anything, let alone exercising. Maybe you feel achy, or you just don’t feel right. Those are the days you need to do something.  Maybe it will be just a little stretching, or a short walk, but move your body in some way.

The only time I can honestly say that I didn’t feel good after exercising was when I attended a vigorous yoga class at the onset of the flu. It was a little too much for my system, when I should have been resting. Other than that, I have ALWAYS felt great both physically and mentally after moving my body.

People of all ages and abilities, and sizes can exercise.

Some may feel that their health is too compromised to be able to do any kind of exercise. They may be thinking “I’m too fat”, “I’m not flexible enough”, “my body is too achy”, “I don’t have enough energy,” or “I have bad knees.” and on and on. I want you to know that we can all do something!  Even if you are in a wheelchair, and have a very limited ability to move, there are ways to adapt. Exercises can be modified and diluted to fit your needs at ANY AGE! My oldest student is almost 101 years old.

Adapt the exercise to fit your needs

I teach a class at the senior center in my community where I show them how to use a chair to support themselves while doing exercises and yoga poses. Despite their limitations, they can do amazing things. I have seen them improve dramatically both physically and mentally!

You can watch several of my live chair yoga classes on my YouTube station. Check them out HERE.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else 

Whatever you do, do not compare yourself to anyone else. We all have different bodies, different lifestyles, and different experiences. If you have limitations, it is easy to become frustrated, trust me I know. Do not get discouraged, accept where you are at and enjoy what you CAN do!

Each time you exercise you will feel different. One day you might have a lot of energy and on other days you may not. Adjust accordingly and do what feels good.

Choose a form of movement you enjoy!

  • Walking
  • AEROBICS
  • TREAD MILL
  • ROLLER BLADE
  • TAI CHI
  • SWIMMING
  • JOGGING
  • WATER AEROBICS
  • CYCLING
  • HIKING
  • KICK BOXING
  • MINI TRAMP (REBOUNDING)
  • TENNIS
  • YOGA
  • DANCING
  • POWER WALKING
  • RACQUETBALL
  • REBOUNDING
  • PICKLE BALL

Improve your health one healthy habit at a time!

Start today, CHOOSE to do something for yourself, no one can exercise for you. By exercising you will not only help yourself, but those you associate with and love will benefit, as you release stress, improve health and enjoy your life more fully!

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Adaptive Yoga: An Exercise Anyone Can Do

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “yoga”?  Perhaps you visualize a person folded in half or maybe you have an image of a lady with her leg wrapped around her neck like a scarf. Yoga can be very intimidating for some people, therefore they never try it. I am here to tell you that adaptive yoga is awesome and it’s an exercise that anyone can do.

You don’t have to be a flexible gumby, or a young healthy college student. You can adjust yoga to fit any body type and condition.What’s stopping you from practicing yoga?

Some of the reasons that keep people from trying yoga are:

  • joint problems
  • age
  • weight
  • chronic illness
  • inflexibility
  • and other physical limitations

These things do NOT need to stop you from benefiting from one of the best forms of exercise out there. Yoga is not only great for the physical body, but does wonders for your mental health as well. Yoga can change your life. It did mine.

Play Video

How yoga helps me

Almost 25 years ago, I was introduced to yoga. I had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and I did not feel well. Exercising was something I loved to do, but couldn’t anymore because it totally wiped me out. I became depressed, overwhelmed and stressed out. ( I was not in a good place). There was a community yoga class advertised and I enrolled.

Now this was back in the day when yoga was not a popular thing. There were no yoga studios in town. This class was held in the hall of a community high school, lockers and all. Yep, not the most aesthetic place to practice yoga, but it was good enough to get me hooked. Hooked for life!

I continued to study yoga, and shortly after began teaching. Sharing yoga is my passion! Even though I experience Lupus and a few other health conditions, yoga keeps me going. I seriously don’t know where I would be without it, probably still lying on the couch with fatigue and pain. You can get the full story in my book.

Yoga helps me manage stress, reduces the inflammation in my body, and keeps the stiffness at bay. I can tell when I miss a few days. My body craves it. I used to practice and teach power and flow yoga, but my now my body resonates with a more gentle type of yoga.

