Beat the winter doldrums – work on your core

I’ll admit it – even if there wasn’t a lockdown, I’ve been feeling a little bit of cabin fever due to the sheets of ice all over my favorite park. So, what do we do with the restless feeling when the weather just won’t cooperate?

Work your core! Everything you do to move works better when your core works better! And for most of us, our core doesn’t work too well at all, and we have learned to use other muscles instead. And the best part is, most core exercises can be done anywhere you have a small area of the floor, some wall space, and maybe a chair.

Some great moves to try & you don’t even need a chair:
– Bird Dog (YouTube video example) – if you need to, place a yoga mat or towel under your knees, if they’re bothered by hard surfaces like floors. Engage your core, don’t arch your back, and don’t try and get your arm and leg up high.
– Dead Bug (YouTube video example)- this has a lot in common with Bird Dog, but is easier on the knees and wrists, since you’re on your back. Personally, I do both – I shift my focus around my neck, shoulders, hips, spine, and arms & legs & work on making sure my core is holding everything firmly.

Both exercises are deceptive; people look at them and think they’re easy, and sure, if you do them without engaging your core, you don’t really see what the big deal is, because you didn’t do it as intended. But the truth is, they’re core exercises and the arms and legs waving around is *not* the point of the exercise – they are moved to push your core to its limits. You don’t need any equipment, and they help you coordinate the voluntary & involuntary movements of your abs, which helps your hips, shoulders, and ribcage stack up properly so that standing, walking, running doesn’t also require the effort of keeping your torso stabilized – it’s doing it all by itself. They’re great for anyone who’s not a CrossFitter or other high-performance athlete (those folks have probably mastered these basic versions & do more challenging ones now).

But if cabin fever is really getting you – gear up so you CAN get out more often! For me, that means an insulated pair of snow pants, some yaktrax, stabilicers, or similar anti-slip wraps for my shoes or boots, and a thin pair of wool gloves under my mittens. I also wear a waterproof/windproof jacket with armpit zippers over a thick sweater, and I leave the zippers open so I don’t overheat. I wrap my head in a couple of scarves because my fave park is also the highest elevation in the county & seem to come with a LOT of icy winds, and then I’m ready to go. Better clothing and gear strategies make walking in the cold much easier & you still get the benefit of fresh air and sunshine. And as you learn to retrain your core muscles, walking helps your whole body take your new muscle learning & apply it to how you walk, making that more effective too. Pair that with a good amount of glute & hip training to improve your stride, some upper body compound exercises & you’ll be ready for spring!

If you need help putting together a program for yourself to get through dreary February & March, get in touch! I’ll be happy to design a program for you, delivered via smartphone app or via Zoom or FaceTime (no in-person sessions until Covid-19 is done, to protect clients/family with health conditions).