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.

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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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Tight and Achy Right Hip and Low Back – July 2, 2018

My right hip and right side low back are achy. The anterior compartment of my right hip feels compressed with tight passive and active range of motion. I feel it all the way down to the lateral compartment of my right foot and up into my right side low back (multifidi, quadratus lumborum, psoas region. It has been building up over the course of a few weeks. I’ve been so Go! Go! Go! with school lately, that I haven’t taken the proper time to work on it. I’ve been moving quite a bit lately, however with less focus on restorative/explorative movement. Tonight is time to put in that focus.

I felt some specific spots of restriction on both sides of my neck and right forearm as I was moving, so I did some self-massage using hands and went back to challenge the movements. The restrictions eased up and my neck and forearm moved easier. I love how my body can tell me the exact spots to work on.

Movement Session

I went into this session with no preconceived idea of what it would look like. Instead, I simply followed what my body presented. My good friend and brilliant movement teacher, Melody Benton – Instagram: Movement Goddess sent me the video below posted by Abby Corriveau – Instagram: Feminine Badass.

In the video, Abby is instructing how to sit both hips to the ground in the “shin box” position using a tool. I cannot place both hips to the ground in this position. I’ve been questioning whether this is a good goal position to pursue both for my clients and myself. My concern is that pushing positions or stretches have the potential to create instability in the system… specifically through ligament laxity. It’s a concern, but I haven’t really formulated a firm opinion  Considering how tight my hips have been, I decided to give this a try tonight.

I noticed a pretty good difference in hip mobility; specific to the shin box position. I wasn’t able to sit both hips to the floor, but I felt closer. I’m not sold on whether having access to this hip mobility is good for my body in the long haul, but will definitely add it in over the next few weeks to feel how it may potentially benefit my body.

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I installed a rock climbing board today. I recently went to Crux climbing gym in south Austin. I haven’t climbed in years. I instantly remembered how much I love rock climbing.  I very quickly found a bunch of weakness in my climbing. Before I even made it home from the gym, I decided to add it into my home training. The next day I picked ordered the Metolius Simulator 3D wall mounted training board (Amazon affiliate link). I will be slowly adding more climbing tools to the wall.

Tonight, I worked a little on finger grip (huge weakness). I would have done more, but during the install process,  I burned two of my fingertips today and didn’t want to aggravate the blisters it too much. Overall, the session felt great.

 

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Knee Therapy Movement Meditation

In this session, I’m focusing on moving and feeling. Being in pain takes an emotional toll. It is real. No matter how strong we tell ourselves we are… we also can feel weak and vulnerable. I find it is important to be real and honest about this aspect of movement. Emotional movement is equally as important in physical movement when developing a movement practice.

Knee Therapy Movement Meditation

It is Sunday morning and the last day of Spring Break. I’m feeling the need to nurture my body. Tomorrow I am back to the parenting/school/work schedule. My knee feels much better compared to Wednesday when I hurt it. It is close to being back to how it felt on Tuesday… which is still far from where I want it to be.

Dealing with a structural pain issue is super frustrating. I can do a ton to improve functional issues, but I can’t change my structure. The medial joint capsule of my left knee has a structural issue. It is hard to know which movements are good for it and which ones will aggravate it. A movement may be good for my knee on Monday and bad on Wednesday. Which means I have to listen really well to my body… every day… with every movement… This is challenging. Sometimes I want to cut loose and just move… move hard and move fast. Sometimes I miss moving how used to be capable of moving… before injuries started mounting on top of each other.

I have to remind myself that it is ok to feel frustrated… that it’s ok to be angry with my former self and the decisions I made. It’s ok to feel… even when feeling doesn’t feel good. But it is also important to surrender these feelings. They are not me… not who I am. It’s something I am holding and I can just as easily let it go as I can pull it closer. My choice is to let it go and feel deeper. When I feel deeper… I feel deeply connected. I get glimpses of the larger orchestrations of life. I feel forgiveness and acceptance towards myself and my body. I feel an incredible amount of gratitude and pride; that considering what my body has been through; I can still do half the cool stuff I able to do… and it could be so much worse.

I love that I get to work all this stuff out physically as well as emotionally. By the end of the session, my body feels more mobility and stability, and my heart feels more open, accepting, and willing to persevere.

