I remember when I first started running, one of the tips I was given by an avid runner and an anatomy professor, was to not get into the rut of simply running forward. It was suggested I run sideways (grapevines) and even backwards. This tip was to not only to avoid overuse injuries, but also to intensify my running workout. When I first stepped on an elliptical machine, one of the things I quickly realized was that I could go forward and backward and work ALL the muscles in my legs, butt, core and arms and while going backwards, noticed how my heart rate went up. In boxing or kickboxing, I was told early on in my training, that its not just about the punches we throw, but more importantly how quickly we bring our arm back from the punch. When I train with weights, I try really hard to work opposing muscles to keep the back of the body and strong as the front. I remember a story about a male bodybuilder who was so focused on building up his chest, that he tore a muscle when he went to put his arm around his wife while they were sitting side-by-side. His chest was so strong and tight, but he neglected to stretch efficiently and didn’t do ample back work to keep the back of his body as strong as the front.
We all need to think about doing things backwards and upside down in order to get in better workouts, prevent injury, prevent boredom and keep us physically (and probably mentally) balanced! One of the things I absolutely love about yoga and Pilates is that this concept is never neglected. If we roll up, we roll down AND we roll over. Leg circles never go one way without going the other. If we sit in forward bend, we will also find ourselves in cobra, updog or bow. If we stand in forward bend, we will probably do a modified back bend, and a side stretch. It’s about so much more than symmetry, though that alone is paramount. An there is nothing like downward facing dog which encourages blood flow to the brain amongst so many other wonderful benefits. Handstands and headstands, for those that can, will also bring a world of benefit to the body and mind.
Going backwards, to go forwards, can be as simple as reversing your “regular” routine. Try warming up and doing your abs first, if you always do them last (and don’t most of us?). If you work in a circuit, reverse it. Try doing your Saturday workout on Monday and then going backwards through your weekly workout.
Remember, our brains (and hence our bodies) love habituation. That can be a great thing, or it can be not so great. If your body and mind don’t know what to expect from your workout, it is going to create change in your outcome. So don’t just mix things up, but remember that going backwards might be just what you need to keep moving forward with the continued success you are looking for.
I’ll be at TFC for Senior Strength at 11:30, cardio-sculpt at 6 and Pilates/Yoga at 7 and chances are good, I’ll be keeping today’s blog entry in mind as we workout, so if you are coming to class, that’s your warning!
Biggest Loser week 3, tonight. See you tomorrow. Thanks for stopping in and hoping some backwards thinking is just what you need to keep moving forward!