Summer and The Yin Yang Balance: Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac

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Am I the only one feeling like there is too much happening and too many places to be right now?

Probably not. This feeling is typical for this time of year. There is a lot going on and we want to do all of it. Our busy Spring/Summer schedule can make us feel excited, energized, yet completely overwhelmed and exhausted. You might find yourself overdoing it a bit and craving down time but struggling to find it. This kind of constant activity leaves us feeling burned out and resentful. Though we are responsible for knowing our own limits and not over-committing, we aren’t completely to blame for our packed schedules. Nature plays a role as well.

Chinese Medicine is based around the balance (yin and yang) in nature. We are a part of nature and very much influenced by its changes, sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle. Changes in the seasons affect our physical and emotional balance.  In the Spring, Yin (calm, cooling, slow energy) is moving into Yang (energetic, hot, fast energy) preparing to peak at the height of summer.  It is only normal that as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer our bodies do, too. We start to crave more activity and movement. Plans get made, vacations are set, and the next thing we know we have no down time. We have completely lost our friend, Yin, that we got to know so well over the Winter. We can’t just ignore Yin during the summer months and hope that sleep will balance it all out.  We have to create our own Yin moments. When we balance our Yin and Yang we are at optimal health and all the systems in the body run properly and smoothly.

Here are some ideas for balancing your Yin during the summer….

Get acupuncture. Even if you “don’t have anything wrong”, acupuncture helps balance the body and improve the function of all the systems.

Get a massage. Massage not only feels good but also has many health benefits.

Meditate. You don’t have to sit for hours everyday to meditate. Start with 3 minutes of quiet everyday. And remember, meditating doesn’t mean you sit without having thoughts. That is practically impossible. Meditating is sitting quietly noticing your thoughts. That’s it. If that feels like too much to ask, try focusing on your breath by making the inhale and exhale equal. Three minutes will fly by.

Exercise in the morning. Exercising is a Yang activity. Our Yang energy is rising in the morning and peaking at noon. When we exercise in the morning we are working with natural energy of the day when neither Yin nor Yang are in full force. After noon Yin begins to increase. The later we get in the day the more present Yin is. Honor the flow and keep your evening activities relaxed and calming. If you want to be a Yin Yang Overachiever you can even plan a noon nap everyday. Countering the most Yang part of the day with the most Yin activity.

Do Tai Chi and/or Qi Gong. Both of these are forms of gentle exercises designed to bring body awareness and superior health and wellness. It is best to do at sunrise and sunset, but you will still get the benefits anytime of day.

Get plenty of sleep! Sleep is when our body replenishes itself. It is a Yin activity. Sleep is extremely important to keeping a good balance.

Limit coffee. Coffee gives us a false sense of energy all the while depleting the reserves we do have. I love my cup of coffee, but too much of it will have me running on empty.

Food! It is important to balance Yin and Yang foods with an extra emphasis on the Yin. Most veggies are Yin and cooling, especially the green, leafy ones. Fish and seafood are cooling as well as seaweed. There is a lot of information online about how to eat in alignment with the seasons and Chinese Medicine.

I hope you have found this helpful. It is hard to live a balanced life these days. Start small and feel proud of the small successes. Good luck everyone!

Austin Dixon is a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) who enjoys working with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as women’s issues, immune support, and digestive issues. She believe that healing is best achieved when lifestyle changes occur in conjunction with acupuncture. Each of her patients will have an individually tailored treatment plan that may include dietary changes and finding creative ways to reduce negative stress. Every patient is different so every treatment plan will differ depending on the needs and goals of the individual. She states, “One of the most important things to me is that my patients feel ownership and are empowered by their healing process.”

InsideOut Body Therapies recently won Best Acupuncture in the Independent’s Best of the Triangle contest.

The “F” Words: Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT

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How can I “fix” my aches and pains? What can I do to avoid activities that cause these aches and pains? WHY am I plagued with these problems over and over again?! I had this issue years ago and it is BACK again…why?!

I get asked these types of questions on a regular basis and the answer is simple. The F words.  FIX, FOUNDATION and FUN. Three words that can change the way you approach fitness and function (more F words!) and avoid the chronic injury/re-injury cycle. Knowing how to balance your time among these three exercise stages will go a long way toward keeping you fit, strong and injury free.

