Monday, June 23, 2008

Back Massage, Undulation of the Week

When you can’t get an appointment for a massage or if you are short on funds, you can do it yourself. This undulation works the sore places out of your back.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Essential Low Back Program

Back pain is as common as weekend gardening and surfing the internet. Fortunately, there’s a new tool available to relieve and prevent low back pain: the Essential Low Back Program by Robin Rothenberg, a booklet and 5 audio CD set. The practice outlined in the program was developed for a National Institutes of Health study, and 78% of the participants who followed the program experienced significant reduction in their pain levels—and still had relief after six months.

The booklet is a pleasure to read with plenty of illustrations and photos. It gives background information that anyone with back pain needs: basic anatomy, posture, and the mind-body connection. One of my favorite lines from the book is: “It rarely occurs to us that the body may, in fact, be expressing the unspoken frustrations and needs of the heart.”

Each of the 5 CDs include a separate yoga practice which progress from entry level and builds up to a strong, dynamic sequence. They are easy to follow, as if you were receiving a private yoga session in your own living room, even if you’ve never done yoga before. This isn’t the twist-yourself-into-a-pretzel kind of yoga. This is a therapeutic practice that starts with beneficial breathing (good for anyone), moves on to a sequence of exercises that strengthen and stretch the back and hips (also good for anyone), and ends with much needed relaxation (that’s the essential part).

I highly recommend this program for anyone with chronic low back pain or who wants to improve spine health, or who just wants another good yoga practice. You can view excerpts at this link:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hula Hoop, Undulation of the Week

There are so many playful undulations; it was hard for me to pick just one for this post. Hula Hoop is a great exercise and even more fun when you aren’t worried about dropping the hoop.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Get Up and Play

Have you noticed the US Dept. of Health and Human Services new message, “Get Up and Play an Hour a Day?” It isn’t just for kids; adults and teenagers need more play in our lives, too.

A Shrek and Donkey video created by DreamWorks and hosted by the Ad Council is run as a public service ad on TV. In it, Shrek and Donkey drag kids from the TV and take them to a playground to enjoy monkey bars, swings, and the slide. View it here:

But what about adult play? I’m designing a class for the Issaquah Senior Center, so this subject is on my mind a lot lately. My ideas include a hula hoop contest, a beach ball game, musical chairs (hopefully that doesn’t look like tackle football), follow the leader, and an obstacle course.

Of course, undulation is play that you can build right into your day without the awkwardness of interrupting elementary school students at recess or toddlers at the local park. Fun undulation exercises like Swing that you can do on a chair, Snake that lubricates your spine as you inch along the ground, and Spirals that work the kinks out of your back.

Try Sideways Roll to remind you of the joy of rolling down a hill. You can view a short video of Sideways Roll here. (It takes up to a minute for the file to load once you've clicked the link.)

One of the benefits of play is variety; you go from the swings to the monkey bars to the slide and back again. That’s even more important for adults who are usually stuck in a repetitive job, whether that’s at a desk or computer for hours a day or driving the kids between a million activities.

Variety is the purpose of undulation. You can follow along with the audio for Mermaid, which is sure to bring a smile to your face as it swirls the stiffness out of your spine. (Again, it can take up to a minute to load.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Undulation of the Week, Whirlpool

After you’ve released the tightness in your spine with the beginning undulations and built strength with the intermediate ones, your body will be able to transfer movement from one vertebra to the next. Whirlpool, a mastery level undulation, feels delicious.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Agony of De-Feet

How much do you know about the unsung heroes of your body, the ones that hold you up and keep you moving? Take this short quiz and equip yourself to treat your feet better.

How many bones are in each foot?
a. 12
b. 16
c. 22
d. 26

How many arches are in each foot?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

Are shoes good for your feet?
a. Yes, wear shoes as often as possible
b. Yes, but only if you wear orthotics
c. No, stay barefoot as much as you can
d. The jury is out

Each foot has 26 bones with the capacity for almost as much movement as the hand. Three arches create a pyramid in the foot that, when balanced, evenly support the entire weight of the body. This site has good diagrams of the bones and arches:

Unfortunately, feet don’t get the opportunity to realize their full potential. We almost always walk on flat ground in shoes that prevent articulation of the bones. Some people do need to wear shoes and orthotics, but most of us would benefit from a regular barefoot walk on a forest path, rocky river bank, or grassy terrain.

“You Walk Wrong” claims Adam Sternbergh in New York Magazine. His insightful and funny article can be read here: On a similar note, I wrote an article years ago entitled “Your Feet are in a Straightjacket”

You don’t need to forgo shoes, just give your feet a little TLC and some variety. It will be good for your entire body.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Happy Dog, Undulation of the Week

This undulation meets the requirements listed in my article about coping with fatigue through exercise. Happy Dog is gentle, fun, and it feels good.