Remember being told "Shoulders Back, Belly In"? (how has that worked out for us really?)

One of the most limiting factors to achieving a healthy core is the commonly held cultural belief around what looks "normal and attractive". So many tell me they were always told to "pull your shoulders back and belly in" but has that really worked? Why do we have nagging aches and pains, digestive and respiratory issues, joint problems and more? Why do we have what we suspect is a weak core?

In fact the old "shoulders back, belly in" only disguises accumulated tensions in the body.....not correct. The tensions are still there, and we've even added them by bracing ourselves in this way. We all want to be stronger - but first we have to release the tension that prevents that from happening. 

The Psoas Release is For Your Core

Tension in your core limits your movements and puts pressure where pressure shouldn't be. The Psoas Release is an ideal way to relieve it. We start every class that way but there are so many ways to do it. My favourite only takes a 1/2 dome and a block and I'll show it to you this week. The video below shows you a lot more too.

The Psoas muscles (one each side) run diagonally from the bottom of your ribs, attaching to your spine in many places and also your leg bones. When they are tight they pull your rib cage forward, creating a lot of compression in your lower back (and pelvic floor). Do this exercise in letting go often so that your Psoas muscles aren't messing up your movement. Here's some guidelines:

  • Be gentle in your approach. Allow a soft belly.  If you feel a little emotional that's ok, breathe easily, be compassionate towards yourself and come out whenever you need to. Letting go of physical tension can create a release of emotion too. Mind and body are really driving the same car .....you, so be a loving mechanic! 
  • There's no perfect spot for your supports, as you'll see in Alison's video below - just make sure that your head and shoulders are supported and that you feel secure. Your lower ribs should be free to relax towards the ground. Try lining your bolster up (or other support) with the bottom or your armpits, that's about where your shoulder blades end.
  • This isn't a 'stretch' so you may feel no sensation, but do it in a way that encourages relaxation and you'll definitely notice easier movement. Music that soothes you is a great accompaniment.

This is a foundation exercise to do as often as you can. It's great to do before you go for a walk (makes it easier to access your hips), it's great for relieving stress and lower back pain too. Check out the video below where Alison Crouch shows you a bunch of different possible variations. Give yourself plenty of time to work with your chosen shape, utilise your easy breathing and see if you can give yourself the chance to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Ideas for home practice:

  • Feet Pelvis distance as often as you can think of it - notice just how often your feet narrow or widen, if you can see yourself walking towards a mirror you might be very surprised at how your ankles almost touch. See if you can take them towards pelvis distance even when you walk.
  • Psoas Release every day  (makes the above much easier)
  • Hand Stretch every day (getting ready for more upper body work next week)
  • Did you enjoy the chair series today? Lots of people do, which is why I filmed a version of it:

Real World Applications

I don't know if you've noticed but every week this term I've started you off with the same exercises. Sure, each week I've mixed it up a little bit - perhaps legs are up the wall one week and the next they are on the floor, but each week for 5 to 10 minutes we explored:

  • Psoas Release (sometimes legs extended on floor, sometimes at the wall, sometimes supported butterfly)
  • Pelvic Rocking (do you know the difference now between tucked, untucked and neutral?)
  • Hip releases (Butterfly or Happy Baby and No. 4 or cross leg variations)
  • Angel Arms and Reverse Palm Shoulder Release

I had a lot of feedback to suggest that this helped you to remember the patterns of the movements, and that you could feel your body opening up a  bit more each time. I even noticed people coming early and doing it on their own (yaaay!) So that would be a great home practice for you for a daily unwind, but of course there are so many other ways to go. There is the day to day you've done a great job of incorporating all term - and I've seen you get so much stronger, with things like:

  • standing well into single leg balance and pelvic list (don't forget your kickstand option)
  • double calf stretch, with or without 1/2 dome, making sure your pelvis is untucked (we've done freestanding hands on thighs, used chairs, the wall and even our imaginary desks and benches)
  • chair squats (easy to incorporate)
  • keeping your head gently ramped as you go about your business, what about that external rotation of the arm and monitoring how you are lifting things? Remember in Week 7 we found we could use our arm muscles, our core and our glutes and hamstrings much more effectively just by changing the way we lifted the bolster.

You also have (just to keep life interesting):

  •  Movement Multivitamin handout (you could pick 3 exercises a day)
  •  Healthy Pelvis handout (pick 3)
  • My Youtube Channel and Blog posts have many different ideas for home practice
  • And then there are Katy's huge array of wonderful resources. DVD's, video downloads, talking books, podcasts, books (all with exercise programs of their own) and a fantastic blog archive too. Click here to read more about your options there (many of them free).

When in doubt remember keeping it very simple can be of huge benefit when done regularly.  It's better to do a gentle calf release often than hammer it out once a week.  Much better. On that note, here's Petra Fisher showing you how to do a really good one:

I really enjoy Petra's approach as she is all about how we bring these functional movement tips into our daily lives. She has some fantastic home practice options for you so check our her website for more inspiration.  I'll see many of you for our final classes on Friday and the following Tuesday. Please note that I am available in Geelong for private sessions over the school holidays (you can share a session with a friend).

And here is a sneak peak for next term's reflexive core series. You probably guessed the ribs and pelvis were going to come into it.....a lot.....but here is Katy Bowman giving just a brilliant and succinct demo of what we are aiming to do with our best possible stance. Remember we are not trying to change it all over night, but do lots of calf stretches and it might just happen a bit sooner for you ;-) Click anywhere on this paragraph to go to the link where the video should start playing automatically. It is a runners magazine, but this demo works for all of us!

