Christmas party survival guide: some simple exercises to help you dance the night away
Parties, parties everywhere - food, alcohol and lots of dancing will be coming your way over the coming weeks. Oddly enough, this is my favourite time of year for all the other reasons. After a hectic November, where I have barely had time to think and my training has suffered, December is a refreshingly quiet month - my diary empties and all of a sudden I have lots of time to train hard, lose the November pounds and get all of my planning done for 2018. Exciting!
Anyway, back to you and one thing's for sure - your body is going to be put under an enormous amount of pressure over the coming weeks. All of the sitting, standing and dancing is going to challenge your core and your lower back no end.
So in today's column, I thought I'd bring you a posture survival guide to help you through these tough times, with some simple stretches and exercises that will make a big difference to your back and ensure you are strong enough to be the last one standing at the Christmas party, literally!
Let's start with the muscles in your bum! Strong glutes are crucial to a strong core and will alleviate some of your back pain too, as well as giving you a toned, shapely bum. In terms of the best exercise, there are several to choose from, but the pelvic glute is always my favourite. Start on the floor with your feet shoulder width apart, knees bent and hands by your side. Now simply push your pelvis towards the ceiling by squeezing all of the muscles in your bum on the way up and then return to the floor. Try three sets of 30 and see how you go. Adding a weight across your hips can be a simple way to make it tougher.
There are hundreds of variations of stomach exercises to choose from. I always aim for the simple but most effective. So try this holding sit up and see how you get on. Start by lying on the floor, hands by your side. Now bend your knees and bring your feet off the floor and raise your calves until they are parallel with floor. You should have a straight line from your shoulder to your hips, your hips to your knees and your knees to your ankle. Simply hold in this position here for 30-60 seconds. If it's too easy, then bring the feet a little further away from the body, ensuring the lower back doesn't arch. Repeat five times.
Now let's lengthen that spine! Your back takes a lot of punishment during the day, so let's look at what you can do to alleviate some of that pressure. Start with your feet together. Bring your hands above your head and join the palms together. Take a deep breath in and stretch your arms up towards the ceiling, inching them that little bit higher every five seconds. Hold here for 10 seconds and now tilt the body to the left hand side by keeping your arms straight and tilting to the left. Hold for 10 seconds and then tilt to the right hand side. Try five sets of these.
And finally the shoulders. These can take a huge amount of strain, especially if you are desk bound. Try this simple breathing and relaxation exercise. Place your hands by your side and straighten the arms and hands towards the floor. Now take a deep breath in and shrug your shoulders up towards the ceiling, hold there for 10 seconds and then when you breathe out relax the shoulders and give the arms a shake. Now repeat five times.
These simple exercises will actually make a big difference to your body and your Christmas party survival, helping to keep you standing tall for longer, with less pain and more movement. One less thing to stress about for the festive season.