So what is so great about adaptive yoga?

Let a few of my senior yoga students tell you why they love yoga.

1-  Can slow the effects of stress and aging

It is pretty much a given that yoga is good for stress, right? Well here is some interesting research that shows how reducing stress by doing yoga can reduce the negative effects of aging.

Researchers measured biomarkers of cellular aging and stress before and after the 12-week yoga program and found that yoga slowed down markers of cellular aging and lowered measures of inflammation in the body.

2-  Increases flexibility

Most people think you have to BE flexible to practice yoga, but it’s actually a benefit that comes from doing yoga. Stretching the body is so healthy. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Stretching just makes you feel good!

3-  It’s non-competitive

When you practice yoga, it’s just you and your mat. There is no one else to impress or compare to. At least that is how it’s supposed to be. I encourage my students to listen to their body and not to compare themselves with anyone. Only you can know what’s good for your body and if you press further than that you won’t be productive.

4-  Can be done almost anywhere

Just roll out your mat and do your thing. You can practice yoga at home, in a studio, out in nature, on the beach, or in the airport waiting area. (My husband has been known to find a corner at the airport between flights where he can do a few poses to relieve sciatic pain between flights).

5-  Increases body tone and endurance

Yoga is a great way to tone your body and increase endurance. Most people are very surprised when they first practice yoga how much strength and endurance it does take. What a great way to build muscle. Depending on what type of yoga you are doing, yoga can even give you a great cardiovascular workout as well.

6-  Improves mood

Yoga is a natural way to increase serotonin and other mood enhancing hormones. The production and serotonin is believed to play a major role in happiness. I think we all could use a little more happiness. The breathing that you do in yoga is also beneficial for improving your mood. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I felt worse after practicing yoga.

7-  Can be adapted to fit almost any physical condition

This is what I love about adaptive yoga. It doesn’t really matter what you are experiencing in your body, there is usually a way to adapt a pose to make it suitable for you. Even if you are in a wheelchair, you can move and exercise those parts of your body that do move. If you have limitations, a chair can be used.

8-  Can be done at any age

I teach a weekly chair yoga class at the senior center in my community, and it’s amazing what those folks can do with the assistance of a chair. My oldest student is a 100 year old woman. What an inspiration she is to me.

 

Even children can benefit from yoga. Kids love yoga. So if you feel tied down because you have children at your feet all day, have them join you on the mat!

Find a yoga class that works for you

I encourage you to find a yoga class that suits you and get started! If you haven’t ever done yoga, find a beginners class. Keep in mind that there are a lot of types of yoga out there. Don’t get discouraged if the class you take isn’t your cup of tea. Keep looking until you find one that suits you.  Some like a more vigorous intense practice, and some enjoy a more restorative class. Mix it up and explore.

I also recommend trying different styles and teachers. Some will resonate with you and some won’t.

Some yoga resources

YOUTUBE Channel – Gentle Yoga with Jan

One of my passions is to share yoga and make it available to everyone, especially to those with limitations. I recently started a Youtube channel that focuses on a more gentle type of yoga. There are a few videos up and running right now.  These first videos focus on proper alignment and benefits of specific poses.

I will also be listing classes and tutorials for those of you who need a little more assistance using a chair.

So excited to get this up and running. I hope you will join me.

Adaptive Yoga with a Chair – DVD & Book

This is a DVD and Book that I have available on Amazon.

 

In the Adaptive Yoga book and DVD I teach you a modified sun salutation. One version of the salutations is totally done in the chair and the other version is a standing salutation using the assistance of a chair. What I love about the book, is that you can hang it from the chair so you can follow the illustrated steps and exercises.


So whether you have a healthy, toned body, or you have a few health issues, you CAN adapt yoga to fit YOU!

You may be interested in these posts:

OFFICE YOGA

BED YOGA

FOOT YOGA

I’m excited to connect with some of you on the yoga mat. I hope you’ll join me!

Please send me a note if you have any questions or comments!