It All Starts with your feet....

Last week we looked at learning to relax our overworked quadriceps and wake up those lateral hip muscles instead. This week we use our lateral hip muscles to externally rotate our thighs....and that's a whole lot more feasible when your feet are flexible and strong!

Your feet are an important feedback tool, relaying information to the nervous system about how the body needs to respond to the world it's moving through. And yet from a young age they are generally restricted by shoes that don't let them utilise their full potential. We tend to look for aesthetics over function and don't even notice that most shoes have an elevated heel (including runners, children's and mens footwear). Then there is the tendency to seek out flat and level surfaces upon which to walk and the end result can be foot problems that resonate throughout the body.

In Katy Bowman's recent podcast she answers a listener's question about shoes. It's well worth a listen but some things really stood out to me  (a big one was that it took her years to transition to more minimal shoes):

"....you have to remember the ecology of it all. It’s not just what you put on your feet, it’s how you move in them...What you’re walking upon...I was simultaneously doing lots of corrective exercises. So everything that I recommend in my books about transitioning to minimal shoes, I was also doing. So that’s a lot more than just putting something on my feet."

The question had been about what to wear on an extensive hiking trip so Katy added:

"Even though you’ve been wearing minimal shoes, you do need to choose wisely (if) you’re adding weight, adding distance, and adding new terrain that your feet are not used to.... if you’ve worn minimal shoes...for years, but the longest walk that you’ve ever taken in them is 5 miles then you might want to plan a couple of 10 mile or 15 mile walks in them because you might find ... that you’re not adapted to them as much as you think that you are. Remember that frequency is maybe the most important variable.  And that goes for terrain exposure, distance, or duration..."

You could use that same logic for city living. You can choose a shoe with a bit more cushioning for a day pounding the pavement and use your less cushioned shoes or even bare feet at other more appropriate times. Whatever you decide to do shoe wise, don't rush it. Katy has written a number of books on feet and shoes and offers plenty of free advice on her blog too. For those of you who have a copy of Dynamic Aging it has a really good index. Here are some links for more details on what we've covered over the past few weeks:

  • Go to page 71 for Relaxed Kneecaps (last weeks post) 
  • Page 76 -78 for external rotation of your thighs (or Neutral Knee-Pits as it's also known)
  • For more on shoes look under Footwear on Page 249 and you will find so much to explore including real life relatable stories

If you loved Petra's video last week try this one. Catsuit is a gem for everything from foot pain to headaches.

 

 

Living Life With The Breaks On.......

I was giving some extra advice after class this week and my client wisely said to me something along the lines of "the answer always seems to take me back to the basics". That is so true, for all of us. This term we are focussed on understanding what's really going on with our pelvis and a lot of us have had a few 'lightbulbs' go off already. Maybe we thought we were in neutral but really there was quite a little tuck going on in there a lot of the time.

This client's issue had been with activating the lateral hip in a pelvic list and the first thing we checked on was her capacity to release her knee caps. We discovered her quadriceps muscles were quite resistant to releasing. I love this video by Petra Fisher, an inspiring Restorative Exercise Specialist and Movement Coach.

If we are living with our quadriceps activated most of the time we are really putting the brakes on our potential to move well. It's having a big impact on the pelvis and that's just for starters. I've written a number of blogs on the knee cap release over the years, so you can go back and look them up or, even better,  refer to any of Katy Bowman's books. Even if you've read them once, keep picking them up and going back to pieces. You'll be amazed how it makes more and more sense when you've spent time thinking about how you move out in the world.

Sit Better, Sit Less, Sit Differently!

So this term is all about the pelvis, and your ability to move it freely, through all it's ranges - without compensation.

The mobility of the pelvis reflects the health of the feet, knees, hips, core, spine and neck and shoulders. As I always say "don't take my word for it, try the different exercises yourself and feel the difference.

As always, be patient - don't overdo things and celebrate the small successes (which are really reflections of the change in how you think about movement) along the way.

Fun fact: Did you know that even the most active people in our culture (the bikers, runners, body builders, swimmers, yogis and hikers for eg) only spend about 4% of their time moving. You can see Katy Bowman's video about it here (don't worry it's short and fun but mainly a bit of an eye opener).

This week we'll focus on sitting and the pelvis and three things we'll consider are:

1. Sitting Less - gradually increasing your movement opportunities day by day. It's not about standing up all day, it's about moving more of you, in more ways, more often.

2. Sitting Better - Don't push back into the chair. Try coming about 1/2 way, mind how you place your feet and knees and roll your pelvis forward. You can watch a video of my daughter demonstrating optimal sitting here. You might like to try Lucy's version of sitting on a 1/2 dome and then try flipping it over. What do you prefer? You can easily used a rolled up towel if you don't have a half dome.

3. Sitting Differently: for starters try the floor. You'll use more muscles getting up and down and you can use as many props as you need to when you are down there.

thinkoutside thechair.jpg

Last term I made a Chair Challenge video and handout for you. I've just finished a handout for the Every Day Movement that was it's follow up. You can grab one in class or go ahead and print one off yourself now. Or you can save a tree and refer to the video and handout online!

EverydayMovement.jpg

Keys to Success: Your comprehensive resource, It's free, and It's already here!

I worked with some lovely private clients today and their comments really brought into focus some keys about this program. A big one is that you will never not benefit from the basic foundation program - you know the one. I've attached it here in case you've lost yours.

