I know that a lot of you reading this get a serious work out just running around after your little one, whether it be at home or at the park. I remember those days well. Countless trips up and down, up and down the stairs. Great work out!
But now that my little guys are older, they pretty much entertain themselves at the giant pile of sand/mud at our favorite park, leaving me feeling a bit bored.
Well, here are some great exercises you can do whether you're trying to multitask and fit a little bit more movement into your life while your little one plays, or if you're looking to get your little ones involved with you, which can be both fun/incredibly annoying! (See pic above:This is seconds before my son let go of the band and SNAP! All good, no one was hurt!) Or perhaps you're on vacation and don't have access to a gym. A resistance band is a great prop to have around, very portable, takes up no space and provides some nice resistance for your workout. So let's get to the exercises! Feel free to mix and match and sprinkle them throughout your day if you're finding it a challenge to find a good chunk of time to dedicate to your movement practice.
As we all know our shoulders can get really stuck and stiff from the demands of motherhood... and life! Take a few minutes to get those shoulders moving before we jump into the exercises.
Here are two lovely versions of a side stretch, to create length in the side body while allowing your breath to be nice and full into the diaphragm which encourages our pelvic floor muscles to work optimally!
Now get those shoulder blades moving a little bit! As you inhale reach your finger tips forward, feeling your shoulder blades widen on your back. As you exhale think of drawing your shoulder blades toward each other while keeping your arms straight.
1. Side Bridge (Prep or full version)
Now that you're shoulders have gotten a little taste of freedom, let's take a minute to create some stability around the shoulder joint.
Start with your elbow down on the ground stacked below your shoulder. Knees are bent and heels in line with your bum .
As you exhale press down firmly into the ground through your elbow, knees and feet and begin to hover your bottom hip off the ground.
If your shoulders feel a bit weak or it is too much for your abdominal muscles, keep your bottom hip on the ground and allow your ribs to sink toward the ground as you inhale and lift them away from the ground as you exhale. This will begin to create stability around the shoulder joint in preparation for the full version of this pose.
2. Supermom! AKA Rotator Cuff
I LOVE this exercise. It's a challenging one for sure, but it makes me feel like a SUPERHERO! Plus this is a GREAT exercise for moms because it will create stability around strength around the shoulder which has MANY demands placed on it from taking care of babe!
Feel your feet about hip width apart, weight on your big toe, baby toe and heel. Nuzzle your elbow into your hip and as you inhale open your hand to the side as if you were opening a door.
On the exhale begin to reach your hand up to the sky on a slight angle. Feel for your low belly gently drawing in as you exhale. This is a great core exercise as your muscles have to work to keep you centered and not drawn over to the side you're reaching to.
3.Row with Squat
Totally optional to add the squat into this exercise, but I'm a big fan of exercises that do double duty! This is great for creating length in the front of the chest with strengthening the muscles of the upper back. Find a sturdy tree, a post or bench and loop the band around. Bring your feet hip width apart with toes facing forward and as you inhale feel your arms long and if you'd like to add the squat begin to sit your bum down like you're sitting in a chair.
As you exhale press down into your feet (if adding the squat) and feel your shoulder blades drawing toward each other. Try not to thrust your chest forward or up but think of the shoulder blades doing the work and your arms just follow along for the ride.
4. Mid Back Press
I have no idea what this exercise is called, so totally made up a super lame name! BUT it's still great for strengthening the mid back and triceps. All of the muscles in this area have to work a TON while you're carting baby around. So taking some time to create strength is super important. Feel free give yourself a great stretch after this, by holding onto a tree or bench and pull away from the tree while slightly rounding your upper back. This should create some nice length and release any tension that is creeping up into your neck and shoulders.
5. Bench Push Up
Another great exercise for your core as well as your chest. Doing this exercise either against a wall or on an incline like you see here on the bench will reduce the amount of pressure placed on your abdominal muscles. This option is great if you're experiencing diastasis recti or if you find your form goes out the window a bit when doing a full push up on the ground.
Inhale as you slowly lower yourself down toward the bench and exhale out through the mouth like you're blowing out candles before you push yourself back up. This will encourage the core muscles to naturally engage to support you through this exercise.
Another option for chest is holding the band out in front of you, hands shoulder width apart and pull the shoulder blades together on the back, creating a nice stretch through the front of your chest.
6. Side plank with leg lift
Alright, this exercise may look nice and easy but it's a lot of work for your shoulders, obliques and hips. Stick with the version we did off the top, with the elbow down if your shoulders are feeling tired or weak. Check that your hand is stacked under your shoulder and your knee under your hip. Hips are lifted off the ground and your top foot can lower down toward the ground as you inhale and lift your leg back up as you blow out (remember the birthday candles)and exhale. You could also try small leg circles about the size of a grape fruit while keeping your hip nice and still.
Stretch it out!
Take a few minutes to give your back, shoulders and chest a little love after all that work.
- Clasp your hands together out in front of you and you round your upper back, lengthening the back muscles.
- Clasp your hands behind your back and reach them toward the ground without thrusting your chest forward or up. Keep your ribs anchored and begin to reach your hands behind and up toward the sky slightly.
- Take your arms out to on either side, with arms about shoulder height. Reach out through your palms and begin to rotate your hands forward and back.
- A nice side stretch will feel great after all that work. As pictured above holding onto a bench, tree or pole feels great as you can reach your hip away and increase the stretch down the side of your body. YUM!
- Finish up with a nice neck stretch, gently drawing your head over toward your shoulder, using a light pressure with your hand against your head. The other hand can press away down by your hip to increase the stretch sensation. Turning the chin toward the chest will change the stretch slightly and can feel really nice.
I hope this gives you some ideas to try out when you can't make it to a class or into the gym. It's so empowering to know that there are SO many things you can do on your own to help yourself feel better even if you've got limited props and limited time! Have fun and enjoy the sun!