5 Exercises and Stretches to Counteract Quarantine Muscle Imbalances

Summer is almost here, across the country gyms have reopened, and many of us are itching to get back into the fitness studio or pick up a favorite (or neglected) workout regimen. We don’t blame anyone for feeling this way. At the same time, jumping back into an old routine too quickly could lead to a ton of soreness or potential injury. 

See, even if you maintained a fitness schedule during quarantine, we also primarily participated in life virtually, in front of screens. “This tends to pull posture forward, causing our bodies to be out of alignment,” says international fitness expert Farel B. Hruska, director of education and culture at Chuze Fitness. 

“Being hunched over a device—whether on our phones or computers—causes muscle imbalances at the shoulders and chest,” she explains. The upper back muscles (mid and lower trapezius and rhomboids) become elongated and weakened, while the front side of our body (specifically the pectorals) shortens and tightens. Sitting for long periods of time also shortens and tightens the hip flexors. In turn, our glutes elongate and may “shut off” and weaken. All of this can cause muscle fatigue and pain. 

Use the following exercises and stretches from Hruska to help strengthen weakened muscles and offset these imbalances so you can prepare your body to perform at its best, whatever activities you dive into this summer.

Upper Back Row

Strengthens: mid and lower trapezius, rhomboids

Stand with feet hip-width apart holding dumbbells (or soup cans). With knees slightly bent and back straight, hinge forward at your hips. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your arms up toward your torso with elbows bent and close to your body. Pause, then slowly lower weights back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps per day.

Rear Fly

Strengthens: mid and lower trapezius, rhomboids

Stand with feet hip-width apart holding dumbbells (or soup cans). With knees slightly bent and back straight, hinge forward at your hips. Keeping elbows slightly bent, squeeze shoulder blades together to lift arms out to the sides until elbows are in line with shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower weights back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps per day.

Hip Extension

Strengthens: glutes

Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands on hips or a chair. Engage your abdominals. With a neutral spine and keeping your legs straight (but not locking your knees), squeeze your glutes and extend one leg back behind you. (The toes will be a few inches off the ground but not super high.) Pause, then return to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps per leg each day.

Pectoral Stretch

Stretches: chest

Stand facing the corner of a room. Place one forearm flat against the wall with elbows bent 90 degrees at shoulder height. Lean or take a small step forward, opening the chest up on that side so you feel tension but not pain. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Release and repeat 3 times per side.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Stretches: hip flexors

Stand with feet staggered one in front of the other. Lower into a shallow lunge. Tilt your pelvis under, feeling the stretch at the front of your back hip. (You should feel tension but not pain.) Hold for 5-10 seconds. Release and repeat 2 times per side.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

Brittany Risher Englert

Brittany Risher is a freelance content strategist, editor, and writer. She covers everything health and wellness, with a passion for mental health and women’s health. Her clients include Forward, Sonima, Elemental, ZocDoc, Men’s Health, and Women’s Health.



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About the Author: FitnessMotivate

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