Summer is a season that is full of some of the best stuff in life: sunshine, amazing food, long hot days and comfortable warm nights, and of course, SPORTS. Activities such as rock climbing, cliff jumping, water skiing, kayaking, kite boarding, mountain biking, and hiking all call out to us, and many of them result in little injuries here and there. Whether it is a twisted ankle, a pulled muscle, a dislocated shoulder, and sometimes if you get a little too excited, a broken bone or two, summer can leave some of us feeling a bit wounded.
However, now that the days are getting a bit shorter and the weather a bit cooler, we should tend to these injuries with more movement rather than just sit and wait for them to get better. When we feel pain, the natural instinct for the body is to shift work onto the areas that are not affected. While doing this, it allows us to keep the injured part still so it has time to recover. This may seem like a good thing, and to an extent it is, however one thing the body doesn’t help you with is making sure that injured part gets back to functioning normally. Instead, our bodies will compensate for pain and avoid strengthening the weakened area to such an extent that it can lead to new issues. To name a few: tension in one area of the body leading to pain, tensing muscles leading to spasms, and a myriad of posture issues.
In order to prevent this, do not be afraid to get the injured area of your body moving again. It doesn’t have to be anything too intense, in fact if you have a more serious injury intense exercise can make it much worse. That said, make sure you get that area moving when you can with some gentle sports. You could try gentle swim routines, yin or restorative yoga, and of course rehabilitative pilates. Just as a little reminder, pilates was developed to help rehabilitate injuries starting with slow, basic movements and working your way up to strengthening and toning. Therefore it can act as a key asset for rehabilitating injuries in combination with the rest of your exercise regimen.
And just as a little extra incentive to keep those bodies moving and conditioned, while the great sports of summer may be behind, the amazing sports of winter are ahead. Skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, ice skating, hockey, and sledding. All the more reason to make sure you aren’t sore by the time those mountains get some snowfall.
Walking is not something we think about often. That is, how we walk. How a person organizes their body to walk is referred to as gait. Our gait feels and should feel normal to us although it may have changed over time due to any number of factors. What we do all day, our stress levels, emotional states, injuries, clothing, fatigue, weight change, all can have an effect on our gait. This becomes important because we walk throughout the day. Even if it is not much, we must do it to get ourselves from one place to the next. It is a repetitive and yet beautiful system of many movements that coordinate into the activity we call walking. If one movement is compromised, it can affect gait as a whole. Like putting a wrench in our gears. Of course we are not machines, so it is not as simple as that. Our amazing ability to adapt to change insures that we rarely fall down. Meaning that if the body is restricted in its usual way of functioning, it will find another way of functioning. It is important that we do this, but sometimes these other ways, or compensations, become uncomfortable in the long run. If change is needed, we need a keen sense of consciousness to undo our doing and bring strength back to a more harmonious way. Our nervous system will always work towards making what we do most naturally feel normal regardless of the level of tension or lack of support. This can be tricky, because the sensations of moving differently can feel so wrong or lost to us that it can easily overwhelm the sense of ease created by finding more efficiency. Taking the time to understand gait can be a catalyst to a “wake up” in your own body. It is OK to just go, but “how we go” determines where we end up and in what state of mind and body.
Here’s what a participant had to say about Karen’s Worksafe BC program.
It’s been almost a year now since I began taking Karen’s class here at the office. When I first began, I was a bit nervous as I really was a beginner in the class and the other participants had many classes under the belt. You made me feel very welcome for my first class. As I continued on, it was clear to me that not only did you have a wealth of knowledge about pilates but also about body mechanics. You not only ensure your students know what the exercise is about, you also ensure that their form is correct to get the most out of the exercise and avoid injury. Anyone can just teach a class, this is your passion and it shows in each and every class. It keeps me coming back! Thank you, Kimberly Kimberly Bosch, Team Manager Employer Service Centre Worksafe BC
This workshop for me was WONDERFUL! It was comprehensive and detailed,
yet interesting and practical, allowing me to explore and learn
everything that encompasses my shoulder girdle by touching, feeling,
asking, listening, watching.
I spend about 7 hours altogether sitting in front of a computer almost
every day. I also love playing tennis and try to do so 3-4 times a
week. Needless to say, my shoulders / neck / back suffer a great deal.
Danielle’s workshop allowed me to understand and gave me more
awareness about my entire girdle. I came out with a couple of
movements that I have now incorporated into my regular warm-up before
tennis and stretching afterwards, and do also throughout the day while
I take breaks from the computer.
In addition, I now give more importance and have a different focus on my breathing and posture, and feel I have a better understanding of certain cues when doing pilates, taking a reformer or a chair class, and during regular walking and sitting activities.
Thank you, Danielle!!!!
