Be happy, healthy and toned at every age
Sore, tired and not making the progress you want in your workouts?
We asked fitness and yoga expert, Jill Miller to share her insight into how to look and feel healthy in your 20s, 30s and 40s. But keep in mind that she isn’t just addressing spots you might think are tough to tone. She refers to trouble spots as "body blind spots." These are areas of overuse, underuse or misuse and she explains they are catalysts for pain and injury. These spots vary with age but can all be toned, tightened or healed with a few lifestyle changes.
What you need to be aware of: Feet, neck and core
Feet: Women in their 20s are just entering the workforce or are in the process of getting their career underway. For many women, this means heels and lots of them. Not good, says Miller. "If your feet are trapped at an unreasonable angle, your toes and all of the muscles and nerves associated with them are bearing pressures that they were not designed to withstand," she explains. "The negative consequences are aching feet, callouses, corns and sometimes nerve damage." Give your feet a break by wearing shoes that are stylish but also comfortable.
Neck and core: Sitting in an office chair for hours every day while staring into a computer is something else many women start doing in their 20s. This puts stress and strain on the upper back and neck muscles as they overcompensate for your head leaning towards your monitor, says Miller. And believe it or not, this can hinder any hope you have of flat abs. "Most people don't realize that their head and neck are a continuation of the trunk muscles, those ever revered abdominal muscles, and if your head is hanging forward, it will throw off the ideal position of the spine and make it very difficult to properly tone your core," she explains. Sit up straight, take computer breaks and work those abs.
Therapy ball rolling for the feet: Place a pliable, grippy yoga therapy ball under the arch of your right foot while holding onto a wall or chair. If the arch of your foot can tolerate more pressure, stack your left foot on top. Allow your body weight to sink in, and squish the ball underneath your right foot. Do this for two minutes on each foot. This helps to restore the "architecture" of your arches and brings mobility into the dozens of joints of the foot, which is important for effective everyday movements as well as workouts.
What you need to be aware of: Shoulders, buttocks, back
Stress from the busy life you're leading now can show up as tight shoulders and back, and a butt that has lost its shape.
Shoulders and back: Your shoulders will eventually round towards your chest, following the trajectory of your head in your 20s, explains Miller. "The further forward shoulders shift, the upper and lower back can become altered from their ideal shape, and backaches can get in the way of your workout."
Buttocks: All that sitting that started in your 20s follows you to your 30s and shows up as a less-than-perky behind. Since a sore back can impact your workout you won't be able to tone that butt like you want to, says Miller. Get your posture in check to see a difference in the spots you want to tone.
Posture re-set: Stand with both feet pointed forward. Contract your buttocks and keep them firm throughout. Clasp your hands together and turn them inside-out and press them towards the sky with straight elbows. Maintain stability in your entire body and attempt to reach the ceiling with your arms, as if someone were pulling you up the sky. Breathe deeply for one full minute. This pose helps you to self-decompress after long periods of sitting with a slouch or a slump.
What you need to be aware of: Abdomen, knees, wrists
Women in their 40s have some wear and tear that show up as pain in the knees, weakness in the abdominals and issues in the wrist nerves, notes Miller.
Knees: Pesky knee issues make it tough to give a workout your all. Not to mention, these issues don't often go away on their own and can require therapy and re-training. "Quite often, knees have accumulated decades of abuse from footwear, or from how you walk or stand. If you notice that your feet typically point outwards when you stand or walk, you have created a pattern of wear on your knees that needs to be corrected immediately," says Miller. Work on always pointing your toes forward from now on to minimize knee strain.
Abs: Weakened abs stem from problems in your spine, often from sitting too much, or from incorrect use in exercise, explains Miller. "Your abdominals may be getting weaker because you are only training them in one dimension, like crunches learned from old-school aerobics. Core training is much more evolved than that," she says. "It's time to wake up the side-seams of your body through engaging your obliques, latissimus and lateral hip muscles in new ways." Ask a trainer to show you some new ab exercises to really work your whole core and surrounding muscles.
Wrists: Wrist issues are commonly caused by repetitive stress from using computer keyboards, cash registers, texting devices etc. These issues are not helped by your constantly compromised neck and shoulders, so work to correct all body issues while also giving your wrists a break.
Full body boomerang: Stand tall and tighten your core and buttocks. Then cross your right foot over your left foot without twisting your pelvis. Firmly pin your right hand and arm strength into your right side then sweep the left arm out to the side and overhead while you lean to the right. Maintain tension in your body while breathing deeply into the left side of your torso. After 10 breaths, switch sides. This move activates deep spinal stabilizers to help improve your posture, and thereby your abs.
More healthy living tips
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and the author alone. They do not reflect the opinions of SheKnows, LLC or any of its affiliates and they have not been reviewed by an expert in a related field or any member of the SheKnows editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. Content and other information presented on the Site are not a substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on SheKnows. SheKnows does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.