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  • Marcia

Self Care December Challenge Week 3

All through December I posted on self-care, and you can see day 16 - 22 here!

Day 16:

Finger stretches - the new fidget spinner

Fingers are like toes - we don't really pay them any attention until they hurt. This is a sad story! Fingers particularly do a whole lot for us, especially in the age of typing and texting. Like every other muscles in our body, finger muscles deserve some love. And yes, geek alert: One quarter of your muscles in your entire body are below your wrists. Woah. So whether it's reducing pain or stiffness, increasing mobility, or increasing circulation (so long, cold hands!), we can take a few minutes to stretch our fingers rather than checking our phone for the millionth time. Just saying. Some tips:

  • Keep fingers straight

  • Do all of them (of course). Palm down and palm up!

  • I like to stretch the thumb like I'm using a joystick. Round and round, but especially gently away from the rest of my hand. Thumbs need alone time too.

  • Forcing it = no bueno. You will not get a prize for touching your thumb to your wrist. Seriously.

How often should you do it? Whenever you have free time! Idle hands and all that ...

Day 17:

"Self-care isn't just taking good enough care of ourselves to get by. It's about attending to what we actually need and responding to those needs, through long-term or short-term action." - Tracey Cleantis LMFT

One thing that has definitely been impressed upon me as I explore self-care is that it is a necessary, daily, ongoing mindset. It's not occasional, and it's not optional. So often we put ourselves and our care last on our to-do lists, and then use 'self-care bandaids' to keep ourselves limping along, a distraction from real care or something just enough to keep us going. But we can do better than survive. We want to THRIVE! In order to do that, self-care comes first. I like to think of it as a tree. True self-care is the trunk of the tree, and every limb and leaf is nourished and made better by the strong trunk. So get grounded, water your roots, draw yourself up and reach for the sky! Be your amazing, unique, flourishing tree!

Day 18:

Do the Twist!

Twisting has become the endangered species of movement. I mean, think about it - when are you required to twist in the course of your average day? And thanks to backup cameras in cars we no longer have to twist to see where we're going! But twisting is so necessary and feels so great. It releases the tight places in our spine, stretches our tissues, massages our organs and opens our breath. Today we're doing the upper body twist, which means the pelvis and hips will not rotate with your torso. If they do, you'll find you've rolled over! A few tips:

  • start by lying on your side, feel free to bolster your head if needed

  • keep hips and knees stacked, knees on the floor

  • reach your top arm up (don't let it get behind you)

  • allow the upper body to roll back. If your knees want to lift off the ground or separate, you've reached the end!

You're welcome to hang out here as long as you like. Think of it like a vitamin supplement to restore the benefits of twisting to our bodies. Vitamin spine twist!

Day 19:

Let's twist again, like we did yesterday ... but not quite

It's endangered, you guys. We gotta get thorough about some twisting. "But this is the same as yesterday!" I hear you say. Almost, but with one important difference. Remember yesterday we said that one half of you has to not go with in order to make it a twist and not a roll. And we moved the upper body, keeping the lower body steady. Today we switch! A few tips:

  • start lying on your back, then move your hips (just your hips) about 3 inches over to one side

  • straighten the leg that you didn't move toward

  • bend the leg you shifted toward, and let it go over your body, taking your pelvis with

  • If your shoulders lift, it's too far! In the pic I have a cushion under my leg because I can't reach the ground without lifting my left shoulder.

  • I don't have to say do both sides, do I? Of course not. You know these things.

You're welcome to hang out here as long as you like. Think of it like a vitamin supplement to restore the benefits of twisting to our bodies. Vitamin spine twist!

Day 20:

Be the best ball you can be!

This is what I often tell people when assuming this position, it always makes us laugh. But seriously, we're gonna get wicked round right now. It's Child's Pose flipped upside-down like a distressed turtle, but there's nothing distressing about this move except that at some point you'll have to stop. A few tips:

  • I'm using a bolster, and you can use a couple pillows, foam roller, rolled up sleeping bag - get creative!

  • I like to sit on the cushion and then lie back, but then again, my middle name is Danger. You do you.

  • The goal here is for your lower back to relax into stretchy flexion, so if your lower back is arching (inward curve) readjust the prop so your pelvis is rolling toward you

  • Please feel free to breathe deeply here, allowing the breath to expand and stretch into those tight back places.

  • Caution: May produce relaxation.

Day 21:

Deep hip release

Those hip flexors! Dang, they are tight, man. And for good reason - we spend the majority of our time with our hips flexed (think sitting in a chair). And pretty soon our hips are so good at being flexed that when we need them to do something else they can't quite get there! There's a deep muscle called the iliacus that attaches from the inside of our pelvis to the top of the leg bone, and it's a tricky guy to stretch. So we're gonna sneak up on him. When you do this release move you may be underwhelmed with the sensation and think nothing is happening, but I promise it is! I think you may be surprised how much looser things feel even after a few minutes here. A few tips:

  • I'm using a half foam roller, and you can use a rolled up yoga mat or towel, a couple pillows - get creative!

  • You'll want to put your pointy hip bones on the bolster and then relax on the floor. This props the top of the pelvis up and your weight and gravity allow the bottom of the pelvis (pubic bone) to relax toward the ground.

  • Don't muscularly pull the pelvis down! If you're clenching your butt cheeks, you're working too hard. Chillax, friend.

  • Legs are straight, belly's relaxed, and you can rest your head wherever you like.

  • When you pull the bolster out at the end, take a moment on your tummy and just notice how flat you are on the ground. That's open hips, friend! Congrats!

Day 22:

Gird your loins!

... or stretch your groin. As in your inner thighs. I just like saying gird your loins. Loins, groins, tom-AY-to, tom-AH-to. ANYWAY ... this is a lovely stretch for some of the tightest muscles around. I can reduce a room full of grown men to tears with one straddle stretch. Sweating, cursing, calling for Mom. Seriously. You don't need to be a circus performer or gymnast to make use of a good straddle, ya dig me? And this is just half, anyway. No big deal! A few tips:

  • We're trying to keep the 3 bony points (pubic bone and 2 pointy hip bones) of the front of your pelvis on the floor, or at least looking that way. That way we know if we're shifting around.

  • The leg you're moving will need to be externally rotated (turned out). As in, knee and toes pointing away from your other leg.

  • Slide the leg out along the ground until you feel that hip wanting to come up. That's a good boundary marker.

  • Try with bent knee or straight leg. It's a great stretch either way, but you're allowed to have a favorite!

Now you can go drop some serious moves on the dance floor with less chance of pulling your groin. James Brown splits forever!

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