Tag Archives | stretching

Wholeness and Calm

Can Wholeness and Calm be Achieved Over the Holidays or Any Day?

WholeandCalm-BODYWISEBodywork

Whether it’s during the holidays or any other day, wholeness and calm can be achieved by changing our brain waves…Learn how you can do that  as you watch my

Friday Live Video


My Fear Recipe

While out on the lake yesterday, I stepped out of the comfortably sized launch.  That may not seem like much.  But to be clear, we were out on the lake, I was in a boat, AND I GOT OUT OF IT to get into a different boat.

As I’ve mentioned, my greatest fear has everything to do with water – but in this moment of navigating from one boat into another boat and completely surrounded by deep dark water, I was not afraid.

How is this even possible?Boat_bow

Fear is a protective response to a threat or danger – and threatening situations come from life experiences.  We are only born with two fears, I wrote about them in this blog post.  All other fears, whether it be spiders or small spaces,  are learned fears.  Water is not one of the two…

A small part of the brain, the amygdala, captures sensory information and elicits immediate behavioral responses. Interestingly, it is considered the part of our brain directly involved with emotions.  So, fear is an emotional response.

Fear triggers physical reactions that are specific and predictable AND happen before we have fully assessed the source of danger.  This is because the amygdala is part of the limbic system, located in the middle of our brain, and processes environmental input *before* the awareness centers are piqued.  Fears are stored in our memory, having been formed from two vital components:  A deep emotion attached to an experience.

Because the amygdala can be triggered well before our rational mind even has a chance to analyze, we can steer clear of fear inducing situations without us evening knowing or recognizing we have a fear.  This describes my behavior for years and years.  I wouldn’t go into the deep end of pools unless I could touch the sides.  I wouldn’t swim in lakes or oceans past where I could touch the bottom.  I somehow justified that I wasn’t afraid of water because I had no trouble playing with my cousins in the shallow end as a kid or later, playing in the shallows with my own kids.

Our brain has the incredible capacity to hold within it many details of a bad experience.  These impressions serve as the ‘ingredients’ that cooked up to make the bad experience.  If in a later situation, our brain recognizes the ingredients from the bad experience ‘recipe’, the amygdala sounds an alert of the ‘pending doom cake’.

The telltale signs of the recipe for our fear are immediately recognizable:  Our heart begins to beat faster shunting blood to our muscles, we may sweat, our eyes dilate to take in more visual information, and our reflexes become heightened.  This is our brains way of getting our body prepared to take an action dependent on its survival.

Rowing_oct_1The experience of being on a boat rocked by shuffling bodies and lapping waves, wearing a life vest, and surrounded by rowers are not items from the ingredient list for my fear.  This is a different recipe.  A recipe for ‘move your body better cake’.

Taking a float test in deep water, floating on my back, eyes open and looking up *is* on that ingredient list.  My amygdala definitely knows I’m baking ‘pending doom’.

This is a practice in observation.  Investigating the source of my greatest fear, I’ve come to realize:

1  Fear is a normal, natural safety mechanism
2  Fear can completely paralyze both physically and mentally
3  One may never be rid of fear

Yet, fear can be a sort of prime to getting the engine started, to taking forward moving action.  Using it in this way can improve your presentation to that large crowd.  It can get you to make that difficult phone call to your family.  It can get you to sign up for a class requiring a float test.

I’m living my life more fully now that I ever have before.  Understanding my fear has demonstrated where I have fear in other parts of my life.  Identifying how fear shows itself in my thoughts is permitting me to make different choices.  Seeing my fear in an open light, allows me to help my children to handle their own fears.

How will you use your fear?

 

Feet don’t fail me now – National Foot Month

FeetFeet go mostly unnoticed… until summer when sandals and nail polish come out in full force.  There are some who show off their feet and some who consistently hide them. 

It’s National Foot Health Awareness Month and feet problems are all over the internet, from bunions to hammer toes to fasciitis to heel spurs, you can read about everything.

