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Micro-movements for the Long Haul

By guest blogger, Nicole Dreiske, Executive Director of the International Children's Media Center


Back in September and October, Nicole Dreiske lead our listeners through these exercises on the "Highway to Health." She's graciously provided them here for your reference. We'd love to hear how they're working out on our next segment with Nicole, Tuesday, 12/31 at 8am ET!

-Clare Marie

Micro-movements are one of the best ways to improve blood flow to the extremities and improve focus during long-haul driving. During all micro-moves, you’ll keep your eyes on the road and our hands on the wheel.


When you’re getting started with micro-movements, you’ll want to sit up straight (but relaxed) and make sure that your back is not touching the seat. After straightening your back, imagine that there is a string attached to the top of your head going straight up through the roof of the cab. Feel this string pulling you up a little straighter, so your neck and your spine are now elongated. I call this “finding your center." Do this every time you start the micro-movements, whether you’re moving your hands, shoulders, torso, or any other part of the body.


We’ll start our micro-movements with the facial muscles.


Eyebrows: Raise both eyebrows quickly as far as they’ll go, then relax. Do this six times. When doing this micro-movement, you are stretching the muscles of the entire face, a great, quick way to feel more awake. Next, push the brows down quickly, as if you’re frowning, then relax. Do that six times.


Nostrils: Flare both of the nostrils fast and relax. Again, do this six times. This requires more concentration than you would think!


Lips: Now, we can move on to the lips. Picture the ring of muscles that surrounds both of the lips. These are very powerful muscles that connect to one of the largest muscles in the body, the masticator muscle that controls jaw action. When you’re activating these muscles, you’re stimulating a lot of nerve endings! First, pucker the mouth, stretching it forward to a count of six, then relax it. Repeat the six-count stretch three times.


Next, you pull your lips into a smile to a count of six, then release. Do this smile-stretch to a count of six in three sets as well. After this, bring the smile back in to a light stretch. Studies show that a smile actually releases endorphins into your system, so this is a great and fast way

to boost both mood and energy!


Shoulders: (Up, Down, Around) –Quickly tap a point at the top of your right, then your left shoulders, midway between your neck and the tip of your shoulder. First, we’re going to raise then drop our shoulders together. This isn’t a stretch! Just lift your shoulder 2 or 3 inches, then drop back down. Put some energy into it so the shoulders move at a good clip. Repeat the lift/drop six times. Then alternate, raising the left, then the right shoulder, three times each. Now push your shoulders down, fast as far as they’ll go, then release to center. Do this six times.


Next, circle both shoulders around in a forward motion. Don’t stretch or push. Keep the movement easy, fluid, and fairly fast. Circle forward six times. Circle backward six times. Take a moment and check in with yourself. Notice how your heart rate has elevated and your oxygenation throughout the body has improved. You have actually released tension in the

shoulders.


A quick reminder: Micro-movements are not the kind of exercise where you “feel the burn.” They are small isolation movements that improve blood flow and oxygen, while also helping to stabilize your breathing.

Torso: To start, focus on your diaphragm 3 or 4 inches underneath your sternum. All micro-moves done with the torso start from the diaphragm. To a six count, gently move the torso forward and then return to center in one beat. Next push the torso all the way back to a count of six, keeping your shoulders in place.


Now imagine you have a string attached directly to the side of your rib cage, move the torso to the left to a count of six returning to the center each time. Do this same thing for the right side as well. After this, stop. Again, feel the blood flow and notice your breathing change.


Then do two or three repetitions of a quick series: Forward – back – left – right. Notice how you’ve actually moved lactic acid buildup, which is what makes muscles tired, and sent it out through the bloodstream so you’re no longer feeling as tired as before.


Hips/Glutes: Here’s how we fight back against “dead butt syndrome.” To begin, flex the right buttock on a six count and then quick release release. Do the same thing for the left glute.


Then, return to the right glute, and do six quick flexes. Back to the left glute now, flex it again six times and then stop.


Finally, you’ll flex the left, then the right glute alternately three times: left flex, right

flex, left flex, right flex, left flex, right flex. STOP.


Again, notice your breathing and energy. In each set of micro-moves, you’ve used a

different set of muscles, including muscles that are supporting your organs. They’re a great

way to “tune up” your mind and body on long hauls.


So keep on micro-movin’ and be sure to share any stories about how you’re using these resources on the road!

Nicole Dreiske is an educational innovator, physical trainer, digital media expert and the author of THE UPSIDE OF DIGITAL DEVICES: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart ® , Literate and

Emotionally Intelligent.


© 2019, Nicole Dreiske, All Rights Reserved