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Dec 31

Dynamic Stretching Before Doing your Chores!

Cleaning sucks

Chores.  Chores around the house.  Chores in the back yard.  Chores in the front yard.  Chores in the side yard.  Dishes, laundry, sweeping, raking, picking annoying little things up off the ground that you have procrastinated doing for the last 3 weeks.  Maybe the refrigerator needs to be cleaned out too?  That spilled beer/milk combination is turning an astounding color and has been for the past month.  Oh chores, the word chores means doing stuff that you really don’t want to do.  You work all week and since you are inside your house for once, all you want to do is sit down and NOT DO CHORES.  Let’s face it, chores are an absolutely dreaded activity.  But wait… life doesn’t have to be so terrible when it comes to getting your infinite list of chores completed.  Luckily utilizing fitness into your chore routine will numb the pain!  Fitness + chores could quite possibly make your chore doing… dare I say, fun.

We can think of chores as a form of physical activity.  Physical activity is a form of exercise.  Let’s think about it.

How about when you are vacuuming and reaching behind obstacles such as couches and TV stands.  When performing this activity, you are lunging out with your legs, stretching your hips in various planes of motion and flexing and extending your arms while directing the vacuum head in various paths around objects.

How about yard work?  Say you are raking a big pile of leaves.  Once again you have to assume a split legged stance where you are lunging out.  In addition, you have to extend your arms out to reach out for some leaves and flex your arms to get a weighted load of leaves toward you.  This activity utilizes muscle groups in your legs, back and arms.

Oh, and don’t forget about your messy garage.  I assume there are bound to be a few things on the ground.  Some stuff has probably stayed on the ground for a prolonged period of time due to its heavy nature.  I mean, who wants to pick up something that’s heavy when you aren’t at work or in the gym doing dead lifts?  One could say you are actually going to do some dead lifts to pick up some irregularly shaped objects that just so happen to have a little more mass than your average object laying on the ground.  Can someone say “box full of left over holiday stuff”?

A fair amount of these descriptions sound like some of the same dialect we use at the gym:  lunging, stretching, hips, planes of motion, dead lifts, irregularly shaped objects… oh my!

So how can you make this more enjoyable?

Try to treat your chores like you showed up for the gym and prepare correctly like you are about to enter your exercise routine of the day.  Before hittin’ the weights, you should do some movement prep.  A quick form of movement prep. is dynamic stretching.  Dynamic stretching has numerous benefits of increasing your performance throughout your workout routine.  Stretching out the muscles momentarily and returning them back to their original position in an aggressive manner signals to the muscles that they are preparing for work.  The muscles prepare for work by increasing your heart rate and circulating blood throughout the body which will give oxygen to the working muscle to create more energy through aerobic metabolism (which also means you are burning more calories).  By creating a dynamic stretch interaction, your body senses a stretch through the nerve cells connected to the muscles and “wake up” your muscles for the upcoming activities that you are going to perform, making you feel more energized, alert and focused.  Dynamic stretching will also increased the pliability of the muscles surrounding your joints making you able to move further in certain planes of motion and increasing your agility and coordination in some of the foreign positions you are about to put your body in that you don’t necessarily do every day.

In my experiences as a football coach, we performed a dynamic warm up before every practice.  I wanted to ensure that the athletes were prepared for the upcoming physical activities where they find themselves in odd ball positions.  Well, this is very similar to what you do when are getting your chores done, working through resistance and putting yourself in oddball positions to clean stuff up.  So a great way to get your chores done and avoid thinking about it as a boring monotonous activity is to prepare for your chore tasks like you are about to workout.

Performing some of the dynamic stretching exercises listed below will not only reduce the risk of injury, but these exercises alone will serve as a strengthening mechanism for your body just like when you exercise.  Like I mentioned above, a dynamic warm up routine will increase your heart rate and prime your cardiovascular system for exercise in which you will use more calories as energy.

  1. Neck Flexion and Extension- Stretch the front and back muscles of the neck as if nodding your head “Yes.” Repeat 5 times.

Cervical Extension  Cervical Flexion

 

  1. Neck Rotation-Stretch the sides of your neck as if shaking your head “No.” Repeat 5 times.

Cervical Rotation Left  Cervical Rotation right

 

  1. Shoulder Adduction and Abduction- With straight arms, rotate the arms and hands downward and open the arms up toward the outside and cross across the chest. Ensure to stretch out the chest, shoulders and shoulder blades.  Repeat 5 times.

Pronated Horizontal Shoulder Abduction (2) Pronated Horizontal Shoulder Abduction (lateral view) (2) Pronated Horizontal Shoulder Adduction (2)

  1. Standing Toe Touch- While standing upright, kick an extended leg in front of you and touch your hand. Ensure that both legs remain fully extended and that the hamstring muscles are engaged.  Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Standing Leg Extended Toe Touch

  1. Pendulum Adductor Stretch- Place hands on an upright object (such as the wall) to hold yourself upright. With a fully extended leg, cross the leg in front of your body.  After full range of motion is reached across the body, kick the leg out to the outside of the middle of the body.  Ensure that the stretch engages the inner thigh muscles.  Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Pendulum Stretch Abducted Pendulum Stretch Adducted

  1. Knee and Ankle Rotation- With knees slightly bent, rotate the knees in circles around the ankles. Ensure that you are in a about 1/4 squat position and the feet remain flat on the floor.  Perform 5 circles in both left and right directions.

Knee Ankle Rotation 1

 

 

 

Granted, if you only do this routine once, it will have no effect on your life.  You can’t just say you do some dynamic stretching as your only workout routine either… you have to incorporate a healthy diet, resistance training, cardiovascular training and flexibility as well into your life as well to be the strongest and most successful person you can be.  However, if you do these stretches at least 50% of the time before you do your chores, expect to see some significant changes in the amount of chores you get done and how you will feel after you do you chores.  Expect to feel like you have exercised a little.  Most of the time when I get done exercising (and when my clients finish too), I feel better leaving the work out then when I enter the workout.

So try adopting this principle to your never ending list of chores:  finish your chores feeling better than when you started by performing some dynamic stretching before you bust your butt getting those chores done!