Archive for stretching
This extraordinary act happened during the course of my training to become a Hanna Somatic Educator over ten years ago.
At the time of the fall, I was both surprised and mesmerized by all the movements the little fellow attended to before triumphantly walking back into the woods.
While I was learning about this animal act and how we could use it both manually for the hands-on bodywork as well as for the movement patterns we teach.
What I came to discover is to Move Like an Animal and give up the ways in which I was taught to stretch.
Simple conscious movement done with an ever growing awareness trumps all the stretching techniques I practiced, even those I practiced for hours at a time to “not” relieve my chronic pain years of fibromyalgia.
I had no idea the brain could reset tension levels and didn’t think much of it initially, even though my knee was recuperating from an accident on account of micro-movement.
Tension levels can appear to hold us in place. Many of the compensations which hold us out of balance are held at the level of tension signals generated by the brain.
When we learn to turn the switch off, the tension levels lessen so we can reprogram our muscles for more effective and easier movement. The upside is, stiffness and pain go away.
In the past decade, I’ve continued to put this to the test in soccer tournaments where we play some 3-5 games over the weekend or more during weekly competitions.
My peers fill up the physical therapy and massage tents with all the usual aches and complaints of tight hamstrings, groins, sore backs, calf cramps and more. Just from playing a game so many people stiffen or can’t rest knowing they’ll get even stiffer in between games.
While I’ve had my shares of injuries from the collisions and the odd mayhem which happens, I continued to foster the ability to Move Like an Animal so that the general stiffness doesn’t happen. The aches and pains of a collision lessen rapidly.
The ability to recover quickly and be able to play again continues even as I play in the national and state level senior competitions. So I even took this decade long experiment further and did not ice or use up the tiger balm or even have a need for a hot tub.
While those measures can ease things a bit, I took the squirrel’s point of view and re-mend with simple conscious movement.
Since I’ve helped many, many people do the same, the book:
is now out of the cage and available to download from Amazon. If you can read this, then you’ll be able to see it and read on your electronic device.
What are you waiting for? Are you ready to Move Like an Animal and Be Comfortable for Life?
Pains in the shoulder, stiffness, weakness and even pain while sleeping on the side can be lessened with a simple set of exercises for rotator cuff. Over time, the situation can become chronic or if you’ve had surgery, it may be necessary to keep the shoulder functional.
The rotator cuff area allows us to both internally and externally rotate our shoulders while also letting us move the shoulder away, out and up to the side.
A Different Set of Exercises for Rotator Cuff
Normally both stretching and strengthening exercises are recommended by doctors, and orthopedists. Physical therapists will have you follow this protocol.
They may want you stretch after doing a reach up the wall or have you strengthen in between the shoulders. While the idea is good, we can go about it in a more intelligent fashion and manner so that the muscles lose their restriction and regain their function.
Instead of the heresy of stretching, we can pandiculate the tight, restrictive areas so those areas regain both both function and remain limber.
Somatics exercises for rotator cuff, on the other hand, use the process of pandiculation to regain mobility and give us back our function so that we can comfortably move the shoulder area back and forth and up and out to the side in this case.
A Diversity of Exercises for Rotator Cuff
With a number of stretches and strengthening exercises for rotator cuff, you learn to hold things for a period of time or do numbers of repetitions.
With somatics, we target the brain’s motor cortex. It can reset the muscles so they “remember” their function. This higher level of intelligence doesn’t require the physical strain that most people endure, instead we use our awareness of the quality of the movement. We can sense the connections we use when we move our shoulders about. This gives us a better range.
Exercises target muscles where intelligent movement takes care of the movement system which includes more muscles since we are of one piece. One integrated movement system, rather than the parts, which allows for greater cohesion and more effortless movement in general.
This gentler yet highly intelligent approach, gives us the ability to create more options to move despite the very ones we’ve guarded against or haven’t done on account of the binds holding things together.
Exercises for Rotator Cuff Class
A diversity of movement lets the brain thrive too. By going cortical, the brain creates more cells, it releases chemicals of relaxation, and we restore and recover naturally rather than forcing, straining or pushing our way through it.
