Take This Snow and Shove It!
One of the drawbacks of living in the Midwest is dealing with the feet of snow that fall during the winter months. The charm of the first few snowflakes and building a snowman wears off pretty quickly, and we are left with the chilly reality of trying to get our car started at 6 a.m. in 30 mile-per-hour winds.
Nothing compounds the misery of a cold morning like a pulled muscle from fulfilling our snow-shoveling duties. Incorporate this warm-up-and-stretch routine into your mornings and the only pain in your butt should be returning the Christmas gifts from your in-laws.
Warm-up: If you have cardio equipment at home, 5-10 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical, etc. is a good way to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing in your extremities. If you don’t have cardio equipment, you can walk around your home; try incorporating some high-knees (i.e., lift your knees up as high as possible while making sure to keep your balance) and swing your arms to help loosen your back and arm muscles.
Standing Trunk Twists: With feet shoulder-width apart, rotate your upper body (trunk) left and right, trying to keep your hips and feet in place. You should really feel this in your abdominals and it will help loosen your core muscles. Keep up a brisk pace for about 40 seconds. If you want to add some difficulty, hold a small weight at arm’s length away from your body while twisting.
Shoulder Circles: Stand up straight with your arms extended out on either side of your body, and slowly move your arms in circles without rotating your wrists or elbows. Start slowly, and increase speed incrementally. Go for 30 seconds forward, take a 10-second break, then reverse the direction and do another 30 seconds.
“Toe” Touch: With feet slightly apart and knees just slightly bent, slowly lower your upper body down, letting your hands reach toward your toes until you feel a stretching sensation in your lower back and hamstrings. Take a deep breath and, in a slow, controlled motion, raise your upper body back up to the standing position. Do this twice, about 20 seconds each time.
Knee-to-Chest Stretch: Lie down, flat on your back. Bring one knee up toward your chest while keeping your other leg flat on the floor; gently pull your knee into your chest and hold the stretch for 25 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring Stretch: While still on the floor, straighten one leg and bend the other, bringing your foot into the knee of the straight leg. Gently lower your upper body and reach toward the foot of your straight leg with your hands. Stretch for 25 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Push-ups: Round out your warm-up and stretch with some push- ups to get the blood flowing back in your upper body muscles. Do as many as you can comfortably, take a 30-second break, then repeat. You’re ready for the snow!