When you are a mom it can feel like you're trapped in your body, struggling with tight rounded shoulders, hips, and clunky feet. The list could go on and on. It's slightly different for everyone, maybe instead you are fighting with really deep butt tightness or pelvic floor tension.
It's no wonder release work feels so damn good! Tension builds up over the day and then that pidgeon stretch and chest stretch and downward dog call your name over and over every day.
It feels so good to get in there and melt or pound your way out, depending on your personal approach ;) I recommend the melt and breathe approach personally, often the pounding just creates more tension (you can read about it here)
And while I love release work and I teach my students how to do releases I have 2 things to say about it.
1. If all you do is release work, it won't stick. Do you really want to release the same thing every day just so you can move without pain? I know I don't have time for that.
2. That area is tight for a reason. Your body isn't stupid, it's trying to help you out. So if you do release work and don't do any smart strength work, you may just create instability, which is often why that area is tight, it's your bodies way of creating stability.
I'm guessing your me time is precious, and you might have other things you would like to do instead of rolling out that hip again.
And in the long run if you aren't releasing the right thing, it can make things worse. Sometimes those complaining muscles that feel tight are actually stretched way out and holding on for dear life which is why they are complaining. They don't actually need to be stretched, they might need to be strengthened.
Here are two smart ways to get a tight complaining muscle to feel better:
1. Pair it with some very specific strength work so your body can integrate that new muscle length and not just go right back to the tension holding pattern it was in before. It needs to be shown a strategy so it can do something different, which is what we really want. What has been happening sucks, let's see if we can encourage something different to happen instead.
2. Instead of releasing it in the traditional sense, strengthen it through it's whole range of motion. Make it work and at the same time show it how to get both short and long and everywhere in between. With this approach you are teaching it to move again instead of gripping.
Do you see how it isn't as simple as release the part that is complaining?
It helps to have an understanding of the relationships between the muscles in your body. You may not have that understanding personally, but many corrective exercise specialists like me or physiotherapists do, so use us! You can book a free consult with me right here and find out how to work with me here. No matter who you see make sure that they will take the time to explain why they think you body might be holding onto tension in that way and give you a couple exercises to start retraining that pattern.
So let's look 2 common patterns and how to use both smart release approaches.
Pidgeon stretch your go to? Do you have pain in your deep butt?
So many things going on here, and without actually testing how you are moving I can't give you the perfect fix but, If you've got that deep butt tightness your big butt muscle probably isn't working very well.
So instead of doing pidgeon every night I would try two different things.
1. Try releasing this little muscle in the front pocket area of your hip. You may not realize it's tight but it probably is. When this one is over working it makes it really hard for the Gluteus Maximus, your big butt muscle to fire. The first part of this video releases that muscle (Tensor fascia lata)
Then do some strengthening for your butt. You could try this hip thrust.
OR you could make that tight deep butt muscle work through its range like this.
Tight between and under your shoulder blades?
Don't just squish a tennis ball between those sore spots and the wall. Often these ones are complaining because they are too long and aren't moving. If you've got any round to your shoulders you would be better off releasing your chest instead of those complainers on your back. You can do it like this.
Then you could work on strengthening those back muscles as you teach your chest muscles to lengthen like this.
Now I want to hear from you.
What do you think?
What are you stretching or foam rolling every day?
Do these ideas I just wrote about make sense to you? Did you try either of the techniques? How was it?
Donyne is a postnatal corrective exercise specialist, which means she loves to help you breathe easier and find your abs, butt and pelvic floor no matter how long it's been since you had kids.