Monday, April 16, 2012

the Hurry Cane. Really?

How about learning to use the hurry canes that were issued along with the rest of you?  They're ever so handy and they're always there when you need them :o)  The graphics in this commercial are great.  The stick, the leg.  The bend at the knee.  Oh, that's right.  What's so useful about the Hurry Cane is that the middle doesn't bend.  That's why you'll need/buy it.  It's so handy!  You don't have anything that will do this...oh wait.  You do.  Your LEGS.

OK that sounds a little sarcastic.  Sorry.  People suffer traumatic injuries and require all manner of TEMPORARY assistance in such times for the miracle healing machine to get itself back to Go.  Your very own pair of hurry canes are designed to serve you for a lifetime.  And you can decorate them a whole lot better than you can the hurry cane offered on tv.

Long term use of your body parts outside of what's delineated in the owner's manual can be deleterious to your health and well-being, so you'd be clever to inform yourself.

My sixty seconds are almost up, so instead of purchasing something additional which you'll soon stuff in the hall closet, why not take a peek at the owners' manual at  Your own hurry canes will be glad you did :o) and you will too, as the better you feel the more fun you can have. In fact, when your body feels good you can have a whole lot more of whatever it is you want:  good time or bad.  Sweet, no?  Here's where my journey into these good times began.  Thanks, Nancy!  See you soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alignment: what it means [to me]

what's found in the dictionary : 1. To arrange things in a straight line or 2. The process of adjusting parts so that they are in proper relative position.

If you're going to align dominoes so you can break the world's record of greatest number of dominoes progressively knocked down, you will of course have to pay a lot of attention to alignment (and not sneezing).  You'll make curves and be careful that the forward motion of each will impact the one that's in front of it at least enough to send it forward into its' neighbor.  Alignment is very important to this endeavor and probably making sure all your dominoes have a nice square bottom on which to stand (no wobbly dominoes thank you).  

If you're stacking blocks, the straighter you stack them vertically, the higher you're able to build.  Aligning them perfectly one atop the other makes them most stable.  Where you're slightly off center, that's going to be where the toppling occurs.  You align the blocks to successfully oppose the force of gravity.  This definition of alignment clearly presents the good reason one's knees ought to be straight as opposed to having a slight bend:  as soon as you bend even a little bit, you're going down, my friend.   The only way to stop going down is for there to be muscles gripping somewhere and that sets off a chain reaction of needless tension even when you're standing still and take it on the road the unnecessary gripping possibilities expand exponentially.

The second part of the definition is the one I find myself plummeting through these days:  the process of adjusting MY parts so that they are in proper relative position.  We didn't cover this in Physical Education school (but we could have).

I'm a singer and I have developed the ability to listen really well.  I've come to think of it as good relative pitch:  I know where to place my sound relative to what others are playing or singing.  Anyone can easily tell when it's working, as it sounds good.  Conversely, anyone can tell when it's not working so well, as it sounds SO bad.  Puhleeze make it stop!!

Properly relating one's body parts could be looked at this way, also.  When you're in optimal alignment you are feeling really good and your miracle body can do whatever you ask it to.  If you're reading this, you probably carry a bunch of tension places it's not required:  places that are tight.  When the muscles stabilizing a joint are not fit for duty (too loose or too tight) the joint they're meant to serve becomes compromised and over time its capacity to move in the manner it was designed becomes impaired. Oweee.  Hello tightness, heat, friction, swelling, arthritis. 

For me, and for many others this process of relinquishing joint wellness remained a mystery and I'd thought there was nothing I could do about my knees but sit down and shut up.  Decades of poor relative positioning of my upper and lower leg had put my knees in an awkward and finally painful position.  Enter Restorative Exercise, the Alignment Markers for Optimal Body Function and I'm re-writing the story of my knees.  The reversal of my fortunes has been astoundingly rapid and I started the process in my 60s!  If you're still breathing, you can do it, too.

I'm a Pilates instructor too, and a well-conditioned core really DOES make everything better, but concentration on correct relative positioning of one's parts has brought my picture of wellness into living color.  My body tells me through muscle tension what's right (feels good) and what's wrong (doesn't feel so good).  It's simple.  Perhaps simpler for me as I have a mobilized ribcage already and maybe you don't.   

