Archive for Fitness
Can too much sugar wreak havoc on the best of our efforts to remain healthy?
So we may have to clear our way through the maze of 30 years of nutrition misinformation to get back on track.
Those efforts pay the dividends of living an easier life.
At the heart of our practice in Somatics Exercises is the notion of self-regulation to ease discomfort and regain comfort so it can be maintained.
While our main focus has to do with the application of conscious brain-based movement towards refining our self-perception and the subtle feelings which can flow as a result of natural processes.
This intimate knowledge gives you a leg up on how you feel and how your body responds to life.
When we eat, our senses can be fooled and we can simply overindulge without knowing why since the brain is getting tricked.
So our healthy efforts are like moving 1 step forwards, 1/2 a step back or more.
It’s no wonder the majority of us are weighing 25 lbs. more than 20 years ago.
Look at this about our fat intake (from the Bitter Truth).
Our brain’s are having to deal with food-beverage trickery and our body, well you know the story.
Heck, when I won a t-shirt for winning intramural sports at the University of Texas in the late 70’s, I was given a large.
A couple of years ago, I was given a Wall of Fame large t-shirt to commemorate the past.
Wouldn’t you know when I compared the present to the past t-shirt. The large got larger.
Doing the Right Thing
So, at sporting events for young and older duffers like myself, I continue to see how athletes (and many people in general) are moving backwards, though they “think” they are doing the right thing.
Having kids hydrate with Gatorade is not in their best interests for the long run since their brains too can begin to form a stubborn habit to change.
Our subtle senses, which serve us through feedback mechanisms, can go through an ongoing temporary battle over a longer run causing a disarray and host of unhealthy problems.
Self-regulation is about learning and tweaking to live the fully healthy life you deserve. So some of those best efforts and right things to do have to change.
Plus, it can be fun where we come to understand how sometimes the simple things in life are quite powerful.
When it comes to regulating sugar – which can be difficult in these times – watch the Bitter Truth below.
This is heady stuff so you can watch the long version below
Not nice to have our brain think it is starving and take us on that path.
All that sugar consumption is helping to continue a downward spiral in healthy activities. Bummer!
For a another and shorter version, watch this.
Learn more how we self-regulate and bring the brain and body up to speed so you can stay on a healthy track.
We often hear about a core workout. So how do we go about knowing what to do and what will help us?
The middle of our self is what many call the core. How we move the core and translate our coordination out to our extremities is important. We can then move easily, agilely and powerfully when we need to.
We used to believe our muscles were attached to the bone. Now we’ve come to understand our muscles are attached to other muscles. We generate movement with our brain’s intention. We let it coordinate our actions and we know whether or not there is room for some improvement.
A Complete Core Workout
The core is generally considered to use the muscles of the spine. In the front, muscles such as the abs, and in the back, those muscles which run from the neck to the lower back. On our sides, we can use our waist muscles.
A core workout wouldn’t be considered complete if we left out the hips or pelvis muscles. A typical core workout could be doing a variety of ab crunches so we can help stabilize the spine and protect the back.
Can a core workout be too much of a good thing? Certainly some people specifically focus on the abs. If you want a core workout such as this, just hold your breath. That way you can develop your six-pack abs and stabilize all you want.
Too much of core workout centered on the abs can eventually pull the chest wall down and leave you with a tight stomach, a sunken chest or less mobility. The other way to achieve this is to sit too much and let gravity take care of it.
On the other hand, the one big muscle, the brain, controls the resting levels of our muscles. Mel Siff, the author of Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, noted that reprogramming the brain was more important than strength training or aerobics.
Instead of stabilizing our spine for a base of support we can use our dynamic movement system for easy, comfortable movement. When we need more power, we can use our ability to generate it with a seamless transfer throughout our entire coordinated being.
A core workout for good posture
To be able to sit comfortably with a good posture takes the requisite amount of balance of tension. Too much on one side and we could be pulled too far forwards, shifted to one side, rotated or slumped back.
Maintaining our mobility so we can move comfortably lets us use our natural flexibility to be strong. Lose the flexibility, diminish the mobility and now the posture will struggle to keep upright or even walk comfortably.
When we shift towards a brain based way of reprogramming tension levels, then sitting and walking becomes more effortless. A good posture is maintained by the signals we can self-corrects through our sensitivity of this fine balance in tension levels.
A simple easy core workout can be the reminder it takes. Minor or micro-adjustments can be the shift we need or have forgotten to remember to use to be able sit comfortably upright without a back support. The best back is the one you have and can maintain with ease.
Rock around the clock core workout
Simple, easy movement using an intention to move uses our brain’s intelligence to rewire the nervous system so our muscle to muscle system is enhanced. This enhancement is how healthy vertebrate animals naturally reset themselves and remain agile and powerful.
