This simple warm-up is useful at any time of year, but possibly at it's most useful in the transition period from winter to spring, when the lethargy of lounging in an armchair, the cosiness of the divet and the fuzz of too many warming hot toddies may be taking their toll.
Getting out in the garden to start the year anew is a great experience but, all too often, is lurched into with the energy of an over-enthusiastic puppy, rather than eased into carefully.
You can avoid back injuries and all sorts of stresses and strains by warming up before you get out there. Just like playing any sport a good warm-up is a fun and efficient way to avoid injury and build core strength into the bargain.
Make sure you are somewhere warm and comfortable, sober and alert before you do anything, exercises or work. Wear loose and comfortable clothing, with suitable support if you need it.
So here goes.*
- Begin by gentle, deep breathing. Be aware of the air going in and out of your lungs and relax into it. Be aware of the sounds around you and the thoughts that come into your head but just let them come and go. There are no strict rules here.
- Very gently shake your hands, arms, legs and feet to loosen them. Revolve your head gently around your shoulders in a circular motion a couple of times, and lift and drop your shoulders a few times. Then revolve your shoulders back and forwards. This will loosen your joints up a bit.
- Gently sit and then lie down flat on the floor, on your back. Stay there for a moment, aware of the floor against your back and making sure your back is supported. If in doubt, about the small of your back, where there may be a curve or a gap, slip a pillow or cushion under to support yourself.
- Gently lift your knees to your chest and wrap your hands around them as far as is comfortable. Hold this position for a count of sixty then gently let them down again. Relax. Repeat two more times.
- Slowly lift yourself into a sitting position and turn over until you are on your hands and knees. make sure your knees are comfortable in this position. If not, again, you could use cushions. Drop your head slowly to look at the floor then raise it gently until you are staring at the ceiling, staying on all fours at all time. DON'T force it, only go as far as is comfortable, we are NOT trying to build muscle or push too hard here. Do the head movement as many time as feels comfortable - probably four to six will do for a gentle warm up.
- Raise yourself to a standing position. Standing up again, stretch out your arms to either side and revolve them slowly backwards and forwards. You can stretch them more by holding a rolled up, or scrunched up, towel over your head between your two hands. Bring it behind the head, with one hand and then lower the other hand so it drops below shoulder height. Hold onto and very gently pull on the towel. Swap sides and repeat as many times as feels comfortable.
*N.B. We must point out that these are only suggestions and that if you are concerned about exercise, have a heart condition or any other condition that may make exercising hazardous...don't. Go and seek medical help first.
However, if you are of average fitness, a short and gentle warm-up is probably going to be of benefit.