Category Archives: wellness

Sessions 8-10 and beyond: Integration

The last three hours of the 10-session series are integration hours – the work of the previous sessions is wrapped up in a coherent way. Again, the framework below provides the general idea for each session – your session may be somewhat different based on your individual needs.

Eighth and ninth hours
Focus area(s): One session will focus on the lower half of the body and the other will focus on the upper body.

These sessions are more big picture – we look at relating the top and bottom halves of the body at the middle. Continue working toward movement coming from the core. Develop a sense of expansiveness or a feeling of extension in movement.

Tenth hour
Focus area(s): Work broadly over torso and legs
Balance and stabilize the system so the body is ready to go out into the world.

Optional post-10 work
You may find the ten sessions are all you need and your body feels good on an ongoing basis. However, if you place a lot of demands on your body at work or play, it can be useful to get SI sessions now and then. Post-10 sessions maintain the benefits of the series and help prevent new issues from getting worse. Some people like to come in on a regular schedule; others make an appointment only when they feel it’s necessary. See also my previous post on this topic.

Additional 10-Series
Another option after some time has gone by is to repeat the entire series of ten sessions. The starting point is different and the experience of the series will be, too.

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Reasons to stretch

Manual therapy such as Structural Integration can help release tension in your body’s tissues. Outside of your manual therapy sessions, you can be good to your body with stretching. Stretching can reduce pain and stress. Stretching can help improve flexibility, balance, and posture – which help us avoid falls or injuries.

Research indicates that stretching may also reduce inflammation. Chronic (long-term) inflammation is a factor in a number of serious diseases. So, it seems like a good idea to incorporate things that reduce inflammation into our routine.

Here is a link to a short stretching routine that you can start with. If daily stretching feels like too much, try for at least twice a week.

Healthline’s “The 5-minute Daily Stretching Routine

Mindfulness without meditation

Mindfulness has benefits like reducing stress and increasing contentment. Often, meditation is the recommended way to learn to be more mindful during the rest of your day. But what if meditation just isn’t your thing? There are ways to experience the benefits through other mechanisms. Here are a few ideas:

  • Notice new things; look for growth – by actively noticing new things, the familiar becomes interesting again.
  • Reframe negatives – that person is “stable” rather than “rigid” or maybe “spontaneous” instead of “impulsive.”
  • Be responsive not reactive – take a moment to be still and notice an event or remark before you respond to it.

For more details:
On Being interview with Dr. Ellen Langer
The Langer Mindfulness Institute

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Gardening for pollinators

The bees and butterflies definitely prefer some plants in the garden over others. I am happy toIMG_20170907_141238312 see them in the yard. While I have some native plants, I have not specifically focused on pollinators. As I ponder how to revamp a couple perennial beds, I plan to incorporate more choices for these charming and useful little critters.

Gardening, whether vegetables or plants, has benefits as exercise. Structural Integration can help keep you in good condition to enjoy this activity!

Another benefit of dietary fiber

Knee pain from osteoarthritis (OA) is a fairly common complaint. Cartilage damage can occur from a variety of factors including injuries, aging, and certain illnesses. Keeping the muscles around the knee strong and managing weight are two of the typical strategies to reduce pain.

A recent analysis of data from two large studies of patients with arthritis revealed another potential tool to help keep pain in check. Patients who ate more fiber had fewer  symptoms and less likelihood of knee pain becoming worse over time. This result is a correlation and not a definite cause and effect. However, I think it is another good reminder to eat well and get enough fiber in our diets.

From a Berkeley Wellness Newsletter Article, here are the numbers and this link is their List of Best Foods for Fiber.

People who consumed the most fiber—21 grams a day on average in the Osteoarthritis Initiative, and 26 grams in the Framingham study— had a 30 and 61 percent lower risk of OA symptoms, respectively, compared with people who ate the least. Higher fiber intake also reduced the likelihood of knee pain worsening among participants who had that symptom at the start of the studies.

 

 

The suboccipital muscles

Several recent clients have been surprised by how tender the muscles at the base of their skull felt when we workhead-982908__340ed there. I also noticed this part of my anatomy on the last few miles of a recent ride on my road bike. I started feeling my neck getting stiff.

The muscles in question are the suboccipitals. There are four of them and they connect your skull to the spine and are also connected to your eyes. They help tip your head toward your shoulder, among other actions. When the suboccipitals are tight, you could experience headaches, neck tightness, or even back pain.

Common posture habits can contribute to issues with the suboccipitals. Typical culprits are forward head posture or habitually tipping your chin up (to look through bifocals or at a computer monitor).

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Note how this rider’s head is tipped up to see the road.

To reduce tightness in the suboccipitals, some options to try include these easy things.

  • Pay attention to your posture (Rolf Line) – if your head is forward, bring it back into alignment.
  • Confirm that your computer monitor is at an ergonomic height. Usually, this means the top of the screen is at or below eye level.
  • Notice if you tend to tip your chin up and bring it back to level.
  • Make sure your glasses are properly adjusted.
  • Avoid holding your phone between your head and shoulder.

For more relief, you can also use 2 tennis balls in a sock to massage the base of your skull. For instructions and photos, refer to this post by Strength on Demand.

How do mind-body practices help you?

Do you meditate, practice yoga or tai chi, or do another mind-body practice? If so, you have probably noticed that these types of activities help reduce stress. Recent research from Coventry University has identified one way that such mindfulness practices help your body.

This study is from the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement. Lead investigator Ivana Buric says,

These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, [Mind-Body Interventions] cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.

People who practice a mindful activity experience changes in their bodies. These changes benefit health by decreasing the production of proteins that cause inflammation. Inflammation is useful in the short term to boost the immune system and fight infections. However, chronic inflammation is linked to a higher risk of some diseases and mental health conditions.

Are you ready to experience the physical and mental benefits of a mind-body practice for yourself? Community education, comofaith communities and online resources are all ways to access classes and videos to guide your efforts. You may want to try several options to find the activity that is right for you.