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Archive for Movement

Feb
21

Body and Balance (8 Tips)

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Loss of Balance

A loss of balance can happen even if we’re messing around with our body.
 
Balance can seem elusive at times since certain factors can affect it and our brain.

1 – Compensations

For example, our shoulders can round forwards.
Posture - Rounding Shoulders, Chest Caving In, Palm Backwards, Knees Bent, Slumped Over

It’s not uncommon to see this coupled with the palms facing backwards.
 
You might think. No big deal. Yet, this out of neutral.
 
Neutral is when the palms face each other.
 
Try This
 
Move both shoulders forwards and feel if your chest sinks or slumps a little.
 
You know how when we have a bad day, how we can slump. While it is OK and normal to have a bad day here or there.
 
Life can add up to form this posture and keep us out of balance.

2 – Stress or Tension

This type of posture can lead to discomfort in the chest or upper back.
 
This can compound when high stress levels add the weight of our world on our shoulders.

3 – Life’s Events
 
Fun life events can take us down too.
 
See, as a sports fan, if you follow a team like I do which has not won a championship the past 50 years. Replaying this can have a negative affect. I’ve slumped many times over what should or could be fun.
 
Of course, when your team finally wins. The joy can send you to the moon!
 
So life and how we take part can affect us. This can challenge our internal balance where the brain can get altered.

Comfort & Safety to Restore Balance

If things are off kilter, one way to get back in balance is to tap into the brain to change it for the better.
 
You can change the brain by coupling the act of doing a movement with feeling how your body actually moves.
 
This may sound simple. Yet movement is a high level orchestrated event.
 
Even if you live in states of chronic pain, high tension or stress. There can be a small window where there is comfort or safety.

Doing vs. Feeling

See, the “doing” of a movement is one thing.
 
The “feel or sensing” at a deep level is another.
 
These are two distinct parts.
 
This may not be obvious to an outside observer who sees only the doing.

When you direct the mind and body together, this is what can help restore balance.
 
We do this using one of nature’s most potent acts.

Not Exercise in the Usual Manner

Exercise is generally considered a good thing.
 
The word “exert” may give the idea that it has to be hard work.
 
We tend to flip it and rather than exert, we focus on easy, gentle movement done with a level of awareness.
 
This is a far different approach than regular exercise where that is “more about doing”.
 
Moving with awareness couples the doing and the feeling.
 
There is much less exertion and more focus involved.

R.O.M. vs Q.O.M

Regular exercise may go for range of motion (ROM).
 
Moving with awareness is about quality of motion (QOM).
 
You tap into or notice the inherent quality of your own unique manner of movement taking place.

Human Movement System

See, the movement system involves many layers of muscles and fascia.
 
The fascia which covers the muscles has more sense receptors than the muscles.
 
So from a qualitative view, there’s a lot that can be going on underneath the surface of a simple movement.

Find Out How to Recharge Here

Plus, you can do and feel this in a playful, gentle or lazy manner. Yet, you can tune in and recharge at a very high level.
 
By tuning in, this is how we can change a posture and restore balance.
 
Not by trying to go for it or with force. You learn how to regain control with feeling and doing at a surprising minimal level.
 
So, to help with that. Here are…

8 Somatics Tips for Balance

Somatics, defined as the body experienced.
 
Since we focus on movement, you can apply this to exercise too!

1. Move with the least effort

This often goes against many people’s idea of how to exercise. Yet when we live in discomfort, this makes more sense. And it is safer to do.
 
If you are active, you can pay attention to your sense of effort rather than pushing with your efforts.
 
Remember, this has more to do with noticing the quality of movement itself.
 
This difference in attention is what make a big difference. This is what helps healing, recovery and living in an easy, flexible, fluid moving body.

2. Breathe with your movement

Often we tend to go on autopilot when it comes to breathing. So, becoming aware of breathing and how this is impacts your sense of effort can be quite revealing.
 
You can add this twist in. Do a movement and hold you breath. Feel or notice how this can affects the quality or feel.
 