You can join me in this week’s online core workout where you’ll learn how to rock around the clock and free up the front, back, sides, and length of the spine. We’ll also get those hips and pelvis involved.
All you have to do is lie down, listen and follow along. It’s “oh too simple”.
A core workout doesn’t have to be arduous, we can simply move and coordinate our own powerful actions to leave us both relaxed and ready.
Does Fido understand the art of movement better than us?
The Art of Movement Loosens Stiffness
Aging seems to come with a price of more stiffness, less mobility and flexibility which is a long forgotten memory. So why does Fido continue to move well as he ages?
Simply put, he pandiculates. He sets himself up for successful movement when he practices what appears as those morning stretches. Instead of stretching, he is contracting himself along a series of muscles in order to gain both relaxation and function.
This art of movement practice virtually goes unnoticed by us yet is key to moving well.
Free Muscle Cramps with the Art of Movement
When is the last time you saw Fido run and get a muscle cramp? All we have to do is rollover in bed… and out go the lights. Ouch!
To free a muscle cramp or muscular spasm is no big deal when you come to understand the art of movement which will easily and surely release what seems to be a mystery for many.
A tight, tensed up muscle releases itself not by pulling away in the opposite direction. This forceful method continues to be the way most people go at it.
On the flipside is to use an internal switch by learning how to tune down the built-up or holding tension. This is done by subtle movements in the direction of the offending signal.
Obviously there is an art of movement required here, yet anyone can learn how to successfully release a cramp.
The Art of Movement At Home
Good news is you don’t have to travel far to regain or master the art of movement.
Please join me for an online somatics exercise class where you’ll gain access to the art of movement using the power of subtlety to erase stiffness, regain mobility and restore the lost sense of flexibility.
Youthful movement isn’t just for the young. The art of movement can be practiced at any age.
Back to the question of ever seeing a cheetah or dog in back pain let alone ever seeing one pull a hamstring?
How does another animal tell the other one… wait, I just pulled a hammie… would you eat someone else today?
Unlike our fellow animals, we wouldn’t eat each other at a sporting event or when we merely move quickly enough to feel the pain of a muscle spasm and go down and out.
So what in the heck is it that animals know? What is their secret for not pulling a hammie?
There’s a little known animal secret that cheetahs, cats, dogs and pretty much every animal with a spine knows…
But every human intuitively understand it… even babies in the womb get it…
It’s odd how we really don’t know about it and use it to our advantage… otherwise, the statistic that some 70-85% of Americans have experienced back pain in their life is high when you consider that it happens even if you are exercising too…
Did you know… that you can un-do pain and muscle spasms with a relatively little known healthy animal secret?
There’s no mystery to transforming the root cause of physical pain and agony… you know that one of pulling a hamstring or getting taken out by a back spasm.
Once we understand there is a natural way for a human being to get back on track and be as well as any healthy animal.
Just like animals, we’ve got a similar movement software system built in… yet we don’t access it.
We have forgotten to access our movement software and update it… simply, easily and effortlessly.
Why have we forgotten?
As a human, we’ve evolved in ways where we’ve undermined our self, since we’ve basically forgotten this most natural ability…
How to move like an animal and reprogram our movement software. By doing this, muscles move comfortably.
While this might sound like a lot of work, it actually isn’t, in fact…
What’s ironic is that we had this programming down pat as babies in the womb. As adults, it’s as if we went into a sensory motor amnesia of sorts.
We’ve merely forgotten to remind our nervous system of its capacity so our brains just check out. You’ve heard the term, don’t use it, lose it.
Somewhere inside each of us, is what I call our lost movement files. Like childhood memories, youthful movement isn’t lost, it’s forgotten and the brain waits for us to access these long since forgotten ways.
Healthy animals…on the other hand practice what we think is a secret, yet this is what points a clear path away from those painful muscle spasms… the stiffness we sense… and the built up muscular tension which ties us in knots.
Check back on a future post as I’ll talk more about exercising and having pain. The healthy animal secret points the way out of pain and muscle spasms. In the meantime, you can find out for yourself how to move like a healthy animal again.
In order to have a healthy body, we might want to investigate a different approach to stretching in order to lengthen your muscles and remain flexible and agile.
How is Somatics different than Stretching… same goal different process.
We’ve been lead to stretch in lots of our sports activities… you know … stretch your hip flexors, the hammies, the quads, your back, etc…
What happens when you stretch a muscle…
There are receptors in your muscles called spindle cells which are sensitive to stretch. When you stretch your muscles, they send a message out to the spinal cord and back in to the muscles again. Immediately afterwards, a message is sent to re-contract the muscle. This is done quickly as a monosynaptic reflex, just like when you jar your funny bone, you’ll move quickly.
