Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #7

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy


Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery


The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.


VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.


7. Cross Twist (Targets: lower back, hips, spine, abdominal muscles)

This FlexSkill is a two-part movement, starting with a very simple “knee-to-chest” movement that you may have performed as a child in gym class, followed by the twisting position that is sometime called a “T-Roll” or a “Crucifix Twist” because of the position of your upper body and arms during the movement.



Lying on your back with both legs out straight, use both hands to bring your right knee up to your chest. Take a deep breath, and with your hands on your knee/shin, slowly pull your right leg/knee into your chest until you can feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and right hip. Pull as far as you feel comfortable, and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds while you continue to breathe slowly and deeply.

At the end of your “hold,” slowly extend your hands outward to your sides, forming a “T” shape with your body. Slowly rotate your pelvis and torso to lower your right knee toward your left side, bringing the inside of your right knee as close to your mat as possible while keeping your palms and shoulders flat on your mat. At your most comfortable twist position, continue to breathe slowly and deeply, and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds. Repeat both positions (knee-to-chest and twist) with your left leg.

As you become more flexible and can pull your leg/knee farther into your chest and rotate your knee closer to touching your mat, you may also begin to feel a gentle stretch in your opposite hip flexor (the front part of your hip—an area that becomes very tight in many people and causes extreme strain to lower-back muscles).

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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