You can choose to reverse your breath in the manner of how you would go about it. This can also affect a movement or the quality of feeling it too.

3. Move as a system not as a muscle

The big muscle–the brain–sends messages to the muscles. Then the muscles sends back a message to the brain. This feedback loop is full of information to be aware of and use.

Somatics Coordination Exercise - Sensory Motor Feedback Loop

This lets you adjust your level of effort.
 
Plus, you can tune into or throughout your entire body since you are one connected living being.

4. Thoughts can affect movement and impact our body and balance

Sit and think.

Conjure up a thought and feel how your muscles respond.
 
As you do any exercise or movement, choose to think a thought and feel how your body responds.
 
You can play with different emotions to feel how your body responds as you move.
 
What does a thought or state of emotion do to what you feel as you move?

5.  Comfort is king

There’s no need to tough it out.
 
Use a prop to help feel as comfortable as you can.

Lean on Me Props

A slight adjustment of an angle or body position may be the necessary thing to do. This way your body can be as comfortable as possible at that moment.
 
Experiment with either a prop or change of position to suit your immediate needs.

6.  An exercise can’t hurt us

People will tell me they tried a certain exercise or even our gentle movements where they say. “That exercise hurt”.
 
It’s not the exercise or movement. It’s our brain which can respond in a painful programmed way.
 
This is useful information on the road back to balance.
 
If we try to force our body (and it doesn’t have to take much of an effort), it can react.
 
It may want to protect itself, especially if it is in an injured or in a chronic state.
 
This is the tricky part to getting back to the comfort zone on a more permanent basis.
 
It’s normal to err while learning how to get the brain to change.
 
There will be inevitable ups and downs on the way to regain control in a confident manner.

Get Back to the Fundamentals & Quality of Movement Itself

Un-Exercise & Move Well for Life!

So to repeat, it’s both what you do and how you heed the quality of of the feeling of what you do.

7.  Imagination is the least effort

In difficult times, you can use your ability to imagine a movement or exercise.
 
You won’t hurt yourself using this approach.
 
See, if you are having a painful flareup. You can still imagine a movement taking place.
 
I know this isn’t always easy. We’re more likely feeling or paying attention to the discomfort.
 
So why not give the brain 2 things to deal with. This is what helps breaks the cycle of pain.
 
When you learn how to be mindful of a movement, it is ok to feel whatever you feel. The more you can tune into, the more your brain sees a potential other option.
 
Thus, it’s program gets changed a little at a time until you get to a breakthrough.

Imagine This 

Do this slowly using your imagination.

• Move your ear to your shoulder as you move the shoulder towards the ear.  Then imagine the ear and shoulder slowly moving away from each other.
 
Repeat that a couple more times.
 
√ Could you sense any movement or any feeling taking place?
 
Now that you have the idea.
 
Go ahead and actually do the movement.
 
√ How did the actual (entire) movement feel? How did it compare with your imagination of the (entire) movement
 
√ Did it feel the same or a little different? Only you will know.

Unleash Your Imagination

Move with Confidence & Control

See only you will know (and feel) what you feel or sense.
 
Only you will know whether you were able to feel how your spine moved or shifted.
 
Only you will know if you could feel your hip move or a shift of weight in your hip.
 
Only you will know if you could feel or sense a weight shift in your foot.
 
If you didn’t feel a thing – that’s sensory information. You may have some SMA.

Success

 
Successful athletes others have used imagination and visualization techniques for quite some time.  
 
You can do the same by visualizing and feeling to the best of your ability.
 
This can set you up for an effortless way to regain balance in the body.

8Pain is our greatest teacher and gives us back our body and balance

In our practice of somatics, you learn how to wield pain and discomfort to your advantage.
 
This may sound counterintuitive. Yet, this is how you can get back control.
 
Pain is a signal you can change.
 
You dissolve it with an intentional use of feedback loops of information.
 
You gradually move move towards more comfort and pleasure.  You gain the internal know-how and mastery with practice.
 
Once the brain remembers that it can produce more positive feel-good sensations. You’re well on your way to restoring and maintaining balance.

