Reversing the Aging Process

I hold so much tension in my back,” I’d hear her say.

My back is stiff this morning,” she’d comment upon rising.

My muscles are far tenser than they should be,” frequently escaped her lips as we took evening walks through our local neighborhood.

I didn’t think much about how these comments might be a reflection point for me. I simply took them as she offered them – descriptions of how my partner physically experienced certain moments in her life.

And then one day as I was bending down to get something from a drawer, the light went on inside my mind. “Hmmm, that familiar sensation in my lower back warning me about how I’m moving might be the sort of tension Susan talks about.

Almost like feeling a “hitch” coming on, I would tense up when my mind perceived that I needed to move more carefully in a certain position. It wasn’t like I didn’t know how to bend over and move correctly either. But when Susan’s words played back within my thoughts I realized that I must have muscle tension as well.

For me, the birth of three children before the age of 30 left me with less lower-back strength and a touch of incontinence when I jumped for a basketball. (TMI – too much information? Trust me, it is much worse to live through this than to read about it)

By age 40 I had experienced a hernia repair, more cautious movement when using my lower-back and no improvement with my bladder as I played sports.

Like most folks, I took the incremental loss of freedom while moving as a process of age. Until, now.

What has changed is that through the dynamics of teaching Restorative Exercise™ classes and practicing Physical Therapy my partner has reversed most of her lower-back pain. The “tension” she talked about has diminished by 75%.

I wanted my body back. I wanted to enjoy jumping and chasing a basketball again without pain or the fear of leaking in my gym trunks.

So I began a quest the day after Thanksgiving 2012. I started a test, if you will, all I did was to add one single stretch to my daily routine – the piriformis stretch.  I determined to do this stretch 3 times a day for no less than 60 seconds on each side.

It might help to know that prior to this test; I had spent no less than 20 minutes each morning doing a routine of various exercises from the Restorative Exercise™ classes I had taken. I also work out regularly at Gym Jones, and the past three summers have found me involved in competitive Sprint Triathlons.  So getting exercise was not the point of my “test“. Releasing the tension and subsequent caution with my lower-back was my focus.

Here I am on the first day of 2013 writing this article.  I’m well beyond my 30 day test and I’m delighted to say that it feels as if I’ve reversed the aging process. My lower back no longer “chides” me with warnings when I bend and move to put on my socks in the morning or retrieve something from a bottom drawer.

In fact, I have been able to shave off a minute in a regular (non competitive) 5K run. I have lifted 15 pounds more than my double-body dead lift at the gym (245 lbs.). I have had zero back pain while shoveling over 500 pounds of  the snow that has fallen in our driveway so far. I have no lower-back pain as I climb out of the pool each week.

I FEEL YOUNGER as I move inside my body all day long… most especially I feel more freedom within my hips and lower back!

It’s almost as if I hear my mind saying over and over, “Oh yeah, that’s how it used to feel to move around inside these muscles and bones. It is actually fun shoveling snow!

I’m also looking forward to an increase in freedom during my summer activities when the winter begins to thaw here in the next couple of months. Yet, most of all let me say this again:

I FEEL YOUNGER!

You can feel younger too. Try the piriformis stretch found above or look into taking a Restorative Exercise™ class. Align Integration and Movement has been key to my success. They offer Skype sessions if you can’t find a class in your immediate area.

There’s a lot to look forward to this coming year. Growing younger can be one of them.

Start At Your Feet

Want a better life? Start upgrading your personal experiences and your health by improving the relationship you have with your feet.

Seriously, many of us don’t understand the vital connection between the science of healthy feet and our overall expression with all aspects of life.

Doesn’t it make sense that when our foundational base is strong (a.k.a. our feet) our ability to increase our performance and our joy is strong as well?

Consider the following metaphorical statements used by some who approach me for coaching:

  • I’m ready to take a stronger stand for myself.
  • I want to step up my game.
  • I want you to support me while I lengthen my stride.

Within each metaphor, an individual’s relationship with the foundational part of themselves is going determine the trajectory of their outcomes.

So just take a tiny risk and trust me. Accept at least one of the following four challenges and start enjoying a healthier and happier existence.

