Planning to join a gym to get that dream body? There are certain dos and donts to follow. Dhiraj Khatri shares some important tips in a series of articles. The first is on fixing your posture by stretching
There is usually enormous enthusiasm on first day of gym. People expect that their bodies are going to be perfect in no time. But it is important to do your homework before you start working out in a gym or else the journey can be long and painful. For example chest press or bench press on first day to get that broad chest and crunches to lose abdominal fats can put make your body vulnerable to injuries and serious muscle imbalances.
Let’s discuss what to do in the first week of joining the gym before starting the routine workout !!!
First is fixing your posture. Modern day lifestyle and long sitting effects the body posture — majority of your day is being spent either sitting on desk or in front of computers or driving long hours or watching your mobile screens. Resulting posture in forward head, rounded shoulders (kyphotic) and anterior pelvic tilt.
If you are new to the gym or coming after many years before starting any weight training or strength training start working on your posterior chain of muscles like external rotators, rhomboid, erector spine quadratus lumbered, glutes, hamstrings and calf’s.
Initial work should be to lengthen those tight muscles and achieve optimal range of motion for your spine and easy way it to see if you are able to touch your toes.
Stretching daily for 15-20 minutes helps your body to gradually allow to lengthen your tight muscles. Especially for those who sit for long hours. Let your body open up before hammering it with weights or doing long hours of cardio . When it comes to stretch routine always start from your ankle and to reach your neck. As body is whole connected as a single unit missing one part will be ineffective. Here is how to do your stretching routine:
Following are the stretching exercise for improving range of motion of your body :
Standing calf stretch
Stand about three feet from a wall and put your right foot behind you ensuring your toes are facing forward. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward with your right knee straight. Rotating the toes in and out slightly will target the medial and lateral parts of this muscle separately. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. While holding for a stretch make sure you feel gentle stretch if you start feeling burning sensation you are over doing it or putting more pressure.
Wall calf stretch
Stand about two feet away from a wall. Place the ball of your right foot against the wall while your heel remains on the ground. Slowly and gently lean into the wall while keeping your knee straight. Hold this for 20 seconds for getting gentle stretch, if you feel any burning sensation stop and rest.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
The standing stretch is one of the effective method of increasing hamstring flexibility, but depends on pelvic positioning. If you are able to maintain a straight lower back while performing this stretch it is significantly more effective. To perform this stretch stand and face a chair or table. Keep your chest up and back straight. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Be gentle as it can irritate your low back hold it for 15-20 seconds
Hip Flexor Stretch
To stretch the left hip flexors, kneel on your left knee and put your right foot in front of you such that your right hip and knee are about 90 degrees. Put a cushion on the floor for your knee if you find this uncomfortable. Put your left hand on your left hip and push your left hip forward so that it is in front of your left knee.
Floor hip stretch
This is a stretch for the hip rotators on the left side while lying down. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over the right so that your left ankle is across your right knee. Keep your head and chest flat on the floor while performing this hip rotator stretch. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back down against the floor and lift your right foot up off the floor.
Stand facing a doorway. Put your hands on the door frame such that your shoulders are at 90 degrees (elbows at shoulder level). Relax and take a small step into the door while keeping your arms and shoulders relaxed. Exhale and hold this stretch for about 30 seconds.
I would suggest to do these stretches for 20-30 minutes a day with combination of lighter impact cardio exercises like cycling, walking, jogging etc. for 30 minutes per day making sure that you start loosening your stiff body first in initial week of starting your physical activity or after joining gym.
A body with good posture will not only help you sustain for your fitness goal but also gives you a confidence.
Dhiraj can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org