Friday, September 2, 2011

Core article

The NeuroCore vs Musculoskeletal Core

The concept of core stability sets forth a powerful image. How is it that we have defined the purpose of the core in traditional fitness and exercise? We have only defined it through a network of muscles and how they contract to create movement. But what is it that stabilizes us so that muscles are able to move in a coordinated way?
Traditional schools of thought would say deep muscles that are defined as stabilizing muscles. What we now know is that there is another system of the body innervated by its own system, its own network of cells and receptors that respond to anticipate movement so the proper motor programs are chosen to execute an efficient, coordinated action.It functions on a much deeper level of efficiency than our muscles do and because this system is so complex, it has taken longer to define both its form and its function.
What we must understand is that the “core system” is the Neurofascial system. The all encompassing network that defines all other systems and shapes in the body and how it operates to both monitor and react or respond to stress, has a central system that works in an unconscious, involuntary, autonomic way.
I call this system the NeuroCore. It is a dual-neurological stabilizing system that supports, protects, responds, and grounds us without our conscious control. It enables us to maintain whole-body balance while ensuring our organs are protected. The neurocore system is equally governed by the efficiency and functions of the autonomic nervous system, and the connective tissue.
These two components of the neurocore comprise the primary network that envelops the organs and grounds us from head to toe. It envelops a dynamic, interconnected, interrelated network of muscles, nerves, connective tissue, organs, and most importantly, the diaphragm.
At the very heart of the body’s dynamic stabilizing system is the breath. How the diaphragm moves and rests is a critical element in achieving an integrated breath. The neurocore is the epicenter of a great deal of my work. It’s the common thread I see in my hands-on practice that is faulty or functioning inefficiently when dysfunction, pain, or imbalance is present.
When I work with one-on-one clients, I frequently notice that the diaphragm isn’t functioning in a way where its movement and the vibration it sends through the body is transferring it’s rhythm in a vibrant way. Much like the cranial rhythm, I believe diaphragmatic motion is a critical epicenter of whole-body balance.
Regardless of a person’s symptom I always check for neurocore balance, beginning with an assessment and self-treatment of the primary domes and arches of the body; the most central is the diaphragm.
This month’s MELT Map is the basic Reconnect Technique of the MELT Core Treatment. This simple element of the Core treatment will immediately improve your body sense, and connection with your diaphragm and your ability to help your autopilot system function more efficiently.
You can perform this quick treatment everyday and should only take 5-10 minutes. Once you try it, please feel free to comment on this blog and tell me how this one very simple technique is helping you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sitting at Your Computer

Sitting at Your Computer

Published by Liz Koch on April 10, 1999 in Articles
Sitting at your computer for any period of time can be a very exhausting even painful experience. Fixating on a computer screen fatigues by overriding natural reflexes that coordinate and align posture. Besides the logical need to vary movement there are also ways to enhance your sitting time and minimize muscular tension.
Discovering your psoas muscle (pronounced so-as) and understanding its functions will help you make better decisions as to how to position yourself, the height and type of chair to use and the height of your desk, keyboard and monitor.
The psoas muscle is the core muscle of your body. Located closest to the gravitational forces, the psoas attaches to the 12th thoracic vertebrae (approximately at the level of your solar plexus) and to each of the lumbar vertebrae. The muscle moves through the pelvis and inserts into the inner thighbone called the lesser trocantor of the femur. The psoas muscle is a guy wire for the spine. It is also a hydraulic pumping system stimulating all circulatory systems, a psoatic shelf supporting organs and viscera and it is part of the fear reflex system preparing one to flee or fight. Sitting for long periods of time with a constricted psoas muscle depletes vital energy, curtails blood circulation, affects organ functioning and signals flee/fight reflex thus draining the adrenals and immune system. It’s health and suppleness affects every level of well being.

