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Running Cadence

 

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Couldn’t quite figure out how to get comfortable running at a slower pace, so I learned that I needed to quicken my pace to a particular footfall and the human movement system became efficient.  More reasons horses need to move in a particular way to allow proper core and supporting muscle development, so the risk of injury is reduced.  I was able to run 30 minutes without any stress from this new piece of information.  Maybe a marathon is in my future…  The form has a check mark now and the foot fall too.  Always remarkable what a knowledgeable, observant coach can do!  The use of a gym will drop away soon, so my intention is to add in a 30 min run (2-3 miles) 5-6 days a week as a fitness maintainer.  Recognizing rhythm supports steady footfall.

rhythm

Category: Fitness, Rhythm, Selfseeds
Tag: alignment, arm swing, footfall, rhythm, running, Selfseeds

Weight Distribution, Posture, and Alignment

When do we need posture and alignment?  The better question would be when do we not need posture and alignment? Everything about the body design is focused on alignment and posture, so the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones can operate with minimal distortion, pain, or injury.  For many  repetitive stress, accidents, genetic composition, and more can lead to postural challenges.  Seeking professional input and assessment, learning how to correct or improve old injuries, developing a program to strengthen and lengthen challenge areas, and attention to detail are all ways to start making changes.  How I walk, reach, and bend are all moments to sense into my body and work towards improved functional alignment.

 

 Practicing rotational movement with alignment for dancing, strengthening, and challenging range of motion.
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The young horses are progressing quickly. Interesting to observe them when they are led away from the group and start to know them as individuals.
Category: Balance, Fitness, Flexibility, Selfseeds, Weight Distribution
Tag: alignment, balance, core stabilization, flexibility, posture, Strength, weight distribution

Daily Selfseed #1 How Heavy Is Your Purse/Satchel?

Let’s start at the beginning… Daily Selfseed #1.  The Daily Selfseeds are short videos to inspire and motivate picking one of the 11 Selfseeds to plant in your personal garden.

11 May 2013 1:05

Small changes can make a big difference.  Working with alignment , posture, symmetry, balance, weight distribution, and flexibility are all physical realities we work with on a day to day basis, so why not make it easier by reducing the unnecessary items in your purse or satchel.
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Category: Balance, Flexibility, Selfseeds, Weight Distribution
Tag: alignment, balance, posture, Selfseeds short videos, weight distribution

Looking At Your Personal Building Blocks

Looking at your Building Blocks

How we move our weight through space is often overlooked.  We are a body and we want to move from point A to point B.  First on the list is we get there, but how often do we notice how we got there?  When we don’t have impediments to our movement it is even easier to overlook the how.  It never hurts to check-in with symmetry, range of motion, swing of limbs, etc.  Since I am walking a lot, I noticed that I need to consciously switch which hand or shoulder I am carrying my tote bag.  My left shoulder is more consistently hiked up from favoring carrying items on that side.  Similarly, I try to take a look at my shoes (gym and hiking) to see how I am wearing the tread or if I need to replace them because the worn out tread is creating additional asymmetry.

The following article is Tai Chi in words.  Lovely flow and feeling to the use of words.  Tai Chi can be a great way to look at weight distribution, integrative movement, balance, timing, and more.  Enjoy!

Tai Chi Chuan and the Art of Balance | Tai Chi Classes NYC

Tai Chi Class

Welcome to WholenessInMotion. Tai chi is a whole body and mind exercise that combines meditation, martial art and health tonic in one. This particular form is the Yang style, 37 posture short form as taught by Prof. Cheng Man-ch’ing. This fascinating and intricate exercise has many benefits and just about anyone can practice it.
 Tai Chi Chuan and the Art of Balance
Posted By Tom Daly

Tai Chi Chuan and the Art of Balance.

Of course, are we talking about physical balance or mental balance? In tai chi, both are developed, but neither is guaranteed.

That being said, tai chi is well known for helping with physical balance and studies have backed up this statement. But why is this so?

