Several Pongo Power personal trainers attended the Women's March on Washington last weekend. It required hours of transport, followed by hours of standing: Not the kindest conditions for one's body!
Most of our friends and family, who are not trainers, had the same physical complaints, both during and after the march. They spoke of back pain, cramping legs, and very sore feet. We thought we'd get together and offer some tips for our loved ones, so that we can all continue to march on and support the cause, pain free!
1. Stretch: before, during, and after.
Before getting on a bus, be sure to do some stretches for the areas most affected by prolonged sitting: your hips and low back. Here are two simple stretches that are accessible to most bodies.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Kneel in a lunge position with your right leg forward, and your left knee down below your hip.
- Keep your hips square, your abs engaged, and your shoulders on top of your hips.
- Interlace fingers on top of your right leg, and gently shift your hips forward until a stretch is felt in your left hip.
- Hold 30 seconds, then switch sides. Remember to breath as you feel the stretch.
- Sit your hips down on your heels, allowing your low back to relax.
- Let your forehead rest gently on the floor, towel, or cushion.
- Reach your fingertips forward, hold 30 seconds and exhale. Continue to breath.
- Reach your finger tips toward the right, hold 30 seconds.
- Repeat left side.
- Take long, deep, diaphragmatic breaths, throughout.
During the march, you may find your muscles getting achey and tight. Do what you can, with the space provided, to stretch and stay mobile (even if you are stuck standing for a long period of time)!
Standing Quad Stretch
- Stand on one foot and grab the other shin (or your shoelaces) lifting the other leg up, by bending the knee, behind you.
- Tuck your pelvis in, pull your shin or shoelaces towards your butt (the glutes).
- Make sure your knee is pointing to the ground, under your hip.
- Breathe while holding 7 to 20 seconds.
- Use steps (or the edge of side walks) to stop and stretch your calves.
- Place the ball of your foot on the step, and allow your heel to reach towards the ground.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, while breathing.
- Repeat on opposite foot.
This stretch might not be accessible to your body yet. Start slow, and do not bend to a point that bothers your knees. Always stretch to a point of comfort, never pain.
- Lower your body down slowly, in between your knees.
- Allow your hips to sink to the floor.
- Allow the lower back to round & stretch.
- Hold for as long as comfortable, while breathing.
2. Bring a lacrosse ball & a neck pillow.
The long bus ride can really aggravate the musculature supporting your spine. Invest in a neck pillow to prevent unwanted stress and strain.
A lacrosse ball is also a great companion on a long road trip. Many of us are prone to low back stiffness and soreness when sitting for long periods of time. Placing the ball on the sore muscles of your back (never your spine). Applying gentle pressure for 30 seconds can help release some pain, and massage your soft tissues. This helps to hydrate your body.
That same ball can also be used to roll the bottom of your feet out, before and after standing on them for long periods of time. We currently sell lacrosse balls, so please ask your trainer!
3. Move well, and often.
Moving in place is more proactive then standing in place.
- Tuck and untuck your pelvis.
- Alternate between pointing the toes and flexing the foot.
- Shift weight from toes to heels, and from eversion to inversion.
- When walking, keep legs springy with steps and absorb ground beneath feet, versus staying stiff throughout legs and feet.
- Mix up your walking surface. "Pounding the pavement," is hard on the feet! Try walking on dirt, cobblestone, or grass when able.
4. Find your breath, and keep your voice.
Finally, learn how to calm yourself down and stay in control of your mind and body. Practice diaphragmatic breathing standing up, if you start to feel overwhelmed by a large crowd (or, by the death of democracy around us).