The transverse abdominus is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle and is a muscle that stabilizes the spine and improves posture. It’s a muscle that requires endurance. Pilates is a great way to strengthen this muscle.
It’s important for me that my patients understand what is happening in their body. This is why I come up with analogies. A lot of times, they come so spontaneously I surprise myself.
When a patient complains of pain and numbness and tingling that radiates from the neck to their fingers as a result of postural strain from sustained desk work and excessive sitting, this is what I say:
“Your nerve is like a USB connection to your computer which is your brain. Sensory nerves are responsible for giving messages about sensation (hot, cold, vibration, pressure) to the brain and the brain uses motor nerves to send messages to muscles to move. When muscles are chronically tight, they compromise your posture which compromises your nerves ability to relay those messages like a really poor USB connection. As a result, you feel numbness and tingling or pain”.
Suddenly the patient’s “inner light bulb “goes off and understands this concept much better. In the digital age, you need to think of the nerves like USB connections.
Being aware and connected to the messages that your body give you is the first step in healing. How can you correct something that you don’t understand?
My analogies are simple and are not meant to be very physiological to the point of confusion. My intention is for my patients to understand CONCEPTS not become adept in neuroanatomy (for those of you hardcore anatomists who find this analogy too simple).
Chiropractic helps to restore those connections. I also layer in myofascial work , acupuncture and exercise prescription so that proper alignment becomes a lifestyle choice.
Take care of your USB connections. Take care of your body.
It is often emphasized that balance is the key to good health, but really balance in the sense that all aspects in life have an equal part of your “energy pie” never happens. The the amount of energy that you give to each part changes in ratio with each day or season of life. For example, when I was a student, most of my waking hours were dedicated to being in class and studying. Socializing, housework, saving money, etc. took a very small portion of my energy. Is that bad? Not really. It’s realistic for that moment in time. Is it balanced? No. But was I healthy? Yes, as much as I could for that moment.
Similarly, in my phase of being a mother to two young children I am content if on top of keeping my kids happy and healthy that I can get in two days of exercise per week, sleep 4-5 hours a night , eat regularly, connect with my husband and keep my business afloat. Isn’t that nuts? Yes! It’s hard for me to swallow sometimes, but it’s as balanced as I can be for the time being. (Also note that housework didn’t even make the list).
So really, balance is elusive. Priorities shift and chaos ensues. The key to staying afloat of this chaos is the feeling and connection with being grounded.
Grounded? What the heck is that?
I would argue that most people do not even recognize that they are not grounded. Being grounded means having complete control of your breath, not being emotionally connected to the possibility of failing and having a consistent positive outlook on life. I’m touch and go with being grounded and currently I am working towards getting back there.
For me, I know I’m grounded when I can feel the ground beneath my feet. I get this feeling after a chiropractic adjustment or a yoga/pilates class. It’s very important for you to have the kinesthetic awareness of the ground beneath your feet. It means you feel stable. This stability is both figurative and literal.
I can empathize with my shallow breathing patients who feel like a “chicken running around with their head cut off”. Their minds are racing and they feel like a helium balloon floating away, disconnecting from the earth and their bodies.
Shallow breathers, return to belly breathing
Shallow breathing happens when your adrenaline is activated. Think of your adrenaline as your body’s internal espresso machine or “Red Bull”. Inherently, we have this mechanism to react to life-threatening dangers, but in the modern world we activate this hormone to meet deadlines, apease relationships and satisfy material needs. Ideally, adrenaline should be used transiently until the resolution of the stressor, however most people maintain adrenaline levels until it turns into complete disconnection with your body and eventual burn out.
Please acknowledge this: Constant shallow breathing leads to chronic tension in the neck, chest and shoulder muscles, dysfunctional ribs and anxiety. Like hyperventilating, your head is floating away like a helium balloon. Only you can keep yourself from flying away.
Pull that string
Bring yourself back to the ground by doing the following:
Belly breathing: As you inhale, your abdomen should be relaxed and your belly button should move away from your spine. Shoulder and neck muscles should be relaxed and stop gripping your jaw, eyebrows, fist, hips etc. There’s no reason for the tension!
