MOVEMENT AS MEDICINE: Got 10 seconds? Then you have time for Isometrics

If you don’t have much time but you want to build strength, try “isometrics”. Isometrics is the art of contracting a muscle without changing its length. The bones attached to the muscle do not move either.

Press your hands together in prayer position as hard as you can for 10 seconds. This is an isometric workout for the chest, shoulders, and arms.

Place your interlaced hands behind your head at the base of the skull (occipital ridge). Press your head into your hands and your hands into your head. Don’t move. You will be strengthening your neck muscles.

Some movements in your yoga or pilates practice are isometric. The stretches that your dog or cat do are isometric.

Muscles get stronger when you challenge them to produce more force than they are used to. An isometric exercise activates muscle fibers with equal force in both directions. You get stronger by the effort of trying to move.

Repeat an isometric move several times a day. Your strength in the targeted area will improve dramatically. Isometric exercises take off inches from your waist. They may even decrease high blood pressure.

Do them anytime and anywhere. No special equipment needed. Whenever you have 10 seconds to spare. You can turn a regular exercise into an isometric one. Pause and hold somewhere along the range of movement for a few seconds.

Tighten your muscle as much as you can. Keep breathing naturally.  And keep your contraction to 10 seconds.

Isometric exercises only increase muscle strength in the exact position you are holding. Not the entire range of motion. Supplement them with other strength training.

Isometrics are not for everybody. They restrict blood flow and can cause a rise in blood pressure. They can be unsafe if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Or if you are pregnant. If you fall into one of these categories, check with your doctor first. If you experience unusual symptoms (headache, nausea, or dizziness), stop. Check with your doctor.

Here is an isometric exercise that will help strengthen your neck muscles.

SEATED ISOMETRIC NECK STRETCHES

1.      Sit or stand in good posture.

2.      Interlace your fingers. Place your hands behind your head at the base of the skull (occipital ridge).

3.      Press your head into your hands and your hands into your head.

4.      Hold for up to 10 seconds. Listen to your body.

5.      Now stack your hands at your forehead with your palms facing away from your forehead.

6.      Press your forehead into your hands and your hands into your forehead.

7.      Hold for up to 10 seconds.

8.      Now place your right hand on or near your left ear.

9.      Press your hand into your head and your head into your hand.

10. Hold for up to 10 seconds.

11. Repeat with your left hand on or near your right ear.

 

Summing Up:

You can exercise without moving by adding isometric exercises to your practice. Do them anytime and anywhere. Have fun!

Medical disclaimer:  This article is intended for education and information only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.

Photo credit: Photo 62374847 © Jedimaster – Dreamstime.com

Via Anderson, E-RYT, is a Yoga and movement coach and teaches the Intelligent Movement Forever system of healthy movement in a weekly online class, in private sessions, and at Yoga Vallarta during the high season. This 77-year-old grandmother practices what she preaches and teaches. She is the author of “How to Move Without Pain: A Compendium of Intelligent Movement”, to be released in 2019. www.intelligentmovementforever.com