Going barefoot makes my knees (and the rest of me too) happy and putting on the high heels for a glamorous appearance somewhere feels just so stupid, now.  Who'da thunk it?  Getting the alignment picture and how it's going to help you stay healthy for the rest of your days is the most important part and you can start right now:

Katy Bowman has set everything you need to know down in black and white.  Much of what I've been doing is presented in her book,

Every Woman's Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet

(& it works the same for guys, too)  You can also spend some time on her website and enter into the conversation via her blog: KatySays which you'll find at   You can talk to me, but, hey, she wrote the book!  You may feel the need of a personal tour guide and that's where I (and other Alignment Specialists) come in.  We're here to lend a helping hand and our numbers are swelling.  There's probably one of us practicing near you.

You might be saying, "Well, it's my _____ that hurts, not my feet." But, think about the blocks.  If the block on the very bottom isn't solid, you're not going to stack very many blocks:  they're going down.  This is where "the rubber meets the road," and feet have the greatest affect on your ability to hold your body as the designer intended, along with the ability to move through life that way.

Object to the high cost of healthcare?  Have no need: understand these concepts.  Aside from avoiding toxic exposures in our environment and from the food we ingest, our miracle self-healing machine:  our bodies, if aligned in the manner intended, will heal magically and serve us faithfully until we're done with it.   :o)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Have joint pain?

Today's newsletter/email of the day from a good doctor talks to me about exercise, joint pain and the supplements he'll sell me to help with my joint pain.  Yet joint pain is a thing of the past when one is able to align body segments as the designer intended.  When you stack your body up so you're perpendicular to gravity (stand up straight), you don't need to grip any one muscle:  they're all  "live" and ready for your next move.

Happy muscles are those which are capable of both generating force AND stretching.  To be capable of this they need to hold themselves at a happy 'medium.'  There is a "goldilocks" place for your bones (and the muscles which support them) and if you habitually hold yourself in a manner counter to that, you get muscles which must become either too loose or too tight.  Muscles work antagonistically, meaning that when muscles on one side flex, the ones on the other side you can see it's pretty simple to assume a position which compromises the way your joints feel over time.  Tight hamstrings, anyone?  Tension in your neck and shoulders?

My joint pain has been in my knees, indicating (which I nonetheless ignored) that there was muscular weaknesses around the joint:  but instead of listening to the cues my genius body was sending me, I did nothing.  Unable to wait for me to come to my senses, my body adapted to the weakness by tightening up and I pretty much relinquished most of the functionality of that knee. Which, by the way, had an effect on all of me.

Enter Restorative Exercise, my great awakening. The more upright I become, the nearer I get to having straight legs, the better my knees feel.  I believe that strengthening my hamstrings was a big part of the equation but you could also say it is a matter of lengthening my quads & adductors and they'd both be right. The prescription is:  whatever you need to do to align yourself to oppose the force of gravity with ease.

It's a complex issue, as whatever part of you that's out of whack affects everything else.  When one muscle's too tight, it's not as if everything else can just 'let that be.'  For you to get on with your day, every other muscle has to make an accommodation for the tight/weak muscle you're not addressing.

I recently injured the fourth toe on my left foot swinging a door open onto it after a yoga class.  (Man!  that smarted. )  :o(  Even putting my five finger shoes on was tricky & what does my neck and shoulders have to do with the end of my toe??? The response to this little event was whole body - every step could be felt right up through my shoulders and neck:  how could I avoid hurting this toe more?  My entire body seemingly had to tense up to make it happen: to favor that toe.

Maybe you have some sexy looking shoes that produce a similar effect.  Trust me, the shoes don't make you look so sexy when you're all hunched over, (maybe you just have to wear your shoulders a little higher and a bit forward for now) but you know you're headed in that direction if you feel it in your knees when you descend a staircase.... (can I get an Amen?)

Time to straighten up and locomote right.

Restorative Exercise to attain optimal alignment:  it's the right thing to do.  Or the upright thing to do.  What the Designer intended.  Don't find those declarations compelling?  It feels really good too.  :o)

Oh yeah: as if saying goodbye to joint pain weren't enough, being in proper alignment (and moving through life that way) helps all your cells function optimally, too:  your blood moves smooth and easy (tight muscles = poor circulation), which brings the good stuff in and carries away that which is no longer useful.  Which is why a massage feels so good on tight muscles:  a little blood flow brings in the good stuff and releases the bad.  Ahhhh.

You could arrange yourself so you feel as if you just got a massage all the time.  That's my personal goal.