Meditate: Visualize the connection of your feet to the ground. Imagine the helium ballon returning to the rest of your body. Use whatever imagery, (ex. creating roots from your feet into the soil) that makes sense.
Go outside. Be present. Walk barefoot and feel the breeze against your face. City people spend too much time in front of machines.
Get body work. See a chiropractor, massage therapist, osteopath, acupuncture or whomever you feel comfortable to help you release tension and reconnect with your body.
Move. Take a yoga or pilates class or move in any way that nurtures your soul. Stretch and strengthen.
PracticeGratitude. Be grateful for what your daily victories are instead of what the holes in your list are that need to be accomplished.
Here is a butterfly delivery from a kind patient of mine who has had a positive experience with butterflies and knows about my connection to them. They signal positive transformation and manifestation. I wonder what is to come?
Tonight, I watched a childhood friend of mine dance in Geometrix’s show called ” Work Vs. Passion: The Dynamic Struggle between necessity and desire”. And the theme of the show was loaded with the message: “listen to your heart “. It featured a student and a doctor who repressed their desire to dance because of the practical and necessary pursuit of a career which they believed would help them to survive in this crazy world.
I cried during this show. Firstly, because I was so happy to watch my friend and secondly, because the show represented my life. I started dancing when I was four and met my friend at this age. I am inherently a shy person, but on stage, forget it, I was in my element. But in school, I always excelled and envisioned myself as a speaker, a teacher and a healer and was intrigued with the human body. So the tension between dance and school was very present at an early age.
Yet, despite my efforts to repress my artistic passion, dance always chased me. In university, my childhood dreams of professional dance came true when I got scouted at a dance show. And in my fourth year, my wildest dreams manifested when I auditioned for the musical “The Lion King” after submitting my application to chiropractic college. I was progressing further and further in the audition and I was ready to push back my admission to chiropractic college, but ultimately, it wasn’t meant to be. Heart broken, I left the studio wondering, “what if”.
During chiropractic college, I threw away the dream of dancing again to focus on school, but a friend of mine encouraged me to go to a casting and that spiraled into commercial and television dance gigs which were practical for me because the contracts were short and I didn’t need to take time off school. From that, I became a member of ACTRA and met and worked with talented Toronto dancers who are well established choreographers today.
My last dance contract was back in 2007. I was pregnant with my first child, but I didn’t tell the director. They were all wondering why my wardrobe never fit and my little baby kept dancing in my tummy every time the music played. Today, she’s my little ballerina at 4 years old.
Now, I am a chiropractor, a pilates instructor and a mom. I love my job and am proud to say that I had complete control on how I designed my life to this point. I still love to dance.
You’ll still see me in the dance studio training in hopes that one day I’ll make it back on the stage. I miss the lights beaming on my face. I miss the feeling of weightlessness in a jump. I miss performing.
If there is one thing that I can take away as a lesson from the year 2010, it would be that nothing is certain. Every year I write a list of goals that I plan to achieve. Well this year I’m not doing that. I’ve learned that in life, things will unfold at the rate that they should and no matter how prepared you are, what you envision will not manifest if it is not the right time.
This may sound a bit pessimistic at first glance, but in fact it is not. For as far back as I can remember I’ve written lists and I’ve pretty much ticked off a lot on those lists with great efficiency. Some would say that my list is quite extensive, but my “A-type” personality disagrees. Nevertheless, I’ve evolved from a rigid list maker to one that throws her hands in the air and says, “Just let it be”.
Within the past five years, I’ve experienced many transitions in my personal, family, academic and career life. That’s just how I am. Life is not stagnant and I am grateful for that. During each transition, the degree of uncertainty can overwhelm myself and the lists fly out.
Well, no more lists for me! I vow to relinquish control so that life is much more enjoyable and meaningful.
I will be present, be grateful and take a leap of faith. (I guess I just made another list).