Somatics Body and Balance Movements


Our approach was
initially designed to help:
 
Lower tension,
Free up stiffness,
Reduce stress,
Restore balance…
 
On the way to healing and resolving pain for good.
 
Gentle, mindful movements are now proven to be “the first thing to do to relieve pain”.*
 
It’s up to you to go inside and take control of:
 
• The brain and your own awareness,
 
• Using mindfulness,
 
• Paying attention to breathing,
 
• Noticing coordination throughout the entire body,
 
• Feeling tension levels,
 
• And learning how to Restore Comfort.
 
This innate ability restores and reconnects the brain and body from within.
 
Thus you can Move Easily and Restore Balance on Demand.
 
This is what we do (and feel) in the Somatics Un-Exercise Classroom.
 
Simple (yet powerful) conscious movement patterns pave the way.
 
This leaves the brain & body refreshedrestored and in balance for more happy days ahead!

Brain-Mind-Body Work Together

* 2017 ACP (American College of Physicians) Guidelines to Relieve Pain

Move Like an Animal BookMany years ago I saw a squirrel fall out of a tree and like humpty dumpty put herself back together again.

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:

Move Like an Animal: Feel Comfortable, Be Flexible, Move Well for Life in 3 Simple Steps,

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?

The Cat Stretch is what Thomas Hanna called the daily maintenance somatics exercise program in his book, Somatics.

The cat stretch is a misnomer even though we often see our furry felines appearing to stretch.

Cat Stretch is not Stretching

Cat Stretch - a part of the daily somatics exercisesThe result of a cat stretch could make one more restful.

When a cat stretches, it is actually tightening or contracting a series of muscles. We’ve come to find out this is called a pandiculation. When we do this entire act, our muscles lengthen and become more relaxed.

Our clever cat uses its brain’s motor cortex to initiate a movement, which at first glance looks like a stretch. You’ve seen a cat round its back. It’s not stretching the back, it’s pulling the belly in and using the abdominal muscles to pull back.

Then… it’ll release itself. The abs are reset and ready to be used. Healthy vertebrate animals naturally reset their muscles and movement system periodically throughout the day. No wonder they rest so well. If only we could do the same.

Cat Stretch – 7 Simple Movements

Fortunately, some 300 years after we learned about pandiculations. This very act brings muscles to rest. The system of somatics exercises teaches us how to go cortical and re-establish length and comfort in our movement system. Watch the fast version of the cat stretch below.

Here is what the 7 simple movements of the cat stretch address.

1. The first movement wakes up the brain, spine and hips.

2. The second movement helps to release tightness in our front side, such as the abdomen. This will allow the back to further lengthen.

3. This movement relaxes the muscles of the back, from the neck all the way down to the foot.

4. The fourth move releases held tension levels in the hips and chest. If we’re locked-in from too much sitting or hard work, this is a go to release.

5. Most everyone’s favorite movement, this delicious move lengthens the spine, frees up the hips and shoulders… and is enough to purr along.

6. A 3 part lower body sequence to free up the feet and ankles and connect up to the hips, back and head. This helps to straighten out the legs for better walking and balance in running.

7. The final movement of the cat stretch addresses the neck, back rotation and hip mobility in a delightful seated manner. You may not need the car mirrors anymore after this.

Cat Stretch Audio Recording

Healthy animals do a number of morning resets. We can simply follow along with a morning routine of the cat stretch somatics exercises designed for the human animal. Once you learn the routine, it only takes minutes to remind the muscles of their natural length, while at the same improving the mobility we need for the day.

Just like a good cat stretch at night, we can drift off and sleep more easily too.

The Cat Stretch daily maintenance somatics exercises program is now available to download and enjoy in the comfort of your home – meow.

Jul
17

Bare foot running

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When it comes to bare foot running, the Tarahumara have this unique human ability down pat. Is it possible that we could develop this same capability? Certainly they aren’t the only humans who use their body as it is designed.

Watch this video on bare foot running

Can you imagine what it is like to put your hands in glove liners and then wear gloves all day… and then use them?

