What does a turtle have to do with mobility issues? EVERYTHING! If you haven’t noticed, there is a whole new population of slow-moving, electronics-staring, hunched-over people roaming around. I call them the Turtle People. Sitting long hours at a desk bent over at a computer, or if not at a computer, hunched over while sitting or walking staring at a phone screen. . . Not only is it not safe or attractive, but long days of this constant posture can lead to some serious musculoskeletal issues. The musculoskeletal issues affect your daily life and also affect your workouts – making you less effective and working harder for proper position.
The Turtle Position decreases lung volume and compresses the abdomen, leading to digestive problems. Shortened hip flexors, thoracic outlet syndrome, increased lumbar forces, kyphosis, and tight chest and neck muscles can wreak SERIOUS havoc on your WOD. You will experience loss of power, inefficient lifts, and kips, an inability to maintain proper posture. . . shall I go on?
Ok, you get the picture. The good news is that there are some simple exercises you can do ANYWHERE that will improve this posture, thereby improving your overall health and performance. One of my favorite additions to these stretches is the use of a WOD Nation resistance band. Using a resistance band during these exercises helps to deepen your stretch and increase your flexibility.
Wrap the band around a stable base (ex. A post on a rig at the gym). The band should be about hip level. Facing the band, step a foot into the band and bring it to the glute/hammy tie-in. Walk it back until you feel like you’re being pulled forward by the band then sink the bended knee to the floor and step the other leg forward so you are in a kneeling lunge. Keep your chest up while pressing your hips forward. Alternate between squeezing the glute (while pushing the hips forward) and relaxing it. Repeat 10 times (moderate speed – push forward, hold for three to five full seconds, then slowly back), and then switch legs, repeating the series twice. Want to add a little more of a challenge? Add in a quad stretch on the banded side! If you are flexible enough, bring your heel to your glute with your hand. If you are not quite that flexible, you can rest the top of your foot on a bench behind you for the same type of stretch.
I LOVE this band pull-apart super series! Try it for yourself!
This series can be done daily, and I recommend it, especially if you are a desk-sitter during the day. Start with one full superset, and work up to two or three. It really helps to open up the whole upper thoracic cavity and start to reverse the kyphosis, neck, and nerve issues that come along with the turtle posture.
The series is:
10 Pull Aparts
10 Reverse Pull Aparts
10 90 Degree Pull Aparts
10 90 Degree Reverse Pull Aparts
10 Face Level 90 Degree Pull Aparts
10 Face Level 90 Degree Reverse Pull Aparts
10 Overhead pull aparts.
There are many stretches you can do to expand the chest, one way I feel is great is to step onto your band with both feet and hold onto the ends of the band at your sides. With your palms facing backward and shoulders open, inhale and press the band behind you, keeping tension on the band. Turn your head over the right shoulder, back to center, and then to the left. When turning your head, you should feel a stretch from your chin down to the front of your shoulder. Exhale and bring back your head and arms back starting position, keeping the chest open. Repeat the exercise again, this time turning the head to the left first. Repeat this series 4 to 8 times on each side.
Incorporate these mobility exercises into your daily routine, and watch how quickly your posture, health, and performance turn around! Now get to it – Off Like a Herd of Turtles!
This is a guest post from Gina Sobrero, Ph.D., ACSM EP-C. Gina is currently living in Kentucky, coaching at Vette City CrossFit as well as a Consultant for several national fitness, nutrition, and supplement companies. Gina can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.