Fresh out of the IDEA National Fitness Conference, I am reeling with ideas and inspiration. It is an honor to have the opportunity to learn from leaders in the field of biomechanics and human movement, such as Lenny Parracino, Gary Gray(Gray Institute), Chuck Wolf (Human Motion Associates), Sue Hitzman (Melt Method), Paul Chek, and Gray Cook, and a challenge to integrate all the material into meaningful applications for my community. An overarching principle is the chain reaction of the body, rooted in the myofascial nervous system. A fancy term referring to the fact that every part of our body is connected through tissues and nerve signals. Therefore, to address a problem in the system, we must look at the way the entire body is moving and functioning. No body part is an island! As Chuck Wolf expressed today, knee motion is determined by what is happening at the ankle and hip; thus, one must address how the ankle and hip are moving in order to optimize motion at the knee. Simply replacing a worn out knee, without addressing what is happening upstream and downstream, will lead to repeated problems.
A few of my favorite cues from Chuck's lecture included, "stand tall", "shine the beacon of light" (the pelvis) in the direction you want to go, and "smash the bug" under your big toe; I will illustrate these in class, and how they lead to upregulating the chain reaction in the body. Pushing the first ray (big toe knuckle) into the floor fires up the glutes...no "squeeze your glutes" needed! As one who knows the frustration of sacroiliac pain, by focusing on getting my first ray firmly rooted in lunges and squats, my SI pain was alleviated! This is like magic. Finding the targets and sparks that naturally wake up the body to optimal movement, is extremely refreshing. This respects the incredible wisdom of the body, and nature's sophisticated intricacies that keep us moving forward, even in the presence of injury and dysfunction. And this is the key to realigning all systems to optimal movement.
I look forward to sharing this information with you.
Be well, and stand tall!
Best to all,
While moving homes can be overwhelming at times, it can be extremelly invigorating to clear out the old and streamline one's life. In the midst of my move, I had an experience which inspired great joy. Yesterday, as I donated a truck load of furniture to Grace Hopper School, I was ignited by the glowing joy of the gentlemen coming to recieve my items. I was equally elated by a sense of lightness, and freedom as I bid my things good bye. It is easy to accumulate things, and to be unaware of how they weigh upon us psychologically as well as physically. Appreciating what we have, and keeping only what is a true priority for us, physically and mentally, allows us to move forward to new ideas, opportunities and purpose. This photo of my new Grace Hopper friends says it all.
Here's to living lightly and with vitality!
Summer is officially just around the corner, and beckons us to enjoy moving in the great outdoors. Lured by the beauty of Pt Dume, I had an exciting rock climbing adventure a few weeks ago..scaling the rock wall with the ocean waves roaring behind me, this is one of my favorite activities in nature. However, this time I tweaked my ankle and endured a stress fracture. This has lead me to take some time researching bone quality and healing, and thinking about what injuries can teach us.
I came upon a detailed article, How to Speed Fracture Healing, by Susan Brown, PhD of the Center for Better Bones. It begins by outlining that our body's innate intelligence guides our bones to heal naturally, and what we do during this time has a strong impact on the outcome. She describes the physiology of heaing, including the inflammatory,reparative, and remodelling stages. The nutritional demand for optimal healing is high! To speed the healing process, it is recommended to increase intake of calories, protein/amino acids, antioxidants (to offset the free radicals created during the inflammation process), and 20 key nutrients including Vitamin D3, K2 (this is key to guiding calcium to the right places in the body--- to the bone rather than to the arteries or soft tissues where it can cause damage), B vitamins, zinc, copper, calcium, silicon and phosphorus.
I prefer to get nutrients from whole foods whenever possible, but do also take some supplements of high quality. To boost my own bone healing, I have a few favorite foods such as bone broth , gelatin/collagen , grass fed organic ghee/eggs/liver (rich in vitamin K2), coconut oil, cod liver oil, organic vegetables, omega-3 rich sardines and wild alaskan salmon. Nutritionist and Gray Institute Fellow, Brandi Marshall shared the chart below with me, highlighting foods rich in healing nutrients.
I am also trying the healing powers of comfrey root poultices and creams, essential oils, acupuncture, massage, and Kelly Starrett's voo doo flossing (on hold until I am out of the boot!). Sleep is a priority.
While each injury is frustrating, I strive find the lesson behind it. What is this telling me about where I can find more balance in my life; nutrition/hydration, movement, rest/recovery, behavior? How can I use this experience to grow stronger, more resilient and adaptable? And to guide myself and others to optimal performance in athletics and life?
The body has a miraculous capacity to heal. Injury and repair allows us to appreciate this innate power. And inspires us to explore some different movement endeavors during the healing process; here's to the pool!
Health and happiness to all,
Upon straining my ankle this week, I turned to advice from some of my mentors, including all star Lenny Parracino, soft tissue therapist, Gray Institute Faculty member and international author/lecturer. He forwarded this valuable information, outlining the discrepancies between medical imaging and symptoms/function and explaining the dangers of relying on medical imaging to unravel root causes of imbalances in the body.
While medical imaging can be a valuable tool for ruling out major disruptions in the body's structure and function, minor findings can not only be misleading but they can lead to psychological pressures leading to a cascade of often unnecessary, and perhaps even harmful, diagnostic tests and treatments. My own hip MRI's show bone on bone, cystic bone growths and joint space narrowing akin to an 80 year old. Yet, my range, strength and function are excellent. And, I am pain free.