FIX activities are appropriate when injury or dysfunction exists that causes pain and/or abnormal movement patterns. This stage focuses on restoring the most basic movement foundations, protecting the affected structures from further aggravation and allowing healing to take place.   This stage is best managed by experienced physical therapists or other highly trained and licensed movement specialists.

FOUNDATION activities continue to build on the fundamental movement patterns introduced during FIX (or are where to start if no injury exists). These activities focus on making conscious neuromuscular connections to fine tune and improve quality in movement patterns. When such activities are practiced regularly and in good form, the foundations become automatic and the body “upgrades” itself. A good example is the improved posture that results over time from practicing Pilates. Where at first holding yourself tall and straight felt unnatural, now slouching and rounding your shoulders is uncomfortable. It’s now easier to maintain your OPTIMAL alignment!

FUN activities range from CrossFit to gardening, playing beach volleyball to daily long walks with the dog. To perform FUN stage activities, without risking a return to FIX, it’s important to have an adequate FOUNDATION. You wouldn’t build a tree house on a tree with no roots and a flimsy trunk. Neither should you kick a soccer ball or swing a golf club without a strong foundation (aka “core”).

A solid, lifetime exercise program should include regular activities from both the FOUNDATION and FUN categories.

The result…better posture, increased awareness and connection to your body, and improved performance in all levels of activity… from climbing the stairs to reaching a new PR in a triathlon….and less visits to the FIX stage.

The Core Align is the newest tool here at IOBT and is an ideal one for moving through all of these stages. The exercises are fun, functional and challenge the neuromuscular system to perform at its optimal level. Check it out, along with our other Pilates equipment and floor classes at InsideOut Body Therapies.

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http://www.insideoutbodytherapies.com

To schedule a CoreAlign or Pilates private or register for classes at InsideOut, contact the studio. 919-361-0104  info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Moving Through Pain: Guest post by Susan Rhea, DPT

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Pain. So many people deal with pain on a daily basis. While pain itself is a normal sensation in our body, meant to protect us and help us survive, in some cases it can persist, changing and limiting our daily activities.  That’s when it can become chronic- causing suffering and resulting in activity modification.  That is not normal.  This doesn’t happen with all pain, though.  So why do some people bounce back from injury while others do not?

As it turns out, the answer may lie in the brain. The nervous system is a huge contributor to chronic pain and can be the true cause of conditions such as chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.  As you might imagine, this is quite a complicated topic!

Pain is not an input. It’s an output.  

Contrary to what you might think, pain is not an input—it isn’t caused by outside sources. Yes, there are nerve fibers in our bodies, which are meant to sense pain, but the BRAIN is where pain is actually created.

For example, if you stub your toe, nerve endings in your toe sends signals to the spinal cord and up to the brain. The brain then determines how it will interpret that information. The brain doesn’t just process the physical sensation from your toe, but also all the other stimuli it is receiving, including information like what you are hearing, seeing, and feeling (emotionally and physically). That information is then sent out to other parts of the brain, including the parts of the brain that process emotion, problem solving, memory, and the motor cortex, which allows you to react to the “danger” at the root of the pain and then protect yourself.

For many people, the toe hurts for a little while but then feels better, and the stimulation to the brain returns to normal. In some cases, however, such as major trauma or when the brain can’t identify the source of the “danger,” the brain continues the pain output. The parts of the brain that became stimulated don’t shut off and neural pathways that were associated with the injury trigger the pain output even though there is no longer any true physical danger. This can result in increased sensitivity to other sensations, impaired movement patterns, and difficulty returning to normal activities of daily life. Emotional changes may also result, including feeling anxious about movement, fearful of re-injury and even depression.  All of this can cause a cycle of disuse, pain, and disability.

How can we break the cycle?

  1. Education – Understanding how pain works has shown to have major benefits in people with chronic pain. A great resource for patients/clients with pain is the book “Why do I Hurt?” by Adriaan Louw.  Many of these suggestions are from this book.
  2. Sleep  –  Good restorative sleep is so important. Tips for promoting healthy sleep habits include limiting TV/screen time in evening hours, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and exercising regularly.
  3. Walking – Walking is excellent for increasing circulation, increasing positive hormones, reducing stress, and reducing fatigue and muscle soreness.
  4. Slow and Steady – Often people return to their regular activities too quickly.  Instead, slowly increasing activities to tolerance and allowing for progressive desensitization will be helpful.

