Ginger Daniels Movement Specialist
As some of you might know, in addition to studying nutrition I am also in the early stages of training to run the LA Marathon in the Spring! As I've started increasing my mileage and speed, I am feeling old dance/drummer injuries arise. I have always been athletic and a near constant mover and my problem area is my right side psoas muscle. This muscle is large and comes from a Greek word that means "loin region." It connects the lumbar vertebrae (lower back) to the femur (thigh bone) and so causes "feelings" to come up in the lower back and hips. I feel my psoas generally in my lower right abdomen where my right oblique lays and a bit lower into my hip flexor connection. When you run, you are strengthening this area, but also tightening it. Here are 3 great stretches for those of you who run and those of you who do not run... keeping this muscle strong and also long is important for support of the spine and lower trunk, so it's good for everyone.
1. side lower back twist:
lay on your back and draw one knee up into your chest and gently grab the outside of that thigh and bring it across your body, twisting and looking in the opposite direction of this knee. Open the opposite arm onto the floor as well and feel your lower back stretch. Now focus on your bottom leg and extend it onto the floor straight down under the hip. Allow this bottom leg to lengthen and feel heavy and relaxed into the floor. At the same time, also focus on lengthening the lower abdomen. Do the other side.
2. kneeling lunge stretch:
Put your right leg in front of you in a lunge and lower to the floor dropping the left knee down onto the floor behind you. Relax your toes, toenails on the floor and make sure your right knee is directly over your ankle and aligned with your middle toes. Place your right hand on top of your thigh and reach your left arm up over your head while gently arching your upper back, dropping your left hip towards the floor and stretching the front of your lower abdomen. Do the other side.
3. foam roller hip stretch:
Lay on your back and gently press your hips up into a bridge. Slide the foam roller under your pelvis and place it between your low back and tailbone comfortably. Draw one knee into the chest and allow the opposite leg to drop from the hip onto the floor. You might be surprised how tight this bottom leg hip is! Focus on breathing and allowing your bottom leg to be heavy into the floor, trying to keep it aligned and dropping through the hip flexor and front of the pelvis. Do the other side.
Remember, if any of this does not feel good, stop. At the end of every stretch, try to get into a child's pose if you do not have knee issues with weight bearing.
Through breath, you can actively visualize your muscles growing longer and releasing tension. Your inhale draws in strength, your exhale creates space.
NUTRITION TIP OF THE WEEK: SPICE AND HEAT ARE GOOD FOR YOUR MUSCLES!
I have been learning about a new theory that spicy foods and sauces like jalapeños, ginger and siracha can possibly help to alleviate muscle cramps. This theory is based on the idea that your muscles are cramping due to your nervous system being overloaded. The spice keeps the nervous system running smoothly and helps your muscle cramps to subside. Here is my favorite spicy thing to add to most anything: red pepper flakes. Try it on an avocado! Slice the avocado in half, spoon out, squeeze a tiny bit of lemon juice on top and shake as much red pepper flakes as you like onto it. You'll be surprised how much flavor is added to this delicious and nutritious snack.
Have a great week!!!
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