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Alignment, Compression & Sleep: Tips to Live Better

Recently, I had an amazing opportunity to head down to Hermosa Beach, California to attend a training camp with 2XU (pronounced "Two Times You" - multiply your performance!) alongside other winners of their “Heart Not Hype” contest from around the globe. I am so grateful I was able to represent Canada and have some incredible experiences like playing beach volleyball with Team USA girls, paddle boarding in ocean swells and swimming at night with my new friends and our Navy Seal coach! My biggest takeaways, however, included getting the basics of fitness, movement, and recovery stripped down and reinforced in my mind as an athlete and personal trainer.

The week included incredible coaches, trainers and specialists in the Southern California sunshine, and while it was incredibly fun, what would it be if I didn’t bring the information back and use it in my field? So, in an effort to share those lessons and tips with you, here are my top 3 take-aways from the trip:

 

#1: It's All About Alignment

Our body likes stability - we crave it, and we will find it in one of two ways. Either we will be tall and strong (glutes squeezed, scapula back, core engaged) or we will be stable in a butt-out, shoulders falling forward, bone-on-bone position in our lower back. It’s our choice!

Think about your body at the end of the work day. Likely you’ve been sitting lots and have gotten more hunched than when you first woke up, and while walking home from the bus stop your butt is out and your lower back feels a bit tight. We do so many things in this position which opens us up to injury and poor habits. If we get ready to do a push up in this position, think about how much pressure we’re placing on our shoulders, or when we squat and aren’t engaging our glutes how much benefit of the movement we are missing!

So here’s what you do. Check yourself throughout the day; if you catch yourself caving forward in your shoulders and starting to feel your lower back ache, stand up. Move around. Squeeze your glutes and watch how that compels you to draw your scapula back. Immediately your core is more engaged. Take a few breaths here and carry on!

 

 

Lots of videos today! Just your friendly reminder: it's part-way through the day, close to that mid-afternoon slump. How's your posture? Squeeze those glutes, retract your scapula and readjust your alignment. Your body likes to stability - give it what it wants!

Posted by Bonnie Lang Fitness on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

#2: Compression as a Tool for Recovery

Ultimately, 2XU is a compression apparel company, and often we see compression being used in two different ways - medically (like compression stockings for elderly folk or post-surgery to promote blood flow) or on elite athletes (all those tight clothes that triathletes wear!). While I have tried compression gear before, after a week in many different styles of compression tights and shorts, I discovered the most comfortable and breathable gear in 2XU products!

But besides a great product, why use compression? Well, you don’t have to be in medical recovery or an athlete to use or benefit from compression; in fact, the more de-conditioned you are, the more you will reap the benefits of compression! Compression clothing has been proven to improve athlete performance before, during and after activity through improved circulation, muscle containment and reduced muscle vibration but works in many situations in life (source). From use before and during exercise to after workouts; from standing up at your desk to keep the blood from pooling in your feet to traveling and fighting the swelling as you fly; from a medical standpoint post-surgery to continued recovery, compression works! I was reminded that this is tool that we can all be using and benefiting from and want to share this with my clients and readers.

 

#3: Prioritize Sleep

How much sleep do you get a night? Now, sure, there are times when we can’t get as much as we’d like (newborn babies, late-night events, etc), but on general, try to shoot for 7 - 10 hours, which is optimal for our functioning best. In our fast-paced city, it’s easy for sleep to fall by the wayside. Many people even wear a lack of sleep as a badge of courage because it means they are busy and therefore successful. But isn’t that really the opposite of healthy and balanced?

Lack of sleep plays with our neurotransmitter pathways, bone density, muscle growth, appetite - it affects everything! So believe it or not, if you have a choice between sleep and a workout, choose sleep! This is not an excuse to skip your workout; make sure you get that workout in or some kind of movement at a different time during the day. But the value of sleep in our recovery, performance, muscle growth and daily functioning cannot be overstated.

My top take-aways from an incredible trip - all useable in our daily life! If you’d like to hear more detail and depth on these takeaways, please check out my recap video about movement, compression and sleep below:

Simply stated, put some tight pants on, stand up tall and get some sleep! Live well & be well,

Bonnie

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