I love movement and I love celebrating, thus I always strive to create movement-rich celebrations. For years, I’ve done a movement advent calendar at the end of the year as a thank you to my readers, and as a way of inspiring people to move more in their daily lives. No fancy equipment, just us moving joyfully together during a busy time of year.
Prep work: Get ready for the advent, peeps, and Gather Your Gear! This year we're going HEAVY FOR THE HOLIDAYS. You can pick what that means to you, it can mean just adding a bit more load than you're used to. These are a few sample items you can use--rocks, squash, log-pieces, firewood, kettle bells, a jug of water (screw cap recommended!), medicine balls...what you're carrying doesn't matter. I also suggest a few small stones to have on hand...for your feet. But you make the call here, including using something with a handle if you're not sure you have the strength to keep from dropping the object, m'kay? Show me what you'll be hoisting this season by tagging everything. WHO'S EXCITED? I AM!
Exercise Advent Day 1: We'll start with a little CLASSIC ROCK. Bring your rock-buddy on some up and down action, holding it as you get in and out of the chair. BUT, form still applies here. We're minding speed (speed is fine, but slow moves you differently, and that's the intention here) as well as shin angle. Aim for keeping in vertical to let your back side do more of the heavy lifting!
Exercise Advent, Day 2: Let's ROCK OVERHEAD, yo. This is my favorite move from Diastasis Recti. Notes: 1) Hold onto your weight well (for obvious reasons). 2) The ribcage often needs to be stabilized against tight shoulders or back; your rectus abdominus (RA) will do this for, but you DON'T need to pull your torso down so much you flatten your back or tuck your pelvis. It's only the ribcage we're holding steady to allow the shoulders to open more. Go SLOW, and feel free to put something beneath your head and shoulders if you've got a lot of chin or ribcage lift. The heavier your item, the more your arms and RA will work, but if your ribcage can't stay down it's too heavy. Go lighter if you want to work on mobility first, then add weight. P.S. This move pairs well with some #getoutsideafterwards.
Exercise Advent, Day 3: If you've never tried counterbalancing with an object while working on your squat, try it! First step is trying to get your heels down (you might have to select something heavier), but you can also prop them if you need to! AND a few asked if they're supposed to repeat all exercises daily. Sure you can, or you can just do them once or throughout the day. There's no form here, this is f.u.n. Let yourself come up with the amount/distribution. Then ask yourself why you came up with that way of doing it and if you could do something differently or more challenging. In the end, you're the boss of you. You're your own expert. P.S. My pants were not harmed filming this exercise, even though it looks like I have a hot seat.
Exercise Advent, Day 4: Take a walk with your rock!
We aren't really a carrying culture (we've invented various types of boxes with wheels so we don't have to), which has left us unable to carry comfortably. TODAY THAT CHANGES. You're going to try to walk 20 minutes carrying your load (and groceries or kids are fine too, the point is to mix it up and challenge yourself). If you don't find yourself needing to shift your load, then consider choosing something heavier next time. The form of your torso is what you want to mind--if you feel yourself collapsing around your load to carry it, then you might have gone too heavy. So PAY ATTENTION, peeps. And, as always, have fun.
Exercise Advent, Day 5: ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK! I love this move because all you have to do is move the object around your body. But that move, requires you add some grip, pronate and supinate (rotate, in both directions) your lower arms, challenges your shoulder mobility (we don't put our arms behind us much!). PAY ATTENTION to what your hips are doing, and if you're having to reallllly move your hips forward, back, or side-to-side to compensate for not have the SHOULDER motion. See how one tight part (shoulders or arms) can have your pelvis and spine moving, not because they're coupled actions in the body, but because you'll move them to accomplish the task? This is an important phenomenon to understand. But for today, just play!
Exercise Advent, Day 6: Rock and SOLE! It's pretty self-explanatory, and yes, you can swap rocks for something softer and rounder if you're just starting to move the many parts of your feet. However, the irregularity and firmness of rocks is the next level--a step closer to being able to apply that mobility to moving outside or in more complex scenarios, so rock it up if you can!
Exercise Advent, Day 7: The Pelvic List is probably our second most important movement "vitamin" we offer. To do it, stand with both legs straight, weight back in your heels. Then push your right leg down into the ground and that will help contract muscles on the the outside of the right hip, which will cause the LEFT hip and leg to rise away from the ground. Then lower it by not pushing so much on the right leg. Do the other side. Then try all that with your working leg on a book (opposite leg floating) and you'll practice raising and lowering the opposite hip--try not to touch down for a rest/balance check. If you've never listed before, start here.
For long-time listers, you're going to list on your rock, with a smaller base of support, and maybe your rock even wobbles which will give your list a new "shape" (i.e. it's going to make you work your standing leg more. Everyone, try to keep your arms out of it (don't let the arms do the work of the leg!). Have fun!
Exercise Advent, Day 8: ROLLING BACK AND UP is fun. You can find it explained in depth in Diastasis Recti, but first, make sure you can do it without a ton of momentum. If you need your arms or have to exhale really hard, valsalva (hold your breath and bear down), or throw your legs to get up, don't add a weight yet. After you can get back and up though and maintain form easily, add your rock. P.S. You can also use your rock as a counterweight to help you get back up or even stand up, so play with that too.