Namaste

jan

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Stretches in Bed – Start Your Day the YOGA Way

Getting out of bed some mornings can be a little challenging I know. Perhaps your body is stiff and you just want a few more minutes to rest your aching bones. Well you go right ahead and stay there for just a few more minutes. Yep, stay there and do some morning stretches right in the comfort of your own bed.

I’m going to show you eight different exercises and stretches that will help alleviate some of that stiffness, and get your blood flowing. You’ll be able to pop out of bed energized and ready for your day.

Feel free to do the exercises in whatever order you choose, however, I do recommend starting with a full body stretch.

Play Video

Morning stretches in bed

Full body stretch

  • Kick off the covers and stretch your arms overhead. (You may need to scoot down in your bed to give you room). Reach down with your feet at the same time to feel your WHOLE body stretching. Take a few deep breaths

BENEFITS

  • Increases circulation and awareness of your body
  • Stretches your arms, back, neck, legs and feet.

Knees to chest

This pose is also referred as wind-relieving pose or Energy freeing Pose. Yep, wind-relieving.

Believe me, I’m a yoga instructor and it’s not a complete yoga class unless someone “relieves some wind”.  It doesn’t always happen but frequently. No biggie!  We got to let go of that gas somehow. So if you do relieve some WIND, embrace it and count it as a good thing, especially first thing in the morning. Ok. Now on a more serious note.

  • Bring one knee at a time towards your chest. Take your arms around your legs and give yourself a big hug. (This may be your first and only hug, so make it a good one)!
  • Rounding the spine, bring your forehead towards your knees.
  • Rock side to side to massage out the back.

BENEFITS

  • Stretches the body
  • Eases Tension in the lower back
  • Easy to do
  • Massage the abdominal organs
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Reduces bloating
  • Rebalances your energy
  • Reduce the hip fat
  • Relaxes the mind and body
  • The best pose to relieve gas

Spinal Twist

  • With your knees still drawn towards your chest, let both knees drop over to one side.
  • Take the arms straight out to the side, like the letter “T”.
  • Turn your head in the opposite direction of your knees.
  • Stay there for several deep breaths.
  • Repeat on the other side

BENEFITS

  • Stretches the IT band, glutes, lower back, abs, chest, shoulders and neck
  • Improves spinal mobility
  • Relieves compression at the lower back
  • Relaxes the body and quiets the mind
  • Relieves stress

Feet to sky, ankle circles

  • Lying on your back, lift your legs up so your feet are directly over your hips. Your knees can be bent.
  • Circle your ankles several times in one directions and then change directions.
  • Point and flex your feet a few times.

BENEFITS

  • Moves any stuck or stagnant fluids that have accumulated in the feet.
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Increases circulation and flexibility of ankles and feet
  • Soothing to the low back

Hip Circles

  • Lying on your back, bend both knees and place feet on the mattress.
  • Take one knee towards your chest and then pull your knee over to the opposite side. (It won’t go very far). You should feel a stretch in the outer side of the leg (IT band).
  • Now let the knee drop open away from the body. Move the knee back and forth a few times.
  • Starting with the knee towards the chest, allow the knee to drop out to the side and then slide your foot away from you, straightening the leg out.
  • Bring the knee up towards your chest, slightly rolling to that side, making a complete circle.
  • Do two circles on each side.

Sit ups

My dear friend who just turned 100 years old this month, shared with me that she does 10-15 sit ups every morning before getting out of bed. This amazing woman still lives alone, still cooks her own meals AND exercises every day. She does “Sit and Be Fit” from the television three times a week and always ends each session with the chair yoga sun salutations.  On the other days, she does chair yoga.

So if June can do a sit up at 100 years old, I think we can at least try. She said to me one day “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. She is so RIGHT! (More about June coming up).

If you haven’t done a sit up in a while, most likely it’s going to be a little difficult or maybe even impossible. NO WORRIES! You can work up to it.

  • If it’s been a while, start in a seated position.
  • Hold behind your legs for support and start to roll slowly down to a reclined position.
  • Then roll back up. (Hold behind the legs if you need to. If that is still too challenging, only roll down half way).
  • If that is too easy, let go of your legs and do full sit ups.
  • Wanting more of a challenge? Cross your arms over your chest and then do your sit ups.
  • Do 10-15 reps in thoughts of JUNE. More or less depending on your ability and desire.