“Being” with our movement system is another tack or way to move more comfortably about. To be free and regain our strength is simple.
You can join us in this week’s somatics class: Diversify Your Movement Portfolio – Exercises for Rotator Cuff. You may join us either online, by phone or get the replay.
In the little over an hour class, you’ll learn a number of different ways and movement patterns to experience how simple somatics is and yet how much power you can have.
The diversity found in the exercises for rotator cuff class will give you plenty of intelligent ammo to keep the shoulders and more, happy for life.
Somatics exercises are the reverse way to lengthen muscles. Instead of stretching, you use the brain’s motor cortex to reset the muscles tension back to comfort.
Here’s how somatics works
Step 1 – You target the area you want to lengthen. You do this by contracting, instead of stretching, the muscles by being mindful of what it is you are doing. You have to pay attention, otherwise, the brain will not pick up the subtle cues you can notice in your body.
Step 2 – With somatics you pay attention to how you release the targeted muscles. Initially, this information may not always be clear. So no worries. With practice, you get better at feeling or sensing what is taking place.
You can immediately notice if there is any physical change when your body’s sensory-motor system is more intact.
When you “try” to stretch, this could lead the reflexes to turn “on” the switch of what is called stretch reflex. This can get the muscles to reflexively pull back, even into a back spasm.
If you push it or try to go for length or more range of motion, the brain will reset the tension back according to where it was formerly programmed to be held at. The brain’s cerebellum remembers this so when you point at something with your arm, there is pre-programmed point so your arm doesn’t go fly off of you.
So when you do somatics, you are going to get a change in length because the brain’s motor cortex can reset tension levels which cannot be reset by the cerebellum; which does preprogrammed learned movement.
The somatics movement below can relieve both the back and hamstrings of its excess tension.
In less than 2 minutes, you can feel what happens. You can listen through the first time and then replay it again to give it a go.
Otherwise, all you have to do is listen and follow along:
Check out this somatics move
So, how was that? A little different, a little odd?
Did you gain any length?
Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t, yet isn’t this a far different approach than stretching.
When you voluntarily use your muscles, your brain’s cortex can reset the length of the areas you target. Your brain will create chemicals of relaxation so you relax your self back to comfort and gain greater control.
Somatics movement classes
We offer many different kinds of somatics movement classes to help you lengthen, improve and gain greater control so you can recover more quickly and maintain comfort in the activity you enjoy.
Whether you go our book or our movement classes which target the brain’s cortex; all you have to do is follow along and let your muscles go along for a somatics journey which can give you the reverse way to feeling free once again.
At Victoria’s University School of Sports and Exercise Science in Australia, James Zois sees the same epidemic I’ve been raving and kindly reminding you about – stop stretching!
Look at this poor guy stretching
By attempting to stretch his hip flexor, he’s actually tightening his hamstrings, the muscles behind the leg.
He might be even contracting his back muscles to be able to get that foot to the buttocks.
Maybe he can still sit on his heels, but the point is… a stretch such as this is still done at professional levels and worse, high schools and even middle schools kids are being led down this lazy and counter-productive route.
Lazy on account of research moving on. Athletes do not need this to warm-up.
Divorce Counselor for Stretching
As a divorce counselor for stretching… you can rest easy, there are other ways to lengthen muscles and warm them up.
For instance, healthy vertebrate animals aren’t stretching either. It’s not what you think.
They consciously contract and then release themselves.
By refocusing your attention on what muscles are designed to do, that is to contract, we can reset them and ready them at the same time.
Stretching is Over
Leave it to the folks who’ll continue to argue about it saying it makes them feel good rather than understanding it’s a waste of time and we can use our intelligence to reset things rather than pulling us apart.
Even for us 50 year olds, stretching is over.
Somatic athlete is a term I use after not stretching for well over 10 years, yet have the flexibility at 53, that many 15 year olds have lost.
The practice of somatics allows for easier recovery and is a super easy way to prep for an athletic event and life in general.