  1. Go put your feet into a fresh patch of grass. Stand there and imagine the gravity and anchor of earth attaching itself to the soles of your feet. Feel the fresh air above you. Allow the sky to touch the crown of your head and then reconnect to what it means to be alive by standing between heaven and earth while feeling the energy of life conducting through you.
  2. Purchase a pair of five-finger shoes or socks. This activity will wake up your toes. It will alert them that they can get smarter and more independent if they don’t rely on always being part of the herd we lump together into a regular shoe. Truly, you can revitalize your brain and your feet by helping your toes learn to move on their own again.
  3. Read the following blog and practice a few of the exercises recommended by bio-mechanist Katy Bowman.
  4. Or, purchase her book Every Woman’s Guide to Food Pain Relief and practice her suggested exercises on a daily basis.

I’d love to hear what you experience when you take on one of these challenges.

So, do you want a better life? Jump in feet first!

 

Got Feet?

Let’s start with two questions:

Were you born with feet?

Do you still have them?

If you answered “yes” to both, you’ll want to read on.

Chances are you are like me and you’ve had a limited perspective on how complex those two things living below your ankles are. For example, did you know that we have about 200 bones in our entire body?  And did you know that 25% of these bones are found in your feet (25% of all the muscles and motor nerves in your body are dedicated to your feet as well)?*

Sounds like I know what I’m talking about right?

Well I do, sort of.  Stay with me on this one and you’ll understand.

I thrive on supporting the entrepreneurial spirit. I consider it to be one of the most powerful forces reshaping this country. In my opinion, it is one dynamic that has constantly remained more of an art than a science no matter how many textbooks try to put their arms around it. And, I believe that entrepreneurship was flowing through the veins of this nation’s founding parents.

So over a cup of tea, on a Sunday morning I put down a current copy of Entrepreneur long enough to go wandering around the Big Cartel website. Ever curious to see what some of the artrapreneurs (yes I made that up) were up to, I viewed Susan Peterson’s mini documentary about her company Freshly Picked.

My partner heard the music and came up behind me to see what I was watching. As soon as Freshly Picked footwear for kids came on the screen my partner exclaimed, “Those are perfect. Parents need to be more aware of what they put on their baby’s and children’s feet.”

My partner, Susan McLaughlin, is a Physical Therapist trained in Restorative Exercise™ by Biomechanist turned Entrepreneur, Katy Bowman. Between these two women’s highly educated influence in my life, I have come to better understand the benefits of having a proper fit from a well engineered pair of shoes. I’m learning the type of “toe box” my feet need. I also know how important it is to avoid long days in elevated (heeled) footwear.

I’d like to say that this is the reason I also took time to watch the Big Cartel mini documentary for Zuriick footwear.  That would be a lie. The sole, upper, toe box and most of the heels provided by Zuriick shoes are not only extremely well designed from a creative standpoint, they are pretty hip on the wellness scene.  And I think it is incredible because there is something out there in the innovative new business scene that is not just about how things look. There is something that is considering the integration of quality, design and wellness. I think it is more than a trend. I think we’ve traveled far away from “what’s good for us” in terms of food, water, shelter and clothing. And today I see a grassroots movement among the free-agent thinkers toward having a more mindful means of living our lives and loving the process.

That’s why I can mash-up my thoughts about shoes, entrepreneur, and health and believe that I’m posting something worth reading. That’s the reason I would promote Freshly Picked, Zurrick and Katy Bowman all in the same blog.

That’s also the reason that I’m reminding my friends and connections that my company, SoulSalt is hosting a Katy Bowman event here in Salt Lake this Saturday the 4th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Sugar Space. 

If your knees hurt, if your hips bother you, and if your back aches, you can’t be as creative or entrepreneurial as your potential would allow you to be.  You need to pay attention to your feet and listen to what Katy has to say:

Your footwear can absolutely affect the performance of your body… (I’m adding this last part)…and the way you experience your life.

 

*This paragraph was adapted from Katy Bowman’s book Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief see page 8.

The 2012 SoulSalt Courage Award

Two strong constructs within my work are to:

  • Support people to clarify and align with their core value system
  • Support people through the process of career reinvention

This year’s Courage Award goes to a woman whose story embraces both and has unfolded right beneath my nose. Susan McLaughlin, my partner in life has simply yet bravely earned this award.

Having her livelihood placed on the line, Susan chose to leave a job in order to remain aligned with her personal values. This daring move has required that she quickly reinvent herself in the world of entrepreneurship (something she is approaching with as much skill and thoughtfulness as I’ve ever witnessed). Her story is best told by her own pen:

Recently I experienced a big shift in my life that has made me wonder.

