Winter has most definitely arrived in the midwest. We've shoveled snow already.... 4 times? More? Is it sad that tomorrow is the first day of December and I've already lost count?
I talk a lot about the importance of WALKING. Just like we need certain nutrients in our diet, we NEED walking. Think of walking as the movement equivalent of a kale salad, or a grassfed beef liver, or some bone stock (which I currently have simmering as we speak).
You body NEEDS to walk. And just because it's winter, that biological requirement doesn't go away.
So what's a gal or guy to do?
First... can I admit something? I haven't been very good at walking the last 2-3 weeks. Actually, I have not been practicing what I preach at all. And you know what? I started getting some pain in my right glute. Not. Cool. So guess what? I started walking again (and of course all my stretching and strengthening Restorative Exercise™ practices) and the pain is almost gone now. I know I need to move so I'm preaching it here- YOU need to as well!
Here are my quick tips for walking in the winter.
1. JUST DO IT.
Seems silly, but it's so freaking true. It's cold. But BUNDLE THE FRICK UP. It's amazing to me how whiney us Minnesotans can be (myself included, just ask my husband), but we chose (or maybe we didn't, but still) to live in a place that can get really cold, so we need to just get some WARM WARM clothes and schedule in some walking just like we normally would. Maybe get up an hour before the kids? Or take an afternoon walk (or both)? I highly recommend some layers- and that doesn't even mean spending a lot of money. Two pairs of pants on extra cold days, your warm jacket a scarf (to keep your shoulders away from your ears!!!), a nice warm hat, and some gloves. Just layer up and go! Grandma says so...
2. Like I said, BUNDLE UP!
I highly suggest you especially wear a nice scarf. I've been working a ton on my shoulders and upper body mobility lately and the LAST thing I want is to shiver so hard with my shoulders up around my ears all winter and cause that kinda adaptation in my body when I've worked so hard to DROP the shoulders down. I'm sure you don't want all that neck, shoulder, upper back tension either! So wear a scarf!
3. Minimal Winter Boots!
And wool socks. Wear the wool socks! I really love Smart Wool brand, but they're also expensive and I'm cheap, so I also have some nice socks from Costco that I love. And don't ruin your feet all winter with clunky, stiff, heeled boots! I am currently wearing Merrell Havens and Vivobarefoot Kulas when it's too cold for the more flexible Havens. They're both pretty cute! The Kulas are much warmer than the Haven's, but not as flexible which is why....
4. Do your foot work!
So SO important to keep the foot mobile with some simple exercises. Really ramp up the foot work this winter. I promise you'll especially thank me in the spring! Our feet are our foundation and if they aren't happy... the rest of us won't be either. It may take time to see the effects of poor foot health, but I promise you- just like if the tires of your car are out of alignment the rest of the car wears down quicker- same goes for your body.
Here are a few simple stretches:
Top of the foot stretch
Ball under the foot
Use a pinky ball, yoga tune up ball, racquet ball, or tennis ball on the bottom of your feet. You could spend a lot of time doing this- I like to work slowly up and down the far left, middle, and right side of the foot. I wiggle my toes, spread my toes, try lifting one toe at a time, all while having the ball knead out the bottom of the foot. It hurts so good! Really find those "sticky" spots and work them!
PS- my tattoo means "sister" in greek and my two sisters have the same one. Since I know you're wondering now.
I don't have a picture of this one right now (I'll take a video tomorrow perhaps, too late tonight), but try to lift each toe individually and try to set each toe down individually. I practice this in the shower, sometimes. I only tell you this because I think it's important for people to understand that the ART of movement is doing it ALL the time. Working it INTO your day. Because otherwise you (or at least *I*) just won't do it. We live for excuses (or at least *I* do).
There you have it! My super simple way to get out and get going! I am going to take my own advice and set an alarm and go for a walk tomorrow before my kids wake up. Don't hate me but the kids sleep in until at least 8am, and we often don't roll out of bed until 9am. Yes, I know come new baby things will be a bit different. So, I'm going to attempt to haul my lazy butt out of bed at 6:30 or so and go for a nice adult paced walk. I go on plenty of kid paced walks... mostly toddler paced walks. Meaning... stopping every 3 seconds to look at a hunk or snow or point out a tree or squirrel. There is such healing and love in that kind of walk and I practice a lot of balance and squatting while waiting for her. So that's good. But there is something to be said for an adult pace! So I'm DOING it. Who is going to join me? One walk a day. Whatever length makes sense for you. On super cold days maybe it's 3 blocks. But that's 3 blocks more than zero, RIGHT?!?!
ONE INTENTIONAL ADULT PACED WALK A DAY ALL WINTER. Can we do it?! If you want in, comment. Let's keep each other accountable on my FACEBOOK page. Mostly I know that if I put this out there I will be forced to practice what I preach and all of a sudden pregnancy is making me extra whiney about the cold. So I'm going to BUCK UP and I hope you will join me! ONE intentionally adult paced walk a day. And if it's get frost bite in 3 seconds cold, mall walking is permitted. I'll post pictures on my walks, and I hope you will too. If you live somewhere warmer... you can join too... but I might punch you if you post a picture of yourself walking in a t-shirt on a beach or something. Just sayin'.
May they odds be ever in your favor.
PS- No treadmills allowed on this challenge. If you want to know why, read Junk Food Walking by Katy Bowman.
Mama Aligned is Lindsay McCoy.