The season of spring not only wakes up hibernating animals from their slumber, but hibernating athletes as well. The rise in temperature brings out more people being physically active outdoors. This is a wonderful thing, but please take this word of advice: Although your mind may feel that your body is as fit as it was in its “Heyday”, it may not be. If you haven’t been consistent with your training, the reality is that your muscles atrophy (shrink) and your flexibility reduces. The same thing applies to your cardio. Your heart is a muscle and if you don’t do endurance training regularly, your ability to exercise for longer periods of time will reduce.
In a nutshell, take the following steps so that your Spring enthusiasm doesn’t lead you to injury:
Be realistic with your goals. If you ran 10K regularly in November, you may not be able to do that today. Find a training book that will give you a program to gradually increase your mileage safely.
Mind your posture. Your back, abdominals and gluts stabilize your spine and pelvis and maintain proper alignment in any activity. If these muscles are not well conditioned, you can develop injuries such as low back pain, I-T band syndrome, etc.
Cross Train. Your body adapts to the stimuli that you give it. If you sit most of the year, your body has adapted to this and will not be able to handle a new burst of activity. Engage in full body resistance training, dance, pilates/yoga and cardio to give yourself a strong and leaner body.
Get new shoes. Those kicks from the ’80s are not going to cut it. Find a good shoe that provides cushioning and support and that is SPORT SPECIFIC to your activity.
Enjoy! Don’t be too hard on yourself if your body doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was before. Realize that the body adapts and will improve with consistent training. Enjoy the wind and sun on your face as you play outdoors! Re-awaken your senses.
by Dr. Blessyl Buan, Chiropractor & Pilates Expert
They say that you can’t truly give love to another or to your work until you love yourself. Inner peace, joy, health and true happiness will not unfold until you make the steps to live a healthy lifestyle. As a treat for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share with you two personal images that have definitely opened my eyes.
Whenever I feel balanced in my life, hearts show up in my food. The above pictures are two examples of this and are NOT products of photo post production! It started when I was pregnant with my daughter 2 years ago and ever since, they show up in waves. Now, they even show up in my surroundings.
We all have personal signs that resonate inner happiness. For me they are hearts.
Take care of your body. Slow down, BREATHE, take a moment to journal, DE-CLUTTER your mind and surroundings, EXERCISE, stretch, and receive BODY WORK like massage, chiropractic or acupuncture that will help you to get IN TUNE with your body.
If you feel like you never have energy to go work out, then ask yourself what time of the day you have the most energy.
Fitness for breakfast (roll out of bed and jump into your running shoes)
If you are morning person like myself, then going for a quick run or resistance training before a big breakfast is a great way to start the day. Not only that, you’ve already ticked off fitness off your list, so you no longer have to deal with the guilt when you get home from a busy day.
Fitness for lunch
If you have a long commute to work or school, morning workouts will cut into your sleep time! So the lunch hour is a great time to squeeze in some physical activity. Pop into your local gym for a class, take a nice walk or run around the block! You can probably eat your lunch at your desk afterwards…
Fitness for dessert
If you have more energy in the late afternoon or evening, working out is a great way to blow off some steam from work, school or taking care of the house or kids.
Once you find out your prime time for activity, you can get rid of the excuses!
Do the following sound familiar? “I haven’t worked out in month. I’m just too busy.” “I haven’t eaten a vegetable or fruit in a long time. I just need carbs and coffee to get me through” “What’s a massage therapist?” “The last time I got a chiropractic adjustment was 10 years ago…”
These are all very common excuses for not taking care of yourself. Life is busy, but if you change your perspective on the value of your body and health, you will find that your schedule opens up.
Here are some tips:
Think of yourself as an elite athlete or “A-list”er. Get professional help on your side. Your personal trainer, chiropractor, massage therapist, dentist, esthetician, nutritionist and more are a team to keep you at your best.
Write it in your calendar: commiting a lifestyle change to pen, or even your twitter/facebook status gets you to follow through with your plans.
What’s your dollar value?: If you can spend money on your car, clothing or other material things easily, ask yourself how much YOU are worth in $$$. Compare that dollar value to those purchases and it will be an eye opener!