Somatic Athlete Uses Intelligence Over Brawn
Given that your brain’s motor cortex can reset the resting levels of muscles naturally and effectively, it makes sense to keep using it so the sensory-motor system continues to evolve for your continued enjoyment with your body in whatever activities you choose.
This past weekend I had the bodily pleasure to play in a national soccer tournament for us seniors.
With each passing game, I could hear an athlete say how tight they had become or what was giving out – and these are the people who play the game.
What kind of preparation did they do?
Did they continue to run more, play more games, lift more weights or do the dreaded stretching thing? All the many usual things we do using our brawn to get us or remain in shape.
Most of those activities involve revving up the muscles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless we can’t recover quickly or feel good after a physical activity.
Many athletes still falsely believe stretching cools them down. Before I get a lot of flack for say that–stretching is bad for us according to the current research.
Is there something else we can do to help us recover or not stay as tight in between our events or games?
The Other Side of the Coin the Somatic Athlete Uses
The brain’s cortex, however, can inhibit muscles. Why is this important?
While you normally activate the muscles in your games and activities, what can you do to actively de-activate them?
By using the brain’s cortex, it can create chemicals of relaxation in the very muscles you used up in your activity. The very ones which become overly contracted, sore or so stiff where you can hardly move and yet can’t wait to get home and do the usual things of icing, warm water soaking, ibuprofens, etc.
These band-aid lame attempts can help some easing, yet they don’tt cause correct nor reset the resting levels of the muscles.
The brain can change how your muscles are responding through cortical inhibition where you learn to tune down or turn off unnecessary muscles from jumping in or substituting. In other words, the effort in movement becomes easier.
However, many recreational athletes continue doing something passively like drinking beer, sitting in the hot tub or icing to take care of the aches since this is what the majority of us have been led to believe or prefer doing.
While those activities can be fun, does it really regenerate the body?
How the Somatic Athlete Preps and Recovers
Preparing the body is key to not only being able to enjoy all the many ways you can play, it also allows you to recover quickly so you can play or participate in your favorite activities more often.
While it’s true adequate hydration, nutrition, and a positive mental attitude are key components for an athlete, you are always moving in your games and your movement system needs to be re-adjusted accordingly.
To re-adjust the movement system and take out the kinks or prepare for an activity is to remind the sensory-motor system of its functional capacity with the added bonus of being left feeling the resulting relaxation which occurs.
Your brain has the ability to relax your body more powerfully than a hot tub and a heckuva lot easier than sitting in ice.
Stressed, over worked muscles need time to recover and that can be enhanced by naturally utilizing our intelligence.
The brain’s cortex can be used to prepare the body and mind for a multitude of physical activities like a soccer tournament, running event, playing volleyball or just enjoying a walk or going out dancing for an evening.
You oughta be able to run at any age without pulling a hamstring or throwing your back out from just bending over.
A somatic athlete can recover and have the confidence to go back into their favorite physical activity sooner rather than later.
Come join me so you can discover how a somatic athlete can both prepare and recuperate in our a variation of the daily maintenance program so you can free yourself naturally, easily and keep on moving & playing well as you age.
“Stretching is Out…
Science now shows that stretching is
• bad for us
• a waste of time
Don’t try to increase your range of motion
• can cause architectural damage
• straining muscle stays weakened
So what to do instead?
Move Like an Animal
The $5 word you probably haven’t heard of… pandiculation… aka Somatics Exercises.
Join us Saturday/Sunday, February 26/27 at 10am, 1pm, 4pm at the Starfire Complex during the Washington State Women’s Soccer Association Winter Chill Tournament.
You’ll find out what all healthy animals and even babies know.
Somatics is a systematized approach using the pandicular process that animals naturally use to reset their muscles for length, strength, mobility, agility and vitality.
By using your brain, the big muscle, you can reset all the rest of the muscles with chemicals of relaxation so the muscles are ready to be used and more functional .
Healthy vertebrate animals and babies use this process… we human adult animals are just catching on. It’s so easy any cat or dog can do it.
You’ll never, ever… have to stretch again. Somatics Exercises are so too simple.
