Spring is here! Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

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Spring is here! Even if the weather still has random wintery moments (welcome to NC), the energetic shifts that come with the season change are in full effect. So even on days when we reach for a scarf, things are changing. We tend to feel the physical and emotional changes more moving from Winter to Spring than other season changes. Spring’s energy is a bit chaotic and more noticeable than the subtle changes we experience when we transition to other seasons.

In Chinese Medicine Spring is associated with the Wood element. All the trees start to bloom and grow. We see baby animals and beautiful flowers everywhere. Everything is alive! Everything has a newness and the energy around us feels a little like a young child set free on a new playground. It can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It’s important to recognize the chaos but not get caught up in it. Take time to meditate or just sit quietly. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer we can easily find ourselves committing to too much, saying yes to everything, resulting in getting run down quickly. Make sure to build in breaks and be conscious of overbooking. Trust me. Say no. Take some breaks and you will be able to do the stuff that really matters without burning out.

Spring is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder channels. These channels provide the body with a smooth flow of Qi which is essential to balance. Our Liver Qi has a tendency to get stagnant due to stress, overwork, and emotional upset. Needless to say, a lot of us have Liver Qi Stagnation. Liver Qi Stagnation can present as anger/irritability, headaches, stiff or painful joints, tension, excessive sighing, or issues with the eyes just to mention a few. Symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation can be more prominent and persistent during the Spring. It is very important to move Liver Qi before it wreaks havoc on the other channels. Acupuncture, meditation, and regular exercise are great ways to move Liver Qi. Something to keep in mind while choosing an exercise routine for the Spring is that the Wood element governs the tendons and sinews (you may notice a flare up of tendonitis). Focus on exercises that are less rigorous and more stretching and strengthening like yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming. Tai Qi and Qigong are also great for this time of year.

I hope this has been helpful in explaining a few of those Springtime symptoms you may be experiencing. Just like the trees we are always growing. Spring is a great time to refresh your self care routines (or finally create one) and create new health habits.

Pro tips: get acupuncture, maintain regular exercise, build in breaks, and enjoy your Spring!

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Benefits of Chair Yoga…Guest post by RJ Lisander

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Yoga has been shown to improve overall health, prevent and (even in some cases) reverse disease when practiced regularly as a lifestyle. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that yoga can lend its benefits to those seeking to improve mobility and flexibility, but who may be limited by balance due to injury, disease and/or age. Below are some examples of how chair yoga may help you:

1. Improved mobility

A body that is agile is typically able to withstand and sustain injuries better. Chair yoga provides a safe and effective way to explore movement and improve balance and mobility.

2. Improved Flexibility

Chair yoga is appropriate for all, but is best for those who have sustained injury which prevent or hinder movement such as reaching down to tie shoe laces or pick things up. The supported and slow movements offered in a chair yoga class help improve flexibility safely.

3. Improved proprioception

Proprioception is the skill of knowing where your body is in space, and coordinating movements accurately. This is particularly important as we age and can help prevent falls due to changes in perception and balance. For people with restless leg syndrome or conditions such as MS, it may mean having greater control over the body and its movements.

4. Improved stress, mental clarity and pain management

Chair yoga (and yoga in general) includes breath work, which can help people not only with stress management but also for coping and managing pain. Through yoga and the accompanying breath exercises the postures, you can help your body and mind to cope with the pain of an illness or condition you may suffer with.

Curious? Join me for a Chair Yoga session at InsideOut.  Contact the studio for more information!

919-361-0104

info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

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Holiday Health + Happiness Challenge by Mischa Decker

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It is so easy to fall into unhealthy habits during this time of year- and I am not just talking about eating too many baked goods and not enough kale.  I am talking about…stress + feeling overwhelmed + putting too much pressure on ourselves to make the perfect holiday + a complete abandonment of our exercise routines.  Time goes quickly, schedules are crazy and there is just SO MUCH on our plates (literally AND figuratively!).

While prepping for a week away from my normal routine I began to think of a few small ways to stay centered and healthy this holiday season.  Here is the challenge I set for myself.  I plan to do these FOUR things MOST days of the week.

Will you join me?