BENEFITS

  • Obviously, improves core strength
  • Improve hip flexor strength
  • Increase flexibility
  • Help lose tummy fat
  • Tone the ab area
  • Improve posture

Wrist circles

  • Reach your arms up over your chest and simply make several circles with your wrists.
  • Change directions.
  • Do several reps.
  • Make a tight fist and then spread your fingers out as far as they’ll go. Open and closed several times.

BENEFITS

  • Improves circulation
  • Increases mobility
  • Reclined Pigeon Pose

Reclined Pigeon pose

This pose is also referred to as Eye of the Needle pose. It is a great alternative to an upright pigeon pose, which can be very stressful on knees and hips.

  • While on your back and with bent knees, take one foot and place it top of the other thigh. (Just above the knee).
  • Flex the foot that is on the leg.
  • That may be enough stretch for some. If not, gently press the knee away from you to increase the hip stretch.
  • If that is still not giving you the stretch you want: reach your hands behind the leg that is underneath, and pull your leg towards you. (This will increase the stretch in your gluteal muscles).
  • Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.

BENEFITS

Releases tension in the muscles of the lower back, hips and hamstrings.

Opens the hips and reduces the symptoms of sciatica.

Enhances blood flow in the lower back

***CONTRAINDICATIONS***

Those suffering from knee injuries or sacroiliac conditions should avoid practicing this pose. If you experience tingling, numbness or pain in your hips, legs or lower back, immediately stop.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes and do a few stretches in bed. Trust me, you’ll feel better if you do!

More resources for yoga and stretching

Office yoga

Exercise That Anyone Can Do

Tension Release For Neck & Shoulders

Chair Yoga DVD and Book

Jan Howell Yoga YouTube Station

Start your day the yoga way!

jan

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Office Yoga: 10 Poses to Prevent Stiffness & Fatigue While at Work

office yoga overhead stretch

Are you stuck at a desk or chair for long periods of time during the day? I’m going to show you some office yoga that you can do to prevent stiffness and improve your overall health.

If you are a visual learner and would enjoy a video tutorial, I have filmed the process and offer it for FREE on my youtube station.

Play Video

Moving your body throughout the day is VITAL for your health.

If you work in one position all day long, whether sitting, standing, or otherwise, it’s important to understand how gravity is negatively affecting your health when you are sedentary. You’ve all heard the phrase, “Sitting is the New Smoking,” well there is a lot to be said about that.

Statistics show the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

  • obesity
  • increased blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • excess body fat around the waist
  • abnormal cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome
  • cardiovascular disease and cancer

There are a few good references I want to refer you to regarding MOVEMENT.

Joan Vernikos. Here is a good youtube watch when you have some time. VERY INFORMATIVE!

Books:

Websites:

 

 


I know, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in your work. Before long, time has gone by (1-2 hours) and you are still sitting at your desk. This is NOT GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH AND WELBEING! However, there are some things you can do to help break up those sitting spells.

SIMPLY GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF THE CHAIR and do a little office yoga.

 

Here are 10 office yoga poses that you can easily do at the office/ or at home to keep you moving and feeling great.

1-   Overhead Reach & Stretch

  • Simply inhale and bring both hands out to the side and over your head.
  • Exhale, let your hands drop back down to your side.
  • Repeat 3-4 times

BENEFITS: Stretches the arms and shoulders. Leaves you feeling energized and grounded.

Extending your arms out to the side and over your head does more than stretch your body.

What do winning athletes do when they experience the thrill of victory? They throw their arms in the air in a “V” shape and raise their chins. Even people who are blind from birth instinctively use this posture when they win. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard, has studied the effects of posture on the mind.

 

It’s almost impossible to not to feel an improvement in mood by taking your hands over your head. It really does make you feel good. TRY IT!

2-      Tabletop/ Modified Downdog

  • Stand up and place hands of table or desk in front of you
  • Step back and bend knees a lot
  • Pull your hips back so your arms are straight and legs bent!
  • DO NOT STRAIGHTEN LEGS!

