My Wellness Journey by Deborah Matthews

IMG_6336

 

Like so many of you, my life has flipped and flopped, soared and crashed, plateaued, leaped, and crumbled.  It’s often been messy and confusing with a healthy dose of belly laughs and sorrow.  When I listen to the message, life seems to be encouraging me to “Let yourself adapt, Deborah . . . adapt.”  With the constant change I have experienced in my health, thoughts, environment, and community, I’ve had to define for myself what being well and wellness means.  It couldn’t be about not being sick or in pain.  I have chronic kidney disease, migraines, and a host of other health challenges.  It couldn’t be about being totally peaceful and blissed-out.  I am a worrier and a doer.   For me, wellness is a promise – a commitment to take care of myself and others, to attend to family, friends, creatures, plants, and the downtrodden, and to cultivate a bigger picture of a “well-er” world with my self included.

To connect with my sense of wellness, I begin by getting quiet.  Literally.  Taking the noise and distractions away allows the space for me to grow both inward and outward.  I get distracted very easily and I am also not someone who likes to sit still.  If I am feeling good, I am up and going!  For me quieting means performing mindful activities in silence.  These may include sitting outdoors drinking my coffee in the morning, walking, Pilates, yoga, bodywork, painting, gardening, cooking, and holding my cats 🙂 I free up in the quiet space and my mind and body have the chance to connect to a wellness that lies underneath physical symptoms or anxiety about the day.

This emergent, quiet wellness also gives space for sowing the seeds of my imagination and creativity. I don’t have to push. In fact, I can’t. The seeds will grow at their own pace and may blossom (if I’m lucky) into a sense of balance or perspective. My wellness is not a solo project, either.  It’s deeply rooted in the support of family, friends, students, doctors, bodyworkers, movement teachers, mentors, and podcasters. They ground me and nourish me and help me find up and down as I flip and flop and, on occasion, freak out!

I am beyond grateful to have found this deep well of wellness within me and around me.  It’s always there, but it has been years in the discovery and uncovering.  Some days I connect to it easily; Other days turn into epic fails despite my best efforts. On those days, receiving the help and nurturing of others is my greatest challenge and blessing.

Wellness for me begins with shhhhh . . . .creating the space to build the inner and outer relationships that feed my soul.  I hope that InsideOut can provide the resources for you to walk that path of wellness creation, whether it’s quiet or loud.

Much love to you all,

Deborah

IMG_6392

Advertisements

Benefits of Chair Yoga…Guest post by RJ Lisander

IMG_6548

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

IMG_6554

Achieving Goals with Pilates…Guest post by Riki Shore

IOBT2013-riki

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.

AC bikes

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”).

AC Reformer

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.

AC Spine Corrector

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!

AC Congrats

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

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Moving Through Pain: Guest post by Susan Rhea, DPT

susan-rhea

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.