  1. Drink plenty of water. I don’t know about you, but I tend to drink more “adult beverages” this time of year than usual.  Between holiday parties and family gatherings, my wine consumption miiiiight go up.  I also tend to drink less water when I am out of my normal routine, so I am making a point to keep my H2O intake UP this year!  **Bonus: add Young Living Lemon Vitality essential oil to your water for a little extra detoxifying and added flavor!
  2. Do the Pilates abdominal series. I know I will be doing less Pilates while traveling, but it is SO easy to take 5 minutes to do the Stomach Series.  If you aren’t familiar with this series of FIVE exercises, check out the video at the end of this post.  Your abs will thank you!
  3. Take a 20 minute walk.  If we make it a priority, we can usually find 20 minutes a day to go for a walk.  Even just a short walk can help clear the mind and invigorate the body!  It is also a great kick-start for the metabolism.
  4. Two minutes of gratitude. This is actually the one that is most important to me.  I have felt incredibly overwhelmed and actually a little down recently and I have noticed a shift in my thinking.  I am usually the cheerleader…”we can do this!” “things are going to be fine!” “this too shall pass!” but recently I have become much more negative.  And I don’t like it.  I know one thing that has helped me in the past is acknowledging all of the MANY things I have for which I am grateful.  And what better time than NOW to be THANKFUL for even the small things in our lives.  Here are a few ways to do your two minutes (or more!) of gratitude:
    • Use all or part of your daily walk to think about the positive things in your life.
    • Take a drop or two of your favorite essential oil in your hands, rub them together, put them to your nose and inhale.  Breathe in the scent and say aloud or to yourself the things you are grateful for at that time. **I use Young Living’s Frankincense and a blend called Abundance most often.
    • Keep a gratitude journal.  You can use bullet points or even just jot down thoughts.  It doesn’t have to be long or perfect writing!

Comment here or on our FB or IG posts and let us know if you are up for the challenge!

Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Achieving Goals with Pilates…Guest post by Riki Shore

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Guest post by Riki Shore

On Sunday October 8th, IOBT client Anne-Claire Broughton will complete her first triathlon, the Ramblin’ Rose, in celebration of turning 50! A lover of challenge and a lifetime learner, Anne-Claire decided to celebrate her half-centennial by doing something active and enabling, and pushing herself to new physical frontiers.

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Ever since she can remember, Anne-Claire said her spine looked “unusual”, but she was only recently diagnosed with scoliosis. “I was always flagged for it when we got checked in school,” she remembers, “but the back pain didn’t come until after my daughter was born, and it intensified later when I had abdominal surgery.” Indeed, when she first walked into IOBT she wasn’t standing straight and tall, and she told me immediately that her back hurt “almost all the time”. And like a lot of mothers, firing the low belly muscles was nearly impossible – those muscles just didn’t seem accessible. More than anything, she came to Pilates to strengthen her deep core.

As her instructor, I build sessions that help her achieve her goals while creating space and length in her spine, pushing her to an edge without ever increasing her pain. We start every session with Footwork on the Reformer (see image below), which wakes up her feet and stabilizes her pelvis while using the deep abdominal muscles that Anne-Claire wants to strengthen. Since she’s not primarily looking to build muscle mass, we keep the spring tension low in order to facilitate smooth, continuous movement and highlight the connection between the spring tension and her Pilates scoop (what is sometimes referred to as “holding the spring with your belly”).

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If asked her favorite exercise, Anne-Claire would say Leg Circles, which she credits with helping to straighten her spine and reduce lower back pain.  We also do this exercise every session using the leg springs on the Cadillac. When we first started, I asked Anne-Claire to “stand” into a block that was pushed against the short box from the Reformer, which I had placed at the end of the Cadillac. I wanted to her to feel a ground beneath her extended leg as a stabilizing force while she circled the other leg exploring both movement and restraint. After several months together, she no longer needs the stabilizing block and can hop onto the Cadillac and go right into the exercise.

We always finish the session with some time draped over the Spine Corrector (see image below), which allows her to explore flexion, extension, side bending and rotation in a safe and supportive way. While there have been ups and downs in her triathlon training as she learns what her spine can tolerate, I can honestly say that Anne-Claire is stronger, leaner, taller and more supple than when we first met.

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Like any busy not-quite-50-year-old, she sometimes experiences stress, fatigue, muscle tightness and pain, but she remains undaunted and committed to what she calls her Body Project. “I love doing things that at first I’m afraid of or I think I can’t do. Then when I do them…that is the best feeling!” I have no doubt she’s going to be feeling that way when she crosses the finish line in Chapel Hill in a few short weeks – and I’m proud to have played a small part in her journey. Thank you, Anne-Claire, for brightening IOBT with your presence!

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Schedule a private session with Riki or any of our instructors:        

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

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.