Five Things Friday: 5 ways to prime your body for summer projectsFARGO – Summer is project time for many people and that means bending, lifting and working more muscles than we’re used to. But just like you prime a wall before painting it, you can prepare your body to tackle tasks you may not be used to performing.
By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM
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FARGO – Summer is project time for many people and that means bending, lifting and working more muscles than we’re used to.
But just like you prime a wall before painting it, you can prepare your body to tackle tasks you may not be used to performing.
Here are five tips for doing just that from Pat Hesby, a personal trainer, group exercise instructor and Pilates personal trainer with Elements women’s health club in Fargo.
- Plan ahead
Before starting any activity, take a few minutes to plan what you are going to do. Make sure to put on a good pair of shoes to act as shock absorbers. Walk around while you’re planning, to warm up your body and reduce your chance of injury, Hesby said.
- Protect your knees
Climbing up and down the ladder, squatting or bending to pick up landscaping blocks, or working in the garden all make for a great leg workout. Exercising the large muscle group burns calories, which helps with weight management, so use those legs, Hesby said, but make sure to protect your knees when you do so.
Do not bend your knees beyond 90 degrees and make sure your knees do not extend over your toes, she said.
- Avoid upper body strain
Yard work can give you a great upper body workout, including activities like pushing a wheel barrow, pulling the hose from one corner of the yard to the other using a hand over hand motion, carrying heavier items, washing windows, painting the fence and emptying the lawn mower bag, Hesby said.
To avoid straining your upper back and shoulders, focus on what you’re doing, keep your shoulders relaxed and drawn away from your ears and slide your shoulder blades back and down, she said.
- Protect your back
You challenge your balance and flexibility when you move up and down, reach from side to side, or put yourself in an unstable position when you garden or reach to trim branches, Hesby said. Make sure to take the time to get your balance and sure footing before moving.
You should also protect your lower back when moving in ways your body may not be used to by engaging your core abdominal muscles. To do this, Hesby says to draw your belly-button in and upward toward your spine.
“This helps build strength, improves your posture and helps prevent lower back pain,” she said.
- Breathe, rest and stretch
Breathing is the key to all exercise, Hesby said.
“A good rule of thumb is inhale to prepare and exhale on the hardest part of your movement,” she said.
Be careful not to stay in one position or use the same muscle groups for too long. Doing so will result in fatigue and overuse, Hesby said.
“Give yourself intermittent breaks to stretch, grab a healthy snack and drink additional water to stay hydrated before resuming activity,” she said. “Overall, listen to your body and never force a movement or position. If you begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded stop activity altogether.”
Stretch your muscles afterward to reduce soreness the next day, she said.