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FITNESS Get Moving!
Gregory Landess
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Just as overstressing yourself wreaks havoc on your body, sitting at your desk, in your car, or on your couch all day can be equally harmful. Over time, this stagnation leads to mineral deposits and toxic build-up in the muscles and joints. Our nervous system software, which controls the ability to move, continues to downgrade if not properly utilized.

Moving through a range of motions rejuvenates our jointsí synovial fluid while increasing blood flow and waking up the nervous system. These movements can be found in the routines of great athletes from all sports, and they are the essence of systems such as tai chi, qigong, gyro kinesis, yoga and Pilates.

The exercises below will improve your joint mobility. If you are not exercising, try a few months of joint mobility before you head to the gym for more serious workouts. If you are a seasoned trainee, add joint mobility to your training and say good-bye to excess soreness and immobility. Like they say: ďUse it or lose it.Ē
Start by performing 10 repetitions of each exercise, then adding 10 repetitions each week until youíre doing as many repetitions as your age. Do 50 to 100 repetitions for problem areas. Itís okay to break your work into sets. Joints and nerves can be sensitive, so avoid injury by staying away from motions that are painful. If you feel discomfort, either adjust your technique, avoid the exercise for the time being, or just be more conservative with your movements. Begin slowly and as you progress you may increase your range of motion, frequency and speed.

Neck Circles
Stand tall with a balanced posture, imagining the top of your head is suspended from a string like a puppet. Keep your chin level. Look to the left and to the right. A turn in both directions is a single repetition. Stay relaxed and do not grind your joints through the motion. Donít forget to breathe. Follow the left to right movements with up and down movements. Tuck your chin down like youíre wrapping your neck around a ball, then stretch your head backward. Next, stand tall and tilt your head to the side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder while keeping your shoulders down. Stay on a single plane and be sure not to twist.

Fist Exercise
Stand with both hands in front of your face, palms facing out. Extend your fingers to create space in each of your hand joints. Then make a tight fist and curl your wrist forward. That is one repetition. You should feel the effects throughout your hands and forearms. This is particularly good for people who use their hands all day such as mechanics, musicians or people using computers.

Wall Squats
Many people complain of squats hurting their knees. What I usually find to be the problem is poor technique. The biggest mistake is putting too much weight on the toes, which brings the knees forward and puts pressure on the kneecaps. The other main issue is spinal alignment. To do this properly, stand facing a wall with your feet about shoulder-width apart. (The wall forces you to maintain a proper arch in your spine and disallows your knees to fall forward.) It is okay to point the toes out slightly. Use your hands against the wall for basic support and keep your neck in proper alignment. As you squat, keep your weight on your heels with your shins as vertical as possible, making sure your knees donít wobble. Strive to get your thighs parallel to the ground or even your hips to a rock-bottom position.

Hip Circles
Stand with your hands on your hips, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Move your hips in smooth complete circles similar to using a hula-hoop. Your hip may feel a pinch at the outer ranges of your motion. Remember to relax. Repeat in both directions.

Spine Rotation
Sit on a chair and lock your hips in place. Rotate your upper body, turning to your left, then right. Use your hands as passive, relaxed guides to make sure your motion is even and smooth. Don't forget to breathe.

Loosening Drills
Increase relaxation and blood flow through loosening drills. Shake your hands side to side and up and down. Be careful not to bother your wrists. They should start to feel warm and heavy, as inertia forces circulation to the extremities. The same may be done with the ankles. You may bounce like a boxer would or try shaking off your muscle tension like a dog shaking off water.

Gregory Landess (gregorylandess@hotmail.com) is a certified holistic health counselor and strength and conditioning coach specializing in training with Russian kettlebells.

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