 I wonder, what is it that drives a person to initiate a big change?

What is it that allows a person to take the next step, to change careers, a relationship, even a residence?

I took a big step…. no, I took a leap this Dec, 2011.

I have been practicing physical therapy since 2001. Four years ago I established myself as an outpatient physical therapist with a top notch healthcare company. I had an ideal position with a decent salary, potential to develop a pelvic health program and move into a leadership role.

During my years with this company, minute incongruencies clashed with my core values and began to take its toll. I had been packaging and storing these differences in a way that manifested as stress in my body. I started to observe that I mixed up words when I spoke, I transposed words when I wrote, I couldn’t finish my sentences, and I started to revert back to the childhood days when I couldn’t say my “Rs”.

I also noticed that despite all of the hours of stretching and restorative exercise™ during the week, my muscles just wouldn’t let go….Although I could feel that I was carrying more tension in my body than was healthy, I didn’t want to admit that my current job was contributing to this condition.

I now realize that my stress was caused by the friction of internal struggle. I have a belief that our bodies will heal if given the optimal environment. I wanted to work from my soul. However, I was working within a system where healing is something done to us and we wait for people to get sick, and then “cure” them with surgery and pills. I would have continued to work with this subtle inner struggle, but my company initiated a new policy that challenged me to really look at my core value of health and wellness.

You see, it is becoming a national healthcare trend to initiate a mandatory flu shot policy for all workers of large healthcare systems. My company followed suit this fall 2011. I had to make a decision: Do I sacrifice my personal health and compromise my immune system, or do I sacrifice a “good job” and a paycheck?

I realized that if I continued to make compromises to my core values, my physical body would eventually revolt, and then where would I be? I had to ask myself an important question: How could I stand for health and wellness when, by taking the flu shot and working for this company, I would be out of my personal integrity? 

I chose not to get the flu shot and I left my company. I was able to take that leap and land on my feet because I have an inner conviction that I know that my body has everything it needs to be vital. I stayed aligned to what I believe in. It wasn’t popular, nor was it profitable, however, I am committed to health and wellness and I will support others to do so as well. So I formed my own company and aptly named it, Align Integration and Movement, PLC. I intend to thrive and I intend to work with those who want to thrive as well.

Please feel free to visit www.alignintegrationandmovement.com and be sure to check out the class schedule. If something within Susan’s philosophy resonates with your own outlook on wellness, I recommend that you attend one of her Restorative Exercise™ classes now being held in Salt Lake !

Hat Tip to Susan McLaughlin at Align, Integration and Movement

This morning the alarm went off at 0-crack-hundred-hours. It really didn’t need to. However, I wanted to be sure to make it to a ground-breaking event. Salt Lake City’s first ever Restorative Exercise™ class was starting at 6:30 a.m. And I not only wanted to be there, I wanted to walk there.

Actually it was my partner Susan’s idea to walk the ten minutes to Sugar Space Studio for the event. I agreed. This was a fitting way to honor the practice of integrated wellness that Susan is bringing to Salt Lake.

Susan McLaughlin P.T. is the mastermind who discovered Katy Bowman’s work, then trained and certified in Katy’s Restorative Exercise™ program. Susan’s company, Align Integration and Movement is the pioneering company that is bringing this exciting gift of health to Salt Lake.

The theme for this month’s classes is “Trim Your Waistline” and that we did in a very wise, effective manner this morning. Muscles all over were activated mindfully, bones in our feet were gently spread, nerves were mobilized and flossed in both hands and arms, and waist-lines were lengthened and reduced.

It is hard to describe the glowing feeling experienced upon leaving the class. It is not unlike what you sense after yoga and not unlike what one has after a hard workout and yet it is decidedly unique. The best I can say is this: Restorative Exercise™ leaves me feeling aligned and subtlety stronger. It supports me with a deep awareness that I just did something extremely good for myself. I just made an incremental, solid deposit in my own personal bank of wellness.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9FcwnxuMLQ&list=UUz5cmwGtsK5VuCkNaytpQjA&index=1&feature=plpp_video[/youtube]

Read a related articles on Susan McLaughlin P.T.

Dealing With Pelvic and Neck Pain By Jasen Lee, Deseret News

Tension, Bad Posture May Be To Blame For The Pain By Lois M. Collins, Deseret News

Incontinence, Back Pain can Be Alleviated By Carrie A. Moore, Deseret News