Rebecca Lau, Studio Client
Read more about this exciting workshop in The Movement Studio’s Anatomy Embodied series: A Somatic exploration of the Shoulder Girdle with Danielle McCulloch
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Breath provides a way to focus our mind and keep it from wandering into the past and future. Counting the inhalation and exhalation can be especially helpful for that. Breath can calm our autonomic nervous system. It is an access to sensing the self through its movement. There is a big difference between thinking what is happening or what should happen, and sensing what is happening or what wants to happen. Sensing is not about doing. It is about listening. Sensory information comes to the brain for processing. The brain is only the interpreter. I often find that new students need to learn how to listen to sensation before they can make effective movement changes. If we are interpreting what is going on without sensation, then we are making up stories without asking the source, possibly to serve our schedules, belief systems, will power, or habits.
Breath gives us a sense of inner space. From the place of inner space, we can start to pay attention to our signs and symptoms and what they are telling us without expectation or judgment. From this place, with patience and curiosity, we can start to honestly ask ourselves some questions.
What do I feel?
What do I want?
What do I really want?
What wants to happen?
Fatigued? What kind of activity would give me recuperation from the activity I have been doing today?
Hungry? What kind of food would give me the best nourishment?
Thirsty? What kind of drink would best replenish my fluids?
In a mood? Is this true for me? Do I need time to really feel what I am feeling?
Feeling stressed or anxious? How do I know this? Where do I feel it in the body? What is happening? What is the quality, the density, the movement, the colour, the texture, timing, weight? Is it changing? What would it like to do? Where does it want to go?
This may seem rather tedious perhaps even odd, but if you stick with it, you may be surprised how much information and change transpires, and how just paying attention can help bring a more natural rhythm back into your day.
“The Present is a Gift…” Eleanor Roosevelt
The nervous system is the messenger system in our body and it is busy. It prioritizes what we pay attention to and what we can ignore. Sometimes we ignore signs and symptoms that we should pay attention to, because they are not convenient. Unfortunately the signs and symptoms will increase until you pay attention. Don’t wait until it is too late.
There will always be important matters to take care of your whole life. There will be many obligations and many distractions. Health is a life in balance, and attending to this balance is what will allow you to enjoy the matters you wish to attend to. Family, friends, spirit, play, work, stimulation, rest, good nutrition, sleep, and exercise all need a place on the pie chart of your life. Learning to listen to your body will help you to make better choices about all of these aspects of your life, reduce your stress, enjoy your life more fully, and provide good role modeling for everyone you interact with.
We need a sense of self to know what we want, and when things are not right within. We all get signs and symptoms of stress, but we are not always listening. Sometimes we don’t know how to listen.
It is important to listen because if your body is not handling stress well, there will be physiological ramifications. Fatigue, burn out, high blood pressure, heart disease, decreased immunity, and chronic fatigue syndrome to name a few.
Danielle McCulloch 2007
Inefficient movement done repetitively causes the body to develop out of balance and this causes injury. Pilates’ integration of the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle, and emphasis on proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment plays an important role in helping to keep folks injury free. These concepts practiced through mindful movement promotes strength and an awareness of functional mechanics, educating clients on how to fully engage in dynamic activity injury free. Pilates has become a crucial adjunct to strength and conditioning regimes with top-tier athletes, dancers, and folks seeking to get the most out of life.
The Movement Studio and our practitioners provide individualized, private sessions for clients recovering from an injury via a progressive healing process. We also specialize in well-back, shoulder and posture clinics.
Rehabilitative Pilates is a non-passive, highly effective, results-based modality. We utilize specialized equipment that offers resistance for muscle strengthening and retraining while balancing muscular force at the joint level. Working in concert with other caregivers, such as physiotherapists, sports medicine specialist, and chiropractors, we are dedicated to assisting clients in their recovery process and to cutting rehabilitation time significantly.
When spinal issues are involved we work towards strengthening, balancing and aligning spinal musculature. This is essential in order to decompress injured vertebrae and assist in relieving disc pressure and associated nerve pain. This decompression is also necessary in order to stimulate circulation to any damaged spinal tissue. Addressing postural issues plays an integral role in recovery. Posture is the foundation of our structural integrity and is a highly dynamic process. As clients learn about and live good postural practices they experience a significant reduction in general pain and strain on muscles, nerves and ligaments.
Breath is addressed throughout rehabilitation, as a weak respiratory system will directly and adversely affect the central nervous system. Learning to breathe correctly is an essential part of rehabilitation, especially for those clients dealing with chronic pain issues.
We also have years of experience using Pilates to address the needs of clients suffering from car accidents, hip, knee and shoulder cuff injuries, whiplash, frozen shoulders, MS, TMJ dysfunction, scoliosis, stroke, post-polio syndrome, among others. Clients who are preparing for and recovering from pregnancy or surgeries have also found Pilates to be extremely effective in shortening the duration of time required to achieve complete recovery.