Easing and Releasing Tension

by George Tabares on May 01, 2011

Ebb

Help participants target lower-back pain during the cool-down.

How many times has one of your class participants complained of lower-back pain? It’s a common problem—and one you probably hear about whether you teach indoor cycling, step, strength fusion, yoga or hip-hop. As an instructor, you’re in a unique position to help participants reduce and prevent discomfort in the lumbar spine and hip musculature. Use a few basic tools to bring the body into balance. The cool-down is the perfect time to do it because the body is warm.

Stretches

The following movements emphasize

  • ankle and hip mobility;
  • knee and lumbar stability; and
  • hip, torso, trunk and shoulder integration.

Cue diaphragmatic breathing and ask participants to feel themselves elongating from the vertex of the head while imagining a downward pull of the pelvis. Shoulders should stay relaxed, and the pelvis is best visualized as a bowl that does not spill forward or backward.

Have participants hold each stretch for at least 20–30 seconds per side (a total of 2–3 minutes).

Lunge and Hold With Rotation (not pictured)

Stand in split stance by placing one foot forward (weight on heel, toes for balance), other foot back (weight on ball of foot). Sink downward, bending both legs to about 90 degrees. Push through heel of rear leg to stretch calf. Rotate torso away from rear leg to accentuate stretch in hip flexors and spinal rotators. Maintain upright posture.

Kneeling With Side Bend

From lunge position (left leg forward), sink downward and kneel with right leg, pointing right foot into ground, ankle dorsiflexed. Keep both knees flexed to about 90 degrees. Reach right arm overhead and laterally flex torso to left to stretch quadratus lumborum (QL), obliques and intercostals.

Variation: Squeeze glutes and slowly extend spine. Lift arm up and back on kneeling side.

Wide Leg QL Lat Stretch

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Flex forward at hips and grasp lower left leg with right hand. Simultaneously pull right hip away from left leg. In addition to targeting QL and hamstrings, this stretch helps “normalize” latissimus dorsi, which, when overactive, can pull pelvis anteriorly and humerus medially.

Self Myofascial Release

If your facility has invested in foam rollers (even small ones), tennis balls or other tools for self myofascial release, introduce participants to this form of self-care. For this particular cool-down, focus on iliotibial (IT) band and gastrocnemius/soleus. Instruct class to find and hold tender points for minimum of 20 seconds or until about 75% of tenderness has dissipated. Cue participants to breathe normally and avoid rolling over bones and joints.

Spend a total of 1–3 minutes on these exercises.

Iliotibial (IT) Band

Lie on one side with hip on top of and perpendicular to foam roller. Have bottom leg straight, ankle dorsiflexed. Cross top leg over and in front of bottom leg, placing foot on floor for support and control. Roll from hip to knee.

Gastrocnemius/Soleus

Sit on floor with calves resting on foam roller. Roll from Achilles tendon to back of knee, internally and externally rotating lower leg to find tender spots. To increase pressure, rest one leg over the other.

Time permitting, lead class through additional self-myofascial-release techniques that target the latissimus dorsi, tensor fasciae latae, quadriceps, adductors, peroneals and plantar fascia. Remind students about the importance and power of proper diaphragmatic breathing.

Topics

Group Fitness

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 8, Issue 5

© 2011 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

George Tabares

George Tabares IDEA Author/Presenter

George Tabares is a holistic health practitioner and fitness specialist. Since 1999 he has been integrating nutrition, exercise, and bodywork to create programs that lead to optimum lifestyle changes.

0 Comments

Trending Articles

How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have b...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Low Intensity vs. High Intensity: Which Is Best for Obese Adults?

The debate continues regarding the most effective exercise measures for reducing abdominal obesity and improving glucose measures.

The Reason Your Clients Don't Achieve Their Goals

Lots of people hire personal trainers or join group fitness classes hoping to lose weight. Yet many fail to meet their goals. New research suggests that “progress bias”—overestimatin...

Show More