Saturday, March 1, 2008

DeTox Your Body with Movement

Thoughts of detox usually relate to the liver or colon or old industrial plants, but muscles accumulate nasty chemicals, too. Do some of your muscles, maybe around your shoulders, sound crunchy when they move? A pattern of underuse or overuse—like holding tension—will cause waste products including calcium to accumulate in the surrounding connective tissue and sometimes even in the joint spaces.

What’s needed is a flow of fluid to bring in nutrients and carry away toxins. If you think that a dip in hot tub or massage would help, you’re right. You can also get this benefit with gentle movement: a do-it-yourself rinse.

When a muscle contracts, it squeezes fluid out. That’s why a chronically contracted muscle can get dehydrated like beef jerky. When a muscle relaxes, fresh fluid and nutrients can flow in. Muscles that don’t get used also miss out on this vital exchange.

Here’s an exercise to revitalize the tissues in your upper back. Wiggle a shoulder blade and feel it slide over your ribs. First make several shoulder cirlces in the traditional manner: forward and back so you feel your shoulder blades move up and down on the back of your ribs.

Don’t do anything that hurts. You may feel some crunching or popping, which is OK as long as it’s pain free. Rest for a bit before you continue to allow muscles to rest and fluid to flow.

Now do it differently. With one shoulder at a time, draw tiny circles clockwise across your back. Try to create freedom between the shoulder blade and ribs; make it slippery with your movement. Rest briefly before going counter clockwise and then repeat with the other shoulder.

Make different shapes and movements to work all around the edges of the hard spots so they eventually dissolve. It may take months of consistent practice, but you can soften the knots in your muscles. (This is a variation of Undulation #9, Snake Arms, from Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again with Undulation.)

This simple, but perhaps not easy, exercise activates the muscles' internal cleansing mechanism. The key is to alternate movement with rest, creating a regular contract and relax cycle that flushes waste and toxins out of the muscles, joints, and connective tissue to the blood stream where it can be eliminated.

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