Move Minute: Chair Yoga for Back Pain

A little over a week ago, I posted six movements I call – Movement Restoration and Exploration. These six movements compose the first week of what I teach every new client to help them begin their movement practice journey.  Have you tried them?

If no,
How does your body feel? Pain? Aches? Do you want to feel better? If so, check them out and give them a try for a week and then come back to this email.

If yes,
Great! How does your body feel? Ready for week two?

Week Two: Chair Yoga for Back Pain

These three super sweet movements are a part of the second week of my teaching. It is a part of a series I call – Chair Yoga for Back Pain – Movements for the Office.

Most of us sit for 6+ hours per day (or even more). The most important place for you to move… is in the very position you spend your time. Which means your chair is one of the most important places for movement. Moving from the seated position is Vital for our long-term health and wellness!

Together, these three movements express the 3-D mobility of your spine. I have had great success using these movements personally and with clients to ease low back pain and hip pain.

An added benefit about these movements, that I love,  is how they stimulate my brain. I immediately feel like I’ve had a shot of movement caffeine. I’m more alert, present, aware, and my work productivity improves. These movements provide a serious bang for the buck.

This week’s movement challenge:

Continue practicing the original Movement Restoration and Exploration 2-3 times per day.

AND…

Read and reread the instruction and then do all three Chair Yoga movements every day, performing 3-5 reps per movement once every 50-90 minutes that you are in the seated position. Once you have these movements down, it should only take 1-3 minutes to go through this flow. We all have 1-3 minutes to spare throughout the day. This should not take away from your day. In fact, it will give you back more time.

If you experience pain, resistance, or have any questions, please feel free to send a comment to the Youtube video or contact me directly.

Seated cat cow

I love this movement because I can feel the full segmental flexion and extension of my spine. And when I can’t because of back tension or pain… my body knows the movements… and these movements can help release the tension… reducing the pain.

This can be done with head held in extension or allowing full flexion similar to traditional quadrupedal cat/cows. I also like to add in head and neck mobility in both positions.

Seated side body

I love how this movement lengthens my spine in lateral extension without moving the opposite side into lateral flexion… and I can feel it from my fingertips, throughout my arm and shoulder, through my low back side body, into hips, down to the knee. This is a position of length that our bodies rarely experience… and desperately need.

Seated rotation

I find the focus of this movement awakens the relationship between my thoracic spine to hips. I can feel spine move segment by segment… I can sense which joints are allowing movement and which are holding it down. Once I find a good spot… I will softly move in and out of it… encouraging length… without forcing it. It should feel like a soft stretch… not massive.

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Life After Hip Replacement Surgery

The Big Suck

Life after hip replacement surgeryA client of mine, a fantastic woman in her 60’s who loves volunteering at the art museum, came in to see me to improve her life after hip replacement surgery (This was her second major replacement surgery–she had had a knee replacement many years prior).

Due to chronic pain, she was no longer able to maintain her role for the museum. When pain takes away movement, it creates a belief system that this is the new normal… This is life after hip replacement surgery! It is a place of hopelessness. I call it the “Big Suck”! 

She arrived at her first visit with a cane, unable to bear weight, stand, or walk without the cane due to the hip pain. She had already completed 6-12 weeks of postoperative physical therapy which not only didn’t help but actually caused the pain to worsen. 

We began our work with Movement Restoration and Exploration, focusing on simple ground-based movements to improve the pain-free function of the hips and spinal mobility. We went through a step-by-step process to strengthen her hips; build movement function up to a standing position, and then slowly improved her hip stability to the point she was able to let go and walk without the cane. It took several months, and she has been moving without the cane for over a year now.

New Life After Hip Replacement Surgery

I wish you could have seen her face when she ditched her cane to the dustbin. It was a moment in which her life changed. It was profound. These are the moments which make me love the work I do. Now she is able to spend 4-6 hours on her feet, giving tours and teaching about art. She is back to the life she loves.