Movewell Strong Foundations.jpg

One client was brand new, and one had been coming for a year. In both cases they both stood and moved so much more freely and comfortably after a simple Psoas Release and a few rounds of calf stretch. Our feet turn out because our lower legs are so tight, and our feet turning out when we walk is at the root of so many issues. I couldn't begin to list them. Name one and I'm pretty sure I could point to the link.

Every time I work with someone it just takes a few rounds of calf stretch for them to be able to stand with their feet straighter ahead. Seriously, it's that simple.

Why is that so cool? Well that means you have access to your lateral hips, which means you can start to rebuild the chain of muscle response that supports the pelvis and spine, potentially makeing every step a core strengthening, body regenerating one. But that won't happen overnight, and it still all starts with releasing the tension in your calves!

I know it's not sexy and exciting but the results sure as heck are.  Remember though that every time you sit in a chair you might be dulling down the effects of all your hard work. Go down a few blog posts and you'll see it's not that I'm anti chair. I just think we rely on them far too heavily, and the way we are using them compounds our painful and frustrating problems.

Make The Most of All That Free Stuff

This term I created 4 new videos for you. Create stability, balance and movement freedom by taking advantage of those. They are exercises we've done all term and I've kept them simple and to the point. We need to strengthen our hamstrings and glutes, we need to release tension in some key areas. It's all there. I even created a handout for you.

ChairChallengeHandout.jpg

You'll see the Youtube videos are split up into sections. There is one group dedicated to the Psoas. Another group is for Movement Flows, where we've linked a bunch of the exercises together. There is one group just on the new things. They are all generally between 5 and 10 minutes long. There is even a beautiful relaxation video there for you from Nicole Kees.

There's a Gazillion Ways To Move On The Blog

There are endless ways to approach moving more each day and if you scroll through the many  blogs (I haven't counted ;-) you'll find a range of possibilities. some terms I suggested daily homework every week (I've often tried different ways to inspire folk). See if some of those ideas might slot into your life. We all have different ways of learning. Some of us like to read, others to watch then do, others to do while listening. I like to 90% do and 10% study the doing of it. Great grammar there Mel! I also like to review and assess and notice what makes me feel so much better (current joy is external rotation of the upper arms = shoulder freedom) because there is no bigger incentive to move than that.

Are You Ready To Take It To the Next Level? Then Look To The Master (Katy B)

I've also written an article about where to go to next when you are ready for more depth. Many of these options are free. Click anywhere here to go straight there. And if you have her books and or DVD's pick them up again. They truly reward multiple readings, viewings.

Katy tells her student teachers there is only one difference between them and her master teachers, and that is that they have done 100's of hours of her classes. If you have purchased her classes, DVD's, books etc - go back to them often. Every single time I pick up something new. It takes time to absorb new movement patterns. - we've all had those lightbulb moments. Even though we've heard it said dozens of times before, one day we are ready. That happens to me on a regular basis with Katy B and other great teachers I've worked with too. There is not one exercise that will fix everything. It's a combination of creating movement opportunities in your life, recognising the habits that you could consciously change and programming in some restorative exercises regularly. The layering of learning takes care of itself when we keep coming back to the movements!

Check out Katy's Advent Core Challenge from last year. You could start it today and be ready for Christmas....Yay!

And if you haven't already, go set up some 1/2 dome stations wherever you stand regularly waiting for something to fill (my water filter) or where you brush your teeth, or where you prepare dinner. Doesn't have to be a dome, but make it hard to miss. You'll have to remind yourself the first 20 times, but suddenly you are doing it without thinking about it. Trust me, the 1st calf release of the day is always the best. But then again some people say I'm weird ;-)

Bla Bla Out! XX

 

Taking care of shoulders takes a load off your heart too

We are on a shoulder roll at the moment. Literally (using balls to roll out tensions) and also just generally with lots of extra focus there. This term we ramped it up a notch and are really digging deep into understanding that how we use our arms can completely change what's going on for our neck and shoulders (and core and back and ......)

massageballchart.jpg

One thing that might not jump out at you immediately is that restoring shoulder mobility can improve the mobility of your heart and lungs. To learn more about heart health and movement I highly recommend listening to Katy Bowman's podcast number 42. If you don't like the introductory banter in the intro just skip the first 5 minutes. If you like what you hear and want to know more then take a look at the page I put together for you here. And if you happen to have one of my library copies on your bedside table acting as a handy drink coaster ;-)) I'd love to get it back soon so I can pass it on. Thanks! About 12 books have gone the way of odd socks!

SOME OF THE THINGS WE'VE UNCOVERED
As we explore common poses like Down Face Dog we are realising that it's not just about assuming the shape, it's what muscles are we using to get us there.

We're realising that a neck release is a whole other creature when we take it from a position where our head is aligned with the rest of our body - not out in the forward head position which might be happening far more often than we think. That on it's own can be a big contributor to a range of issues from back pain to headaches to a weakened core.

We can see we need to do our exercises in a different shape than that of our habit - or we are just reinforcing the habit (which is fine too, if that's working for you - but generally people come to see me because they are frustrated by some aspect/s of their body).

This week we'll ramp the ribs as well as the head and take our shoulder adventure on to another level - which I find is as much about stretching how we think about movement as actually stretching. I'm even going to show you how to incorporate your exercises into drinking your cuppa or lifting your groceries.