BENEFITS: Stretches your back, legs and neck. Opens your chest, massages abdominal muscles and increases circulation to head and makes you feel soooo good!

3-      Modified Plank Pose

  • From downdog, lower hips down and forward to a plank position.
  • Keep back straight or lower hips lower to create an arch in the back. (optional)
  • Move back into downdog.
  • Repeat as many times as you like.

BENEFITS: Stretches calf muscles, ankles and back

4-      Seated Forward Bend

  • From a seated position, fold forward sliding hands down the legs to the floor.
  • If you can’t reach the floor, hold onto your legs.
  • Drop your head completely
  • Take a few breaths there.
  • Inhale and roll back up to a seated position.
  • Repeat

BENEFITS: Massages pelvic organs, calms the nervous system, and increases blood flow to the brain, sinuses and face. Stretches the spine.

5-      Heel Lifts

  • In a seated position with both feet flat on the floor, simply lift heels off the floor.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

BENEFITS: Creates circulation to feet and legs.

 

6-      Foot flex & leg lifts

  • In a seated position, slide one foot on the floor out in front of you.
  • Flex that foot and lift leg up off the floor to hip height.
  • Lower foot back to down to the floor and then slide foot back towards you.
  • Repeat on the other leg.
  • Do 3-4 reps on each leg.

BENEFITS: Stretches calf and ankles. Activates and tones the quads.

7-      Seated side stretch

  • While sitting in the chair, INHALE and reach left arm out to the side and then overhead.
  • Continue reaching to the right until you achieve a wanted stretch on the side of your body.
  • Stay there for a few breaths and then when EXHALING, release the arm back down to your side.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Do several reps on each side

BENEFITS: Stretches the side body, arms and shoulder

8-      Neck release (hand shake myofascial release)

This is an AWESOME office yoga exercise to release the fascial tissue in the arm, neck and shoulder; which affects the range of motion in your neck and upper torso.

  • Without moving your body, turn your head to the left and notice your range of motion.
  • Take the left fingers with your right hand and SHAKE the fingers with your right hand vigorously for about 10-20 seconds!
  • Pull and shake the left thumb now. (Yep, I know you are thinking this is weird stuff) Just wait!!!
  • Now take your right hand up to your LEFT EAR and start rubbing the front of the rim of your ear. (Rub vigorously between fingers.
  • Continue rubbing around the whole rim of your ear ending with the earlobe.
  • Now take that earlobe and give it a good shake, pulling it away from your head. (STAY WITH ME)
  • Relax your hands in your lap and look to the LEFT again to check your range of motion.

Ta-dah! It’s like magic!!!!

Did you notice a difference?

Yep, crazy I know, but it WORKS!!!!

BENEFITS: Releases neck tension and improves neck mobility

9-      Knee curls & twist

  • While sitting in a chair, bring your RIGHT knee towards your chest and your forehead towards your knee. EXHALE.
  • Lower knee but keep a hold of the knee with the LEFT arm.
  • Take your right arm and open it out to the side and reach back behind you.
  • This will create a nice twist and stretch.
  • Repeat on the other side.

BENEFITS: Stretches spine. Stimulates internal organs in the mid-body.

10-   Stand and sit/ butt lifts

  • Start in a seated position, and then simply STAND UP AND SIT BACK DOWN.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

If you can’t stand up because you are in a meeting, in a car or don’t have the mobility, NO WORRIES!

You can still fire up those same muscles by doing it this way.

  • Press your feet into the floor and act as if you are going to stand up, but don’t.
  • Do 5-10 reps.

By doing this, you should feel your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads fire up as if you were really standing up.

Can you feel it?

This is another exercise that is great to do in the car or airplane when you have to sit for long periods of time and can’t get up.

You’ll be surprised how much energy it really takes to pretend to stand up. LOL.

BENEFITS: Activates muscles in the legs & glutes. Great for circulation.


There you have it!

No excuses for not moving your body while at work. Do some office yoga!

YOU GOT THIS!

Keep Moving & Smiling!

Join me for other yoga videos and tutorials on my YouTube station.

You may also be interested in these previous Yoga posts.