Now that she’s ditched the cane, we have continued to work on practical movement skills, such as getting up and down off the floor in a variety of ways; squatting; sitting down into a chair without “falling” or “plopping”; standing up without bracing or using momentum heaving herself up. These are skills that may seem simple on the surface, but when you’re in pain, you lose the ability to do them. And when these skills come back to life… I really cannot express the empowerment that I get to witness. It is simply awe-inspiring and amazing.

The work we did wasn’t complicated. It wasn’t “hard.” It was simple, somewhat basic, and often tedious. It was also highly effective because she was consistent. She added in the daily homework like a boss; gradually improving her movement, and the best part–changing her life in the process.

You see, this client thought the pain was forever, that it was her new normal. Imagine not being able to walk without support. Imagine regaining that freedom, and how amazing you would feel. Imagine re-discovering parts of your body that you believed were lost due to age and old habits! 

It is your turn

You too can experience similar life-change, and even better, you can get it for Free!

This Friday, I am launching an exciting new, FREE program that can lead you into better, more sustainable movement practices. Whether you’re struggling with pain or just wanting to build a better foundation for movement, this online content is for you.

Want to ensure that you get the content when it launches

Subscribe and share

Movement Restoration and Exploration

Do you have chronic pain? Do you have a strong desire to move, but don’t know where to start? Or every time you start the newest greatest workout, do you end up injured within the first few weeks? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then I hope to inspire you to move your body in a new way.

New Program Launching Friday!

I am incredibly excited to share my life-changing movement practice with you.

This Friday, I will send out the first installment of a practice I call Movement Restoration and Exploration. It will be a series of seven movement videos to help you awaken your human being. Each week, I will send out a new movement series. 

These movements are the first lessons of my teachings. They are my daily movements. They are the starting point of what I teach every client who walks through my doors. 

For years, pain and injury was the story of my life. Movement restoration and exploration have changed my relationship with pain and in the process changed my life. I have also witnessed the lives of my clients change with these movements. (I will tell you the story of one such client tomorrow). I believe that they have the potential to change your life too. 

To ensure that you get the content when it launches, click over to my YouTube page and subscribe now! https://www.youtube.com/c/TheArtofFitnessAustin

 

Movement to Change Your Life

A movement to change your life. It has been a fun, exciting, and full summer! After getting an A in Physics during the first summer term, I decided to take a break from school over the second summer term. The first extended break from school I’ve had since I started back almost two years ago. Also, over the past month, my son was in Kentucky, so I’ve had a ton of extra time on my hands. I chose to spend that time wisely… I decided to play. I had no agenda, no itinerary, and just engaged in playfulness. Playful with my time, my attitude, my schedule, my body, and my work. It has been some of the most productive time of my life. 

Movement to Change Your LifeOut of this playfulness, I began exploring and sharing my movement work on social media; and accidentally created a whole new branch of my business — teaching short-form content via Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook, with the goal of helping you develop a life-changing movement practice. This is my attempt to change the world, one person at a time, by teaching and inspiring you to move more, move better, and thrive in your life. Through these online outlets, I am offering my teachings, learnings, methodologies, everything movement/health/lifestyle related that I have learned in the more than 20 years in the fitness industry.

My Commitment to you

Over the coming months and years, I am committed to sharing everything I know with you. Which is why I hired a new team member! JT Street will be working with me to help level up our video content and social reach. This week we begin shooting a month of primary video.

Beginning in September, I will post a weekly beginner movement series called the Monday Movement Flow of the Week (click this link to see the trial run of this series). It will have better instructions, cleaner editing, and easier accessibility. I am incredibly excited to share this new work with you!

This coming semester will be heavy with my regular client workload, single parenting, and a full-time school schedule with twice a weeknight classes. For now, because I believe in this, I am funding this position out of my own pocket. I currently only have enough to invest to keep JT on board for three months. For this to be successful, I will need your help! If you find value in what I am sharing and want to see it continue, we will need JT as a permanent member of the team. Once my fall semester starts, I won’t have time, or money, to keep this level of content creation going all by myself.

