Everyone has a lot going on in their lives, whether it's work, kids, school or any number of other things. For a lot of us that means our health goes on the back burner. The intention of this post is to give everyone a couple of tools that are effective, easy to implement and don't take up a ton of your time.
1) Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) 10-15 minutes
CARs are deliberate joint rotations at the outermost pain free limit of the joint. The purpose of CARs is to stimulate the mechanoreceptors (the cells responsible for sensing joint position) within that joint, so that we don't lose them. We're all familiar with the idea of "use it or lose it", this is often reference to muscle size, but the same goes for joint mobility.
CARs also aid in lubricating and nourishing your joints. Cartilage has a very poor blood supply and relies on movement to diffuse blood along with nutrients into that joint. Seems pretty important right?
Along with points 1 and 2, CARs can serve as a joint screening tool for yourself. Checking in with your joints daily lets you know if you overdid something the day before or if you require treatment from a health care provider.
All of my clients are instructed how to do CARs. After the initial assessment we spend most of our first appointment going over them because I think they are that valuable. It's like brushing your teeth between visits to the dentist, I might be able to make some changes when you come to see me, but it's a whole lot easier if you do some work in between. I usually recommend doing them first thing in the morning, so that if I get busy I've at the very least done them once, but just make time for them at some point. Find the ones that you feel need the most work and throw in some extra reps throughout the day.
2) Parasympathetic Breathing 3-5 minutes
The goal of parasympathetic breathing is to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. What does that mean and why do you care? The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for your state of "rest and digest" and competes with the sympathetic nervous system which controls the "fight or flight" response. I think I can speak for most people when I say that we spend a lot of our day in a sympathetic state, whether that's brought on by rushing to work in the morning, an argument with your significant other, financial troubles or a host of other things. This sympathetic state can include increased blood pressure, elevated cortisol levels, restlessness and increased muscle tone. There's nothing inherently bad about being in a "fight or flight" state, after all it helped keep our ancestors alive for millions of years, the problem is being in this state all the time.
There are a couple different breathing techniques commonly used, but the one that I implement most often is called box breathing.�
Find a place on the floor where you can lie on your back and elevate your legs to around 90 degrees, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and set your phone on your belly (this gives you some feedback, so you can focus on breathing into your diaphragm) close your eyes and inhale for 3 seconds, hold the inhale for 3 seconds, exhale for 3 seconds and hold the exhale for 3 seconds.
The number is going to depend on your own abilities, 3 seconds may be too long or too short, adjust accordingly. As you do it more often, you will find you are able to increase the duration of the breaths. For my clients I include this at the end of their workout, but you can use it throughout the day as needed.
Regardless whether you have a training routine or not, these are 2 easy to implement techniques that I think have a great return on investment. Try them out and let me know what you think.