A spiritual journey: Fitness tips to avoid pain during hajj
The spiritual journey can be taxing on the body, as any extended bout of physical activity
Muslims from all over the world have descended on Makkah for the annual hajj pilgrimage which includes three days of walking between religious sites.
The spiritual journey can be taxing on the body, as any extended bout of physical activity or even a hiking trip. Here are some vital tips that will help reduce muscle pain and allow you to walk more efficiently for long periods of time.
Before you begin any such physical activity, it is important that any tight muscles in the body are mobile and have good blood circulation. The muscles of the lower body and front of the hips is general are used enormously during walking and prior to this can hold a lot of tension due to the prevailing culture of sitting at our desks.
Tip one: The hip flexor stretch for the front of the hips
Step 1: Kneel down on the floor with one knee placed firmly on the ground.
Step 2: Bend the opposite leg at as if you’re in a lunge position at a 90 degree angle.
Step 3: Keep the lead leg forward and maintain a neutral spine.
Step 4: Keep your hips square on and your chest puffed outwards.
Step 5: Keeping your hip behind your shoulder, tuck your pelvis underneath and squeeze your butt muscles. This will increase the stretch in the front of your hips.
Step 6: Hold this and breathe deeply into the stretch, as you inhale and exhale slowly through your nose.
Try be sure your hip are not shifted forward which may put pressure on the lower back.
If you feel knee pain in the leg you are stretching. be sure to place more padding or matting underneath.
Hold the stretch for 2-3 minutes for each leg.
Tip two: Myofascial release for the Hamstrings
This technique is far more effective and beneficial than stretching alone as it can instantly help increase blood circulation to tight muscles if you are suffering from cramps or pain.
This can be done prior to, or even during, the walks.
You will need a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball for more effective relieve.
You can use a chair, step, bench or any hard surface area to sit on.
Step 1: Sit on the lacrosse ball which should be placed at the top of you hamstrings.
Step 2: Keep your knee bent to start with so that the ball can settle into the hamstring.
Step 3: After you locate a tender spot, straighten your leg out in front of you.
Step 4: Hold for 1-3 minutes depending on how tender it is and move your way down the leg covering each section.
Repeat on the other leg.
Tip 3: Myofascia release for the Gastrocnemius (calf)
Step 1: Place the lacrosse ball directly underneath the highest portion of your calf muscles.
Step 2: Place on leg on the ball to start and allow for the muscle to settle in to the tender spot.
Step 3: Once you feel it has settled in then you can place the second leg on top to apply more force.
Step 4: As the tension releases, slowly move your way down the calf towards the Achilles tendon (above the back of the heel).
Step 5: Hold each release for 1-3 minutes depending on how tender the area is. Don’t forget to breathe deeply into the release, which will help the muscle relax more.
Tip 4: Increase efficient muscle activity
As you begin your walk, try to keep your hips back and your navel drawn in. When you walk, instead of swinging your arms keep them by your side.
Breathing is the key, as you inhale through your nose try to breath into the mid-back section.
Try to allow your chest and thoracic spine, which is the middle part of your back, to rotate to a small degree as you take each step. This way you will start you feel your abs muscles working.
If you don’t feel a burn, reset and try to be conscious of the placement of your hips.
Keep your spine extended and your chest puffed.
If you feel any pain in the lower back, then stop as it could be that your core muscles aren’t strong enough to support the pelvis while you walk and also it could mean that certain muscles are still tight so go back to the earlier tips.
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