Moving in the Right Direction
What attracts you? The definition of attraction is the feeling of being drawn near, or to become the focus of one’s attention. When the body is stimulated, that stimulus is defined by the brain as either a threat or not. If there is not a threat, then the brain may decide to stay in that moment in time and space because the heightened experience of sensation brings enjoyment/bliss/deep satisfaction/peace/excitement etc.
Of the many people, places, things, ideas and experiences that attract you, have you ever stopped to consider the attraction of movement?
- What is so mesmerizing about a fire?
- Why do we stare at water?
- What is so exhilarating about horses running?
- Why does every culture have their own unique style of dance?
- Why do we enjoy watching kids play in a park?
- Why does John Travolta create a different walk for each of his characters?
M O V E M E N T! Movement tells a story, it is defining, it is expressive.
After reading this article, take the time to notice how things move, more specifically, how people move. Notice actions like smoothness, uneven or jagged, fluidity, rigidity, confidence, insecure, graceful, aggressive, short, slow or fast, easy or difficult. Simply become observant to something that maybe you haven’t considered before.
As a movement therapist, I observe movement all the time. I never tire of watching people move. The more I study movement, the more my admiration and appreciation grows for the beautiful relationship between the mind and the body (neuromuscular system). Like any relationship, this is a relationship that if you don’t pay attention, it grows distant and the connection becomes very weak. The result of a poor mind-body relationship is poor movement quality, which eventually leads to dysfunction and injury.
It is my hope that every person knows and believes that movement = life. Where there is no movement, there is no life. But instead of thinking of movement as a beginning or an end, I would like you to think of it as the journey. And that journey can be a beautiful thing to look at. I would like to inspire you to look at movement as beauty. Movement is attractive, inspiring, affective and progressive. Movement is not just a means to an end, it is the journey.
Please take a moment to think about the ways you move … sitting, standing up, standing and bending forward, walking or running motion, driving and twisting to look over your shoulder, carrying something over your shoulder or on your hip, lifting and moving something. And then consider, how many times do we repeat those same motions or activities throughout the day or week? To maintain a healthy, mobile body, you want to move your body in many different directions, engaging many different muscles with a variety of movements. As we move into the holidays whereby your usual exercise routine may be interrupted, I would urge you to continue to take the time to move your body using the principles of Movement & Meditation.
Movement & Meditation is a way of thinking and then moving your body joint by joint starting from your toes and working up to the neck. There is no wrong way to do this. By simply considering the whole body and all possibilities of moving, you will happily and joyfully be performing Movement & Meditation. There is no specific time requirement or measurement to be reached. The only requirement is for the mind to be focussed on the body, and as much of the body moving as possible. This is for men, women, young people and older people, people with disabilities and limitations, for athletic people, and for busy people. If you are a calm, healthy, kind, reflective, empathetic and passionate person, you are probably already doing Movement & Meditation.
The Meditation is the focus on your body, and not 10 other things at once (what happened to you in your day, what you will do later, who you should call, the discussion you had with your son/daughter, the discussion you need to have with your spouse or business partner, etc.). This will allow the mind to slow down, get clear, be calm, think rationally, become productive instead of chaotic and overwhelmed, be responsive instead of reactive, focussed and directed. The body is a beautiful meditation because it is in the moment, not the past or the future, and it is objective in that “it just is what it is.” The more you do Movement & Meditation, the more natural a state of calmness and clarity will become for you. You will be able to feel the effects of negative stress more quickly and therefore, be able to respond to the stimuli efficiently and effectively so that you can return to a place of calmness and clarity.
- Take 5 very large breaths – you can choose to be lying down, seated in a chair or standing, or all three at various points in the process.
- Become aware of your body from your toes to the top of your head.
- Choose a joint – toes, ankles, knees, hips, spine, elbows, wrists, fingers, shoulders, muscles of the face (not a joint but worth your consideration).
- Bend forward and back, bend side to side, rotate/twist, tighten the muscles around the area then relax those same muscles, then breathe into that area.
When you are finished moving, take the last minute to just feel what you feel.
If you do not feel motivated to lead yourself through this process, then I would suggest heading out to a yoga, Pilates, NIA, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, or some other organized class where you are led to mindfully move your body. It will be the best gift the holidays can give you.
For more information, please go to www.sculptpilates.ca
Are you injured? Do you have chronic pain in a particular area? Does the pain come and go depending on what activities you do? Does the discomfort keep you from doing what you want to do? If you answered yes to any one or more of these questions, are you ready to fix it? Are you ready to get yourself back to the place you were before you started living with your physical limitation? Well, a combination of good physiotherapy (diagnosis) and Pilates movement therapy (exercise) can help.
