Bodies at rest not only tend to stay at rest, when you try to move those resting bodies, they often hurt.
If you're just getting back into working out it's not unusual to feel a lot like the Tin Man in the "Wizard of Oz," wishing that someone would follow you around with an oil can to lubricate your rusty joints. The pain that comes with starting up a regular exercise routine--or from dealing with a chronic pain condition like arthritis--can be enough of a deterrent that you simply don't want to do it at all.
So when we received a complimentary set of the Do or Die Fitness Wedges ($9.99 to $19.99; $44.99 for all three) we wanted to try them out. We wanted to see if these tools would help ease discomfort from common exercises like Plank, Push-up, Down Dog (a yoga pose), Spinal Extension, and many other moves. The tools were created by Gretchen Zelek, the founder of DOD Fitness, and they come in three types, all made of a very lightweight material in a brilliant blue.
The three tools are:
Knee Wedges: For people with knee pain or discomfort. These can be used in any exercise you do on your knees, like Spinal Extension or modified (on-your-knees) Push-up, to keep your patella off the ground while you're exercising, reducing weight on this part of the knee. You simply place one doughnut under each knee for any on-knees moves.
Wrist Wedges: Takes pressure off your wrists in moves like Down Dog, Plank, Side Plank, and Push-Up (where it can be combined with the Knee Wedges). Place one under each wrist, the higher (thicker) part of the wedge facing you and your fingers stretched out over the top of the wedge.
Neck Circle: Allows your neck to rest in a neutral position in any movement you do on your back, including savasana (resting/corpse pose in yoga). Neck strain is common in people who aren't very fit, as they learn new movements.
We gave the DOD Fitness Wedges a try in a variety of exercises and were pleasantly surprised for two reasons: One, our tester doesn't have any issues with pain and two, she's in decent physical condition. Still, she found the wrist wedges did ease strain on her wrists and hands in Plank, Down Dog, and Push-Up.
Push-ups were also much easier on the knees with the Knee Wedges. Our tester also works out outside on asphalt at a boot camp; the wedges would be easy to bring to class and likely to make it easier to do more push-ups on such a tough surface. Since push-ups are so awful to begin with, anything that makes them even a little easier to do is a good thing.
The Neck Circle is a simple circle about one to two inches in thickness that's placed beneath the base of the head. It's a more subtle tool, but for moves like Pilates-type leg circles they could be very useful. Why? To do a leg circle you're lying on your back and moving each leg in wide circles, which requires quite a lot of core strength. When you aren't so strong in your core (that's your abs and low back), other body parts start compensating--including your neck, which can easily cause strain. As mentioned above, this simple tool helps keep your neck and head in better alignment, which may make it less likely you'll strain your neck or cervical (upper) spine.
The combined price of the tools ($45) isn't cheap, so if you're curious you may want to choose the one or two wedges you need most. But if any (or all) of the DOD tools make exercise less painful that may mean they're also far more likely to make you want to exercise more and longer, and in our view that's pretty priceless.
Have you found tools or techniques that either eased your pain or got rid of it, so you could stay active?