written by Kathi Casey, ERYT, CPI
Ahh, Spring! Do April showers really bring May flowers? This Baby Boomer hopes so!
It’s that time of year again when we begin to see our daffodils and tulips, and that makes us want to open the windows and let the fresh clean air in and the stale winter air out of our homes. We enjoy getting outside to smell the flowers. Most of us Boomers renew our vow to exercise more, and begin walking the dog or walking with our children or grandkids; walking is such a great exercise. Walking fast increases our heart rate, improving our circulation and sending oxygen out to give all of our muscles, glands and organs a good spring cleaning. I was so excited to get out walking, even in the mud the other day, that I forgot to stretch before running out the door and my Piriformis muscle reminded me later. I remembered to stretch when I got back, but it wasn’t enough. Stretching before we exercise is important and the older we Boomers get, the more important it is. The Piriformis is a thick muscle that stretches across each butt cheek, from our hip to our tailbone. When it tightens up, it can cause a lot of pain. It’s close to the sciatic nerve so if it presses on that – Yikes! It took me over an hour the other night to calm mine down. I used a combination of relaxing, massaging and stretching until I felt relief. Now, I really hope you remember to stretch before and after your Spring exercise, but if you forget or if your lower back protests, here is a routine that I find works for me. It is especially suited for that pesky Piriformis muscle – the one that seems to protest when we run, fast walk, or ride our bikes. Try this series in sequence, repeat it if you need to, and then use all or some of it, whatever works best for you.
Massaging the Piriformis: I use a medium soft, 3 ¾ in. ball for this one. Lie on the floor, on your back, placing the ball in the center of your right butt cheek. Bend your left knee with the left foot flat on the floor so that you can rock yourself gently on the ball, massaging the pain away. Breathe deeply and breathe through the pain for a few seconds until it becomes a little easier. Keep massaging and breathing for at least two minutes, then switch sides. It’s important to work both sides, even if your pain is one sided.
Relaxing your lower back and the Piriformis: Lie on the floor next to a chair or couch so that you can lift your legs up and rest them across the chair or the couch. In this position your thighs are perpendicular to the floor with the lower legs completely supported by chair or couch. This allows your muscles to relax completely. Breathe deeply here for two or three minutes, then gently remove your legs and sit on the floor.
Stretching lower back, backs of your legs, and Piriformis all at the same time: Begin sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front you. Bend your left knee and slide your left foot toward you until your knee is as close to your chest as possible. Then let the knee drop out to the side and down toward the floor while placing your foot against your thigh. If it doesn’t reach the floor, place a folded blanket under your knee so that it can relax completely. Inhale and lengthen your spine all the way up through your neck and then keeping a nice straight back, stretch out and over your right leg as far as possible. Then relax your head and neck and let the arms dangle. If you’d like, you can place a pillow on your thigh to rest your head. Breathe deeply here for two minutes, then gently bring yourself back to sitting, release your left leg and stretch the other side.
This combination will help relax your muscles and take away the pain so you can enjoy this lovely weather while it lasts! It won’t be long before we’ll be skiing again. For my readers at Boomer-Living this month, here is a coupon code for 25% off my Tension Tamer Balls and E-book, with techniques for your shoulders, back, legs and more. Enter YIKES in the Coupon Code box in the shopping cart. Best of Health to you all!
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Tags: baby boomer, piriformis muscle, spring exercise
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