Fall invites us to cook, get cozy and maybe even partake in some pumpkin spice indulgences. But even more importantly, fall beckons us to spice-up our wellness routine. This season, try adding these healthy S.P.I.C.E.S. into the mix.
S is for Symmetry
Many summer sports require dominance of certain muscle groups or excessive use of one side of the body. This creates imbalances that can result in pain or postural deviations. A few examples include biking, kayaking, golf and tennis. Fall is a great time to work to correct those imbalances. Practices that work on alignment, balance, symmetry and mind-body connection offer a nice reprieve. Great examples of these practices are: yoga, Pilates, Tai chi, and Martial Arts.
P is for Power
As we head into winter, our bodies need to remain powerful for the demands of winter sports and chores like shoveling snow. Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing and even snowmobiling call for power coming from the legs, hips and abdominals.
This is a great time of year for squats, dead lift patterns, wall sits and lunges to prepare your body for activities on slick surfaces. Remember, with each of these exercises, quality is more important than quantity. If you experience pain, get evaluated by your physical therapist to address your technique and form.
If you’re ready for a challenge, kettlebells are a great tool to add weight to squats, dead lifts and lunges in order to increase your strength and power.
I is for Inspiration
If the change of seasons is bumming you out and you just can’t bear to face winter, fall is a great time to get inspired. Inspiration can come from spending time in nature, watching elite athletes perform at the top of their sport, or learning about an inspiring trek or journey. Take some time to cultivate and renew your inspiration. Introspection and goal setting are necessary if you want to remain engaged in your fitness and wellness journey for the long haul.
C is for Core
Along with power, we also need a strong, stable core in fall and winter. Raking leaves and shoveling snow can result in lower back pain if we don’t have a trained core. Another benefit is that it warms you from the inside out. The perfect antidote to a chilly fall day.
To work the core, do exercises like planks, side planks, bicycles and dead bugs. During any core workout, you need to be able to maintain your breath, create a slight lift of your pelvic floor, and keep your navel hugged toward your spine. Using correct technique is crucial to avoid injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries, prolapses and herniations are unfortunately a common result of improper technique. Work with a physical therapist or Pilates instructor for the most comprehensive and safe instruction if you aren’t knowledgeable about working your core.
Patients love the exercise mats that we use in the clinic. If you are looking for a high quality, long-lasting cushioned exercise mat, click the link below to purchase your own.
E is for Emotional Health
At the fall equinox, in the Northern hemisphere, we have the same amount of daytime sunshine as nighttime darkness. But the balance of light and dark begins to shift to more time with darkness, the deeper we move into this season. The shorter, darker days can trigger seasonal-affective-disorder (SAD). And to top it off, the holidays can bring about their own set of stressors. In a nutshell, for many reasons, this beautiful season can reveal some ugly feelings.
What can you do? Spend some of your morning in sunlight if possible. Also, meditation, journaling or connecting with people who are present for your feelings without judging or trying to fix you can help. If none of that helps, make an appointment with a mental health professional or your doctor.
S is for Sleep
Shorter days and longer nights are Mother Nature’s way of telling us to get a little more sleep. Find a soothing bedtime routine and prioritize a solid night of sleep. The number of hours that you need varies from person to person. If you wake up refreshed and don’t feel tired during the day, you’re getting enough. If not, you probably need more sleep.
The best plan is to stop viewing screens and stimulating content an hour before bedtime. If screens are unavoidable, wear blue light blocking glasses so that melatonin, the sleep hormone, isn’t disrupted. Below are four flattering styles of our favorite blue light blocking glasses.
Do you wear prescription glasses at night? There’s even a pair of blue light blocking glasses that fit over your prescription glasses.
Avoid alcohol and strenuous exercise close to bedtime and avoid caffeine consumption in the afternoon. Finally, meet with your doctor about sleep if you have insomnia or sleep apnea.
We hope you take some time to add these SPICES to your fall wellness routine!
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