Fasting? Keep fit with these top 3 exercise tips for Ramadan
Working out is about energy expenditure, the goal of working out is to stress the body and tear muscle down to make it stronger
Abstaining from food and water during the hot summer month of Ramadan will be very challenging for most Muslims, and even harder for those who have a regular fitness routine. Working out is about energy expenditure, the goal of working out is to stress the body and tear muscle down to make it stronger.
Fasting has a very stressful affect on the body, your hormones and organs, so there would be nothing worse than adding to that a gym session or activity that requires energy and fuel from your body. Here are some more holistic tips that will help you improve your wellbeing throughout this holy month.
Tip 1 – Reduce stress
Performing a myofascial release (soft tissue therapy) on one of the major muscles in the neck, called the Sternocleidomastoid, can be the most rewarding in terms of immediate stress relief. As the body under goes higher levels of stress during Ramadan therefore this muscle could be tensioned. This release will give immediate relaxation.
You will need a theracane (a self-massager) for this release
1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
2. To locate the muscle see the diagram below with area highlighted in blue. The ideal area to apply pressure is right underneath the jaw (as most of the tension will be located there)
3. Holding the theracane at the end of the handle use the side adjustments to pinpoint the tender spots in the neck.
4. Most of the tension in this muscle is found in the front and side of the neck.
5. The key is not to limit the pressure you place upon this region. As it such a dense area, it may take up to 5-10 minutes as you release each tender spot.
6. Try to breathe deeply and slowly through your nose as you go through each point.
The great thing about this is that it can be done while you’re fasting as it really helps with relaxing the body and therefore reducing the body’s need for food.
Tip 2 – Improve your posture
In today's world, we spend hours and hours sitting down which can lead to many problems such as back pain, restricted breathing, and migraines. This posture exercise will sufficiently improve elongation in your back.
You will need a dynamax ball for this exercise .
1. Lie back over the ball - as if you’re going to do an abdominal crunch.
2. But keep your lower back and hips off the ball so only the middle part of your back has contact with it.
3. Tilt your pelvis (tuck hips under) and also draw in your navel to activate your core muscles
4. Interlock your fingers and then place your hands behind your head to support the head and the neck (keep them both relaxed)
5. Now slowly take a deep breath in and as you do allow your body to naturally extend back over the ball
6. Repeat this step several times until you feel you can move back anymore
A key point is to keep your head and neck relaxed and the weight of them supported in your hands.
Also do not force your body back, allow your breathing to do this naturally for you.
You will feel a great amount of stretch in your upper abdominals and also if you breathe correctly you will also feel a slight burn in the middle part of your back.
If you do then it’s a good sign, as it means you’re simulating the muscles in the middle part of back.
If you feel any discomfort in your neck and lower back, then stop immediately; there could be too much tension in that area or the position over the ball may not be correct.
You can repeat this exercise 2-4 times depending on how you feel.
Tip 3 – Breathing
Learning how to breath efficiently is a key tool you can add in your daily routine during Ramadan and it’s an exercise that can be practiced anywhere.
The key muscles we are trying to target here are the upper abdominals that have become short and tight from years of sitting down for long hours.
These muscles’ primary action is to flex your spine pulling you forward (like doing an abdominal crunch). We will also target the lower abdominals, responsible for stabilizing the pelvis. The great thing about this exercise is that its really helps reduce hungry cravings while fasting, as it takes away the stress alert your body sends out and helps you relax more.
This exercise can be performed lying down, standing up or sitting in your car.
1. If your lying down or standing up then you can place your hands on your lower abdominals, if your driving then just be aware of this muscle contracting.
2. Draw in your navel and keep it in throughout the time you practice this exercise
3. Start to inhale through you nose slowly and deeply, your focus should be on sending the breath in to your upper abdominals and rib cage, not your lower abdominals.
4. Now slowly exhale again only through your nose.
5. The key point is to breath intentionally and slowly thus creating a balance in the body, which helps it relax and calm the nervous system down
6. Repeat this sequence at least 10 times in a slow and controlled manner.
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