But why do we have so many problems with our feet?  Katy Bowman, Biomechanist, says that feet are not healthy because of a chronic pattern in our society that decreases circulation, contributes to weakness, and even negatively effects the joints in our knees and hips. 

The chronic pattern is wearing shoes.  Shoes to the feet are like, oven mitts to the hands – they may protect to a certain degree (degree fahrenheit, of course), but worn all the time seriously limit mobility and dexterity.  

Pink kitchen gloves isolated on white background.

And it’s not just that feet are in shoes most of the time… it’s also that we walk around on surfaces that are uniformly flat.  What the nervous system does between our feet and our minds is pretty astounding.  It’s constantly measuring how far away the ground is and it measures the distance between steps on a set of stairs, too. You’ve felt this when you expected a step that wasn’t there or didn’t expect a step that ‘was’ there.

Take a quick look at your own feet.  Notice the shape and health of the nails, the joints, tendons, and muscles (can you even see any muscles?).  Do you have an arch when you stand or only when you’re sitting?  Do you walk pigeon toed or duck footed?  What pattern do you wear into the tread on your shoes?

All this provides information about what’s happening in the structure that is the foundation of your body.  Without a strong and stable foundation, the rest of the structure suffers.  Buildings are constructed with specific guidelines for materials based on the environment and stressors to ensure value and long term usage. Think about houses for a moment – a house you want to buy may appear in great condition.  However, you need an inspector to determine if the foundation is crumbling.   Everyone knows that investing in a house with a suboptimal basement is a poor choice because the rest of the structure will eventually follow suit.   House foundation

Why don’t we think that way about our feet, too?   Unlike buildings, our feet require more than stability to function well – they also require mobility which adds to the complexity of keeping them healthy.

A woman I know  broke her left foot recently.  After limping around in a boot during recovery, she developed knee pain on the non-injured side.  It turns out that she tore the meniscus in her right knee after favoring her left foot for so long.  Unfortunately, the meniscus was injured because of a problem in her right foot that was identified years ago but not resolved.  

If you suffer from pain in your knee, hip, low back, shoulder, or neck, it just may be your feet to blame.  Improve your foot health and reap the rewards a set of strong feet gives the rest of your body. 

Start off on the right foot by trying movements like these:

1  Open and close your toes

 Toe abduction

2  Walk around on the balls of your feet

 Walk on toes

If you find them difficult or you want even more practical tips on how to move your body well, join us at the
‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ workshop, April 16, 2016
www.bodywisebodywork.com/exercise-move-workshop

DON’T EXERCISE – Research supported!

man looking down cliffThe ‘Don’t Exercise’ blog has brought up several questions, multiple comments, and even emails questioning it’s validity.  From ‘Do you really believe this?’ to ‘That’s great news!’, from ‘What *should* I do?’ to ‘That’s a relief!’

Nearly all of the people who question the truth of ‘Don’t Exercise’ have one thing in common – they just read the blog title and didn’t read the content of the article.  The title is such a controversy and caused such a fuss that lots of readers unsubscribed from the newsletter, even a chiropractor!

A little while ago, another well known doctor and posture specialist, wrote a note disagreeing with my article about ‘The New Sit’.  Guess what?  He hadn’t read the content either, he just saw the image and figured I had bought in.  It turns out, we actually agree that the New Sit is NOT beneficial.

Where do you stand?   

Having read the title, ‘Don’t Exercise’, would you agree with the statement, or disagree?  Are you someone with an opinion and time to write an inquiry?  Are you someone who looks at the evidence or takes time to read up on the subject?  If you read a subject line that says ‘Don’t Exercise’ wouldn’t you want to know what in the world it was about?

I’m writing about it because it’s in the news and it’s not easy to read everything there is to know about sitting or exercise or health – this is your opportunity to get the low down on what the issues are and decide what to do for yourself.

I’m going to come completely clean here – research has found that SOME exercise is better than NO exercise.

This statement is a lot like saying some eating is better than no eating.  Or some water consumption is better than drinking no water.  If you read the following statement, would you understand what it means?