Don't forget you've got 4 new videos to be getting on with. They are all between 5 and 10 minutes long and provide practical ways for you to mobilise upper and lower body during your day. You can find them all in the 'What's New' playlist.

I'm off on a Bluegrass music adventure. I leave you in wonderful hands with Nic. See you next week. X Mel

 

Roll 'em Roll 'em Roll 'em

Last week we used our spikey balls to release shoulder tension at the wall (targeting upper back and chest) - and there were some fantastic displays of creative movement that led to great releases (and quite a few 'aha' moments). So balls aren't just for feet or for Christmas either - use them often for best results. Here are some other exercises you might like to try. Remember to go gently. Everyone is different in the tensions that they hold and even that changes from day to day.

Speaking of shoulders, did you know that your shoulder movement is hugely tied up with what's going on with your shoulder blades? That's why we love our rhomboid pushups and why they feature in all sorts of ways, even standing up. There are actually a lot of muscles involved in moving the shoulders;

  • the muscles that connect the trunk to the shoulder blades (scapula)
  • the muscles connecting the shoulder blades to the upper arm  (the humerus)
  • the muscles connecting the trunk to the upper arm

Did you notice that the shoulder blades came up twice? 17 muscles attach just to them! Even so it can be tricky to isolate the shoulder blades. They tend to be particularly stuck and the ribs want to lead the way. Our shoulders tend to be a bit starved of love with limited reasons to lift our arms up above our heads during the day, and a tendency to push our ribs out in front to cope with the accumulated tensions. To make daily shoulder love a bit more practical we've done this combo in class - a standing plank with rhomboid pushups and and active thoracic release. Follow it or precede it with the upper body release. Try a few sets and see how things change. Go gently (form comes first) and often for best results.

GO ON - GEEK IT UP AND SEE HOW IT ALL WORKS!

There's nothing wrong with chairs or resting........

I thought you might enjoy this piece, from one of Katy Bowman's Instagram Posts

"There's nothing wrong with chairs or resting. My issue is with their uniformity of shape (and also their ubiquity and preemptive placement). I don't think there's much I can do about an entire cultures furniture-shape, but what I can do is suggest you don't have to use a chair in a single way. That "sitting" is a relationship between your choice and the habitat around you. Here are some movement OPTIONS when it comes to a single habitat feature. Remember that sitting differently is moving differently."
katysit.png

She's In New Zealand, might she pop over to see us?

You might already know that Katy Bowman is in New Zealand for the next 2 months. Her recent newsletter invited us to let her know where we live (just your country, not your street address) as she is working hard to connect the movement tribe (or movement movement as it is sometimes known!) I think if enough Australian's responded we might just be able to convince her to pop on over and teach a workshop or two. Katy said amongst other things:

"I’m having an excellent time speaking in New Zealand—introducing many to the idea that movement is much more nuanced than simply the difference between sedentary or active whole-body states, and even more nuanced than balancing our cardio, strength, and flexibility.” I love helping people understand that movement is more similar to nutrition than we realise, when we consider the vast diversity of movements that are necessary to meet our physiological needs."

So if you'd like to meet Katy B (author of many wonderful books including Dynamic Aging which so many of you have enjoyed), and you are not already on her mailing list please  follow this link and register your email address. You'll also receive updates on what other things she's up to. There are some workshops available in New Zealand and a retreat.

And finally here is a chest release wall release based on the exercises we've done in classes over the last few weeks. Approach it gently and regularly for best results. I'll add a strengthening component to it for you next week, along with some tips about giving up our rib thrusting habit.

Finding some inspiration

Motiviation

One of the toughest things for all of us is doing the exercises outside of class time. We can read about it, we can watch film clips, we can even buy all the books and put them on the bedside table and hope the information leaps into our brains overnight (or over a series of months if the dust that accumulates on mine is any indicator). But nothing on earth is going to beat the actual movement. Actually there is one thing that beats it, that's doing an exercise or two and realising how much freer you feel.

Taking the time to sense and feel the changes, no matter how subtle at first, allows you to recognise the power you have to change how you move.

Don't Just Take My Word For It

I am a big believer in trying something, doing one or two of our restorative exercises and then trying it again. Generally you'll get a bit of a 'kaboom' moment - even if it's just in passing, that starts to lay down some foundations for the thought that there might just be a better way. From that seed of thought inspiration (and therefore motivation) grows.

Reconnect

We are looking to make the whole machine work more effectively and enjoy the process - so we want to start to pay attention to some of the details. Say you were doing a squat and something hurt, you wouldn't just power through. You'd stop, reassess - make the appropriate adjustments and go from there. It's incredibly helpful to let go of that surge to be in a rush to find change. You don't need big sensations to be doing great work (and that's a whole other juicy topic for another day).

It's Not Just For Christmas

And until such time as we can get all the movements we need in our daily lives we are going to benefit hugely from doing our exercises often. So I've filmed you this little routine which follows on nicely from your Chair Challenge. This is the sort of thing that I do throughout the day and with my Movement Coaching clients too.

Move more and move well my friends. Don't forget to we are moving together in Geelong next Wednesday 25 October, 9.30am - it's free! RSVP here

Taking it to the streets!

Just how am I supposed to walk?

So you've read all about the mechanics of walking or you've come to a few classes and you can see where you could make some adjustments, but what happens when you hit the road Jack?

 Less talk more action, and yes that's coming from the bla bla queen!

Less talk more action, and yes that's coming from the bla bla queen!