Typical Work Station (Incorrect)
To be stable and balanced while sitting in a chair the pelvis must be firmly placed and the psoas free to function properly. Bones give form and structure to your body. Balanced and in relationship one to another they support weight. Muscles move the bones. To sit effortlessly involves little muscular effort when your bones are optimally positioned. If the bones are not stable then muscular tension is substitute to create balance and the psoas muscle will be engaged inappropriately to stabilize the skeletal structure. Freeing your psoas muscle while sitting helps not only structural tension but also helps to maintain fullness of breath, good visceral and organ functioning and alert but relaxed awareness. Keeping your psoas released centers you deep within your core.

Stable Work Station (Correct)
Here are several tips to help you free your psoas:
Sit on a Flat Chair
Most chairs are not designed for sitting rather they are designed for appearance and for stacking. Ergonomically designed chairs are often just band-aid efforts to release tension that is already created from poor positioning. Many of the ergonomically designed chairs do not solve the problem where it originates.
When selecting a chair, notice the seat. Avoid bucket seats that form a hollow, as this does not offer your pelvis a firm solid placement. The pelvis is the keystone and the foundation for the rest of the skeletal system i.e. ribs cage, spine, head plus legs and feet. A stable pelvis supports the bones and frees the psoas muscles from unnecessary tension. The ischial tuberosities commonly known as your sits bones located at the base of your pelvis helps position the pelvis and torso. A chair needs to have a solid base of support for the tuberosites to balance and rest upon. Choose a chair with a firm flat seat. If your chair has a hollow or bucket type of seat modify the chair using a firm solid pillow or folded blanket placed in the hollow.
Sit with Your Weight in Front of Sits Bones
Many people sit behind the pelvic sits bones (ischial tuberosites) curling the pelvis under thus rounding the lower back and causing the neck and head to forward thrust. If you do not sense your sits bones than find them with your fingers. Lift up your buttocks and pull your glut (butt) muscles away behind you, then sit down slightly in front of the round bones (you can feel that are under your buttocks).
Sitting with your weight in front of the ischial tuberosites helps to give your pelvis stability thus supporting the arm, wrists and fingers perform motion necessary for typing. Isolated contracted arm movements make typing effortful. Gaining support through your pelvic core lets the support extend up through your core and out through your fingertips.
Sit with Your Hip Sockets Higher Than Your Knees
Your hip sockets need be higher than your knees for your psoas muscle and hip sockets to stay released rather than compressed. A stable pelvis frees the psoas muscle and keeps the hip sockets released. Compressed hip sockets cut off blood circulation to the legs and feet and can cause or aggravate sciatic nerve pain and muscular cramping. Choose a chair height that lets your hip sockets (located on each side of your pubis bone) to be slightly higher than your knee. A slanted hard foam cushion may help open the hip socket. A stool can also be used. The height of the stool or chair must let your pelvis be stable and supported with spine and head balanced on top.
Keep Your Feet on the Floor
Although changing leg positions can be very helpful in reducing the fatigue that comes with stillness its helpful to have your feet placed firmly on the ground. Doing so provides an energetic grounding as well as aiding structural stability. The nerves of the feet help stabilize and co-ordinate posture. Energetically the psoas muscle is the grounding wire of the human electrical system. This energy is translated from the psoas through the legs and needs to be received into the ground. Staying grounded not only helps reduce fatigue it helps channel the electromagnetic forces coming from the computer.
People often ask about the benefits of kneeling stools for sitting at desks. Kneeling stools do not allow the feet to be grounded (as the feet are not touching the floor). It is through the nerves in the bottom of the foot that we receive somatic and energetic information and support. Kneeling chairs increase stress in the knees, where tension may already be manifesting.
Keep Your Jaw Loose
The jaw and pelvis relate to each other. When one is tight or locked in tension the other will also express tension. Sensing the pelvic floor will release tension in the jaw and vice versa.
Once you have a good chair begin to modify the height of the table so that you do not lean over or reach up to type. Be sure your workstation allows your arms to hang loosely from the shoulder girdle when typing on the keyboard. In other words you do not want to use unnecessary tension to lift the arms or lean over to type. The wrist and fingers are in a neutral position.
Next, position the monitor to be high enough that your eyes look directly at the screen while working. Be sure the monitor is high enough so your eyes look directly ahead rather than down. Lifting the monitor to a height that supports the head/neck righting reflexes is essential for maintaining stability. The proper height encourages your body to follow your eyes and head looking straight ahead when typing rather than collapsing downwards.
While typing shift your weight forward and back (a small rocking motion) through the hip sockets (rather than bending at the waist or collapsing the head and shoulders). Letting the whole torso move together reduces shoulder, neck and back fatigue. Keep your typing material in front of you. Doing so helps you avoid locking your head down while typing.
A constricted upper psoas instead of freeing the rib cage and elongating the spine collapses the chest and hyper-extends the lumbar spine. Using a back pillow for the small of the back or the neck to relieve back pain (a result of a hyper-extended spine) is only another band aid approach to a much deeper problem, a constricted psoas. Learning to release your psoas through the constructive rest position (see The Psoas Book by Liz Koch for more detailed information) and other sensory awareness exercises will bring more long-term results.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Little ways to lose big pounds