When you get physiotherapy, the therapist will do an assessment of the area creating pain for you. Unless the pain is due to some specific accident, the pain is usually caused by wrong movement patterns. Once the physio diagnoses the wrong movement pattern and the weaknesses that have caused it, then exercises are used to re-create the right movement pattern for that area of function.
Physiotherapy & Pilates
When your physiotherapist works with your Pilates instructor, the results are fantastic. The physio tells your Pilates teacher which muscles are weak and not turning on, and which ones are overused and in desperate need of relaxation and stretching, and finally, which movements aggravate the pain. Then the Pilates instructor coaches you with the exercises given to you by the physio so that you execute the exercises with proper alignment, as well as, chooses other Pilates movements based on the info from your physio.
Pilates exercises are excellent for rehabilitation because Pilates exercises combine a balance of strength and flexibility. Because wrong movement patterns create weak muscles and overworked (usually tight) muscles, exercises that strengthen the weak muscles and relax the overworked muscles will bring about rehabilitation. An exercise that does the opposite, will exasperate the pain and prolong rehabilitation.
All Pilates movements emphasize proper alignment, breathing, proper muscle sequencing, and a balance between strength and flexibility. There are about 500 Pilates exercises to choose from so there will always be an abundance of movements that are right for your body.
The final result is your recovery of health
When our bodies are in pain, our bodies experience more stress than they need and our brains are less free to fully experience joy and confidence. Our bodies and minds experience undue stress when we are out of balance. Proper physiotherapy diagnosis followed by rehabilitative Pilates exercises restore body-mind balance which is expressed as joy, confidence, mobility and freedom.
Getting moving after an injury is a problem many people face; whatever interests and activities they pursue. You are not alone! Whether you are a weekend warrior, intent on returning to peak fitness so you can run, ski, kayak, hike, waterski or cycle; or someone who finds it hard to play a full round of golf, kick a football with the kids, or manage an hour gardening without pain, the frustrations and discomfort can be equally challenging.
If a common problem such as knee pain, extra tight hamstrings, lower back pain, a kink in your neck, or a shooting pain from your shoulder into your elbow or wrist means that you can no longer enjoy the sports and activities you love, then it is wise to seek help before the issue worsens to the point that you may find you are completely immobile, or need surgery.
At Complete Core Pilates in Kettle Valley, Kyla Ramirez, Arlene Wilkins and I work with clients who face these struggles every day. To create a program which addresses your individual health issues, we start with an in depth health questionnaire. Once we understand where the problem comes from, (and it may not be as straightforward as it first appears), we form a strategy to decrease your discomfort, and increase your mobility.
Active bodies respond well to Pilates, but because each individual is different, a more targeted approach is taken to rehabilitate specific muscle functions. This is where we bring Neurokinetic Therapy into play.
Neurokinetic Therapy recognizes that the brain (primarily the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex), is responsible for the body’s motor control. Research shows that when muscles become injured or weak, the brain will find compensatory muscles to create movement. If this compensatory pattern is allowed to continue, then dysfunction and pain follows. The good news is that the brain can be retrained.
To re-program the brain, and train it to function correctly again, we first identify the muscle which is compensating for the weak, injured muscle. In layman’s terms we turn the compensatory muscle off. This means that the problem muscle can be turned back on, and strengthened with prescribed repetitive exercises. Over time the muscle returns to full strength; the pain and discomfort decrease, and you can return to the activities you love!
In some cases, we work closely with other health professionals, particularly physiotherapists, including Greg Redman at Wave Physiotherapy, Marcia Bullock and Joel Kryczka at Pinnacle Physiotherapy to ensure we get the speedy and lasting change for the client.
You don’t need to live with pain or discomfort – whatever your age. There are programs which can help, whether the discomfort is due to injury – or years of incorrect postural habits. Neurokinetic Therapy and Pilates can get you back to health and fitness!
For more information contact www.completecorepilates.com
More Moving in the Right Direction articles
- Our brains are created to move Apr 7
- Accountability and exercise Feb 20
- Health & fitness tips for the holidays Dec 29
- Exercise for the brain Dec 2
- Improve immune & detox systems Nov 18
- Posture Nov 4
- Detoxify Oct 21
- Pilates vs. yoga Sep 23
- Naked yoga Sep 9
- Joseph Pilates Principles: Part 3 Aug 12
- Joseph Pilates' Contrology: Part 2 Jul 29
- Joseph Pilates memoirs: Part 1 Jul 15