Gift Economy

I’m passionate about changing the world through movement and developing the concepts of creating community through giving of ourselves to each other.

My teaching is a gift to you, for free, with no expectation of money or value in return. It is a practice called gift economy. I’m doing this because, as I have embraced giving, it has opened up my heart and my life in extraordinary ways. Not only has giving touched me personally, I have witnessed how it inspires and changes others. To give and receive from the heart is revolutionary and life-changing.

My hope is that you too will join me in Gift Economy; to become inspired to contribute your own gifts, and by doing so, inspire those around you whose lives you touch. The world needs more of this, more giving and less taking, and you get to lead the way.

A Movement to Change Your Life

Follow my lead and start moving every day. Watch my videos and read the blogs; follow me socially (Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, https://tao-fit.com) and share it with others; and start moving your amazing body. If you have questions along the way… please ask. Your questions are the same questions most people have when they are getting started. The more you ask, the more helpful content I will be able to create and share.

How You Can Give Back

Check out my Patreon page

Patreon provides a way for you to support me. Together, we can help create an incredible movement community. To give back, you can donate to Patreon; purchase something awesome from one of my affiliate links on the recommended products page of my website; or share my videos, blogs, and other content.

Join the movement tribe

Subscribe and share:
to my newsletter at https://tao-fit.com
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https://www.youtube.com/c/TheArtofFitnessAustin
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Chair Yoga for Back Pain

Chair Yoga for Back PainIf you are like me, you experience occasional to chronic back tension or pain. If you want to feel better, you need to move better. The most important place for you to move your body is the very place you spend the most amount of time… your chair. If you sit to make a living… you need to move from that very seat you’re on now. And not just a little… you need to do it often… throughout the day… the more the better… Chair Yoga for Back Pain.

A big goal of mine is to teach you how to integrate 60-120 minutes of cumulative movement… performed in multiples of 30 seconds, 1-5 minute increments, and a 20-30 minute movement sessions… every day, including your preferred sports, activities, and hobbies.

This may sound like a lot, but It is totally doable. The good thing is that the movements you need to do don’t take much time or effort.  And the best part is that they provide an amazing payoff.  As long as you do them Pain-Free, I’m certain that you will feel much better physically and mentally. Your work productivity will improve. You’ll feel increased energy, reduce pain and injury; and so much more.

Monday Movement Flow of the Week

Below is a three-part video series of super sweet chair movements. When combined, they make for a healthier spine; ease back tension and pain; as well as provide an overall enormous bang for your movement buck. If you’re not already practicing full three-dimensional spinal movement, then I suggest starting here.

I will be practicing these movements with you. I will post my daily flow on Instagram and Facebook. These movements are important for your body. In my videos and descriptions, you will see a few of the great feeling variations of movement you can add to this very simple flow.

My challenge to you is… Do these movements, NON-PAINFULLY, every day, at least once/sitting day – up to once for every 1-2 hours that you sit. Keep the repetitions low 3-5 reps per movement. Once you have the movements down, it should only take 1-3 minutes to go through this flow. I’m more concerned with frequency throughout the day than massive reps at any one point during the day.

Begin the movement exploration easy and reach a little further with each extension, so that your last is the longest. REMINDER: Pain-Free! Try it out for a week and let me know how your body feels.

Chair Yoga for Back Pain

No Pain:
In each of these movements. If you feel pain. Stop first!!! Tell me second. Send me a message or leave a comment and tell me what you’re feeling. I can’t promise to have the solution, but I may be able to point you in a helpful direction. I will be addressing pain in some upcoming posts… If you don’t want to miss them… subscribe to my blog on my website (on the annoying pop-up window to the bottom right corner).