This is what we are doing to our feet by wearing sock and shoes and not using them in the same way we use our hands and fingers. The ramifications of course move upwards into our knees, hips and spine and even our neck.

Aspire to bare foot running

Now to take our modern body which has become accustomed to socks and shoes and then radically make this shift will be like most things. We’ll have to learn to adapt or in this case, re-adapt to a more natural use of ourself.

Given that many people in modern day society live with any number of postural compensations, like an elevated hip, flexed or extended spine, etc. These type of compensations can continue even if we shift to bare foot running. We might still live with our discomforts yet we can change towards a comfortable use of ourself.

This is why shoe makers such as Vibram Five Fingers have a warning label on the time it may take to adapt to a different way of walking or running about.

Awhile back I made a video on somatics shoes. The first experience I had using a so-called bare foot running shoe. Well I wanted to do was jump up and down and relish in the delight in the lightness of the feet and the ability to sense the ground more acutely.

Bare foot running a proprioceptive experience

When we sense ourself with our proprioceptive ability. We can sense and feel the position of our joints with more awareness. This is what we’ve lost with our sock and shoe modern way.

By playing in the field of gravity, for instance with bare foot running, we can recover our lost healthy ways.

For some us though, we may need to de-compensate our postures and regain our natural ability of comfortable movement. Naturally, somatics exercises are here to remind us of how we can use our brain’s ability to reset muscle tension. We remember how to feel and adjust ourself back to comfortable levels so that if we decide bare foot running is something we want to try.

The transition becomes easy since we’re already playing with gravity and reacquainting ourself of our inherent proprioceptive abilities which have gone dormant.

Why not give bare foot running a try and feel if there is any difference in how you run or even walk.

Exercise Programs

The word exercise often connotes sweat and hard work. Movement on the other hand is about changing a position.

So many people in the gym are exercising and are still in pain rather than being able to move freely and comfortably. Are their exercise programs serving them?

When it comes to exercise vs movement to get us out pain, I’m going to have to side with movement at this point in my 50 year old life.

The other side of exercise programs

Somatics exercises which are often the reverse of most exercise programs out there, changes pain and discomfort levels using the brain rather than the brawn of exercise. This can be a challenge when we’ve accustomed our self to pushing, straining and over efforting.

Without sufficient awareness, the simple somatics movements can become exertion and exercise and not bring about the change we want away from pain.

So in both types of exercise programs, problems can occur not because of exercise itself but how we move our self in this ever present field of gravity. After all, you don’t need a weight to cramp yourself.

A learning process to move more comfortably is highly involved, though anyone can do it when we are mindful and not rushed. This lazy approach appears on the surface to be too simple, yet is complex in terms of feeling our way through the various connections and sensations we can perceive.

These sense perceptions lead us to move more comfortably so that it’s possible you’ll never have to go through arduous exercise programs again.

After all, I can go play soccer, ski, ride a bike, and walk comfortably along a trail without the uncomfortable strain, stress and high tension levels I used to live with while living with fibromyalgia.

Of course there is a debate whether the condition even exists yet there are many millions of people with inexplicable pain. But some of us no longer have the pains which racked our nervous system to pieces where a good nights sleep is so sought after.

The treasure of sleeping well comes to us more easily when we are relaxed enough, namely the tension levels which can lower themselves either by the thought of a breath or the ability to let go – which for many, many, many folks no longer is the case.

So naturally we attempt to use exercise programs to exercise stress away. I’m not opposed to exercise yet as I said, when I play a 90 minute game of soccer, it’s all about the movement, the dance on the field, being able to avoid getting crunched and being able to take a hit and recovery quickly… but these are the games I play. What’s yours?

Exercise Programs – An Alternative Choice

Each week I offer online somatics exercise – using simple movement which can be thought of like as the reverse of an ab crunch or inner thigh lift for strengthening.

To come through the looking glass of exercise vs. movement is a novel way to experience what a difference a change of position can foster rather than forcing or pushing our self.

You can use this learning, then do your exercise in a reverse manner and discover for yourself if alternative exercise programs like somatics may be one of the missing links.

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