Monday, 25 November 2013

A fresh take on stretching

After presenting at the Stretch Therapy Community 2013 Convention, my ideas needed to be written up for others to continue expanding this fresh take on stretching. For the the last few months I have been playing with reciprocal inhibition, stretching the agonist by maximally contracting the antagonist or other muscles. The aim is to enhance stretching the agonist and simultaneously strengthening the antagonist or other muscles. 

From Wikipedia:

Reciprocal inhibition describes the process of muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. Joints are controlled by two opposing sets of muscles, extensors and flexors, which must work in synchrony for smooth movement. When a muscle spindle is stretched and the stretch reflex is activated, the opposing muscle group must be inhibited to prevent it from working against the resulting contraction of the homonymous muscle. This inhibition is accomplished by the actions of an inhibitory interneuron in the spinal cord.

By maximally contracting the antagonist, simultaneously focusing on maximal relaxation to the agonist, I have been able to make a significant leap in range of motion, plus strengthening the antagonist by using the flexibility tension in the agonist. 

Initially the concept was doing my head in! Persistence opened up a new experience in honing my focus to the internal experience of my body. I identified the areas in my body where there were huge differences between strength and flexibility. My aim was to bring balance back in the body by being both strong and flexible. 

For example flexing the forearm muscles to stretch the extensor forearm muscles. Another example is to flex the Posterior Chain of muscles using the strength the Anterior Chain, or Superficial Back Line versus Superficial Front Line. You can see this application can be applied in a multitude of ways. In my next post I will expand the idea of using other muscles apart from the antagonist. 

Standing on my left leg, the quads and hip flexors on my right leg had a hard time lifting to 90 degrees, yet the right calf and hamstrings are loose enough for me to place my head on my right knee in a seated forward bend. My right hip flexor strength was poor. Over time I have been able to improve the strength by lifting a bent right leg to chest, then straightening to full extension whilst maintaining as much height as possible. Using 3 second holds, varying the vector to full abduction to the side or taking the leg behind, using 3 rounds with the right leg never touching the floor, my balance and strength improved. The flexibility and strength ratio is less polarized. Of course I also practice on my left side. You can also vary the holding time, how many rounds or adding figure eights and shapes for joint mobility. 

This little daily routine just takes a keen focus on reaching your strength and flexibility limits. In a few weeks you will notice the difference. In a month you will be pleased with your own gains. 

Move smoothly, with grace, Cherie

Thursday, 24 October 2013

How can I serve today?

Albert Schweitzer said it well: “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

I woke up today thinking "How can I serve today?" If it didn't matter about being paid, being right, being politically correct, being normal, being unafraid of other people's opinions, what would I do?

It's not what I should do but what I will do, from moment to moment. Can my actions make someone happy, heal a heart or shift a person into a place of love?

I find it easy to be softly spoken and kind to strangers. It's my partner and family members who really present the challenge! I feel the surge of anger, the annoyance, the irritation so swiftly flushing my face red. The stinging retort, the snarl, the verbal cuts cannot be taken back once uttered but they teeter behind my teeth. And then Awareness comes in and I respond with the end in mind, love wipes away the nastiness. 

The peace and harmony I wish to preserve is a still pond.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Power of a Kiss. 

I had the pleasure of baby sitting Sophie Wardman-Bui, 17 months old. She was a dream to take care of, no tears, no tantrums, always quick to smile. There is no artifice with a child this young. She radiated pure trust, joy and love. When I was busy doing dishwashing she would walk up to me and pat my legs to get my attention. With upraised arms and big brown eyes, she would beseech me for a cuddle. I immediately scooped her up in a big hug. Her beaming satisfied smile melted my heart. 

If I was 'asleep' to the moment I might have told her to wait until I was ready but the power of the moment would be completely lost for her and for me. It is a wonderful feeling when an innocent pure love is directed at you. Once she was restored she had the confidence to launch herself off heights more than half her own height with glee. She literally bounced off the furniture!

If she hurt herself you could see her face furrow in contemplation as to whether she should cry or not. I believe if I did not make a fuss she would take my lead and pull herself together. Every bump was instantly healed with a kiss. 
"All better!" Fingers, elbows and arms were proffered for more kisses. I was rewarded with a smile. 

Now how marvellous it would be if we could heal back pain, knee pain with just a kiss "All better now!"

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Helping or hindering?

I am concerned for my Dad. He is going to enjoy his 74th birthday in a couple of weeks. As a robust younger man, he ran his own car mechanic workshop, grew his own vegetables, fixed everything from plumbing to furniture, cooked and cleaned with verve, and played tennis with enthusiasm. My Dad seemed to be able to handle anything.

Lately this has not been the case. He is cranky, chronically sleepy, argumentative and forgetful. I am worried he is showing signs of dementia but he has been recently cleared by his doctor of this. What has been diagnosed is diminished hearing, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. He is over weight and prone to tripping, often falling to his knees. His reflexes and comprehension have slowed causing him to lose his temper in his frustration to cover his embarrassment or misunderstanding. My Dad seems suddenly old.

My Mum is always chiding and scolding him and he responds with resentment and words of blame directed mainly at her. Mum swings from total self sacrifice to weeping fury. I am often called upon to make peace, sort out Dad's paperwork and find a solution to the latest problem. Even though my help is appreciated I have a feeling there is more that I can do but what is it?