Little ways to lose big pounds

Getty Images
Getty Images
By Jessica Girdwain

It's a familiar story: You pledge to honor a daily elliptical routine and count every last calorie. But soon, you're eating cupcakes at the office and grabbing happy hour mojitos, thinking, Oops, diet over.

There is a better way: Swap the all-or-nothing approach for one or two healthy switch-ups in your daily routine. "Doing this can lead to more weight loss than you ever imagined," says Marissa Lippert, R.D., author of The Cheater's Diet.

In fact, we talked to readers who knocked off 10, 25, even 60 pounds with some easy tweaks. Borrow their slim-down secrets to transform your body the real-world way.

Swap your go-to order"I used to eat out at restaurants up to nine times a week! By cutting back to just once a week and ordering a grilled chicken salad instead of a large bowl of pasta, I've lost 20 pounds in one month." —Kerri Butler, Joplin, MO 25 ways to cut 500 calories a day

Skip the salty aisle"I reached my goal weight after I stopped routinely buying snacks at the grocery store. If I wanted a bag of chips or a candy bar, I had to walk to the store to get it. That inconvenience usually made me ignore my cravings." —Heather Del Baso, Worcester, MA
Run your butt off"When I wanted to fit into my skinny jeans again, I started running 20 minutes a day during my lunch hour. In two months, I've lost 20 pounds, have tons of energy, and just finished my first 5K. Those jeans? They're too big now!" —Lauren Castor, Anniston, AL
Pile on the veggies"By adding vegetables to the foods I love—like eating pizza topped with arugula and green peppers instead of pepperoni—I became so full so quickly that I no longer had room to eat things like chips or super-rich desserts. I said good-bye to four dress sizes!" —Janessa Mondestin, New York City, NY Best superfoods for weight loss
Brave a new class"Two months ago, I started going to Zumba twice a week. The crazy dance routines really tone your muscles—especially legs and abs—and give you a heart-pounding cardio workout. Eleven pounds later, I've almost reached my goal weight." —Morgan Howe, Rochester, NY
Nix nighttime eating"Each time I needed to lose the baby weight, I stopped eating after 6:30 p.m. five nights a week. The other two evenings were reserved for nights out. Most of what I'd eat at night was junk food anyway, so it took only two months to get my pre-baby body back." —Deborah Gilboa, Pittsburgh, PA
Have a 300-calorie breakfast"I used to skip breakfast, but now I never go without. I always eat about 300 calories of a healthy mix of protein and whole grains. My go-to meal: a sandwich with natural peanut butter and apple butter. It keeps my hunger down so I snack less throughout the day. In a little over a year, I've shed 65 pounds." —Bo Hale, Tulsa, OK 7 breakfasts under 300 calories
Save room for your dessert"I budget for the treats I love. By eating healthy snacks like carrots and hummus, I have calories to splurge on a piece of chocolate and glass of wine each night. And I've still managed to lose 20 pounds in three months." —Elaine Higginbotham, Fort Worth, TX
Get fired up"I loaded my iPod with jams that make me look forward to going to the gym. They energize me, allowing me to pick up speed on the elliptical—and because I want to hear my entire playlist, my workouts are longer now. Two months later, I'm down 13 pounds and have killer legs." —Kara Marshall, York, ME
Kick the habit"I quit smoking, and right away joined a gym and started working out with a personal trainer. There was no way I could exercise and feel healthy if I kept lighting up. I've already dropped 37 pounds in three months!" —Leila Fathi, Memphis, TN Kick the habit without gaining a pound
Do a purge"I totally cleaned out my pantry. Once I replaced the foods I used to overindulge in, like ice cream, with lower-cal snacks, such as roasted sunflower seeds or Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal, I began making better choices automatically. Now, I'm slimmer than I was before I had my two kids!" —Lori Feldman, Coconut Creek, FL