Don't try and force change - your tissues need time to catch up with your growing knowledge

Reading all about it is fantastic, but doing it is so much better. Maybe 90% moving and 10% reading and thinking about it would be a good ratio to aim for. You almost need to forget about changing how you walk and just enjoy it for it's own sake. Really. You can drive yourself crazy trying to remember all the little details. At most focus on one thing you can change at a time.

What I Do

I don't think of the walking I do every day as exercise. It's just moving in as many ways as I can. Not because it's something I have to do to make-up for last nights ice-cream (the way I used to think) but because it makes me feel good - and I can see how I'm progressing and changing, and I can get heaps of things done too.

The Restorative Exercises Work. Don't take my word for it 'test and retest' when you are walking

So rather than try and think about the 15 things I'm attempting to correct in my gait habits now, this is how the cogs turn in my head on a typical days outing:

  • Where's the vitamin texture? - the bark, the pebbles, the hills, the uneven ground.
  • Can I balance on this?
  • if we do a lunge here and a squat there, what's it like to walk up the hill now? Does it feel different (the answer is always yes by the way)
  • Let's do the 'anywhere upper body mobiliser' (coming soon in a video, but only if you do your chair challenge) - whats it like to arm swing now?
  • What about some step ups on that park bench. How does my walking feel after that? "oooh, I can feel my butt now!"
  • Let's do some single leg squats holding onto that fence
  • Is that a tree branch we could swing from?
  • Is that a tree we could climb?
  • Let's swing back past the shops and get the milk and things for dinner (that means back up the big hill - yaaaay!)

(so I've moved everything, so has the dog and I've done the shopping)

That's a really different experience to trying to remember all the little details we cover in classes with every single step, and it's fun.

The reality is the tensions we've developed over our lifetimes are going out on our walk with us, and just applying all our knowledge won't smooth them out. That's where the 90% doing comes into it's own.

Don't Tell Me Show Me

Ok we will! Join me and Sharon and Sue and Bart on Wednesday 25 October - this walk will leave from Newtown in Geelong. RSVP to Mel in class or send me an email - I'll then send you the details. 9.30am - 10.30am for movement, followed by optional coffee afterwards. OK lady, sounds good, but not if you expect me to climb a tree or hang upside down. That's ok, all moves are optional - laughing is encouraged, and on the last walk the gang came up with some new moves using goal posts that even I hadn't thought of. How much does it cost? $0.00! But I do live near Pakington Street and will not be held responsible for any shopping you do on your way home.

How's Your Chair Challenge Going?

Have you done it yet today? Don't forget to move it, every move counts. See you at the park!

Now Read This (we are doing a lot of calf stretch this week, so refresh your memory with this post by clicking here)

If you'd like to receive our Blogposts directly to your inbox click here and let me know and I"ll add you to the list. No spam, that's a promise!

Move It Already!

Welcome to Term 4, 2017!  Just before the holidays we had so much fun on a group walk / move / tree climb / squat festival in Geelong. 90 minutes of movement and then a coffee. It doesn't get much better than that. Lots of breakthroughs were had taking our exercises out into the world. If you couldn't come along try and get to the next one, or if you can't wait book in for a private or small group movement coaching session (Ocean Grove or Geelong).

 To the ladies who came walking with me, thankyou! You are my heroes. You had a go at everything, and you came up with things I hadn't even thought of yet. That's not me in the tree by the way. I've got new tree climbing buddies now.

To the ladies who came walking with me, thankyou! You are my heroes. You had a go at everything, and you came up with things I hadn't even thought of yet. That's not me in the tree by the way. I've got new tree climbing buddies now.

 

As we get ready to head off on another adventure let's figure out how much we are sitting in chairs right now, it's often much more than we think. Then we can set some goals for less sitting from now on.  As Katy Bowman says in one of her latest podcasts "Don't Just Sit There!....but don't just stand there either (Podcast 86)." We'll talk more about that after you've done this survey:

How Much Time Do I Spend Sitting in Chairs?

  • How much time do you spend sitting for meals (or a cup of tea, or imbibing of any description)?
  • How much time do you spend sitting for entertainment or relaxation, or even being social (eg. TV, going to he movies, coffee or lunch with friends?)
  • How much time do you spend sitting at your job?
  • How much time do you spend sitting on the toilet (read more about squatty potty's and bathroom breaks as exercise opportunities here)
  • How much time do you spend sitting in your car (commuting, general travel needs)?
  • How much time do you spend sitting while you exercise? (This could be weight machines at the gym, bikes, rowing machines and more things I haven't thought of yet, ooh, what about kayaking?)

Now add that up. Think about how many hours a day you are awake and how many of those are spent in chairs. It can be a bit of an eye opener. And it the chair is NOT the enemy here, it's the amount of time we spend in it. The tissues of your body shape around what you do the most of, so if you've got the chair shape going most of the day, that's what you are carrying into everything else you do to.

As Katy says in her podcast: "Chairs are really prevalent not only in the work space but all the time. Just get out of your chair. Do something different. Even if you sit right back down again at least you got up. Like that’s one squat for you....I think the chair is .. sucking the movement potential out of your body...It’s not to say that you can’t rest but maybe rest in some other way. If you could change your chair relationship it would be huge for you."

So does that mean standing all day is the answer? No, and here is what she says about that:

"That’s not really movement.  You know, at the end of the day, getting into a standing position once in just another sedentary position. So stand up, yes. And then, and then.... do something after you’ve stood up."