I heard a woman telling the story of her father's experience with dementia. She found that when she engaged her father to help another person, he seemed to regain his self respect and sense of value. He was less difficult to manage even though his level of dementia remained the same. This started me thinking about whether I was truly helping my Dad or was I hindering him?

It is easy to undermine, emasculate, devalue another human being with just a few words. The tongue can cut to the heart. My own heart aches to think I have inflicted unintentional paper cuts to my Dad's current state of mind with a few curt remarks, impatience or being smart arsed.

From this moment I intend to engage my Dad to help me. If I can give him purpose and value, the time and space to contribute in any way he can, to show him true thankfulness for his generosity, to listen and to talk to him without criticism, maybe just maybe I can lead back to the land of the living versus sliding into the empty spaces of his mind.

I love and treasure my Dad. 

I am going to make his life sweet.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Micro mobility caresses from the inside

I occasionally attended Dave Wardman's stretch class. He is going through a gentle phase, taking great care with the quality of the movement versus focusing on the aquisition of flexibility. 

There is great value to reducing movements to tiny ranges of motion. Contrary to what you may think, your awareness expands as you focus on the quality of the how you move, where you feel the sensation and what emotions may be revealed. A bonus in my opinion.

When I am practicing a movement, polishing off the clumsy corners, the smooth curve of the arcs and spirals I create with my arms, my legs, my head tilts, my spine give me much pleasure. Pretending I am undulating like sea-grass, flowing with water, discharges accumulated tension. 

Micro mobility practice is caressing from inside the body.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Greg Norman's work ethic is tops!

Australian Story on Greg Norman Part 1
Monday 2 September

GREG NORMAN: "I was never an arrogant player or person, I’m never, I don’t have a whole lot of ego. Actually I can’t tolerate people with egos, so I know I don’t have an ego. But at the same time I was very confident about how I could play the game of golf. There wasn’t a shot I didn’t think I could play because there wasn’t a shot I didn’t really practice."

That last sentence rang through my mind! What made Greg Norman such a fabulous golfer was more than self belief, talent and good luck, it was sheer hard work. If I really want to create my dreams and goals I was going to have to practice the very things I didn't like to do. 

I am adept at hiding my weaknesses but in the last 3 months I have been facing my fears and dabbling at turning my weaknesses into skills. So far I have not died from embarrassment or failure. Instead I have shocked myself into actually enjoying the process of getting a tiny bit more proficient with each practice. There is nothing wrong with being fallible or imperfect. I stopped comparing myself to others. I only have this moment to live, truly live!

Mastery, craftsmanship, the spirit of the artisan, is where I would like to take stretching and moving, and this will take a mountain of practice to embody. To make movements fluid, agile and elegant takes more practice, and more practice and more practice. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Massage should be magic

I promised myself a massage every week for the month of August. Surely as a massage therapist I should not have to force myself to enjoy the very thing I am making my living from. To avoid being stale in my practice I chose a different therapist every week for variety and to experience what is available in Sydney. Today I had my fifth massage.

The first massage was at a beauty spa. Beautiful warm clean room, from a woman who had less than 2 years experience. She had a firm and caring touch. Sometimes too strong but with experience will learn to trust her technique. I liked her.

The second massage was in a different spa. Very beautiful space, warm clean room with a en suite shower and toilet. A foot bath started the massage. The massage followed a Balinese routine but it was enjoyable all the same. There was a lot of attention to customer service. I will definitely be back here.

The third massage was in a TAFE student clinic. I marveled at how nice the set up was compared to when I was studying. Not much noise privacy as you can hear your neighbours. The student was competent but didn't convey the feeling that he enjoyed what he was doing.

The fourth massage was also in a TAFE student clinic. Her handshake was slack and limp, yet her massage was excellent. The client gets their first sense of you when you shake hands. It is so important to make first impressions count - you only get 1 chance! Faking self confidence is better than sending the wrong message entirely!

The fifth massage was in one of those ubiquitous Chinese massage shops that dot the CBD. No handshake, not much spoken English, dim clean room with a dour atmosphere and curtained doorway, no music. I requested a 30 minute foot massage. Shoes and socks off only, I roll my pants up past my knees. I lie down on a bench with a thin towel for warmth. The lady dons plastic gloves and applies baby oil to my feet. It is indifferent and lack luster. $35 goodbye.

This entire experience has been enlightening for me. The simple niceties, courtesies, cleanliness, warmth and care prove to me that customer service wins hands down over price. Do that extra bit and you can create raving customer fans through a special experience. Massage can be magic!

Touch my heart, Cherie

Saving my thoughts

Welcome to my first blog. You will read about my feelings and thoughts about how I see the world, what fascinates me, amuses me, inspires me. 

I have so many good ideas that should be shared. I don't believe my discoveries belong just to me.

Stretching and mobility play is what keeps me rolling around in this body with ease and grace. Strength work has really transformed my perception of what I can do. Glute activation has eliminated feet, knee and back pain! It has only taken me 49 years to finally 'get it'! SQUEEZE THAT BUTT CHERIE!

I am constantly delighted by beautiful things and experiences. Though I believe my rare moments of extreme anger should be fully experienced to appreciate the contrasts in Life. 

Bring it on Baby!
Cher xxx