At InsideOut, we believe that Movement Heals and we are committed to helping you have a positive movement experience.  With our guidance and support we will work together with the whole body to break negative pain cycles.   Stay tuned for our next blog post in which we will discuss more specifics on how to work with pain to break the chronic injury/re-injury cycle.

Is it time for you to take that first equipment class? Guest post by KimLien LaFitte

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Many people only take private lessons and have never taken a class. This can be for many reasons: Perhaps they have recently recovered from an injury or surgery and don’t feel aware enough or strong enough to be on their own. You’re never out there on your own in a class though- your instructor is there to help you stay safe and enjoy the class! Maybe they like the one on one relationship or maybe they like to talk while they move (seriously, talking out loud helps some people learn). The dynamic is definitely different in a class and it can be intimidating and scary to think about being part of a group of movers, especially if it’s on the equipment and you just happen to be king or queen of introverts.
When you have private lessons, your instructor usually sets up the equipment for you, spends more time explaining the exercises, and goes at your pace. In a class, you have the task of listening well, staying focused, being responsible for moving safely and keeping up with the group and the pace that the instructor sets. As intimidating as this might seem, it’s also incredibly empowering. The energy of the group can help support and encourage.
Here’s a tip: Use your private sessions to prepare you for a class.
  • Let your instructor know you’re ready to take the leap and learn the basic exercises for a piece of equipment. Your instructor can spend part of your lesson calling you through them as if you are in a class.
  • If your instructor is encouraging you to take a class, believe her/him.
  • There are many classes that they can suggest for you as an introduction, or look for “sessions” that run for a period of weeks that are appropriate for beginners.
Now is your chance, you private lesson taking warrior. Buy a package of 5 privates and step into the world of classes with a free equipment class!

Re-program with Pilates-based PT

Guest post by Susan Rhea, PT, DPT

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The other day a PT colleague asked me “what is the difference between traditional PT and Pilates based PT?” The question is one I’ve heard many times since beginning my work at IOBT yet it still excites me to share what I’ve learned from the Pilates world. 

One of the many differences I have seen using PBPT in my practice is being able to support the body while facilitating natural movement.  We are able to the Pilates equipment along with the traditional hands on techniques and patient education while approaching problems with a holistic perspective.  We are looking at the whole person, not just the injury or symptoms.

Many times injuries or less than optimal posture can cause imbalances in the body over time and if not corrected these compensations can cause issues down the road. In Pilates, we focus on finding balance and uniform development in the body by facilitating proper motor programming.  When you are injured the body changes the way it moves to protect the injured area, but over time this can lead to tightness and/or weakness. Even after strengthening and stretching, the central nervous system is still “programmed” to move differently from the days, weeks, or even years of compensation.  These unhealthy patterns will persist until they are “re-programed.”  At IOBT, our PTs work with your central nervous system to create NEW patterns and restore the natural movement of your joints and muscles. With the help of one of our amazing Pilates-Based PTs, you can reduce your pain, improve your posture, and return to the activities you love!

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Contact the studio to set up your Pilates-based PT evaluation.

919-361-0104

info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

The Gift of Acupuncture. Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

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This time of year is one of the best times to talk about how beneficial acupuncture is for mental health. No matter how much we love or hate the holidays it is likely we will all experience some stress and overwhelm. There are more parties, more food, more drink, more expenses, and more opportunity for feelings of joy and gratitude as well as grief and sadness. Regardless of your outlook on the season, the holidays can be a lot to handle. One way to help hold onto a normal cool attitude towards life (or experience it for the first time) is through regular acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture is great for maintaining balance and good mental health. In Chinese Medicine we view the mind and body as a whole. What affects the mind will affect the body. Have you noticed that when you are stressed and feeling burdened by life’s twist and turns, your neck and shoulders may feel tight? Or maybe your stomach gets upset? These are physical manifestations of our mental health.

Acupuncture helps regulate the body, calm your nervous system, and clear your mind. It is a great form of self care, especially during times when emotions are running high and wild. If you find yourself among the stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed this holiday season take a deep breath. Give yourself the gift of mental peace and come in for acupuncture. I look forward to seeing you.

