Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
For many of my older clients who like yoga, the Child’s Pose is one of their favorite positions—even if the maneuver’s name would suggest otherwise. Sometimes, I would even get complaints in my stretch classes if I forgot to do it, as if they were just little kids.
Most of my clients felt it was one of the easier poses because you don’t have to be so concerned with balance or strength as others, when you’re on your feet. Plus, everyone wanted a great stretch for the lower back. But it’s a great pose to relieve tension in other parts of the body, too. As your body ages and loses mobility and flexibility, the Child’s Pose is a simple, go-to pose, that also stretches and relaxes the shoulders, hips, glutes, ankles, and spine, in addition to your lower back.
To get started, get down in a quadruped position (all fours) with your knees slightly wider than hips width apart. Extend your ankles as much as possible to place the tops of your feet on the floor. From the quadruped position, imagine pulling your glutes back and sitting on the heels of your feet. (Want an easier cue? Push your butt back.) At the same time, gently lower your head and chest gently to the floor. Your arms should be extending in front of your body, as if you’re raising your hands. Lastly, walk your hands forward as if someone was pulling your arms overhead, so that you’re fully extended.
While Child’s Pose is known for its lower back benefits, there’s more to love for the rest of your body. First are your ankles, one of my problem areas. I have limited range of motion in their ankles, which makes it difficult to lay the tops of your feet on the floor. I also feel a much-needed stretch in the muscle along my shins (anterior tibialis) in the Child’s Pose. When I sit back on my heels I get a great glute stretch, along with extending the range of motion of my hips.
For some people—particularly me—this movement is challenging because of a lack of shoulder mobility, another area I rarely worked on in my younger days. If that’s something that you struggle with, go slowly as you lower down into the pose. Stop when you feel uncomfortable. Try to go lower into the stretch every time you assume the position.
There’s much more happening with Child’s Pose than it appears to be on the surface. It’s definitely a pose to be worked into your regimen where you can get totally relaxed. Take it slow if you have any joint pain or injuries, and consult a physician or physical therapist if that’s the case. If that’s not the case, give Child’s Pose a try for 30 seconds at a time, then work up to 45 to 60 seconds at a time.
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