NOTE: You are accelerating your rock toward your face when you roll back, so you'll have to hold on differently than how you hold a rock standing. You're not used to resisting an upward motion of a rock, so think about that before you assume your grip. Note: this is also why moving in many different ways is key--there are movements of your body you can't get to without doing more complex things. OK, HAVE FUN PEEPS.
Exercise Advent, Day 9: You've rocked it and now it's time to ROLL it. Your rock, that is. Do it however you can and then try to do it differently. A few ways differently (the pictured version was fun and challenging). The heavier and bulkier your object, the more you'll have to get yourself into it, so choose your object well. (Giant snowballs might be fun!)
Exercise Advent, Day 10: JUMP! You can pick whatever size object you want, but today you jump over your rock.
My favorite takeaway from working with the @MovNat crew is jumping. I've had so much fun learning how to jump and figuring out how to get more of in through the day (I no longer take stairs, I just leap onto and off of the deck when I move in and out of the house; my cat loves it). Once you've learned the basics of feet, knees, and hip stabilization, check out MovNat and the new book The Practice of @naturalmovement by @ErwanLeCorre for jumping instructions. For today's jump, some very general form guidelines: launch from and land on two feet, AND stick your landings. If you're falling once you get to the other side, you can add "landing well" to your jumping practice. Have fun!
Exercise Advent, Day 11: Find a seam to follow, lay down a piece of duct tape, or walk a 2X4 or a log back and forth 10 time while holding your rock. Play with some #varyyourcarry as each holding position will change the movements your legs and core need to do to keep you from falling off!
Exercise Advent, Day 12: Squat on your Rock! The thing with form is it often needs to be adaptable when you leave the mat. When using movement as medicine, the form you use dictates which parts of you move. A grid helps you see where your body moves and where it doesn't. This advent challenge will help you see if you can squat on a tiny surface--to help you see if you can hold your body when your base of support is small (stay on the balls of your feet and also try it with more surface area of a flat foot) and if your squat can support you when what you're squatting on is wobbly. Play with it! What did you discover?
Exercise Advent, Day 13: HOW'S IT GOING, FOLKS? Last night I did all advents up to date in a row and it was fantastic. Let me give you another to play with: Between a Rock and a Hard Place! Start on your back with your rock on your abdomen. Now, try to stand up with your rock in at least four different ways. (To make it more challenging get back down in four different ways too!)
Exercise Advent, Day 14: One-legged squats, to me, is an opportunity to see how well one leg is able to support you through a task with fluctuating load. A loss of balance is changing your base of support through a move and a loss of stability is when parts you've set to stay in place move anyhow, i.e. bending to get a rock will require your knees, hips, and maybe even spine change joint position, but if your angle is moving right to left, that's a loss of stability not necessary for the move. But, that's all really technical when the advent is all about FUN and finding movement opportunities wherever you see a ROCK.
Exercise Advent, Day 15: Throwing is LOTS of fun, but it's more than mobility--there's an element of speed. When we think of the "parts" that move us, we typically think of which muscles. If you calculate a range of motion, you can make a list of which parts move. BUT SPEED MATTERS. If you always move slowly, then you end up only moving the parts of a muscle that move you slowly. The parts in those muscles that move you quickly actually don't get utilized. SO, it's not only a range of geometries, it's a range of RATES. Get it? HAPPY THROWING, PEEPS. AIM WELL (and work to keep yourself stable. A throw that throws your entire body off needs to be worked on)!
Exercise Advent, Day 16: Rock out, peeps! Enjoy!
Exercise Advent, Day 17: Forget those egg babies, you've got a rock baby to carry!
Exercise Advent, Day 18: Move is pretty self explanatory--shifting your weight while your knees are bent uses not often utilized movements of the knee joint (it does more than bend or straighten). Prop your heels as necessary or you can do a lighten version on your hands and knees. The shank rotation exercise from #MoveYourDNA can also help!
Exercise Advent, Day 19: This is a family favorite--you can do it on a log, 2x4, or 6' line of duct tape! Start on one end with a friend (try it with different people, different generations) and pass each other without falling off. Try it different ways and, of course, this pairs well with heavy doses of laughter! You can add a rock by resting it on your beam, or take turns carrying it, carefully.
Exercise Advent, Day 20: You're going overhead, peeps! Carefully set your rock on something high (the top of a fridge works great) to move often underutilized "lifting overhead" parts. If your shoulders are stiff, you might have to lift the ribcage to get your arms overhead--work, eventually, on keeping the ribcage stabilized to move more of your shoulders! ROCK ON.
Exercise Advent, Day 21: Get down, and then up, and then down and up with your ROCK BUDDY. Go slow and watch your breath. Grunting or valsalva is a loss of form (breathing is one of our alignment points!), so reduce your load or your range of motion as you need to!
Exercise Advent, Day 22: This is one of my favorite hamstring stretchers/movers. Biggest thing here is to keep your weight back in your heels and really focus on hinging from the hip! If you've never done this before, try it without any weight to practice form. And, you can carry this technique over when you're picking up other stuff. It won't look exact, but the idea that you keep your weight back and your hips participating--these are GOLD.
Exercise Advent, Day 23: Put your rocks to use and crack some nuts (or grind some coffee beans, or whatever else!). If you've got a gathering coming up, get everyone involved!
Exercise Advent, Day 24: CELEBRATE!