If you consider your body to be made up of 4 spheres, you can think of them as: 1. your neck, 2. your shoulders, 3. your hips, and 4. your knees. Warming up each of these spheres daily can go a long way to reducing stress and tension in your body. Note: be sure to do these warm-up exercises carefully (preferably in front of a mirror), after having been properly trained in their use. In addition, if something hurts, please stop doing the exercise and see your trainer.
Do 5-10 repetitions of each of these, per side/direction. Be sure to work each side/direction the same amount of repetitions.
1. Neck: Warming up your neck should be done in three parts: First, look at yourself in a mirror and draw small to medium-sized circles with your chin. This will help move your neck without going too far. Next, draw figure-eights with your chin, still watching yourself in the mirror (don't go too fast!). Finally, turn perpendicular to the mirror, and turn your head towards the mirror. Make sure that you turn only enough so that you can see your opposite ear, no farther. And most of all, think of it as movement rather than actual stretching – this will help you prevent injury.
2. Shoulders: To warm up your shoulders, imagine drawing circles in the mirror with your elbows. Try not to bring your elbows up much higher than your shoulders, in an effort to prevent constriction of your shoulder and neck muscles. Nonetheless, draw big circles, focusing on your elbows as the part of you that's drawing the circles.
3. Hips: Now the circles you're going to draw are on the floor. With your pelvis as the focal point, draw circles on the floor, keeping your hands on your hips and your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet planted through this exercise, although you may find that they will want to lift a little from side to side.
4. Knees: Still on the floor, the circles you're going to draw are just in front of your feet. First, put your feet together, and place one hand on each knee. Then draw circles as indicated on the floor, first in one direction and then the other. If you hear cracks and groans in your knees, don't worry – this is normal. Be sure to make small circles with your knees, in order to prevent pain afterwords.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner