Yesterday I danced my butt off!! It was the perfect way to spend the first day of the year. Great company, awesome dancing. Before leaving to go dancing I thought to myself I wanted to stretch as I knew this kind of dancing requires my whole body, but I didn’t make time for it. So I paid for it afterwards. When I got home, my whole body was feeling it. I was exhausted, the kind of exhausted from awesome physical activity, and I was achy. Especially my hips and low back. I knew this would happen as I have not been on top of my flexibility lately. After taking a shower, all I wanted to do was lay on the couch with my husband and watch a movie. And although we did watch a movie, I chose to spend the first 20 minutes of it foam rolling. As I finished, I think my words were “This tool is magic”.
I cannot stretch enough (pun not intended) the importance of flexibility. When I talk about flexibility I do not mean being able to do the splits or bend backwards until your hair touches your butt, or even touching your toes. Flexibility looks different for everybody. Obviously the more you stretch the closer to touching your toes you will be (If you are not there already). But the point of stretching should not be so you can do the splits or touch your toes, it should be so you can move your body efficiently and safely in whatever physical movements you choose to partake in. Although I can touch my toes on any given day, there are days that it takes more effort to get there, or where the tightness in my hamstrings (the back of my thighs) is more intense. That is because I need to stretch and release. Which I did not do before dancing. So although I look limber and can touch my toes, it does mean my body is at it’s most efficient.
Going in to any physical activity improperly stretched, can put you at greater risk for injury. Although I am definitely not injured from my intense dancing session, if I do not take the proper steps I could get there. Especially if I keep exercising without taking the time to release the tension build up in my body. And the #1 step, is self myofacial release. Which is where my friend the foam roller comes in. If you do not own one, I strongly recommend you getting one. It doesn’t take much space, and it can be used in numerous ways to help with all kinds of body movements.
For the purpose of today’s post and because this is what I am working on myself I will share a video of using the foam roller on your IT band (the side of the leg), your hips and glutes. All these muscles being tight play a big role lower back pain. Stretching your back when you have tightness there, might help some, but the true culprit is your lower body. (I am not referring to back pain due to injury, or spinal dysfunction or disk problems.) The roller I use here is this one. But if you are new to rolling, I recommend you get a softer one, and even a longer one. The longer one has more versatility and can be used for many other things.
For the sake of your body’s health, and for improved mobility and flexibility, make sure to properly stretch regularly. Oh, and did I mention that walking is a physical activity? So if you are someone who walks, you should stretch regularly.