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."
While High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been widely accepted by athletes as a means to boost performance and lower body fat, studies have now revealed that it is also highly advantageous to those with chronic disease. Far more efficient, enjoyable and health promoting than long bouts of aerobic exercise, HIIT involves cycling through periods of all out intensity for a brief period of time such as 30-60 seconds, followed by a comparable period of moderate activity, for a total of about twenty minutes. The activity might include cycling, running, jumping, climbing, swimming, weight lifting, dancing, etc; the more variety, the better. Individuals should be cleared for vigorous activity by a medical practitioner before embarking on an HIIT program.
Benefits include enhanced glucose utilization, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular and lung function, hormone balance, connective tissue health, reduced stiffness and pain, brain health, higher energy levels and improved mood.
I often here people expressing a desire to be more "flexible", when upon further inquiry, I learn that what thy are truly seeking is more "mobility". While this may seem like a case semantics, it underlines a key concept in strategies used to optimize one's movement potential. One's ability to move through a healthy range of motion depends on four parameters; soft tissue extensibility ("flexibility"), joint alignment, neuromuscular control, and strength. If a person is seeking a greater range of motion, and is only using stretching to increase flexiblity, not only are they approaching a small part of the mobility picture, but they may be doing more harm than good. The body always strives for a balance of tensile forces; a dynamic equilibrium between mobility and stability. If the body senses instability (ie an impinged joint, an overstretched tendon), it will send messages for tissues to tighten in response, to protect itself. If one attempts to release the tension by stretching, the body senses the resultant laxity of tissues and signals for them to tighten up even more. Thus, if you are striving to release ongoing tension somewhere in your body by stretching, and the tension prevails, stop! Instead, investigate why the tension is there; is the involved joint impinged? Is there a neuromuscular control misfire? Is there a strength imbalance? The body is extremely intelligent and ongoing tension is a strong clue that the body is trying to protect itself because you are moving in an imbalanced way. Listening to your body's signals and investigating the prime source of imbalance will lead to optimal healing, and performance. This podcast by Dr. Gray Cook, physical therapist and leader in human performance research, outlines these concepts with clear precision. Enjoy learning about optimizing your mobility.