Not every workout needs to be epic! Sometimes the body needs you to shift your focus to other vital controls, like practicing good breathing, improving mobility and flexibility, rehabbing sore muscles, working on therapeutic exercises and so forth. These can be completed in minutes — simple maintenance tasks that can keep you on top of your game for the next epic workout.
Foam Rolling: If you don't have one these, yet, get one (click here for the most basic model). Foam rolling is the best way to target sore muscles, knots and problem areas without splurging on a massage. It can be pretty uncomfortable when you begin, but the more you roll, the more your body gets used to it. The idea is to roll over the muscle using your bodyweight and the pressure from the roller to massage the fibers and myofascial tissue (a super tough web of fibers above the muscles). You can also use the foam column to stretch the thoracic spine or prop your feet up for a deeper hamstring stretch (see below).
>> Check it out: Total-Body Foam Rolling Stretches You're Crazy Not to Try
Static Stretching: Stretching just feels so good. The best time for static stretches, or the kind you do by holding positions versus moving in and out of them, is after a workout or in between workouts. Click here to see more on the differences between static and dynamic stretches. Here are a few of the most simple static stretches to perform:
- Hamstrings: Roll the spine down as you reach for your toes. Go as far as you can and hang out there for a while. You can try these in a seated position with the legs out in front of you or with your legs rising up against a wall, pushing yourself forward as you lift yourself on your elbows. The rag doll is a very relaxing yoga pose to try for this, too.
- Quads and hip flexors: Those pesky flexors are a stubborn muscle group for many women. Try the Spiderman stretch by getting into a lunge and dropping the back knee, pushing the hips forward to release the flexors. Try the couch stretch to get a very deep stretch (not recommended for knee pain).
Facial Exercises: It might sound silly to do a "face workout", but you have 43 muscles in your face! Using the tips of your fingers and some super attractive expressions, you can reduce stress throughout the entire body. Click here to read more about the exercises and purposes behind them.
Posture Control: If you feel like you're in a slump, you can do some very simple movements to climb out of it.
- Shoulder rolls forward and backward will help you straighten up, drop them from your ears and pull them together, creating a taller position.
- Try chest openers by reaching the arms out to the sides, palms facing forward and drawing the shoulder blades together. Open and close the arms or pulse them backward while breathing in and out.
- Stretch the spine side to side by standing tall and curving the torso to one side then the other. While you're there, push the spine forward and backward a few times.