That old style way of stretching that most of us were taught is.. old school.
Listen here to NPR or read what is finally changing in the world of stretching.
Some coaches and trainers are still using old, outdated ways to work with their athletes. How many PE teachers are leading your children down this path?
Your brain can change how your muscles rest. If your muscles learn or re-learn to rest, then you can use them and do what you want to do much better.
Simple, easy movement is what nature intends for us to do.
Setting up movement is the step we need before we exercise, otherwise we just keep getting tighter, rather than looser… or we keep re-injuring our self and wonder why.
Is is time for a change?
Instead of stretching, set up your body for movement with a way most people have never heard of.
Pandiculate your way to health instead… all the animals are doing it.
When are you going to stop stretching and move like an animal again?
How well you move, plays a roll in how well you feel. Learning to move with greater ease isn’t always easy. If you’re used to giving it your all or moving with more force than is necessary, chances are your over doing it unconsciously… and this could be the cause of your discomforts.
*Move with Less Effort*
A practice in moving easily is simply accomplished by dialing down your effort in moving. Being more precise with your movements involves lessening your effort so your muscles work efficiently instead of shuddering with extra effort.
Noticing where you contract from or the area you are using during a movement may not initially be clear. When you contract and shorten your muscles, take notice to the areas where your contract, the level of effort, the feeling, the sensations aroused or lack thereof.
As you contract your muscles, others are normally and naturally lengthening in response. It’s not necessary to force the length, rather your observation of it happening, deepens your awareness and your coordination in what moves what and where and how it moves.
*Be Aware of your release*
If you can merely observe the release of your contraction, you’ll notice the resulting length is accomplished without force.
If you force the length, a signal is generated by your brain to re-contract the tissues afterwards. Traditional forms of stretching actually produce tighter muscles according to the latest research.
To have the flexibility of a cat, the agility of a panther, and the ability to jump like a gazelle requires you to follow their lead. Animals engage their motor cortex through the process of a series of pandiculations.
*First thing in the morning*
Since animals self-correct throughout their day, it would be wise once again to follow their lead. When healthy, they engage the process first thing in the morning, every day. There’s their key.
Who else is going to ready your muscles for you each new day? Animals are wise enough to do it first. They are not checking the emails nor will you find a way to ready to yourself in your emails, unless of course, you happen to be receiving the Somatic Classes via email.
The natural process of engaging your motor cortex is always available to you… I know you have other things to attend to.
It’s just a process and as far as I know most of us have the ability to engage in the process since it primarily activates your motor cortex, which has been called your highest learning center.
You can continue to learn and generate new brain cells. Neurogenesis and neural plasticity perhaps becomes of interest as you age, unless you already engage the process everyday. If you are, yoohoo, you’re way ahead of most people as the mass understanding of this process hasn’t reached them, yet!
Somatics is merely applied neurogenesis.
*Pay attention to how you move*
Practicing Somatics is a matter of paying attention to how you manipulate yourself in the field of gravity. How you contend or float in the field of gravity is known to you by the signals your body generates. You can become more One with the field of gravity. No this isn’t airy fairy stuff, I mean you can continually fight gravity and keep kicking yourself in the pants, which would naturally lead to tighter hamstrings and a sore back.
*Use your self-correcting brain and mind*
The power lies in your brain to self-correct, adapt accordingly, merely by spending some time in your self. When you practice the variety of movements which are offered in the Somatics classes or through your understanding and application of Somatics, your brain feeds off of these differentiated patterns to present you with possibilities of change in your habit of movement.
Your habitual and repetitive patterns lead to some of the negative results you encounter over and over.
*Differentiate your movements*
Differentiation provides an avenue to more integrated, more coordinated, more balanced and efficient movement itself. You’ll know how, when, and at what speed, in order to move more cohesively.
So as I said, learning to move with greater ease isn’t easy, but it’s very simple once you get the hang of the process.
The antidote for discomfort, pain, aches, soreness, etc, lies between your ears.
Engaging the process is not under your nose, it’s in it.