Get fit in five"I try to fit in small bouts of exercise whenever possible, like doing jumping jacks or crunches during television commercials or dancing while washing dishes. This burns extra calories and keeps me from mindlessly munching in front of the TV. Now my clothes fit way better, and I'm more toned than ever." —Megan Tiscareno, Hammond, IN
Don't supersize it"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL America's healthiest fast food restaurants
Downward dog it"Yoga has become the best thing for my relationship with food and my body. From practicing it several times a week, I'm now more in touch with my hunger cues—so I eat intuitively and stop when I'm full. I've gone down a jeans size, and my cellulite has disappeared!" —Jessica Nicklos, Morgantown, WV
Healthy up your happy hour"After work, my colleagues and I always grabbed dinner—and it was usually deep-fried. Then we changed things up. Instead of nights out, we started walking and running around a local track. A year later, I'm down 40 pounds." —Ellen Setzer, Cleveland, OH

Walk with spot"My dog and I go for a walk every day, even if it's for just 10 minutes around the block. When the weather is horrible, her enthusiasm gives me the incentive to get out when I wouldn't dare lace up my sneakers otherwise. All the walking adds up: I've lost more than 50 pounds this past year." —Jamie Altholz, Denver, CO

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pilates for Golfers

Three Simple Pilates Exercises for a Better Golf Game

All golfers know they need to work on rotation, balance and stability. This is stating the obvious. There are also a handful of exercises that benefit the golfer that might not be so obvious. Of course, we know each golfer has individual needs, as with all athletes, but these three simple Pilates exercises should be a part of every golfer’s routine.  If you are a Pilates instructor and want to know more on how to identify and correct
 golf swing faults using the Pilates Method we have written a manual calledPilates for Golfers.

Pelvic Tilt

Posterior tilt Pilates exercise for golfersThis is actually a warm-up exercise, but great to help create more mobility and coordination in the pelvis, hips and lumbar spine. All of which are important during the golf swing as power is transferred from lower body to upper body.
Start laying on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. Keep your arms by your side as you inhale to prepare. As you exhale, begin to tilt your pelvis back and you will feel your lower back touch the floor.
Inhale as you tilt your pelvis in the opposite direction, away from your rib cage, feeling a slight arch in your lower back. Repeat the exercise for 10-20 repetitions. Be sure to feel your transversus abdominis stay engaged throughout the entire exercise while keeping the rest of your upper body still.


