Monday, January 5, 2015

Practically passive ways to improve your health

It's that time of year again. When half the planet declares their new year's resolutions, the other half says, "Meh, I never follow through so why bother."

For each camp here are a few ways to healthy up your life without really trying. So easy to slip into your day...all you have to do is think about it then take action. :-)

I love my Altras! The soles aren't really this thick. 
Get some new shoes. There are shoes galore, but most alter your foot's natural shape and how your feet should interact with the ground, which effects your gait, which effects your hips, back, spine, etc. Personally I love my Altras. They are a zero drop shoe, meaning there is no heel lift, has a flat sole and no toe spring (the part of the shoe that turns up at the toes) plus they're wide at the toe box, instead of tapering to a point. (No wonder everyone's feet are messed up!) These aren't a barefoot/minimal shoe, which most people can't switch to without a lot of practice, if ever. Your local running shoe store should have some options to explore. I got my first pair at Fit Right NW.

Reach high. This tip is from Katy Bowman, one of my favorite biomechanists around. Every time you walk through a doorway, reach up and hook your finger tips over the door frame, and then with most of your weight on your legs and feet let your body weight "hang" towards the floor.  Don't feel strong enough?  Just try to extend your arms up and then step forward a bit so your chest is between arms. Door too tall? Take your hands to the sides of the frame and do the step through option. If you did this every time you walked throw a door way you'd improve your should mobility and posture.

Get a massage everyday!
Have a ball! Tennis, pinky, super, soccer, dodge, pilates, cricket, soccer balls, balls from the dollar shop, balls from your pet store, the variety of density, size, texture is practically endless. Tie two of them in a sock and roll your back against them on a wall or on the floor for a great back massage. You can roll them under your feet at your next boring work meeting. Roll a smaller ball between your hands. Even a rolling pin can iron out some kinks. Just remember, less is more. Too much pressure and your muscles can actually tighten up, rather than release. Check out Jill Miller's fountain-of-knowledge book, The Roll Model for more techniques to keep your body supple and healthy. Personally I like Jill's book much more than Sue Hitzmann's better-known Melt Method.

Lift your bootie. Your butt muscles are designed to help you walk, run, climb hills, and stand tall. I find people are either butt tuckers (pelvic tilters), or don't use their butts much at all, instead use their quads and hip flexors more to pull them along as they move, than get their butts to push them forward. So this exercise helps to wake up those butt muscles! Stand with your feet wide enough that you feel a bit of a stretch in your inner thighs, feet and toes pointing forward. You may have to actually place your hands on each gluteal (butt cheek) to get this right. Now, engage your butt muscles so your feel your cheeks engage and slightly rise upwards. Remember this is not about tucking your tailbone under, or just engaging the deeper pelvic muscles around your anus. Do about 20 of them, take a break and then do another 2 sets. You'll be amazed at what this does for your rump and hips. Granted this might look a bit odd depending on where you do it, but I bet you can find time while brushing your teeth, standing around the dog park, or doing dishes.

Somatics changes everything! OK, somatic exploration will take some time to incorporate into your day, but everyone who tries some of the exercises, loves them and actually finds the time to do a little every day. check out these simple, safe somatic exercises from a previous post. And just how do they change everything? They help aleviate pain, faulty movement patterns. Help you sleep better. Put you in charge of your health. They calm the brain, which in turn can effect your endocrine system. The list goes on...

At this time of year people think big, grand plans to lose weight, or get in better shape, so those posts are a dime a dozen. These tips on the other hand will help you function better so you actually can tackle those bigger, grander plans without injury, which will set you back... and end up having to start over again next January.

1 comment:

Trevor Smith said...

Wow, thank you so much for these tips. I have been thinking about using a personal trainer in order to get back into shape. I put on a lot of weight over the past year, and I'd like to work it off. I never realized how big of a difference a new pair of shoes could make on your desire to exercise.

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