Keeping your muscle balance restored with movement and muscle activation
If you’re experiencing pain or stiffness in your body, it can be due to a lot of different things. Two common causes of muscle pain can be traced to either dehydration or a lack of mobility in critical areas of your body.
You may not realize it, but your hips and shoulders are a significant cornerstone of your entire body. They provide a connection between your arms, legs, and torso, and without proper mobility of your hips and shoulders, the rest of your body suffers. Your arm mobility is only as strong as your shoulders, and your legs are only as strong as the mobility of your hips. So maintaining successful movement of these two joints will benefit how your entire body moves and feels.
Additionally, if you’re not drinking enough water, even if you are moving your body, your muscles can ache from dehydration. And in some cases, it can feel like you haven’t been moving your body at all.
In this article, we’ll go over the importance of keeping your muscles hydrated, and some simple exercises to do at home to activate your muscles and promote vitality.
Restoring Muscle Balance By Staying Hydrated
Before we get into ways to keep your muscles healthy and balanced, you need to understand the vital role that hydration plays into maintaining muscle balance. To keep these muscles in check, proper hydration is key. Water helps lubricate your joints and muscle tissues. If you feel the effects of hydration at the surface, for example, dry skin or eyes, that’s a good indication that your internal systems are dehydrated as well. Water also increases blood flow to your muscles and the rest of your body. When your muscles don’t receive enough water, you risk increased muscle soreness from even small amounts of physical activity.
An easy metric to remember when it comes to water intake is 8x8. This translates to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you exercise heavily or do physical activity that causes you to sweat more than usual, then you may need to increase your water intake even more. Look out for symptoms of dehydration and take measures to remind yourself to stay hydrated throughout the day. (**link to “water” article here once published**)
Improving Muscle Movement With Exercise
You don’t need to be running marathons or doing intense gym sessions to achieve the health benefits of moving your body. There are simple ways to move your body to warm up your muscles. Even small amounts of physical activity are known to reduce anxiety and depression and promote overall better wellbeing.
As we mentioned, the hips and shoulders are two of the most essential hinges in your body. Maintaining the functional mobility of these joints is one way to make your entire body feel better.
Joint Activation Exercises To Do at Home
Let’s go over a few exercises you can do at home to loosen up your hips, pelvis, neck, and shoulders.
Hip and Pelvis Exercises
Hip Flexor Stretch- While kneeling on your left knee, place your right foot on the ground in front of you. Lean forward and stretch your left hip towards the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides and repeat.
Glute Bridge - Lay down on the ground with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart. Push your feet down into the ground and slightly lift your hips off the ground and into the air. Press your shoulder blades into the mat and relax your shoulders. Then slowly lower your hips down into the ground, maintaining slow control until your hips touch the ground. Repeat this up to 10 times, for 1-2 sets.
Bird Dog Exercise- Start the exercise on your hands and knees with your hands placed directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Pull your abs inward towards your spine while you keep your back and pelvis still. Then reach your right arm forward while simultaneously extending your left leg back. When doing this, try not to let your pelvis sway from side to side. The key is to maintain balance and keep your center of gravity in your course. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Neck and Shoulder Exercises
Flexion Neck Stretch - Bend your neck slightly forward while lowering your chin towards your chest. Stop when you feel a stretch in the back of your neck. Proceed to do this stretch moving your neck to the front, back, and both sides. Hold each position for 20 seconds.
Wall Angels - Stand against the wall holding your arms at a 90-degree angle at shoulder level. Maintain contact against the wall with your tailbone and shoulder blades pressed into the wall. Raise your hands above your head, keeping your elbows and wrists as close to the wall as you can. Lower your arms and repeat 10 times.
Shoulder Stretch - Sit with your back straight and your head tilted towards one shoulder. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and extend your arm on the same side for a deeper stretch. Repeat two times on each side.
One of the best things about these exercises is that they don’t require a considerable time commitment. Just taking a few minutes per day to do one or more of these exercises can make a significant impact on your body and vitality. You can easily fit them into your schedule in between tasks, and they don’t require any equipment.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you embark on your journey to increased muscle movement.
If it feels overwhelming, commit to one or two exercises to start and get comfortable doing those.
Commit to doing 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions of the exercise
You don’t need to go fast. Use slow and steady motion and try to hold the last pose as long as you can
As you’re doing the exercise, focus on your breath, and your mind-body connection. Place your attention on the muscle you are activating and make a mental note of how your body feels as you’re doing the movement.
If you want to take it up a notch, invest in a resistance band, or add another exercise from the list into the mix.
These exercises are designed to warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing. You don’t need to over-exert yourself beyond your capacity. The idea is to slowly expand your comfort level in doing each of these exercises. While they are intended to improve muscle activation, these exercises are also a test of your mental endurance and will help you gain the confidence to begin incorporating more movement into your everyday life. When you prioritize moving your body, your muscles, and your mind will thank you.