    ‘Cessation of pulmonary respiration is linked to higher mortality rates.’

Yep, I know that.  You know that.  I think everybody knows that.  Maybe not though.  If you don’t know it’s meaning, don’t sweat it.  There are professionals in the field to help translate the science-ese.  Here it is again:  ‘If you stop breathing, you die.’    

What’s the point, you ask?  It’s about understanding what the research has found about EXERCISE and HEALTH.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that the evidence in support of the beneficial effects from performing exercise outweighs potential risks against exercising (eg cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, joint damage, muscle tears, etc) in most adults.  This is a fact considered indisputable because exercise has been shown to support the following list of changes in sedentary individuals:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves lipoprotein profiles
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity
  • Manages body weight
  • Preserves bone mass in elderly
  • Reduces the risk of falling in aging populations

These are all good changes for people who spend most of their time SITTING.  By today’s standards, most people don’t consider themselves chronic sitters. 

However, Sitting is the new Smoking, remember?  Sitting is a health hazard.  A study from 2012, linked inactivity to over 5 million deaths worldwide every year, which is more than the deaths caused by smoking.  The new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine, found sedentary lifestyles increase the chances of developing conditions that contribute directly to dying prematurely, even for those who do the minimum recommended exercise. 

TVThe average American adult sits 9.3 hours per day not including commute times or meal times.  In addition, most people watch 3-4 hours of TV each day.  Potentially, you could be a 12 hour sitter, Monday through Friday.

Here again is the list of what may develop in the future (or you may have one or more already) that makes sitting such a hazard.  Sitters are still likely to face:

  • Higher risk of developing depression
  • Greater risk of developing cancer – colon, endometrial, and lung
  • Greater risk of developing heart disease
  • Increases the risk of obesity
  • Increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Susceptibility to muscular issues (immobility)
  • Interference of LPL, lipoproteinlipase (fat breakdown for fuel)

As a reminder, this is the same list of problems for both categories of people:  Sitters who Do Exercise as well as Sitters who Don’t Exercise.

EXERCISE in and of itself is not the solution, therefore, Don’t Exercise!  If you only have so much time in a week, why bother stressing about getting in exercise if it doesn’t positively impact your Sitting health anyway?

The takeaway:  Time to make a Plan about your Sitting Habit. 

As a non-exerciser, add the minimum weekly recommendation – 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobics, OR 1.25 hours of vigorous activity, OR combinations of both types.  This does not include muscle building activity two times weekly.

What will you do?  How will you do it?  When and How often should you do it?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan – it’s my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

As a current exerciser, here is a very important reality check:  The minimum recommendations of exercise do not counteract diminished health from prolonged sitting.

Let me prove it to you with this simple test!  Stretch your calves for 30-60 seconds each side – I recommend a piece half-foam for consistency and portability.  Sit for the average amount of time you spend in that position.  For me, it’s about 70-90 minutes at a time.  Re-check your calves by stretching them again.  Hopefully, you’re convinced… Please send me feedback on what you experienced!  Calf_stretch

Here’s another reality check:  The body you take exercising, is the same body you use for sitting.  If you do more sitting than exercising, you strengthen ‘sitting’ body patterns.  The test is the same!  If your calves stretch-ability changes while you’re sitting, that’s the movement availability in your calves during exercise.

What will you do to transform to a non-sitting body pattern?  How will you do it?  When and How often should integrate the tools?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan, too – it’s exactly my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

Til then, Happy Sitting!

Sit up or sit down

 

IMG_9208.JPGBodies conform to the shapes of the chairs we sit in: What does your chair ‘say’ about you?
If that chair is overstuffed and cradling your body, you may use very little (to no) muscle to hold yourself.

If it has a straight-back, your neck muscles can probably hold your head comfortably over the upright stacked spine – if it’s curved, the muscles on the front of your neck work overtime to support the head.

In a higher chair, it does not require much leg strength to lower yourself down.  If its low to the ground, it takes a lot of muscle to get there (or you just may avoid that chair altogether if it’s too difficult for you!)