Seated Cat/Cow

Breathing:
Early on, I like to focus my exhale with spinal flexion of the cat… and inhale with the extension of the cow. Paying attention to the fullness of my breath. Can I fill my chest? Ribs? Belly? And pelvic floor? Do I feel tension or resistance? I breathe into it softly until the tension opens and releases into a fuller breathe… then I reverse my breath… and feel for more tension.

I love this movement because I can feel the full segmental flexion and extension of my spine. And when I can’t because of back tension or pain… my body knows the movements… and these movements can help release the tension… reducing the pain.

This can be done with head held in extension or allowing full flexion similar to traditional quadrupedal cat/cows. I also like to add in head and neck mobility in both positions.

 

Seated Side Body Lengthening
2 of 3 Chair Yoga videos

Breathing:
Pay attention to the fullness of your breath. Can you fill your chest? Ribs? Belly? And pelvic floor? Do you feel tension or resistance? Breathe into it softly until the tension opens and releases into a fuller breathe… Next… reverse your breath… and feel for more tension.

I love this movement for how it lengthens my spine in lateral extension without moving the opposite side into lateral flexion… and I can feel it from my fingertips, throughout my arm and shoulder, through my low back side body, into hips, down to the knee. This is a position of length that our bodies rarely experience… and desperately need.

Seated Rotation

Breathing:
Same as above.

I love this movement for its focus on the relationship between the thoracic spine to hips. I can feel spine move segment by segment… I can sense which joints are allowing movement and which are holding it down. Once I find a good spot… I will softly move in and out of it… encouraging length… without forcing it. It should feel like a soft stretch… not massive.

Did you found these videos helpful? Please check out my Patreon page to learn how you can help support this work.

Please pardon the editing. With your help, I am working on hiring a content manager 😊

This is important… Movement

I cannot express the value and importance of this… as a starting point for developing a movement practice… This is important… Movement! A daily full body joint by joint check-in… assessment… preparation… recovery tool.

It doesn’t matter what else you do for movement… Yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, martial arts, parkour, MovNat, climbing, running, or even just sitting in front of the computer (yes that is a movement practice too). This is where you learn about you… how you move… why you move… your limitations, fears, anxieties, excitements, passions, and so much more.

You are a human mover… this is where it begins… You Must Move… every day… even just a little.

I didn’t feel well last night, canceled plans, and laid down in bed at 8p. I didn’t get up until 9a this morning… Thank god for an easy Saturday work day. Upon getting out of bed, my back and knees ached… which with my injury history is pretty normal. This daily practice is what keeps me moving at the capacity I do considering all the damage I have done to my body already in this life.
This is what keeps me alive… not in the life support kind of way… but in the engaged, mentally, intellectually, emotional, spiritual way. If I don’t move… at least a little bit every day… I feel a little piece of me dry up and die inside. Moving is living support.

My back feels better… My knees ache less… My heart is full… My mind engaged… How do you feel this morning???

This is important… Movement!

#movement #movewell#movemore #movementculture#movementlifestyle#movementismedicine #movementquality#yoga #crossfit #climbing #pilates#movnat #parkour #mobility#jointmobility #spine #spinalmobility #hip#hipmobility #knee #kneepain #backpain

A Day of Playing – Checking in to Move Well

No school, no clients, no kid…

It’s a totally free and clear day. What am I going to do??? I am spending the day playing at Austin Boulding Project… checking in, writing, shooting videos, climbing, experiments with Instagram stories, and whatever else catches my fancy.

I’m extra excited… I replaced my 15-year-old climbing shoes which were falling apart with these @sportiva.climbing shoes.

Checking in - New shoes

 

When your day is devoted to playing… Where do you begin?

I begin by checking in.

I woke up with some minor aches at the medial right knee with walking and general right side low back tension/tightness/restriction. Considering the swelling in my knee from last week and an active day yesterday with mountain biking… I pretty much expected this. Nothing feels more inflamed or painful than usual… but I do want to check in with my body before pushing myself.

