Saturday, November 26, 2011

Good Health Ideas

My grandmother frequently says, “I am so grateful for my good health. Without my health, where would I be?” Good health is certainly a blessing and it can be a gift. Several friends of mine are releasing new products just in time for the holiday season. You might find one or more of them to be a good fit for someone on your gift giving list.

SmartCore Training is a 70-minute DVD by Staffan Englelid, PT, PhD, CFT. This video is the best group of core exercise I have ever seen. The DVD progresses from basic core strengthening through intermediate core techniques that make the core active in everyday activities to cutting edge exercises needed by athletes. How many times have you known someone (maybe even yourself) to hurt her back as she was leaning forward and twisting? Mastering Staffan’s intermediate exercises would prevent most of these injuries. I think this is especially appropriate for Pilates and yoga practitioners as well as physical therapists, personal trainers and anyone with chronic back pain. It sells for $39.95 through Championship Productions.

Fascial Fitness is a 58-minute and 20-page booklet combination produced by Robert Schleip, PhD, a fascia expert and structural integration practitioner from Germany. He has been working with fitness experts to create movements to rehabilitate and condition the fascial network throughout the body. The movements are like undulations, but bigger and adapted to more traditional stretches and exercises. This is like giving yourself a myofascial release in your own living room. Fascial Fitness is available through Fascia DVDs for $44.95.

The 10 Minute Rejuvenation Plan outlines a 5-exercise routine that was developed by Buddhist monks. As it was originally explained in a book published in the 1930’s the exercises are difficult and could cause injury. Carolinda Witt has ingeniously broken down the exercises into manageable steps with wise safety precautions. The book sells for $14.22 at Amazon. A companion DVD is rare, but useful, too.

Mary Bond’s healthy posture DVD, Heal Your Posture: A 7 Week Workshop will be available soon, but maybe not in time for Christmas. Mary is the author of The New Rules of Posture and a fantastic movement educator. She has a gift for making esoteric principles of alignment easy to understand and use. You can see clips from the DVD and request to be notified when it is ready at her website.

While I’m plugging products, I should mention my new program, Undulation Break, which reminds people to undulate with 22 videos and a smart timer to set to your schedule. Although I originally designed it for people who spend multiple hours at the computer (ergonomic experts recommend taking a short break every 20 minutes), I’ve found it useful for anyone who needs a reminder to undulate. It is just $24.95 and you can try it for free.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Walking: Roll Through The Feet (Exercise of the Month)

Last night as I was driving in Seattle, light rain glistened off the pavement and the street lights sparked. I saw a man jogging with a stocking cap, rain jacket and bare feet. On one hand, I’m a proponent of barefoot walking so we pleased to see that 49 degrees and light rain didn’t deter this man from getting his exercise. “Way to go!” I thought and then, “Ouch!” Barefoot jogging on concrete is too harsh. I would recommend walking barefoot in the summer and in flexible shoes in the winter, which leads us to the:

Exercise of the Month: Rolling Through the Feet

1. Start in standing alignment, with your feet and knees pointing forward. Keep this alignment as you walk, avoiding letting your knees fall in and/or your feet to point out too much.
2. Set your foot down, heel first then roll through your foot trying to feel the little bones in the middle of your foot. Your arch will bounce back rather than collapse if you distribute your weight across your foot. This is like setting down a beautiful footprint from heel to toes.
3. As you lift your foot, peel it off the floor with a little push from all five toes as they leave the ground. Use all of your toes evenly.
4. Let the speed of your walk increase. You can keep this flexibility in your feet even when you walk faster and even when you are wearing shoes.

Karin Edwards Wager, a colleague from Portland, OR, has written a great article on how to choose shoes. Her advice will make it easier for you to walk with ease.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Message from My Shoulder

My left shoulder blade has a twinge this morning. I keep exploring this sensation, moving my shoulder up, down and in circles. I’m attempting to make it better, or worse, but it nags without change. My mind, of course, wants to know: “How did this happen? What did you, body, do wrong?” When my shoulders hurt, it is usually because they’ve been too helpful. In this instance, my shoulders tried to help my hips.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a fabulous yoga practice that focused on grounding and hip opening. Hip opening has little to do with shoulders, but whenever my body attempts something challenging, my shoulders always try to help by lifting or straining. It reminds me of myself as a child, the eldest sister, who needed to perfect my younger sisters’ actions. “Here, do it this way.” “No, no, no, you better let me do it.” My shoulders apparently haven’t given up this annoying habit.

At least I am conscious of this pattern so I can try to change it. I’m usually aware of my shoulders’ tendency and tell them, “Relax, the rest of my body can handle it.” This incident is a reminder to stay aware. It also makes me wonder where else in my life am I being overbearing in the guise of being overly helpful.

In the meantime, I’ll spend the next half hour on a self-designed, shoulder-strain-relieving yoga practice and then a few minutes with a tennis ball to release the remaining trigger points. Meanwhile I will consider how I can learn to let things be.

I’ve been here before with my shoulders and I will be again. Mind-body learning is a life-long process that starts with a body sensation that leads to awareness through exploration and contemplation that becomes an opportunity for growth and change.