Why Should I Take Private Lessons? Guest post by KimLien LaFitte

Guest post by KimLien LaFitte
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Many people have only taken classes. That’s how they started Pilates…that’s what they love… and let’s be honest, classes can be more affordable when you have a tight budget.
If you’ve taken classes for years and haven’t sprinkled in a private here and there, here is what you are missing!
  1. One on One – You get special attention! You can have your favorite teacher all to yourself.
  2. Observation – You have the opportunity to have a keen eye watch you move and help you make small adjustments to enhance your pilates practice.
  3. Q&A – It’s a good time to ask those burning questions you’ve had in class and haven’t had a chance to ask them.
  4. Tame the Beast – If you’ve struggled with that one exercise that never feels quite right, (Teaser anyone?) you can find out why and how to improve on it.
  5. Mindfulness – In a class it can be harder to focus just on you and your breathing and your awareness of your movement. A private can give you the opportunity to sink deeper into knowing your body and your movement habits – those that are helpful and those that are not so helpful.

Private lessons are rich with possibilities and now is a wonderful time to take advantage of this special and buy 1, 3 or 15 privates!

6 Reasons We Love Pilates Equipment Classes

Walking into a Pilates studio for the first time might be a little intimidating… Archaic looking structures made of wood, leather and metal with springs, straps, and fuzzy loops attached.  WEIRD. But, once you get to know the Pilates equipment, I promise you will understand and LOVE it!

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Today is the 1st day of the 12 Days of Specials at InsideOut and the special is on Equipment classes.  So, I thought I would share a few reasons why we love Pilates equipment classes!

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  1. Support- The equipment will support you, making the exercises a little easier…well maybe not easier, but easier to do with good form and alignment!  People who find Pilates mat or yoga classes too challenging or painful, often really enjoy the equipment. In a mat class, it’s just you, the mat and gravity!  The equipment will support and assist your body in an amazing way.
  2. Resistance- The springs provide resistance, but in a smooth and supportive way.  They act similarly to our muscles as they stretch and then recoil with our movements.  The resistance can be light or heavy, but the springs allow for smooth, graceful movement.
  3. Versatility- You can do SO. MANY. THINGS. on the equipment!  From beginner to highly advance, ANYONE can benefit.  There are hundreds of exercises in which you might be lying on your back to standing on your head.  The Pilates system of movement is so diverse and complete!  All body parts and types of movement are worked during each session!
  4. Challenging- You must be present during class as you have to focus on the exercises, breath, the equipment AND your movement.  This is challenging for the body AND mind, but is often a welcomed change from our daily stressors!
  5. Camaraderie- In a class, you have the support and sense of community from fellow classmates…whether they are cheering you on as you come up in Teaser on the reformer, or while joining in on a communal eye roll as the teacher says “3 more” after you have already done nearly 200 Hundreds!  We love seeing the friendships that form in our studio!
  6. Fun- It starts to look and feel like a playground for grown ups.  Have you been in the studio when someone suddenly flips upside down or stands on her head?  These things might sound impossible, but we have people of all ages and fitness levels doing fun, gymnastics-like exercises!  Only if you want…but the option is there! And even if you aren’t flipping around, the equipment is still really fun!

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Don’t let the flipping and headstands intimidate you- ANYONE can take equipment classes!  At InsideOut, we just require you to take a minimum of TWO private sessions to get familiar with the equipment before starting a class.  We have classes for people just coming out of Physical Therapy (check out our Back to Health program!) as well as classes from Leveled from 1 (beginner) to 5 (advanced).  Check out our website for more information on our classes and to find the schedule. We hope to see you in class soon!

 

Early detection saved my life. Pilates saved my sanity.

Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT

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Early detection saved my life.

As dramatic as that sounds—it is true.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 years – Christmas Eve 2012, since I found the lump that rocked my world.  I am here today, CANCER FREE, because I took that suspicious lump to my doctor on January 1.  I insisted on a mammogram and ultrasound when she said “let’s just watch it”.

I listened to my inner voice, the one that told me that something was not right.

So yes, early detection of breast cancer saved my life but Pilates saved my sanity.  I was diagnosed with Stage 2a “triple positive” breast cancer—“the GOOD kind”!  Which meant that after a double mastectomy, 6 rounds of chemo and a future of estrogen deprivation, I am cured!  But guess what?  There is no “good kind” of cancer.  The physical, mental and emotional toll of the battle is hard to quantify but is immense.

