Functional movement tips
There are plenty of physical and mental stressors involved in holiday travel for people of any age. For seniors, long drives, train rides, or flights can pose specific challenges.
No matter the mode of transport, sitting for extended periods of time can result in stiffness and discomfort in the lower back and often in the knees, hips, and feet as well. Restricted legroom can also lead to overall stiffness and exacerbated pain. Unnatural sleep positions, especially for the neck, means you can awake with soreness. Stiff necks can predispose us to headaches.
Moreover, all of this can affect your mood. And who wants to be cranky during the holidays?
Functional movement exercise
No matter how health-conscious and active you are, these challenges are real and can be addressed by simple, equipment-free, functional movements. Functional movement exercise strengthens the basic movements that help us to do daily tasks safely and successfully. Functional movements allow all of our body parts to work together as a whole, easily and painlessly.
Here are 10 functional movements to try:
1. Attend to your posture while sitting and standing. Roll your shoulders back and keep your head upright. Chin slightly tucked in towards the chest. Continue with shoulder rolls: rolling them forward 10 times and roll them back 10 times.
2. Engage “Mountain Pose” in both sitting and, when possible, standing. Rest your feet on the ground together. Pull the top of your head toward the ceiling and point your fingers towards the ground. Just two minutes in this position lowers cortisol levels and increases testosterone levels, making us feel stronger and more powerful while improving balance and stability.
3. Stand from a seated position and return to sitting. Repeat this sit-to-stand activity 10 times each hour.
4. Interrupt your sitting every 30 minutes. Find a rest stop and walk around for five minutes. If you’re on a train or plane, stroll the aisle.
5. Run in your seat. Lift your knees to replicate running for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
6. Massage your jaw muscles on both sides of the face in front of the ears. Keeping your lips slightly apart, use two fingers to massage your jaw muscles in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. This will increase circulation and reduce muscle stiffness.
7. Gently turn your head from right to left 5 times. Then tuck your chin to your chest and slowly raise your head back to the neutral position. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
8. Straighten your legs as much as possible. Circle your ankles, pointing and flexing the feet. Repeat 10 times on each side. You can do this standing as well.
9. While seated with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, raise and lower your heels 10 times.
10. Don’t forget to breathe. Place your hands on your tummy, close your eyes and breathe in and out, deeply and slowly. This will slow down your breathing and heart rate and induce rest and relaxation.
The holidays are for family, friends, and fun. Employing some anytime/anywhere functional movements can help ease the stress in your body and your mind.