Bridge Pilates Exercise for golfersThis exercise challenges the stability of the pelvis, lower back and core while strengthening the gluteals, which are tremendously important for creating power and stability during the golf swing. There are several variations of this exercise. The basic Bridge starts lying on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. You should focus on trying to recruit your gluteals throughout the exercise, not your hamstrings. This will take practice and concentration.
  1. Inhale to prepare and exhale to lift your hips to a bridge position, from your shoulders to knees.
  2. Inhale to stay in this position and exhale as you lift one foot slightly off the floor without shifting or dropping your hips.
  3. Inhale to return the foot to the floor and exhale as you lift the other foot off.
  4. Inhale as you lower the foot and exhale as you lower your hips back to the floor.
The leg lifting off the floor can gradually lift higher to make the exercise more challenging. Eventually the full Bridge takes the lifted leg into extension to the ceiling, then lowering the leg parallel to the supporting leg, lifting the leg back to the ceiling and then finally back to the floor. Start with the basic Bridge first, then progress as you get stronger in your gluteals.

Side Lying Leg Circles

Side lying leg circles pilates exercises for golfersThis exercise helps improve mobility of the hip joint, stability of the core while also challenging balance. Hip mobility, or internal and external rotation, will affect the backswing and downswing. First, during the backswing, the golfer will load and coil into the hips. Then, on the downswing, he will post into and rotate around the hips. If hip mobility is limited, a golfer will have too much lateral motion during the golf swing.
This exercise starts side-lying, with the supporting arm extended over the head and the top arm touching the floor for stability. During the exercise, lift in your core and supporting side to avoid sinking into the floor.
  1. Inhale as the top leg lifts away from the supporting leg, only as far as you can maintain pelvic stability.
  2. Exhale as you begin to circle the top leg while the rest of the body remains as still as possible.
  3. Inhale to finish the circle. Repeat the circle 8-10 times and then reverse the circle.
  4. Repeat to the other side.
  5. Keep the abdominals engaged throughout the exercise and keep tension out of the shoulders.
    Of course, there is so much more to a golf fitness program, but these three simple Pilates exercises can be done anywhere, in very little time and give amazing results.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I Found this on Movements Afoot Wall post on facebook.

This last weekend I took a fabulous workshop with Marie-Jose Blom on the Smart Spine. Marie Jose is so elegant in language, imagery as well as brilliant in her knowledge of anatomy and its applications to the fine tuning of the body. You must study with her sometime
Muscles have different qualities of tone; fast and slow twitch. Another way to think about them as global and local. Marie-Jose’s image for these kinds of muscles is of a light switch. Your superficial muscles are like the light switch that you turn on and off. The local muscles are your deep stabilizers that are like dimmers.
We need to turn the dimmers on slowly before adding the big lights switching on or off.
The transverse abdominus is a corset especially the old fashion where you tie in back. The fibers do not have the same contration as other muscles. Widening the transverse to the back will flatten the front and give support for the spine.
               Widen the transverse
               In towards the spine
               Up with the pelvic floor
This is the wiup (whup). This is a quick nickname that I came up with. It has been amazing to bring this imagery into my session with students. It made such a positive change!

Work IN vs. Workout
There were so many gems from the workshop with Marie-Jose Blom.
To get to the deep stabilizers, you need to concentrate on working slower to turn on the correct muscles. Our large global muscles are like rock and roll. Lots of power and pizzazzz.
The “Work IN” invites the deep stabilizers to facilitate movement without compression. Many injuries are happening when overtraining prevents the body from moving well.
Try walking with bracing your torso in a crunch. How does it affect your legs?
Now imagine a gentle corset like the new Spanx. You should walk and dance with freedom.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pandiculate your Way to Health

