Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A broom stick, for an amazing workout with children

We are pleased to host Boaz Nahaissi, a Pilates and flystick trainer, who has developed a new exercising method with an accessible instrument – a broom stick. The activity we suggest here is for children from age 3-4 and adults.

The exercise is based on an every household instrument (broom stick), and will help you to improve your posture and flexibility, while enhancing your body and movement experiences.
Every simple stick can turn into a physical magic wand. By performing a series of exercises in different levels that build one on top of the other, an energetic reaction is formed in different body tissues, and they are enriched in liquids and gain circulation which affects the performances of the joints, muscle and connecting tissues; the body is stronger, fitter, slimmer, lengthier and more flexed.

The method is build from a well organized series of 22 exercises, but you can choose any number of exercises, as long as you keep performing them in their general sequence.

You can exercise indoors or outdoors, at the beach, at the park or at the playground.
Remember – you don't have to do it perfectly, it's the movement experience that is important, especially for children. Enjoy :)

1. Simple Stretch – First, make sure that the stick is placed on an anti-slip surface (you can also use a silicon surface for hot pots).
Hold the stick when one end is placed on the ground, and the other is held with your 2 hands, stretched forward to the fullest. Start lowering your back in a curved angle, one vertebra at a time. Let the stick lead you to the edge of body stretch and stop. Push your pelvis backward, stand on your full feet and inhale. Slowly curve back up until standing straight at your full height, while exhaling.

2. Simple Twist – Assume primer position like in exercise no. 1. Bend your left foot. Lean forward and turn your chest and hands to the right. Make sure that your left hand holds the stick lower than your right hand. Press the stick against the ground to enhance the twist.  Change sides.

3. Simple Side Stretch – Place the stick to your side on a non-slippery surface/floor. Stretch your right hand to the side, shift your body weight to the left and raise your left hand to the upper end of the stick. Feel how your left side stretches. Change sides. Make sure you are not leaning on the stick but just use it, keep your body gravity center.

4.a. Scapula Grip – Place the stick behind your back and keep it stable with your elbows. Make sure your relax your shoulder and leave them spaced and not clenched. While exhaling try and stretch your tummy and look upward along with raising your upper torso. Arch your back above the stick.

4.b. Stand in a lounge position. Your right foot bent forward, your left foot stretched backwards on your footpad. Arch your back above the stick and raise your look and chest upward and forward. Feel how the tissues in the belly and thigh stretch. Change sides.

5. SG Warrior – Assume the warrior position. Right leg faces forward and bent, left leg turns to the side and stretched, while the entire foot is pressed against the ground. Hold the stick against your back with both hands stretched to the sides like wings. Keep the inner elbow against the stick. Tilt the upper end of the stick towards the sky and the lower end downwards and backwards. Change sides.

6. Flamingo Stretch – Stand on your left foot and bring the edge of your left foot to the center of the stick while both hands hold the stick close to the foot (If the hands are too much spaced the stick might break!). After several seconds of trying to balance yourselves in this position, try and stretch both your back and chest. Change positions to the other foot.  Once you have accumulated some confidence (you can also do it while leaning against a wall), try to straighten the foot which is on the stick while exhaling, and bend it back while inhaling. Change sides.

7. Kneeling Arch – Stand on both your knees, while the stick is placed behind you on a slippery surface. Hold the stick in his upper end. Raise your chest upwards to the sky and send the stick backwards while your pelvis is leaned forward.

8. Cat Balance – Stand on your six, hold the stick with your right hand at your shoulder's height and allow your elbow to "look" downwards. Feel the back's side-wide muscle holds the stick and not your shoulder and neck! Try to raise your left foot backwards while keeping your center balance. Change sides.

9. Doggy Leg Stretch – Stand on your six, stretch your hand to the side holding the stick, and keep your elbow bent.  Raise your tight foot and move it all the way to the side towards the stick. Stretch it backwards while exhaling, and keep her elevated. Change sides.