It intrigues me that the tai chi solution to balance has nothing to do with holding yourself together on top of the ground. Tai chi is about letting go and sinking into the ground. Tai chi has nothing to do with a rigid center line that rises up from the feet into the head. It has more to do with the circumference – the outer circle of your body – and letting that circumference be in harmony with itself and in harmony with its surroundings.

When you study tai chi, initially one element is brought forth – a soft upright quality of the body. “Body upright!” we are told. Another way it is approached is letting the spine hang from the top of the cervical vertebrae.

This “hanging” allows relaxation to take over and to let the pelvic bones anchor the torso around a column like or pillar like sense of the upper body. This top section then rests on the hip joints which in turn rest on the legs on the feet on the ground. So the hanging and resting quality in tai chi lets the weight fall into the ground through the body, unimpeded. The joints open and are encouraged to be relaxed and flexible.

At the same time, it allows other muscles to relax and to let you have enough mind left over to feel the outer edges of the column of your torso. This is actually not a literal sense of the torso, but more of relating the front with the back of a circular column, and the right with the left sides of this imaginary column. Later, we extend this to include the lower half of the body and finally we grow from a column to an oval or circular ball like sense of the body.

By being a ball, we roll along the ground as opposed to sort of clomping along. We become smoother. (Observe that a ball doesn’t really balance on the ground, it just IS with the ground.)

Note the progression above. We go from hanging from above to relaxation to a sense of being a column to the sense of being a ball. This has nothing to do with holding yourself up rigidly to maintain some sort of balance.

The tai chi form offers plenty of moments of challenge in terms of balance when we move one foot off the ground to land somewhere else. By being relaxed and open and connected to the ground, we learn real balance. At these particular moments, the training emphasizes being on the foot where the weight actually is and by not lurching or falling onto the foot that is finding a new place to land. This is the opposite of walking where we really do take advantage of falling onto the next foot as we move forward and catching ourselves as we move forward.

Your body is like a scale. One foot connects more and more into the ground where the weight currently is, the other foot lightly lands – no weight – onto the ground it plans to move towards. So there is a moment where you are ready to shift your weight forward, but you haven’t made any physical commitment in that direction, at least for a brief moment. The scale is all on one side of the fence preparing to move to the other side.

We spend a great deal of time working at this precarious place because we are training ourselves to create a new habit. We no longer perch on top of the ground, but we now sink into the ground and use the ground to help stabilize and relax our bodies, utilizing several new tools to assist in the process. Subtly, you relax the upper body to use the ground to find stability.

Another aspect here, somewhat hidden, is that by working this way, we are encouraged to put our awareness into the body. Our mind is not dwelling on some idea, plan, past annoyance and any other distraction. This new kind of balance is so mentally challenging and oddly satisfying that you absolutely have to be very aware of what is going on within the body itself. A new habit is being formed – that of having your mind in your body.

In tai chi training, we return again and again and again to feeling what is going on inside of our physical selves. To have a special exercise where this is required is a huge benefit.

Yet another aspect is that since tai chi is also a martial art, your awareness has to include your surroundings, even those areas that you don’t see with your eyes. You learn to feel your surroundings. Like an octopus with many tentacles, your awareness expands to include the whole space. We are developing a large inclusive way of perceiving the world.

One could argue that you don’t need tai chi to put your mind in your body. That’s true, but I would argue that by practicing tai chi, you have a tool that gently encourages you to put your mind in your body. Otherwise, most likely you wouldn’t want to be bothered. And since practicing tai chi contains many other benefits, you get more “bang!” for the time spent studying and practicing.

I mentioned mental balance. While this is a tough act to achieve, I’ll briefly state that I believe that putting your mind into your body is a good place to begin if mental balance is an issue. This is not the whole answer of course. It seems to help, though like any human endeavor there are many ways to defeat even the best of training activities.

Balance is a worthy practice, a challenge, rewarding and endlessly fascinating.

Tai chi really helps you get there.