"Like what?" did I hear you say? Try this:

"Pay attention to where you’re carrying your weight on your feet. Is it only on one? Is it on two?  Maybe put it between the two. Does it go forward? Does it go back?  Can it go right forward left back?  And you go the other way. ..standing is like a category. We think of standing as simply like only the soles of the feet are in contact but I could come up with.... 30 different things to be doing while you are just standing there that would make it so that you’re not just standing there....it’s a mindful thing. Don’t just stand up and then stop thinking about your movement for the day.  Standing up is the point at which you start thinking about it."

THE CHAIR CHALLENGE

The amount of time we spend in chairs impacts how well we feel and how well we move. Here's a simple series that can release tension while laying some foundations for better overall movement.
Can you do it a minimum of once every day this term? If that sounds too easy, can you do one aspect of it every single time you get up from a chair? Prefer a hard copy? Handouts will also be available in classes.

You've got 3 exercises here. The squat up and down from the chair, the lunge style hip flexor release (seated or standing) and the back of leg release. Do 1 of each, do 2 rounds of each, do even 3 rounds of each. It won't take more than 5 minutes and you will feel the difference. If you've ever taken a class with me you'll know not to take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Have a little walk around before the exercises and then straight after.  Noticing the improved freedom in your movement will inspire you to do more.

With one little reminder though. It's never ever about force or being aggressive - be patient, be loving and listen to your body. Slow, steady and mindful gets the best results. Pummelling ourselves has tended to take us further into cycles of inflammation and pain.
 

Change Your Mind and Change How You Move

We can have pretty limiting thoughts about how we ought to move. Our ideas about sitting, standing and walking have been handed on down to us. A lot of those ideas are then supplmeneted by what we see and read about every day. So when someone comes along and says why don't you reach up and touch every door frame you move through the first thing we often think is "but I will look weird". Even though it is a simple movement that has the potential to open up shoulder range of motion, improve your cardiovascular function and more. We can get kind of stuck on "but what would people think". Katy said in a recent podcast "Dynamic Aging is about changing your mind... It’s about shifting paradigms... not just the paradigm of exercise less move more. But this idea that ... the decline that you’re seeing isn’t about your age. "

Not Just For Kids

One of my lovely regulars was so excited when she came to her session this week. She'd just read Dynamic Aging and had been particularly taken with the idea of finding the childlike joy in her walks again. "Mel, it's like I've finally realised that the playground is not just for kids. On my walk today I turned right instead of left and found myself swinging from a tree branch". I was pretty excited too, the more of us doing it the less nuts I look (see what I mean about cultural expectations, that is me acknowledging that I do perhaps feel a bit embarrassed climbing trees in Geelong. But if more of us did it who would even notice it anymore?". Case in point: I was in Acland Street St Kilda one day and a man was taking his pet Alpaca for a walk down the street. No one batted an eyelid. You see enough weird it becomes normal!)  Anyway, by changing her habit (initially just by turning right instead of left) a whole new range of nutritious movements seemed accessible and brought a lot of joy as well. (Speaking of childlike joy check Laura out sneaking up on me through the long grasses! Also a bunch of 50+ folk fording a river on a very slippery log.)

But I couldn't do that

Katy Bowman co-wrote Dynamic Aging with 4 or her students (aged between 78 and 80) who went on to become movement educators. They all came to her with movement limiting issues and every one of them ended up doing all of the things they initially said "they couldn't do" and then some. Things like squatting and hanging and going on long hikes up mountains. Now they teach others how to move more and move better too.

Changing How You See the Ordinary

Every light pole is an opportunity for a shoulder release or a squat, every step or park bench comes with a myriad of exciting possiblities (a step up, a rhomboid pushup, a quad release, a thoracic or double calf release? What to choose?)

But it's raining

But what if it's a rainy day with puddle? Well if you are walking with Nic (which you can many Fridays in Torquay - it's free, let me know if you'd like her details) - that means taking your shoes off and experiencing the delight of the mud oozing between your toes. I forgot how good that feels.

Walk with us

So come for a walk with us in Ocean Grove this Tuesday at 12.45, meet at the Hub. Or Geelong on Wednesday at 9.30 (email Mel for the address). Walking is just the beginning.

Ready For More

If you are ready to learn more but don't know where to start, there are books, ebooks, talking books and DVD's and downloads a plenty at nutritiousmovement.com. If you type in Podcast5 under any of the books you get a $5 discount. The podcasts and blog are free. If you're not sure where to start I put together a page with some more information on many of the options here.

Everyone has their own preferred way of learning but personally I like to do it while I move and highly recommend the podcasts. Especially the most recent ones. The talking books are great too. Listen while you instantly put into practice what you are hearing. And call me for a playdate at the park!

If you'd like to receive our Blogposts directly to your inbox click here and let me know and I"ll add you to the list. No spam, that's a promise!

We are back and it was amazing

There is something about being in a room full of movement nerds from all over the world that catapults your learning to a whole new level. Throw into that mix some true masters of movement and you get an accelerated opportunity to absorb all the latest in movement health science. The photo box below is a slideshow, just click to go to the next photo. No. 1 is on the way to the airport, somebody warn them - they're coming!

Suffice to say it 'WAS AWESOME'. And as predicted the Aussie girls were the life of the party with several folk commenting on how they could always find us via the laughter. They said it was like music. I'm not sure that the lovely American lady who shared a house with us would agree. Sorry Emily!

