Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Movement over Christmas

I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas break, I did. I had a lovely time with my family and while I was not teaching I managed to actually go to some classes for myself. Yay! I partook in a legs, bums and tums class and a pump (not a farting class I may add!) - it was a class using weights. I attended a local body pump class and fitness Pilates class (which I really enjoyed surprisingly) a yoga and a Foundation Training class plus I went swimming and took the dog on some longer walks as I wasn’t pushed for time. 
It was really nice to be an attendee and one of the gang! I’m so used to teaching it was really nice to be told what to do. However I was surprised that only 1 of the 6 classes I attended was I asked to fill in a client info form. Luckily I have body awareness on my side and common sense so when the instructor gave me way too heavy weights I asked for some lighter ones. 

Some of the classes I was paid attention to and given correction; others there was little cueing. Basically I applied all my alignment knowledge to any class I took. I tried to notice when I was tensing and not breathing and when I was winding up my neck, so I stopped and took a break.

My point is no matter what the class is you can use your Pilates/Somatic knowledge in them. 

I like to dip in and out of classes every now and then. I use them as a measurement of my strength, co-ordination, all of the classes highlighted to me my weak areas and where I need to focus on
After each class no matter the quality of the teaching, I indeed felt better for moving, well maybe not the one where I ate a chocolate brioche beforehand (well I was on holiday!).

I made sure movement was a part of everyday of my holidays, otherwise I would go insane - I’m a happier Debbie when I move! Even after 6 hours of being stuck in traffic on the way to my Mum’s, we arrived, said a brief hello (sorry Mum!) and then walked to the swimming pool, had a swim and a play and then walked back. If I hadn’t of gone for that swim, we all would have been grumpy for sure.

What I am trying to say is that if you do what you’ve always done you will get what you always have. In 2018 I’m going to attend more variety of classes, as well as continue my Pilates, Somatics, HIIT and chuns (chat and run!) with my friends. I’m quite motivated to exercise at home and I’ve just found booyafitness.com, a great website for loads of variety of classes. I’ve done a couple so far and I’m really impressed. 

Could you try something new too?

I’m going to try dry January. I think after Christmas it is good to get back on an even keel and feel healthier again. This year I didn’t go too mad at Christmas although that’s not what the scales say (the little buggers).

My new Nutritious Movement course - which I will be qualified by the end of 2018 - conversely gets you to notice your movement or your lack of movement outside of your scheduled exercise time. The truth is, the world is too convenient for stopping our movement, we all do not move enough and this has a detrimental effect on our health. Our environment, chairs, cars, heeled and inflexible shoes, supermarket trolleys, computer/phone screens, automatic doors, escalators and electric whisks impact on our lack of movement. 

Even if you run 20 miles a week but work full time at a computer or you drive for a living but weight train 12 hours a week, I’m sorry to tell you that you are what’s known as an active sedentary. Your body adapts to what you do most of the time.

Sitting isn’t so much of the problem as to the amount of time spent sitting. Think about adding up all the hours that you sit per day.: sat at a breakfast table, sofa, working at a desk, driving home, sat watching your child at his sports club and sat in the evening watching TV.

The Psoas muscle which attaches from your lumbar spine to your inner thigh bone, gets shortened with prolonged sitting and a psoas that won’t release prevents the hips from extending and the glutes from building. It can compress discs in the spinal column as well as keeping the calfs and hamstrings short.

As well as attending your Pilates, yoga, Somatics class you really do have to pay attention to how you are moving your body the rest of the time and the movement habits you have created. If you have a stressful job, that will most definitely impact on your body, what could you do to change that? Sure giving up work or changing jobs may not be possible or could they? Perhaps after work or during a break you could take time to breathe, do a somatic exercise, or walk home instead of driving.

Small changes equate to long term change and healthier bodies.

If your goal is to really manage your back pain/ release your tight hamstrings, you have to have accountability for your body outside of the class. 

If I could wave a magic wand I would. You inevitably feel better after the class, let’s vow to move more in 2018.

In the words of Katy Bowman “We are how we move”. 

If you want further info or are looking for a good book or website to look at check out https://nutritiousmovement.com.

Katy has a ton of books, DVD’s to buy, and books on transitioning to a standing work desk, a book on transitioning to minimal shoes, stop your foot pain, a diastatis rectus book as well as move your DNA and Movement matters. Some of her books are available on audible which is fab as you can walk as you listen. I listen to her pod casts in the car. She has a blog and you can search for many ailments and find cool videos. Go check it out.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

How Somatic Movement has made me stronger in Pilates

Since my Somatics training in September 2014, I have noticed something remarkable - without trying, I have become stronger in Pilates! Which is great but I wish I’d known this sooner.
First let me explain what Somatic Movement is, as I know the terminology can confuse a lot of people including me. In the most basic terms, Somatic Movement releases unwanted muscle tension, muscle tension that may be causing us pain or muscle tension that we didn’t even realise we were holding.

 The technique used in Somatic movement is the method of pandiculation, again another long word! To pandiculate means to strongly contract muscles. Animals do it all the time, upon awaking and as much as 40 times a day. Imagine a cat upon waking; you may think the cat is stretching.  No it is pandiculating, it is strongly contracting muscles, then releasing them. The cat is waking up the brain for normal sensing and movement so it is ready for pouncing, catching etc. so the brain is aware the muscle is contracted followed by a slow release then followed by a rest. The slower the better, why so slow? Isn’t it a bit boring? Maybe for some it is, but not for me as I have benefitted from Somatic movement and seen the effects in clients. The reason we move so slowly with this movement system is because we are bypassing automatic movement; the brain notices the muscle is tight as we have highlighted this, so the brain can then learn how to release and basically set the muscle back to the correct length.

Why is Somatic movement so magic? Because it works on muscles that we were unaware we held tension in. Muscles that over time by either habituation (always carrying baby/ a bag on one shoulder/ slumping at a computer) or injury (broke right collarbone so hunches forward unconsciously to protect it) have lost the communication (sensory, motor feedback) from the muscle to the brain. Basically the rewiring is lost.
So let’s get back to me. Before my training I was having a niggle under my right shoulder blade. It would go through Pilates movement but come back again. It was achy and annoying. During my training, I had released it, think it was my rhomboids and a bit of my lats, just like that gone! After training I felt it coming back, but this time I knew how to get rid of it. I thought about where I was feeling the tension and found the Somatic exercise to fix it. A year on, I’ve not had that dull ache.

I still have a long way to go but what has surprised me by practicing my somatic movements, I’ve noticed flexibility in other areas. My quads for instance have always been tight - yes they have improved with Pilates no doubt, but now after a run when I stretch them, my knee comes back much further. This has happened not because I’ve been constantly stretching my quads, because I don’t but because tension has been released around my hips so my quads have released. I’ve also noticed in class when I go to demonstrate an exercise that I used to find tricky, I’ve found it easier and have more range of movement. This all from moving slowly, amazing!
Who is Somatic Movement For?

I would say pretty much anyone, however I’d say those who already have good body awareness will fly with this as they can really hone in and fine tune movement. Those with chronic muscle pain greatly benefit. Athletes, I’ve been having really astounding results with my elderly population. Anyone who wants to improve on their body awareness to a deeper level.