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For the first time as a Pilates-based physical therapist, I had to practice what I preach and I hoped I’d been right.  I was.  I felt the benefits of Pilates as a gentle, efficient and effective rehab tool for regaining motion and strength.  I felt the power of the Pilates principles— breath, control, flow, concentration— to help me simply get through every day, no matter how crummy I felt.  Some days I’d do a few minutes of footwork,  some days I’d spend an hour moving and sweating and focusing on the work, some days I’d simply lie on my back and breathe.

I always, ALWAYS, felt better afterwards.

So now, almost 4 years later, I’m finally at the point where some days I forget I had cancer.  When I remember, I tell someone my story so that one day maybe she can forget too.  October is breast cancer awareness month.  The perfect time to start a routine. Check your breasts, today and every month.  Schedule your mammogram.  Listen to your inner voice—she’s smarter than you know.

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Schedule a Pilates-based Physical Therapy evaluation with Lori or one of our other Pilates-based physical therapists by calling the studio at 919-361-0104. 

We Could Make Beautiful Movement Together…Guest post by Lori Ginsberg

Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT

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The human body was designed to move with ease and efficiency: our bones stacked to support our weight, our muscles and connective tissues attached to those bones to provide appropriate forces to maintain stability and allow mobility, and our central nervous system the communication center that coordinates these forces.

Movement is complicated business. Simply walking takes a tremendous amount of work from our bodies—our bones, muscles and brain all working together to keep us upright and moving forward. Not to mention that we are texting, talking and trying to solve the problems of the world simultaneously.

Yet we manage to walk… some better than others. Some faster, some with pain, some with pain long after walking.  It’s complicated. But improving functional movement doesn’t have to be.

First, imagine an orchestra… Shiny, well cared for instruments. Dedicated musicians who practice for hours.   Tones and sound and power that come from the different instruments. And the variety of sounds that come from a single instrument based on how the musician plays it.   Picture the conductor…the coordinator of these sounds. The one responsible for combining these sounds to create harmony and ensure a lovely well coordinated melody. The instruments, the musicians and the conductor are all critical to the outcome of the performance and the success of the symphony.

Now imagine your body… your bones and joints the instruments that will be played by your musician muscles. Your central nervous system the conductor that leads these musicians. All working together to create beautiful, harmonious, fluid movement.

I consider physical therapy at IOBT sort of like a music camp in this regard.

First, we teach you how to care for your instruments. How to improve the alignment of your spine or the mobility in your hip. Next, you practice playing your instrument. Teaching your glueteal muscles to fire or your upper trapezius to relax. Finally, you practice playing them together, with all of the other instruments of movement to create harmonious, pain free, functional movement.

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One of my favorite new tools for teaching this movement musicality is the Core Align. Similar to other Pilates equipment, the Core Align is designed to challenge stability while providing appropriate and varying levels of support. The goal is to create harmony between controlled stability and dynamic mobility, resulting in a strong, healthy and vibrant body.  Most of the exercises on the Core Align are performed standing and closely mimic functional movements from the most basic (getting up from a chair) to those that would challenge the most elite athletes (handstands on a surfboard). Feedback to the body is instantaneous, and correct positioning during the exercises improves alignment, ensures correct muscle recruitment and demands core control. And using the Core Align provides opportunity to practice the complex, coordinated movement patterns that lead to beautiful, harmonious movement.

Come see a PT at Inside Out Body Therapies and learn to make beautiful movement for yourself!

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Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT has been a physical therapist for 17 years, specializing in Pilates-based physical therapy since 2006. While working at the University of Minnesota and the University of Chicago orthopedics clinics, she developed a solid foundation of skills and experience with complex musculoskeletal issues. She brought those skills into smaller clinical settings since, sought after by “puzzling” patients who have tried, and failed, traditional PT. Since becoming Pilates certified through Balanced Body she has combined her expertise in human movement, manual therapy and innovative Pilates exercises to help patients achieve optimal strength, stability and function. Her passion is in helping people clearly identify, and then achieve, their health and fitness goals. She has recently become trained on the CoreAlign, an innovative piece of equipment that emphasizes upright posture to improve strength, balance, alignment and functional movement.

A breast cancer survivor, Lori is uniquely qualified to work with those undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and/or post- mastectomy. She credits Pilates-based movement for much of her success in the battle against cancer.

Lori earned her Masters of Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her undergraduate degree at The University of San Diego. She lives with her husband and 2 daughters in Cary and enjoys spending her free time driving soccer carpools.