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Anyway we've made it back, and have already started introducing advanced techniques into our sessions. This week I'm teaching core function via the breath and Nic gave us an inspiring session on bolstered pelvic listing. There's plenty more where that came from too.

 Here we are attempting to kidnap Chris Altman. The most superb teacher - a veritable body whisperer. On the right is Sarah, a lovely Aussie lass who we rolled out our mats next to on Day 1. Hello I said (Aussie strine in place) - she replied in a similar vein. We did a double take because there were 50 participants and only 4 Aussies. I guess it's like a magnetic force - a tractor beam. Anyway she's gorgeous (naturally) and even though she lives in Sydney we're keeping her and her lovely family!

Here we are attempting to kidnap Chris Altman. The most superb teacher - a veritable body whisperer. On the right is Sarah, a lovely Aussie lass who we rolled out our mats next to on Day 1. Hello I said (Aussie strine in place) - she replied in a similar vein. We did a double take because there were 50 participants and only 4 Aussies. I guess it's like a magnetic force - a tractor beam. Anyway she's gorgeous (naturally) and even though she lives in Sydney we're keeping her and her lovely family!

We've got some exciting things planned for the coming months, and so to free up some time there will be less blogging and more creating and delivering of new programs. We've got 2 Saturday afternoon workshops coming up for you in Term 4 and some video series planned too. I spent the last few travel days with Nic in Vancouver and we had a brilliant time in Stanley Park practising all our new moves. This was Nic's birthday - she celebrated with a 2 hour hike with pushups and squats a plenty.

And after all that nutritous movement there was good food everywhere!

In case you weren't aware ;-), we are devoted 'movement nerds' - constantly seeking out the best ways to do what we do with a mission statement of empowering individuals to move well with joy.  You could say that 'Movewell is for life, not just for weekends!' It takes time to uncover our habits and wake up muscles and movements that may have been sleeping for some time - but it's a joyous feeling to recognise that you have more power than you might have realised to maintain and / or recover that feeling of a healthy, optimally functioning body again.

So glad you have joined us so far, via the written word or in person. Lots of adventures ahead!

X Mel, Nic and Laurs

And just in case you were concerned we wouldn't be embarrassing weirdos at the airport, fear not - we were a regular travelling sideshow! 3rd shot in is Nic on the day of the eclipse, and the final shot is our first day - fresh off the plane - drinking Kava lemonade in Vancouver.

PS. Did you know that under the Resources section of this website is a FURTHER LEARNING PAGE that I prerpared for you a while ago, click here to go straight to it.  There is so much out there for you and so much of it is free. For example Katy Bowman has 70+ podcasts now that you can listen to while you move. The new one on sleep will appeal to a lot of you. It sure did to me. There's also her blog page and so much more.

 

 

 

 

A little Bla Bla Siesta

Hi gang, I'm taking abreak from the blog world as I head off on my next learning adventure with Nic and Laura. Upon our return I'll be continuing to develop some new offerings that I think might be even more inspiring. There are SO many old posts for you to review though. Including many different approaches to bringing more movement into your life. There are terms and terms worth of movement ideas, so please have a look back through them. There is also the 'Further Learning' section of the website too with many other suggestions. Don't forget our Youtube page too. XX

Tension Release with Music Provided!

A great way to approach this lovely exercise is to let go of any idea that you are seeking a big stretch. Instead, look to keep the pelvis stable (it helps to gently draw the bent knee in towards your body) and allow the lengthening leg to truly release.

Support your pelvis on your bolster, 1/2 dome or rolled up blanket. You may or may not want some head support too (Laura's using a 1/2 dome here, you could try a small pillow and see how you go). Bend both of your knees in towards your body and curl up into a ball.

Then wrap your arms around your left leg to help keep your pelvis stable (it will be in the tucked rather than the neutral or untucked position).

Gently straighten your right leg now, and slowly lower it towards the floor (it doesn't have to get there!). Relax the extended leg without bending the knee. The foot is a little flexed but the leg itself is not tense, you can even support it on a block. Spend around 30 seconds to a minute and then you could move the extended leg slowly from left to right in a windshield wiper for another 30 seconds or so.  Then bring both legs back into the chest, and ease them out in any way that feels good. Do the other side.


Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

  • Take a walk around your house (or the room you are in if you are hiding away from animals, children, etc)  and notice how that feels
  • Calf Stretch (see last weeks post for details)
  • Psoas Release- click here for a Psoas post (how about playing the track below by Yaima to help you relax)
  • Do your Hip Flexor Release as described above (do it twice if you have time)
  • Take a walk around again and notice how you feel.

So many of you have commented on this track that I've been playing in relaxation after classes. So here it is!

Why the Calf Stretch is Still your Best Friend!

Don't be bored by this little beauty. Ultimately it has the power to take the aches and pains out of your whole body and make all of your movements that much more powerful.

1. the first step towards optimal alignment

Changing how you stand is the quickest way to change how you move. This contributes to balance, bone density, pelvic floor health and so much more. The calf stretch is the perfect place to emphasise the key aspects of standing well - feet straight ahead, pelvis width apart and your weight back over your heels. At the same time you are releasing the tension in the back of your legs that impacts on how well you can move.

2. Modern ways of moving lead to shorter calves

Sitting in chairs and wearing restrictive shoes with heels (and most shoes do have a heel, even your running shoes) mean that our calves have been getting the message to get shorter since we were first shod. If you have worn shoes with heels for most of your life your calves may be 13% shorter than what might be optimal. Not only does this decrease your metabolism it tends to tip your forward as you walk. I often talk in class about not living over our toes any more, let's wake up our butts instead. Lengthening your calves is a key factor to this being possible. Tight calves also contribute to neck and shoulder tension too.

