Something I’ve started to realise is ‘I’m no longer Superwoman’. The fact is, I never really was , I was just pushing myself with my exercise, day after day with no breaks and so not giving my body time to recover, adapt, progress and bounce back from the training. Now that I am older this is showing up with more muscle soreness and joint pain.
To be a good athlete we need to have an equally balanced, mobile body with good posture but in today’s society we spend too much time sitting, especially if you have a desk job. The upper back then becomes rounded with shoulders forwards and the chest tightens, the hip flexors shorten, glute muscles switch off and this is just a few of the mobility issues too much sitting causes, there are a lot more. The problem then is we go out for a run or a bike in this hunched over sitting posture!
One way to tackle this daily is by getting up from your desk every hour and walk around, then in a doorway, put your arms either side and lean forwards to open up the chest area and get those shoulders back and down, 10s is all you need to do but if it feels good then hold for a bit longer until you feel those muscles relax. A lunge stretch for the hip flexors, relax into it and feel how good it feels.
Before exercise, a good way to mobilise into a better posture and activate muscles is to do some foam rolling lightly & fast on the main muscles to be used for the activity you are about to do and then mobility and strength exercises like leg swings, arm swings, chest openers, knee lifts, squats, rotations, glute bridges, calf raises etc. This will warm up the muscles, mobilise the joints and activate the muscles ready for the exercise you are about to do.
Making time for some specific recovery like yoga, but if you are new to yoga maybe try Yin Yoga, where you move into the stretches slowly & hold for longer, so more time for your muscles/fascia to relax. Think of your fascia as a plastic bag, if you stretch a plastic bag fast it snaps but if you stretch it really slowly, it lengthens and when you let go, the length remains. This is exactly how your fascia that surrounds your muscles works.
Other good ways of recovery is Foam Rolling (BUT only if done correctly). Rolling frantically and through excruciating pain is not the way to roll, it does the complete opposite as push hard on fascia and it will just stick and then push back, rather than relax. You need to roll slowly, relax and melt into it, sheer any tender areas and enable the fascia to lubricate and reconstruct. I have put on a Foam Rolling Workshop for my athletes to educate them on muscle fascia and teach them how to foam roll correctly and learn that the area of tightness or pain is not always the cause, it is usually the symptom so rolling the whole line of muscles that work together or antagonistic muscles to find the actual cause and then tackle the symptom. If you do not know how to roll correctly (the internet on this subject is a bit limited on the correct technique) I have a good friend who puts on a foam rolling class on a Monday evening via Microsoft Teams, this would be a good way to learn how to roll correctly and have it in your weekly routine, then you can add more in with the confidence your are doing it correctly. You can find details at: www.vanessapt.com
I may not be Superwoman at the moment but if we start being kind to our bodies and give it that recovery it so desperately needs, enabling us to exercise with better form, mobility and posture, we might become a Superhero again!