Pay attention to where you sit.  Notice how long you sit.  Vary the objects you choose to sit in, from bar stools to Big Boys to… the floor!  If you can get up from the floor, and do it multiple times a day, you’ll live longer!!

If you do need to sit and the floor is not an option, I recommend sitting in a hard straight chair:

1.  You won’t sit too long in it,

2. You’ll have good support against which to stand up from, and

3. You’re likely to get in and out of it more often – a good leg strengthening exercise which will give you good moves and keep you body wise…
#MoveEveryday, #MoveMoreAgeLess, #BodyWise, #AlignYourFeet, #PosturePerfect, #CreateYourLife, #BetterMovement, #GoodMovesGreatLife

Fast Reproaching

Shore_overcastWhen Seasons Change:

What to do when time conspires against you

The weather is cooling and the rain is menacing.  For many, that means very little  time outdoors.  Less time outside begats less exercise.  Less exercise invites weight gain.  Add ‘The Holiday Season’ and the pounds spike up to numbers we’ve never  believed possible.

Studies indicate an average of 5lbs will be gained by people already carrying more weight than is optimal.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/the-skinny-on-holiday-weight-gain/

And what’s a few more pounds?  Yet, if you gain what’s typical (5lbs) every year, that’s a whopping 50lbs after 10 years.  And to take it one step further, will it be easier to change 10 years of habits in order to take off the weight?  Most people have a hard time making shifts that create change.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a very specific determinant that affects how quickly the aging process takes place.  Thoughts turn to genetic predisposition, environmental exposure, available food sources, etc.  However, the

Lifestyle choices are the single most important factor in reducing age-related body changes.  And it’s not just the choice of which desserts to choose from during the holidays – it’s the choices you make everyday of the year.

Most everyone knows what they should not eat and that exercising is good…

But how does one know  what should be eaten and what exercises to do?

  • First, understand what you don’t know.
  • Second, decide the goal.
  • Third, choose a plan of action.

If you need help, BODYWISE specializes in assessment, manageable exercises, and supporting your progress.  And because of the holidays, there is a special to celebrate you getting where you want your health to be…

www.bodywisebodywork.com/specials

Let me help you!  Make 2015 the year you do it right.

Simple Pain – Astounding Solution

Like most, I feel it when I bend over.  The back of my legs aren’t as loose and free moving as I want them to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I can bend over and touch the floor with my fingers so my hamstrings aren’t short by any means (most people have trouble touching their own ankles with a straightened leg).

But I have been woken up at night by my stretching because the backs of my legs have felt tight.  And interestingly, the right has felt tighter than the left.  So, what is a massage therapist to do?  I already get regular massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy and those haven’t addressed (or identified) the CA– USE.

I decided to spend time in objective observation, alongside sessions of regular stretching.  And there it was, I found it!  I found the pattern that made the right hamstring and calf tight.  The same pattern that caused a muscle that controls my big toe to get sore after walking around DC for four hours while on vacation.

Now wait a minute.  Tight calf.  Tight hamstring. But she can still touch the floor.  Sore toe muscle.  It doesn’t appear connected, or does it?  What’s really going on here is an exercise in *induction*.  One must understand that if a muscle is sore, it has been overworked – so the muscle responsible for moving my toe was working hard after I walked for so many hours.  That muscle(s) is in the calf so that makes sense because it’s been tight.  And the calf is a part of the ‘flexor chain’ on the back of the leg so if it’s tight, the hamstring may also be tight.

And where there are tight muscles, there is also a change in the structure (posture).  So what about my alignment is promoting this shortness?  The answer:  My right hip shifts forward.

This may sound funny or strange or incredulous:  How can a healthy person who receives regular bodywork treatments end up with a condition that went unidentified for months?  Patterns reveal themselves but often take time to develop noticable symptoms.  Follow the symptoms and don’t stop until the cause reveals itself.

This is the same process I use for resolving chronic and acute pain in clients.  It works… every time.