Restorative / Post Performance
This is a relaxing wellness workout focused on stress and pain reduction as well as resetting the body and mind after an intensive physical period.
This could be done after an athletic event, performance event, or just an extra-tough week at the gym. For me, after spending a week of performance in the theatre, my mind and body both need some attention. I usually have the day after a show run off, so it is also important that my restoration routine can be done at home and in a small space.
This weekend concluded the kick-off production of Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s 12th season. Now that the season is in full swing, we will go pretty much non-stop through May, so join me in this quick restorative session that will keep our bodies tuned for the duration.
What you need:
Stick Roller (sub: rolling pin)
Therapy ball (sub: tennis ball)
Yoga mat (sub: any soft/comfortable surface)
Heating pad (make your own by filling a large sock with rice)
Calming music or a guilty pleasure TV show (mine is FRIENDS 😜)
Step 1 “Body Rolling” (20 minutes, aiming to treat the whole body)
Simply put, body rolling is the technique of self massage. The benefits of which are many – myofascial release (breaking up what’s commonly referred to as “knots”), increased circulation, enhanced mobility, and accelerated recovery time to name a few.
There are three tools I like to use for this, a foam roller, stick roller, and therapy ball. I work from the largest to the smallest as the smaller tools get deeper into your muscle tissue. Read more about the technique of body rolling in an upcoming blog post: "The Do's and Don'ts of Body Rolling."
Step 2 “Light Yoga” (30 minutes, restorative stretches and strengthening)
Now “Light Yoga” is a term I made up, but I think it paints the picture. I think of my restorative day as a cool down. When you go for a hard run, it’s not healthy to abruptly stop – it’s important to walk and gradually slow the body back down before concluding. I find this is true after a performance run as well. As much as I would love to do nothing the next day, dedicating this “cool down” session to my body provides that my actual resting time will produce better results. You can tailor these exercises to what works for you, but here is the basic outline of my “light yoga” routine. I should also note that the below are not all strictly Yoga techniques, but also include elements from Pilates and body Somatics training.
Remember to breathe and work with your breath throughout your entire practice!
(20 front/back, 20 in and out) repeat 2x
Somewhat vigorously flex and point your feet which will cause the body to rock. You want the feet and back of the legs to engage, but try to relax the rest of the body. If you are doing it correctly your head will gently nod "yes" without you trying to make it happen.
(5 front/back, 5 side to side)
Softly posteriorly and anteriorly tilt your pelvis, imprinting the spine and then arching the back. Once you've completed 5 tilts softly rock from side to side, dropping the right hip deeper into the floor and then the left, again repeating 5 times. Aim to keep you abdominals engaged while doing your pelvic tilts.
Begin by hugging the knees into the chest, maintaining the head on the floor. Slowly rock the pelvis side to side and then in circular motions in each direction. You can also look right and left with the head, rolling the back of your head along your yoga mat. Then lift the head off of the mat and hug everything in as tight as possible, followed by releasing back on to the mat in an X position, stretching to your distal ends as much as possible. Repeat 5x.
Cross Lateral Stretches (R hand, L hand, R foot, L foot)
The key here is to equally stretch the toes and fingers in a diagonal away from your core. Try to continue relaxing into the floor while elongating.
Right Hip Stretch
Laying on your back, hug your right hip into your chest. You can also extend the right leg straight up to stretch deeper into the hamstrings or hug your right knee into your right armpit, which opens the hip. Again option to stretch the leg straight out to the side.
Single Leg Stretches (8 times)
Lift your head off of the mat and engage your core. While staying lifted alternate hugging each knee 8 times.
Left Hip Stretch
Repeat the Right Hip Stretch now on the other side.
Single Leg Stretches (8 times)
Double Leg stretches (4 times)
While staying lifted, hug both knees into your chest. Extend both legs as low as you can while maintaining your natural lower back curve, engaging your abdominals, and reaching your arms long by your ears.
Rock n Rolls to Sitting (4 times)
Hug your legs into your chest and begin rocking from your tailbone to tip of shoulders. On your fourth rock, try to rock all the way to a seated position.
Modified Lotus stretches
Sit in a comfortable modified or full lotus pose. Stretch forward...hold for 20 seconds.
Repeat to each side.
Cat and Cow Stretch
While on your hands and knees (wrists directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips) drop your belly toward the mat and look up (cow pose), then engage the belly button toward the spine and curve the back, dropping the head and looking toward the belly (cat pose). In cat pose, exaggerate your push into the mat through your arms. This can help get a deeper stretch into the upper back and latissomus dorsi.
Downward Dog Series
Begin by treading the feet. Then hold the position, while dropping the heels toward the mat for 5 deep breaths. Continue with 4 pliés (bending the knees) and 4 relevés (rising onto the toes). End with an optional 5 down dog push-ups.
Roll to Plank
Keeping the hands and feet where they are, alternate rolling through the spine to find a plank pose (aka "top push-up") and then again pushing back into downward-facing dog. Complete this at least two times.
From downward dog walk your feet in towards your hands, keeping a soft bend in the knees. You can shake the head "yes" and "no" here or bend the knees (pliés).
(2 times, end standing)
Gradually roll up through the spine one vertebra at a time until you end standing. Then drop your chin to chest and reverse the roll to roll down. Repeat.
Sun Salutation A (Repeat 2 times)
Sun Salutation B (Repeat 2 times)
Sun Salutation C (Repeat 2 times)
End standing in "Mountain Pose" (feet together, shoulders dropped down and back, arms by your sides with palms facing forward, long spine). Take a few deep breaths.
Step 3 Heat (10 minutes)
Take 10 minutes to give a little extra love and support to any areas that are still sore or feel pain. I have a few different heating pads, all filled with rice. I microwave them for 2 minutes and then apply to the needed areas. I find that 2 minutes in the microwave usually lasts at least 10 minutes before cooling down. Try to lay or sit in a relaxing position while heating.