3. WHAT'S THAT NOW.... My tight calves are CREATING neck and shoulder TENSION?

Yes they are. They push your head forward as you walk with a rebound that travels all the way up from your feet. Instead of that wonderful feeling of a posterior push off (which is really only possible with some nice calf length in place) you are pretty much catching yourself from falling with every step. Walk around your living room and then do a couple of calf stretches on each side. Go for a walk again and see if you can feel even a subtle difference in your stride. Imagine if you did that regularly, and for those of you that do I know I'm preaching to the converted! In our next blog I'll give you another exercise to increase your capacity to wake up your butt when you walk from a whole other angle.

4.Are you bored with brushing your teeth?

Well even if you are you know the benefits outweigh any effort involved, so put your calf stretch into the same compartment -  you could even do it at the same time. Twice a day is an ideal minimum and If you are really ready for change - do it more because your body adapts to what you do most often. (Put it this way, do you sit in chairs? If yes then you need to calf stretch).  Right now as I type don't have a 1/2 dome handy so I'm using a book. It feels great. I hang out there until I feel everything ease off and relax - all the way up to my neck. Sometimes I might be there for a few minutes, sometimes 30 seconds. When in doubt, calf stretch anyway.

Before and After (the 1st photo is my current calf stretch, check out where my bottom ribs line up over my hips - pretty straight which is ideal. Then look down to the 2nd photo, which was taken a year ago. I discovered it randomly yesterday and was quite taken by the change. On reflection a lot of other things have improved too. I rarely get headaches now (largely related to less neck tension) and I'm much more comfortable in the shoulders too. I can feel my reflexive core more regularly and my glutes engage naturally when I walk. I know that a big part of that transition has been this gem of an exercise. If you haven't yet, give it a real chance for a few months. Your investment in time will have great returns.

And here it is in video format with a few different ways to calf stretch amongst many other things. Amazing what you can achieve in less than 10 minutes!

OVER TO YOU

Ian and Moyneen are on a wonderful adventure and have sent in some classic 'travelling with my 1/2 dome' images! This latest one may be the best yet. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday Ian and Maureen!

 Is that a beverage I see balancing there Ian? That's one way to make sure you don't rib thrust!

Is that a beverage I see balancing there Ian? That's one way to make sure you don't rib thrust!

Reduced Timetable For Winter

With so many travellers away we won't have 6.30am or 8.00am Tuesday classes over winter. All other classes are running as normal. We'll re-instate early Tuesday classes in Term 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Movewell Flow!

One of the things we've had lots of requests for is filmed classes for those who can't get to us regularly, and even for regulars who would like to be able to repeat a session at home. The good news is they are coming, and yesterday we did a trial run.

 This has got nothing to do with our filmed classes, but we went tree climbing on the weekend and it was great fun. There were zip lines and more. So next time we are taking you with us!

This has got nothing to do with our filmed classes, but we went tree climbing on the weekend and it was great fun. There were zip lines and more. So next time we are taking you with us!

The visuals turned out really well so I've made up some clips and posted them to the Youtube channel. There is no dialogue to go with them (who out there just went phew!?) - so they are really more relevant to the regulars than anyone else, but they will remind you what goes where when you are looking to create some Movewell Flow action at home. We did speed them up though so make sure you slow yours down.

Make like a ship and list already...

One thing I really try and get across in class is that everything we're doing is informing how we could be moving around in our daily lives. It's of huge benefit to work on you pelvic listing in class - this lateral hip strengthener is a pre-requisite movement for great walking and long life-long hip health! But it's not just for Christmas boys and girls! It's for every day. And if you want strong hips to become the new normal......stand on one leg and list whenever you can my friends. Make like a ship and list already.

But we've done lots of other things to strengthen your chassis and here is proof that they all translate into real life movement. Spare a thought for poor Ian, - you only have to put up with me in class! (Next week, we'll start real worlding the shoulders).

OVER TO YOU! (I love this one, way to go Sue!)

‘Imelda the Barefoot Senior Citz’

I am a strong believer that people come into your life for a reason. Enter Mel Parks. My naturopath referred me to Mel at KYO Hub Ocean Grove.

A 1:1 body evaluation highlighted my many years of ‘poor body movement’. Mel’s Move Well program has given me the knowledge and skills to integrate whole-body movement into my daily life.

The session on ‘feet’ was excellent, in particular how wearing heeled shoes affect your alignment. I’ve now sorted and cleared out my extensive shoe wardrobe including my ‘prized’ Italian boots!

From this self confessed Imelda my feet are now grounded and I walk taller than before. No Italian boots required.

With grateful thanks to Mel for your whole-body Move Well program Imelda is now transitioning to minimalist footwear.

Hmmmmmm, now how much minimalist footwear can this Imelda accumulate?

Sue M xx
 Ian and Moyneen are ready to hit the road. Just in case you were worried fear not, they have packed their 1/2 dome and spikey ball and promise to send us lots of car-reversal roadside stretching photos on their big adventure. The early classes are very quiet without you guys!

Ian and Moyneen are ready to hit the road. Just in case you were worried fear not, they have packed their 1/2 dome and spikey ball and promise to send us lots of car-reversal roadside stretching photos on their big adventure. The early classes are very quiet without you guys!