10. Climbing – Lay on your belly and place the stick in front of you on a slippery surface. Start climbing one hand after the other towards the higher end of the stick and lead your back and belly to a stretch. Allow your elbows to move forwards and feel the wide-back muscles work as they help you to move up.

11. Sitting Back Bend – Sit on the floor and stretch your legs to the stick's width's.  Hold the stick at both ends, close to your feet. Now, upon exhaling pull the stick and try to arch your back towards the center of your legs.

12. Sitting Twist – Stay sited, hold the stick at its center with your left hand and press both foot-pads against it. Send your chest and right hand to a back twist. Try to stretch and align upwards.  Change sides.

13.a. Single leg Stretch – Lay on your back, hold the stick at its center, and place your right leg on its center. Bend your upper back and try to rise from lying to sitting, and then try to go down to lying again.

b. Lay on the ground and stretch your right leg upward while exhaling. Change sides.

14.a. Rolling Like a Ball – Sit while you are leaned against your sacrum bone. Try to stay stable and detach both feet from the ground while your legs are bent.

b. While exhaling stretch both legs to a full stretch and try to stay stable on the transitions stages.

c. Go back to the –a- position, stay bent on your sacrum bone and hold your legs against the stick. Roll backwards on your back, but make sure you curve your body through the movement.

15. Simple Hanging – Hold the stick and invite your kids to hold the stick standing with their back turned to you. Now try to lift the stick with the kid, first to you elbow's height, and then, if you can, all the way up to the sky.

16. Airplane – Lay on your back and hold the stick. Invite your Kids to stand in front of you, and place your feet in a diagonal angle against your kids pelvis (hard bones). Encourage them to jump and lean against the stick you are holding. Lift them as high to your fullest stretch. Now pull the stick back and forth, "rocking" your kids.

17. Cygent – Lay on your belly and place the stick behind your back, elbow's folded in Scapula grip. Leave your lower ribs on the ground and detach only your upper back above the stick. Try to lean against the stick and above it. Concentrate on stretching your belly, and not on contracting your back.

18.a.  Power Single Leg Stretch – Lay on your back and hold the stick at your shoulder width. Bend your upper back and raise your head. Raise your left leg simultaneously on 90/90 to you and stretch your right leg a few cm. above the ground. Push the stick against your left thigh and feel the work in your belly muscles.

b. Straighten your left leg upwards while keeping resistance between the left thigh and the stick. Change sides.

19. Kneeling Atlas Stretch – Place the stick behind your head, at the lower part of the skull, and place your hands high above and beyond the stick until the head and the arms hold it steady. Make sure that the stick is not placed against the neck. Stand on your knees, and shift your pelvis weight forward while raising your chest upwards for a belly stretch.

20.a. Continuing the position from exercise no. 19, try to lead your hands forwards with a benched back. Try to place them on the ground and curve your back more.

b. Upon exhaling, try to straighten your legs and lift your knees from the ground.

c. Standing Atlas Stretch – Hold the stick like in exercise no. 19, but stand straight on both legs. Upon exhaling, arch your back forward and reach to the floor. Rise up while inhaling in a slow curve back to the starting point.

d. Add a forward stretch in each lift up. End the exercise with this stretch.

21. Standing Split Twist –Spread your legs parallel. Place the stick on a slippery surface aligned to your right leg, and twist your chest and back so your right hand holds the stick towards its lower end, while your left hand is placed close to its higher end. Upon exhaling, tighten your grip of the stick and press it against the ground, straight your back with its help and twist some more. Change sides.

22.a. Twist 1 Leg Standing – Place the stick to your right on a slippery surface at an arm-length to the side.

b. Lift your right leg to the stick's center and upwards.

c. Lean forward with your back and stretch the leg to the side.

d. Try and bring your other hand to the stick and turn your look upwards without falling. Change sides.

Remember to adjust the difficulty level to the kids age and abilities – you can play all of them in groups.

Good Luck!!!