At austinboulderingproject, they have a nice fitness room setup with a floor movement section and massage tools. I love using the foam roller as a part of checking in with where I am holding tension in my body. Things I noticed during this 10-minute foam roller session… Right side calf tension and right side low back. I give an extra bit of love to these areas… not for release… not to fix anything… but more to just bring blood flow and attention to how I’m moving through these areas of my body. This section of the video is only sped up by 2 to show how slow and soft I am on the foam roller.

Also, considering I will probably be climbing a fair amount, I make sure to roll out my forearms… just enough to bring blood flow.

Checking in continued… hip to spine mobility

After foam rolling, I am checking in with full body joint by joint mobility. This is an exploration of how all the pieces are playing with the whole.

I generally begin with my hips… moving through shin box to pigeon. I am noticing the tightness of my right nip in external rotation and its relationship to the right low back tension/tightness/restrictions… and play with this a bit… feeling… can these two individual parts connect… can they play well together. It is an easing and opening into movement.

This video is only sped up 2x… I’m hoping the slowness of the movement can be seen.

Checking in Continued… fingers, wrists, and forearms

Since I’m just getting back into climbing after a long layoff and I have a history of shoulder and elbow issues (seven months of elbow tendonitis last year), my fingers and forearms are a huge weak link. I want to develop a healthy climbing practice that will last me the rest of my life…

This is simple joint mobility work for the fingers, wrists, and forearms. Again, I’m checking in to make sure everything works. After climbing last week, I’ve noticed some minor joint compression in my right third and fourth fingers at the DIP and PIP joints. It’s not enough to cause worry… but enough to let me know these areas need my attention.

This video is sped up by 2.

Checking in Continued… Spine

How do I find the movements of gait when my gait exhibits dysfunction?

My low back is sore… tight… achy… especially the right side low back. This is the norm. Since the most recent knee surgery, I don’t express my gait pattern fully through my left knee. This means I also don’t express my gait pattern fully through the right side lumbar and thoracic spine (as well as other places). This means my gait is a dysfunctional movement pattern.

These are some of my core work for segmental three-dimensional movements through my spine. This is what keeps me active. When I don’t do this… I hurt… I hurt bad. I used to have such bad back pain that I would be laid up for weeks from a single episode. These types of movements… every day… keeps the pain away from the 7’s, 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s out of ten… and more around 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s.

This video is sped up 6x. I am moving slowly… feeling each segment of my spine moving in all three planes of motion.

Checking in continued… toes, ankles, knees, hips, shoulder, and spine…

Checking in… feeling into my structure… taking the toes, ankles, knees and hips, shoulders, and spine joints through some loading patterns… checking in to feeling… is there pain? Stiffness? Restriction?

I noticed the left knee to foot feels a bit disconnected in the squat variations and in the tripod with rotation when loaded on the right shoulder … something I will keep focus on throughout the day.

My body feels much improved from the stiffness and achiness of this morning. I’m still noticing a little knee tenderness… I don’t want to aggravate this… so I’ll continue to check in with it throughout the day.
Now… it’s time to climb

One more before I go climb. I’ve been sitting writing up my movement series for a while.

Just because I am sitting… doesn’t mean I’m not moving. Even as I sit… I express movement… feeling my back, neck, breathing, shoulders… stagnation is a sign of death. I am alive… and movement is my expression of life.

Foam roller therapy session to relieve knee pain, inflammation, and mild swelling

For over 15 years, foam roller therapy has been a key supplemental tool in my movement practice. The Trigger Point Grid, as well as a softer foam roller, Theracane, and various massage balls, are regulars in my sessions with clients and in my personal self-care. I attribute much of the healing and recovery I’ve experienced in life — from a motorcycle accident, multiple car accidents, concussions, dislocations, six knee surgeries and much more — to integrating foam roller therapy into my personal movement practice.