The take home message; imaging can be a valuable tool for understanding imbalance in the body, but is often out of sync with symptoms, and may turn up findings that lead to unnecessary tests and treatments. The optimal way to ascertain why imbalances are occurring in the body is to analyze the four main components of health in one's life; movement, nutrition/hydration, rest/recovery, and behavior/thought. By examining where excess, limitations, or toxins are present in each of these areas, one can adopt lifestyle changes leading to optimal health. The body has incredible healing power. With the proper information and support, healing will be ignited.
This weekend was the first in a series of workshops, First Aid for the Body, geared towards teaching people to take optimal care of their bodies through self care techniques. The Vyper vibrating fitness roller combines healing modalities of compression/traction and vibration/oscillating to enhance the gliding of tissues, circulation, lymphatic flow, proprioception and balanced muscle tone.
A key to understanding the benefit of this tool, is to understand its impact on fascia, the connective tissue sheath that surrounds the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves and organs; essentially a net that lies beneath the skin and connects one part of the body to the next, like a giant body stocking. The health of one's fascia determines the quality of one's movement and alignment. Fascia acts like an elastic band transmitting energy through the system with utmost efficiency, and conducting nervous impulses (independent of the brain and spinal cord) with incredible speed. It is a conduction highway of energy and electrical signals, and it's efficacy depends on it's fluid structure.
Well hydrated fascia functions optimally; as seen in a wild cat springing into a leap or a sprint with beautiful flow, power and agility. Dehydrated fascia can be likened to dried out clay; brittle, and tacked down, with little gliding potential between parts; this leads to dysfunctional movement, alignment and a cascade of negative effects. When I studied with Sue Hitzmann, of the Melt Method, she explained that this dehydration results from "Stuck Stress" in the body. Stress comes in many forms, physical and mental. It can be from lack of sleep, toxins in food or the environment, pain, hunger, illness, overwork, unhealthy relationships, or inflammation. When the body is stressed beyond its ability to recover, the balance tips towards a state of dis-ease, dehydration and breakdown.
The Vyper is a proactive technique to restore balance to the system. By upregulating circulation and lymphatic flow, it speeds the influx of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and the elimination of metabolic wastes and toxins. With its combined compression/traction and vibration, it enhances fascial rehydration, allowing for the gliding of tissues and restoration of the elastic quality of fascia. It upregulates proprioception, stimulating nerve endings which help the body understand where it is in space, and how to respond appropriately. This enhances reaction time, balance, and agility. Whole body vibration has been observed to increase strength and muscle tone; while the mechanism is not fully understood, it is postulated that the disorganized firing of muscle tissues under vibration accelerates fatigue, and leads to increases in strength over time. By using the Vyper for core training, we can benefit from this strength training factor.
In the workshop, I guided students to use the Vyper through targeted areas of the entire body in three modes; 1. as a roller without vibration, 2. as a massage tool, and 3. as a vibrating fitness roller. I also demonstrated core training exercises such as toe taps, marching, bridging, plank/saw, knee stretch, and standing work using the vibration technology.
The feedback has been remarkable, and I am inspired by the positive results people are experiencing. Self healing techniques are invaluable, and it is a great gift as a teacher, to see students taking the reins on their journey to optimal health.
Health and wellness to all,
I am forwarding this information on behalf of a very empowering organization here in Malibu, Freedom Road Project. I am collecting donations in my classes; thank you to all who are participating!
Do you have one Saturday a month to mentor a young girl from an underserved low income area of Los Angeles?
The Malibu Methodist Mentorship Program is a sister program of the Freedom Road Project – a Sex Trafficking Awareness & Prevention program. Together they partner with the Grace Hopper Academy in Inglewood, CA in mentoring 11-13 year old girls.
As a group we lead an empowerment program, teach life skills, and provide a fun, adventure-filled day for the girls!
There are many ways to participate:
+Join our monthly outings
+ donate clothing & personal care items
+donate art and school supplies
+donate dorm room supplies (bedding, towels, bath supplies)
Call or email for information.
Mentor Coordinator FreedomRoadProjectMalibu@gmail.com 310-341-7340
As we strive to excel in our physical performance, our drive often leads us to ignore signals of pain. Yet, pain is a highly instructive experience, and can lead us to understand so much more about our bodies if we learn to listen. The body's innate wisdom must be respected. Gray Cook eloquently describes the importance of heeding these signals; "The presence of pain in the movement matrix changes the rules of fitness and rehabilitative exercise. Because of pain, we cannot use physiological principles to attack movement dysfunction, nor can we rely on consistent outcomes of strength, endurance, and flexibility. Pain changes the way we move. It is unpredictable and highly individualized. We do not know how a body will move when pain dictates the movement; we just know it is altered from situations that are pain free... Pain is a warning sign. Long before pain represents a chronic problem, it can alert us to poor alignment, overuse, imbalance and inflammation... We embrace all other warning signs in our lives - a computer virus alert, the oil light on the dashboard- but when it comes to the body we act as if the warning sign of pain is an inconvenience. If we ignore pain's natural self limiting nature, we are ignorant of the lessons its ancient design provides."