Thursday, August 28, 2008

Undulations for Back Pain

Every time I give an undulation class, someone with chronic back pain gratefully reports relief. That is the reason I teach—and, of course, I love the excuse to undulate for an hour.

This week’s class had an unexpected twist. A 9-year old girl joined us. It was fun to see the fluid motion of a young body in the mix. Afterwards, she told me that her back had been hurting all day, but now “felt all better.” She then insisted that her mom buy my audiobook so they could do the exercises at home.

It may seem as though back pain needs a monumental solution. However, the answer can be as easy as small movements that lubricate your spinal discs and ligaments. Give it a try. You can listen to sample exercises by going to: and

Monday, August 25, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Functional Exercise

I’m in the process of writing a series of short books on undulation: 5 Undulation Exercises for Low Back Pain, 5 Undulation Exercises for Computer Users, Undulations on the Ball, etc. After that my next book will be about the daily activities that are necessary to keep strength and balance as we get older.

I developed this list after I taught a class at a retirement community and learned than many seniors aren’t able to get on the floor. Actually, they can get down, but have such trouble getting up that they stop using the full capacity of their legs and then start a downward spiral of weakness.

So here are my 7 Things You Need to Do Every Day to Stay Active Longer. (I intend to find a shorter title before it’s finished.)

1) Avoid injury by avoiding painful movements
2) Breathe consciously and fully
3) Explore the range of motion of all joints
4) Squat to develop the big muscles of the legs, thighs, and hips
5) Stand on one leg (one, then the other) to build hip stabilizer strength
6) Add variety to your movements with undulations or other new activities
7) Hug somebody

By the way, I'm teaching a class at the Issaquah Senior Center on Tuesday mornings that incorporates these exercises.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Swing, Undulation of the Week

Do you remember the joy of swinging as a child? Recreate the wonderful feeling of flight right in your living room and strengthen your back and your core, too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Learn from Olympic Rowers

About a year ago, my right shoulder froze (see Now, my left shoulder is restricted in movement, because I repeatedly took it beyond its range of motion when practicing a dance last week. I’ve also been watching the Olympics; the rowers remind me of good shoulder body mechanics.

1) Each stroke of the arm starts in the feet.
2) The motion connects fluidly from foot, through leg, through torso, then the shoulder and arms carry through.
3) The entire body is engaged, not just the arms

You don’t have to be an Olympic rower to benefit from using your arms this way. Stay connected through your core to your feet when lifting a heavy bag of groceries or opening a heavy door to prevent injuries and gain strength.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Jerk, Undulation of the Week

We are told to let go of stress? But how? Send stress flying out your fingertips and surging from your skin with a twitch.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic Undulations

There’s plenty of opportunity to observe undulation as you watch the Olympics. Here’s a great example. I found a great video on a triathlete’s blog, because it talks about undulation. (This site is informative, too.) Look at Michael Phelps breaking the 200 m butterfly world record in Melbourne last year.

His undulations underwater, especially after each turn, are absolutely amazing. No wonder he is so strong!

Also notice how the athletes are shaking their muscles to relax before the race. This is like Undulation #29, The Jerk. Try it next time you want to shed some unnecessary tension.

You’ll find plenty of undulation in every sport. The runners who let the motion flow through their bodies will be faster than those who pound the pavement. The crew members who row in an undulation from feet through fingers will be more powerful than those who pull from arms and shoulders only.

If you see a particularly amazing undulation while watching the Olympics, please post a comment to let me know to watch for it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dance to the Music, Undulation of the Week

Simply put on your favorite music and let your body follow along for relaxing and refreshing exercise.

Friday, August 1, 2008


August is here, the month of relaxation. While we don’t live in France where many people take the month off, we can adopt a less stressful attitude, and this starts with regular relaxation. It’s not slacking—no—this is an important activity for your health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, relaxation techniques help to lower blood pressure, slow heart beat, increase blood flow to tissues, and reduce muscle tension. Other benefits include improved immune system response, more complete healing, better sleep, and usually a happier life.

Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t count though. Dr. Weil’s website describes a very effective progressive relaxation exercise. There are a variety of relaxation therapies, including the use of music and aromas. My mom gave me a bottle of essential oils for “Peace and Calming.” It’s amazing how effective taking the time to smell a soothing fragrance can be! Most people find being in nature to be soothing, like fishing or a walk in the woods.

Like all other health habits, relaxation is best practiced regularly. Experiment and find the techniques that work best for you.