Here is some useful info about Boaz and his excellent classes:
Boaz is a researcher and training developer. He teaches how to use the flystick in special classes spontaneously organized in Tel Aviv, in special workshops all over the country and in the Gordon and Tel Aviv Towers Gyms. If you wish to experience the flystick you can look him up on facebook – Boaz Nahaissi or in the flystick official page:  https://www.facebook.com/TheFlystick/


The responsibility of performing the exercises correctly is upon the parents/educators/guides. The games and recommendation are not meant to replace an expert advice if needed.

© Reserved to the writer – Boaz Nahaissi and Sharon Michaeli-Ramon and Togi 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

12 exercises for strengthening our feet, posture, stability and movement

Our feet are our connection to the ground, and the base of our posture and movement. There are 26 bones, 36 joints and lots of muscles and tendons in them. Our feet must be both flexible and strong in order to stabilize us and enable us to live active lives.
As we  grow old our feet and ankles are weakening, and in our modern world where they are usually wrapped-up in shoes, their flexibility is constantly at risk, leading to the fact that we are not very stable in some of the activities. We must also remember that our feet and posture also affect our knees and pelvis, as part of the lower body movement chain.

In different cultures the feet represent the body as a whole, and healthy feet are like a mirror to the healthy body.Many illnesses first affect our feet.

Good posture - both in movement and static - enables us to be confident in our daily activities.
Since most people don't really know how to strengthen their feet and toes, we decided to share with you some easy and joyful exercises that are important at any age, from 2 yo to a 120 :)

1. Standing on the tip of your toes, and than on your ankles. If you cannot hold yourself straight at the beginning - use something to lean on or hold hands with the person next to you.

2. Stand on only one foot for several seconds, while the other is held in the air, and then change feet. 
Add some jumping on one foot. You can also stand on one foot and stretch the other one backwards or forward.

3.Stand on your 6 or your 4 - on the edge of your fingers and toes - shift the weight of your back from fingers to nails and vice versa, forwards and backwards.Repeat this several times.
Attention: at first this might be difficult, so only perform it with 2-3 repetitions,and slowly raise their number.
*Little kids use tire fast after several repetitions, and then they like to hide underneath us or climb on us.

4. Spread your toes as much as possible, and then tighten them as much as possible. It might feel weird at first or even might hurt a bit, but the improvement is fast and very enjoyable.
Twist the ankle joint both ways, pose in flex and point.

5.Spread your feet to the sides - as wide as you can without any exterior force, and remain in this position for 5-10 seconds.
Close your feet one above the other, hold for several seconds, and switch sides.
Place parts of your feet on the opposite ankle, and perform a "mini-massage" of the ankle/feet-arch to the feet's side.

6.Open and widen the space between your toes - it really opens up the movement and breathing space of the joints.

7. Flex your feet - forward, backwards, to the sides - very gently and while listening to what your body tells you it can do, and the movement range of the feet. smaller children might need some assistance.
*For flexibility from your age and massaging toddlers - please see the book "Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage" by Frederil Leboyer.

8. Stand on "Spaghetti" or a broom's-stick and shift your weight back and forth.

9."Spaghetti" walking  - requires work from the stabilizing muscles. You can also walk on any other wall. (For more examples please check our post about balance).

10. Spread different objects on the grass/floor/sand and collect them using only your toes, slip them on your feet, pick them up in collaboration with your partner/child/friend - only with your feet, no hands. 
You can pile all the objects you have raised to one big pile, or you can each have your own pile.
Suggested objects for this exercise: small hoops, pencils and pens, cotton balls, wrinkled papers etc.
It might be hard at first - do not despair!

11.Side position - lean on your hand/forearm - raise your upper leg up. This also works on you back muscles and abs.
Kids really love this one.
Attention - perform very little repetitions.  If you feel pain in your lower back - stop and do not force your body.

12. Try to walk barefoot as much as possible - at home, on the sand at the beach, on the grass in the park.

Health & Joy !

All the responsibility is on the parent and/ or educator
All the posts and materials belongs to togi let's play, and the writer ©