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Foot Myofascial Release: Use a Tennis Ball to Relieve and Prevent Pain

stretch your feet

Are you experiencing knee, foot, hip or back pain? The problem may be in your FEET! In this post I am going to show you how you can use a simple tennis ball to relieve tight, dehydrated connective tissue in your feet. This foot myofascial release exercise  will help PREVENT and RELIEVE bunions, plantar fasciitis, weak arches, and even knee, hip and back pain.

Our feet are the furthest body part from our brain and therefore, they often get neglected and forgotten about. Are you neglecting your feet?

  • We shove them in shoes all day.
  • They take on our whole body weight
  • We rarely touch and massage them
  • Our feet are often judged and criticized.
  • We seldom exercise or stretch our feet.

It’s time to start giving your feet some lovin!

I recently started up a new YOUTUBE channel called “Gentle Yoga with Jan”. The focus of the channel is to share a more gentle approach to yoga.  After all, not everyone has the stamina to do a “power yoga” practice or the flexibility to get into most traditional yoga poses.

I love yoga and have been teaching it now for almost 20 years. Having some health challenges of my own, I can relate to those with chronic pain, inflammation and fatigue. Yoga CAN be everyone and there ARE ways to modify the traditional poses for even those with limitations. Practicing yoga can be a life saver and I hope you won’t be afraid to give it a try!

Back to our FEET! I just completed filming a series of videos that focus on the FEET. In the first video I show how you can use a simple tennis ball to release tight, dehydrated fascia in the feet. This foot myofascial Release  exercise is simple, doesn’t take a lot of time, and all you need is a tennis ball.

What are the benefits of foot myofascial release work?

  • mobilizes toe joints
  • hydrates connective tissue
  • stimulates nerve endings
  • foot mobility and stability (which will help with balance)
  • overall sense of well-being
  • stimulates lymphatic system
  • improves circulation
  • relieves common foot pain, bunions, plantar fasciitis, weak arches, and even knee, hip and back pain
  • stimulates reflexology points in feet

How often should I do this?

Daily if you can. I recommend placing your tennis ball somewhere that you will see if frequently to help remind you to use it!

Are there any restrictions?

If you have a diagnosed injury or condition, take care to modify where needed. If you are currently under a doctor’s care, talk to them to make sure this is suitable for you.

Keep in mind that while doing myofascial release work, you may feel some mild or severe tenderness. Start off slow. You don’t need to feel pain for it to be effective!!!!! You are in charge of how much pressure you are applying. If you haven’t done this work before, you may be quite tender.

Drink plenty of water before and after working your feet!

Take off your shoes and socks and give this a whirl.

Play Video

Foot Myofascial Release Instructions

Grab a chair to hold on to. That way you won’t be wobbling around trying to keep your balance. This will also help take some pressure off your hips.

If you are unable to stand, you can do this seated as well.

Begin by placing the ball underneath one of your feet. Gently roll the ball around to get a feel of what your feet feel like.

Foot Myofascial Release Instructions

Grab a chair to hold on to. That way you won’t be wobbling around trying to keep your balance. This will also help take some pressure off your hips.

If you are unable to stand, you can do this seated as well.

Begin by placing the ball underneath one of your feet. Gently roll the ball around to get a feel of what your feet feel like.

Bring the ball to the center of your foot in zone 1 and start applying pressure on and off.
Then apply pressure and hold. Take a few deep breaths. (Remember this doesn’t have to be painful).

Move the ball to zone 2 just under the bottom joint of the BIG TOE.
Apply pressure on and off and hold. Take a few breaths.
Do this for each toe.  (You won’t be putting the ball under the toe itself, it’s the bottom joint).
Once you’ve done this for each toe, move the ball back to the big toe joint.

Apply pressure again, but now keep the pressure while gliding the ball outward toward the baby toe. Zone 3
(Try to roll underneath the bottom joint of each toe). Do this 3-4 times.

Now move the ball back to the big toe joint again for zone 4.
Starting at the big toe joint, apply pressure and roll towards the heel.
Bring it back to the next toe and roll towards the heel. Proceed in this same way for each toe.