So when it come to stretching in the traditional manner, your muscles actually re-contract neurologically.
How Somatics is different?
First, you are doing the opposite of stretching. In stretching, you are trying to stretch or lengthen a certain muscle. In Somatics, you approach the muscle through a different process in order to gain length. It’s like you having a mind tool to access. The process is in your brain’s motor cortex and not in the spinal cord like stretching.
If we think of moving reflexively, I’ll call this a level 3 movement, from muscle to spinal cord and back to the muscle. As you walk, this can be considered a level 2 movement, from your brain stem to the muscles and back. This way you can do movements unconsciously and not have to learn again how to walk.
With a Somatics exercise, you are moving from your motor cortex, a level 1 movement, since it is this part of the brain which can create a movement in the first place. It is the only part which can be used to change the resting levels of your muscles via your voluntary and conscious self.
Somatics is designed so you can regain control using your brain to decrease the output to the muscle which effectively lengthens it… With greater control, your movements are more efficient since you are beginning from a more relaxed position. Unless of course, you like to turn the light switch on when it is already on.
If your muscle is contracting, your brain stem is sending a message to have the output at a certain level, by sending out a message to have a number of motor units firing at whatever rate … with Somatics you are taking control of the number of motor units that are firing in order to decrease the brain’s output to the muscle so it lengthens with chemicals generated in your brain-way cool-it’s like free drugs. The good news is, this pharmacy is available 24/7 and it lies between your ears.
With stretching, the information only makes it to the spinal cord and not all the way up to the pharmacy itself, namely, your brain’s motor cortex.
So here we are, same goal, yet a completely different process so that at the end of this your muscle is lengthened… the joint near the muscle is not being pulled by the muscles that attaches to it and you move with greater ease and awareness.
Whenever you want to lengthen a muscle, you’d want to voluntarily contract the muscle and slowly decrease the contraction and allow for the muscle to lengthen.
With just a few reminders to the muscle, you end up with a muscle which is lengthened and now not “ready” to contract yet start from a more relaxed position. This more mindful approach allows your brain to integrate and coordinate its actions, again it’s just a mind tool to use.
Your muscles are subject to either your voluntary or involuntary mechanisms. Again, the pharmacy acting as the voluntary control and your spinal cord just sending the message to the muscle to be ready. Would you rather be ready in a relaxed state or one in which your muscles are contracting to contract?
Somatics reduces the likelihood of injuries since stretching is now found out to actually weaken muscles since they are contracting and recontracting afterwards.
Sometimes it is hard for people to unwed themselves from the concept and practice of stretching like when people lie on their back and pull their knees in towards the chest to “stretch” the back… once again it may temporarily feel good yet you have actually set yourself up so your spinal cord will then re-contract the very muscles you stretched… maybe this is why you keep having to repeat this and hold on to yourself for any length of time.
Injuries being another matter also become exacerbated since what may have set you up in the first place is your muscles overcontracting so that when you tumble or get bumped off course and try to compensate with over firing muscles, oops you get the message with a slight mishap or two. Your result is pain, discomfort, restricted movement, etc… sound familiar… don’t reach for the ice or ibuprofen yet.
Take it to the Bank
If your body is sending messages of being more relaxed then you are less likely to fall, less likely to hurt yourself, since your muscles won’t be working against you and you’ll have an ability to sense them more… so you can readjust more quickly to get out of harms way. And if harm is done, your able to get back in the game much quicker. I am often amazed at how I keep getting older, yet recover much quicker. Yep, I’ll take this one to the bank.
Besides, these Somatic Exercises are mindful tools using your brain to effectively handle the minor mishaps we encounter. As a form of moving meditation, there are more benefits than can be derived from merely stretching.
You are engaged in a learning process whereas in stretching you are pulling and not really learning anything? As you get the “how” of Somatics, you’ll discover how your brain changes the output as you sense your bodies ability with a finer appreciation of how you coordinate your movements… and if you watch most people stretch, they aren’t really paying attention, it’s just an unconscious act of doing this or that since we were trained without really knowing why other than it’s supposed to be good for us.
Hmm, don’t belive me, try it for yourself. Then again I haven’t stretched in 8 years and I’m moving better than I ever have…and oh, the Fibromyalgia I was diagnosed with, is no longer an issue as I use my brain to produce output which has changed the very nature of the painful signals I used to generate… Now it’s a pleasure to run, kick, jump… though I do miss the need for a hotub to recover…naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah…
Got Brain, Get Fit, in an Instant… Your Mind is the Tool.
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