Why Stretching is Even More Important in December

Christmas lights in tree

  Santa Ornament on Christmas Tree‘Twas the season of giving and all through the home,

  Not a box had been opened, the attic stood alone.

  Dad reached for the ladder, and upwards he climbed,

  He wondered about the many treasures he’d find.

 

  Ornaments, lights, and a big Christmas tree,

  The tasks of carrying this would bring kings to their knees.

  He grabbed the first box, but he didn’t get far,

  “Oh no!” he cried, as he strained his lumbar.


December is here. ‘Tis the season for attic and basement trips, dusting off those decorations, and hanging lights (among other things). If we are not careful, these seemingly routine tasks can take a great toll on our body. You’re lifting, bending, twisting, and more. If you did that much in the gym, you’d warm up first. But do you at home? Unlikely. But you should. Most back injuries don’t occur while we are doing deadlifts or kettlebell swings. They occur during the seemingly nonphysical tasks we do around the house or work. Which is why I’ve put together a list of quick stretches for you to do before getting those honey-dos done!

5 Stretches for Safer Bending, Lifting & Twisting

Spiderman Stretch

This is a great stretch to get your hips moving, shoulders warm, and activate that T-spine. It can be done right there in your home. Start in push-up position and then bring your right foot forward, heel on the ground, and then open your chest toward that leg and raise your right arm high. Then rotate your torso and raise your left arm. Repeat with your left foot forward. Do 10 of these on each side.

Lateral Lunges

In the linked video, I am holding weights as I shift side to side. Don’t worry about that. Just focus on pushing your hips back and keep your opposite leg nice and straight. Do 10 lunges on each side.

Supermans

Supermans will activate your core, lower back, and rear shoulders. This is an excellence exercise to prevent back injury when you are reaching overhead. Lay down on your belly, with your legs and arms extended. Squeeze your glutes as you lift your arms and legs off the floor at the same time. You can also lift one arm and the opposite side’s leg, and work your way up to the full Superman. Complete 10 total of these.

Glute Bridges

As we discussed last week, strong glutes serve many purposes. Remember, it’s hard to activate those glutes if you are not talking to them. Think about the movement, and squeeze your glutes in every rep. Start by laying on your back, with your arms at your side and your legs bent, resting flat-footed, with your knees touching. Then raise your hips off the floor, squeezing your glutes, before bringing them down. Complete 20 of these.

Pike Push-Ups

This is more challenging than your average stretch, but an excellent exercise to warm up those shoulders and prevent injury if you’re strong enough. Start by standing a little more than shoulder width apart, then put your hands on the ground out in front of you, raising your butt high. Drop your head between your arms and flatten your back. Your body should be in an a-frame (upside down V) with straight legs and your toes on the ground. Lower your shoulders into a shoulder press, and then push up. Complete 10-15 of these.

When you are done, reward yourself with some hot cocoa! Have a great holiday season!

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Luke Andrus is a certified personal trainer, ACE health coach, writer, folk music drummer, husband, and a father. Most of his writing experience is in poetry and fictional short stories, and he also proposed to his wife with a self-published children's book. He is a Narnia nerd with a degree in History, a minor in English, and a semi-obsession with the French language. He believes that fitness is not just about vanity, but about lifestyle, integrity, and the ability to take control of your life.