 
Bring the ball just in front of the heel bone. (This place can be very tender for some).
Apply pressure on and off and then hold. Breathe.
Now while applying pressure, pivot the heel and roll the ball side to side.
Be gentle!

Move the ball to the place just under the upper pad of foot and to the left.
Apply pressure on and off and hold for a few breaths.

Move the ball over to the other side, just below the baby toe and under the pad of the upper foot.

Apply pressure on and off and hold for a few breaths.

No move the ball over to the middle of the upper foot.

Scrunch your toes over the ball as if you were trying to pick up the ball.

Release that and now flex your toes back. Repeat that sequence a few times.

Finish by rolling the ball of over your foot.

Now here is where you get to see the magic!

It is VERY important at this point to assess your body and take note to what has just occurred.

Body awareness

  • Stand in a neutral position with your arms hanging relaxed at your side.
  • Feel your body.
  • Does the left side of your body feel any different than the right?

Upper Body assessment

  • Fold forward with your arms hanging freely.
  • Relax
  • Notice if one arm is hanging lower than the other. (If so, is it the same side as the foot you just worked)?

If you noticed a difference, this shows how just working your feet can effect the rest of your body. This is because we are dealing with connective tissue here. The fascia (connective tissue) is connected to and effects all parts of our body. So by working the fascia in our feet; it also effected the knee, hip back and even shoulders. COOL STUFF HUGH?

NOW repeat the same sequence on the other foot

(Unless you want to be lopsided)

After completing the other side, retest. See if things have evened out.

Foot Myofascial Release

Get this Free printable download above by signing up for the Gentle Yoga with Jan email list.

Want to learn some exercises you can do right in the comfort of your own bed? Check it out HERE.

 

Foot Myofascial Release

Enjoy!

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The Benefits Of Using An Eye Pillow

Yep, simple as that! Simple, but challenging. Challenging because most of us think that just sitting and doing NOTHING is a waste of time and non-productive. When it is actually the best thing we can do.  Isn’t it funny that the things that could help us the most we dismiss because it seems too easy. Many of us have these inner beliefs that things have to be difficult, cost a lot of money, or take a lot of time for them to be effective. Well, taking a few minutes to cover your eyes with a soothing eye pillow is easy. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and only takes a few minutes.

 
Eye Pillow
An eye pillow is just a little fabric pouch filled with flax seeds, rice or buckwheat that is applied over the forehead and on top of the eyes.

I will admit that sitting or lying still for 10-20 minutes thinking about nothing can be challenging. I remember years ago when I attended my first yoga class and the teacher had us get on the floor and lay down in “corpse pose” close our eyes, and just do nothing. My mind went crazy. It took me some time to be able to calm the inner chatter and relax.

But now, in my yoga practice when I start to wind down, my body and nervous system gets so excited. It knows it gets to just check out and chill in shavasana for 10 minutes. I tell my students, shavasana (final relaxation) is the most important part of the yoga practice, and sometimes the most challenging, but not to skip it. If you only have a few minutes, at the end of your practice or even if you are not practicing yoga, take time to be still. Better yet, cover your eyes.

 
Eye Pillow

For those of you who sew, these eye pillows are a snap to make.  All you need is:

  • Small piece of muslin for the inner bag
Eye Pillow
  • Small piece of fabric (flannel, cotton, silk or an upcycled cashmere sweater is nice) for the outer lining.  Having an outer covering like this makes it nice so you can wash it!
Eye Pillow
  • You can fill the pillow with rice, buckwheat, or flax seeds. I prefer flax seeds because they have the least smell to them.
Eye Pillow

I sell the pattern in a my Etsy shop or my Craftsy shop. The eye pillow pattern is included in a wonderful therapy bag set. In the set there are patterns and instructions to make hand warmers, neck & shoulder therapy bag, foot warmer and a large therapy bag.

If you don’t sew or just want to buy the eye pillows already made,

you can purchase them in my Authentic U esty shop

Eye Pillow

An eye pillow is a no-brainer accessory for your yoga bag. 

Eye Pillow

So whether you are going to a yoga class, want to take a power nap, want some help relaxing or need some relief from a nagging headache, get out your eye pillow and chill.

jan3

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