Category: Selfseeds, Weight Distribution
Tag: alignment, How are you moving through space, swing of limbs, tai chi, weight distribution

Balance is moment by moment

Balance is in everything–what we do, how much we do, when we do, with whom we do, where we do…  One great aspect of focusing on your physical balance, other aspects of balance are automatically included:  internal awareness of the bodies alignment and coordination, mental focus on one’s emotional state and being present in the moment, and finding time for one’s self and personal well being.

Here is a thoughtful article on “The power of balance”:

 The power of balance

Practice is the key to staying upright – and avoiding falls — as we age

Balance classSerelee Hefler, at right, teaches a stretch and balance class at Evolutions Body Clinic. The exercises help maintain balance, which can deteriorate as one ages.
Serelee Hefler tells the students in her class, including a 66-year-old man and a woman who is six months’ pregnant, that they are on a ship in the Chesapeake Bay and a storm has just blown in.

“You are all on the deck, and you are trying to keep your balance,” she tells the group, as they shift from one foot to the other.

Balance. Keeping it is one of the goals of Hefler’s twice-weekly “Stretch and Balance” class at Evolutions Body Clinic in Annapolis.

Balance keeps you walking without staggering. It allows you to get up from a chair without falling over. And it allows you to climb steps without tripping and falling.

But it is also, like muscle tone, something you lose a little more of every year. And, like muscle tone, you have to work it to keep it.

“Kids practice balance all the time in the games they play outdoors. Dodge ball, hopscotch, tag,” Hefler said. “Adults don’t get much practice, and suddenly they realize they have to sit down to put their pants on because they don’t have the strength or the balance to stand on one leg.”

Hefler’s class is rare. Balance training is not part of most group exercise classes, except for practices such as yoga, tai chi or qigong. But two medical studies — one of them in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research in 2010 — found that balance can improve remarkably with regular practice.

“I tell people they don’t have to take a class,” said Hefler. “They can stand on one leg and then the other while brushing their teeth, combing their hair or doing the dinner dishes.”

“One way to test balance is to test your gait,” said Maureen McBeth, a physical therapist at Baltimore’s Mercy Center for Restorative Therapies. “Up until the age of 70, the speed at which you walk is pretty consistent. Then it takes a nose dive.”

Balance tests are simple to do, and should be a part of routine medical exams, said Dr. Alicia I. Arbaje, associate director of Transitional Care Research in the Johns Hopkins Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.

“It is something to bring up with your doctor if you have any concerns,” she said. “It can be a marker of other things going wrong. And it is a matter of your quality of life.”

One of Hefler’s students, writer Iain Baird, 66, of Annapolis, recognizes how important balance is in his life. “It is easy to find classes that provide aerobic exercise. This kind of class is hard to find,” he said.

“There are four things you need [to be mobile,]” he said. “Stamina, strength, flexibility and balance. They are all equally important because a fall can be a life-changing event.”

Baird is correct. A fall can be devastating to an older adult. Abroken hip can be the start of a downward spiral of dependence and ill health. Just the fear of falling consigns some older adults to a life of inactivity and isolation.

Unintended falls among those 65 or older cause more than 18,000 deaths and nearly 450,000 hospitalizations a year, according to theCenters for Disease Control in Atlanta. A bathtub or the curb on a sidewalk can be an injury waiting to happen.

However, standing on one foot for a minute or two every day is only part of what is needed to maintain and improve balance because so much is involved in this mysterious ability: vision, touch, temperature, blood pressure, the sense of where the body is in space, strength and flexibility.

And so much can impair balance: medication, inner-ear problems, poor vision, diabetesperipheral artery disease.

Balance involves complicated skills such as timing and coordination that need to be learned and practiced. Even so, the goal of good balance is pretty simple: to keep you upright in tricky situations.

“There is so much education we can do,” said McBeth. “And there is balance retraining that we can do.”

The complete article can be viewed at:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/bs-gl-reimer-balance-20110818,0,7940206.column

Category: Balance, Selfseeds
Tag: alignment, awareness, balance, coordination, fitness, mental focus