Over the last 15+ years of foam roller therapy, I have learned to reconnect with my structure… holding tension only where tension is needed and releasing tension where it is not needed. Lessons that resonate strongly with me in all aspects of life: intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Foam roller therapy session to relieve knee pain, inflammation, and mild swelling

History:
Part of recovering from six knee surgeries is dealing with the occasional inflammation and swelling. I did a 45-minute moderate-intensity hike earlier in the day. By evening, both knees were aching and I felt capsular tightness from mild swelling in the right knee. This has been a chronic recurrence since the knee surgery a year and a half ago.

An interesting thing… I actually feel pretty good about this. Months ago, inflammation and swelling were chronic. I was experiencing it every day. It was a real drag. This is the first issue of inflammation and swelling in over two months. A significant improvement. Before it was every two to three weeks. Also, I feel pretty confident in the tools that I have which brought me here.

Session:
My goal in a full body foam roller therapy sessions is to seek balance. I want to work both sides of the body, front and back, upper and lower; and I pay attention to the areas that speak loudest.

I move softly… non-painfully… non-forcefully. I trust my body. I am listening… not dictating. My body has a story to tell me. It is a story of my pain… how it has shaped me… continues to shape me. When I listen to my body… I can hear the story of healing and recovery. The goal on the roller is not to punish… it is to reconnect. It is not to fix… it is to allow.

I don’t do this type of intensive “deeper” tissue massage every day. I aim to do 30-60 minute full body foam roller therapy sessions once a week to once per month. If I have pain or inflammation, I may increase the frequency to multiple times per week.

If you don’t have much experience with massage or self-massage, I do not suggest beginning here. I would be happy to answer any questions and create more videos to help you get started.

This video is sped up four times. You can slow down or speed up the video in the Youtube settings.

You can order The Trigger Point Grid or a Theracane by clicking on one of the affiliate links. If you make a purchase after you click, I get a commission. Thank you for your support. The Art of Fitness.

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Movement Calibration and Reset – Jul 9

I finished the first summer semester of Physics with an A. I’ve decided to take the rest of summer off from school so I can focus on some business ideas, movement, and most importantly… myself.

My mom was in town last week. It was a really good visit… and a challenging week overall. Anyone who knows my history… understands that these visits are ripe and fruitful for introspection and big feelings. This visit, combined with parenting and relationship challenges, was not a disappointment.

Whenever I get into the big feels, it is easy to take the focus away from other aspects of myself… breathing, meditating, journaling, and moving my body. When this happens I tend to feel stuck. The practice of moving internally and externally is so important to keeping the emotional energy flowing. When this happens I need to recalibrate. Today is restoring focus on moving, feeling, flowing, surrendering, and just being. It opens me up to trust and gratitude… and that I am right where I need to be.

My heart stirs.
The deeper I dive…
the older the wounds I find buried within.
My heart has been locked up tight…
Prison for a lifetime…
I don’t want to hold onto this any longer.

Movement is healing…
Movement is relief…
Movement pushes me deeper,
exposing older wounds.

To move exposes pain,
I am forced to feel and left with the choice…
bury it, lock it up tighter, and stop movement…
or surrender…
dive deeper…
and free my Self.
I will always choose freedom over confinement.

Neck Pain Self Care Using Thera-cane

In this video, I demonstrate how to use self-massage to work out tightness/restriction in the neck using a combination of movement assessment and a Thera-cane.

In the short time since making the video, my neck has improved. There was still a niggle of tightness at the base of the right side occipitals that I missed while filming. Probably due to being a bit rushed. I have since used the Thera-cane on that spot and my neck feels much improved.

I hope you find this video helpful. Below is a link for the Thera-cane. Please leave a comment if you have a question about this video or suggestions for a future demonstration.

Link to Thera-Cane on AmazonNeck Pain Self Care Using Thera-cane

This is an Amazon affiliate link. I am sharing for two reasons 1) because I love the product and 2) If you make a purchase after clicking it, I will get a commission. This is a great way to help support The Art of Fitness. Thank you for your support.

Neck Discomfort Self Care Using Thera-cane