The bear has a secret for humans. While healthy animals continue to pandiculate themselves
to health, the human animal for many reasons has forgotten to follow this simple script of hygiene for the muscles, joints and brain.
While the term is little known. The definitions vary: An instinctive movement, consisting in the extension of the legs, the raising and stretching of the arms and the throwing back of the head and trunk, accompanied by yawning. Yow.. that’s enough to make you pandiculate your own jaw.
What I’m talking about is the entire act and process of the pandiculation itself. The pandicular response was identified by Thomas Hanna, the author of Somatics and the originator of Hanna Somatic Education®. He’s the one who came up with the term Somatics, the body experienced from within.
The act of pandiculation is simple yet the goods are in the entire process.
While animals know not to answer the emails and pour the cup of coffee the first thing in the morning… the ability to move comfortably is what is at stake… and this may explain the imperativeness of this simple act.
Healthy animals engage their bodies in this process through a series of maneuvers which look like stretching. IT ISN’T. They are resetting the length of their muscles through the process of contracting them self in a sequence and when they release them self, they relax and are ready to move.
Watch you’ll even see them yawn … Tiger Yawnsand this process too is little understood, unless you yourself pandiculate. You can immediately feel how relaxation sets in by your aware participation in the entire event, not just the stretching aspect which is where most of the humans have put our attention on.
Now we have learned of the destructive elements of stretching in the ways we were taught. So rather than stretching, you’d pandiculate yourself. Animals have the know how to do a series of patterns in the morning and several times throughout the course of the day.
After all, how do they remain agile, supple, coordinated, strong and in balance?
Rather than traditional stretching which is waste of your valuable time and detrimental to your health according to the research, animals wake up their system of movement by the process of a series pandiculations.
Think about this… what is the world’s largest movement practice?
We all did it in our mother’s womb. That’s right, we pandiculated in our mother’s belly and we kept doing so until we got old enough to forget about our fountain of youth.
Let’s say we count the number of babies and add in all the animals with spines, then we’d find out that pandiculation rules… and it’s the most natural thing to do to take care of your self.
Pandiculations are all very natural and easy. They’re very quickly accomplished and you won’t ever have to hold yourself for any length of time… unless you like holding on for a minute or two or three or four. There’s a faster, smarter and more natural way to go about it… and your pet has been showing you how to be a happy animal every day.
I know, so easy and too simple to believe. So you’ll have to try it out for yourself and remind your brain, muscles and joints of their ability to move effortlessly and easily not by doing, rather by following along with the process of doing, undoing and pausing… not hold it for for 30 seconds, a minute or 5 as we all once did or were trained to do.
If animals can move so readily, flee from danger and swoop in quickly, then how ready are you to move – without hurting yourself over and over. You can’t think about it, you have to have the ability and this ability stems from reminding your self how to self-correct through the very nature of this process.
If you’ve been pandiculating, then you “get how” being aware of your body gives you solutions to your physical issues and how it can also offer insight into other areas of your life. This may sound strange or weird, yet as you up the level of your internal awareness, your brain readily adjusts and improves your abilities, decreases your stress, and since pandicualtion offers you an avenue into motor memory, your memory itself becomes clearer and your focus is much cleaner.
It’s just another aspect of hygiene. You can pandiculate to clean up your movement software, sort of like updating your computer. If you sit a certain way, or walk in just two of the 17 different ways to walk or whatever activity you keep doing the same way day in, day out, then you’re setting yourself for proprioceptive disaster and your movement software doesn’t get updated… it’s just keeps falling behind.
Pandiculating is a sign of health. So why not maintain your own well being with that which healthy animals have been showing us all along… feel, update and sense it… Who knows how well you’ll be able to move as you age? That’s entirely up to you and how well you utilize your nervous system for your benefit or you can remain forever in movement 1.0, tread water or remain bound and feel there’s no way out.
Isn’t time for an update? Pandiculate.
Really, this is kids stuff that old duffers can use to revitalize the brain and the body. Give it a try, the only thing you have to lose is your pain, stiffness, soreness, aches and ungainly and uncomfortable ways you keep moving about. Do you remember being free?
Yes, you can pandiculate your way to health and move as easy and as natural as a healthy vertebrate animal does. Is it a secret? No, it just is.