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Experiencing Depth Through my Movement

Something I love about these movement sessions is that it forces me to slow down… breathe… and reflect. An opportunity to lay down my sword, take a break from the ongoing day to day struggle with life, step back and view the bigger picture, and simply become the observer in this human existence I find myself in. I am experiencing depth through my movement.

Movement is my bridge between the external physical world in which I bump up against, constantly out of control; and the internal world that is strictly me, the only place in which I have any ability to control. And I say control very loosely. The only thing I get to control is what I hold on to and what I let go.

When I breathe deeply, move deeply, feel deeply, and observe I get to see all things I’ve been holding onto that really don’t serve me.

It is in these moments of reflection that the beginnings of change take place. It’s just the percolating point of change… not the change itself. The change comes when I take this new knowledge and apply it in the real world where it matters.

The real world being the place where my internal slams up against the external. How I react when I’m frustrated at my son; when I get called out by a loved one; when someone cuts me off in traffic; or when I’m angry with myself because I’m not perfect. The more I apply what I learn in the laboratory of my movement practice, the more my external world reflects what I see from this internal world… and it’s beautiful. This is where I see my purpose. This is where I am allowed to fall, cry, yell, and fail. This is where I learn to live my purpose.

Man, once I get deeply into a place of feeling surrendered, I get to see a completely different viewpoint of my humanness. I see the convergence of Science, God, and a Conscious Spirituality (I can’t think of a better term for it). It is an awe-inspiring place. My goal is to one day be able to live from this place in my day to day existence… Not just my laboratory.

I call these sessions Movement Exploration. It is still Movement Therapy, but through adding in the exploratory and flow. I am feeling into my physical self-allowing my body to dictate where and how to move. It is a slow, unforced unraveling. I’m feeling out for restrictions in my movement system that are out of balance on the opposite side. Another thing I love about these sessions is that no two are alike. I let go of any preconceived notion of how I’m going to move. It is always changing, which makes sense when I think of how the way I move one day to another is also never the same. Why would the way I feed my body self-care movement be any different?

How do you experiencing depth through your movement?

 

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How I Move with a Tight Neck and Knee Pain -Feb 8 – 4x speed

This has been a challenging week. Not in a bad way, but in that way a schedule can feel completely overwhelming where you feel like you have no time to eat, breathe, sleep, or move.  It was a challenging enough week that I decided to drop one of my classes to ease my semester load. My health has to be a priority. Overall, my body feels decent, all things considering. I am still dealing with a tight neck and knee pain. I have to continue to remind myself that I cannot push my way through school. Especially if it means that I am in worse physical condition when I’m done.

It was also a challenging week for movement. I had to fit in my movements during the small open spaces of the day such as deep squats between classes, chair neck, thoracic, and lumbar spinal mobility during class, joining clients during sessions or stretching in line at the grocery store.

This natural movement session is on Thursday evening at 9:30 pm. This is the first dedicated movement session I’ve been able to get in since Monday and my body was feeling it. I’m exhausted from the week. I have to get up early again in the morning. I wanted to go to bed, but I can feel it in my body that I need to move.

Tight Neck and Knee Pain

My knee has been painful all week. The irritation pain from a week ago has reduced a decent amount. The mid back pain has also reduced. I mainly feel it at the edges of thoracic rotation. The neck pain from two weeks ago is pretty much gone with just residual tightness bilaterally in the scalenes area. I’m taking all of these things into consideration as I explore movements during this session.

In this session, I exploring natural movements slowly, safely, and non-forcefully… listening to where my body wants to go. I work joint by joint from my toes to my hands. It feels like I’m working through a constant state of stretch focusing on maximum tension and maximum relaxation through the transitions of every movement. It feels wavelike and dancelike. I am allowing myself to get immersed in the music in the background, yet I am not dancing… I’m just exploring while paying attention to what feels safe and what feels painful.

This was an amazing session. I felt so much better afterward. Everything feels opened up and lengthened from toe tip to fingertip and my core feels adequately activated but not blown.

This is how I continue to move naturally with a tight neck and knee pain.

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Integrate Play into a Busy Study Day – Feb 3

How do I integrate play into a day I have to sit for long periods of time?

The weekend is catch up on school work. I spent most of today studying, minus an hour at the lumber store. I have three chapters of chemistry to cover this weekend, a paper to write, and online lectures to watch. I knew early on it was going to be a day of sitting. So I set an intention to get up often and integrate play to give my brain a rest while stimulating my nervous system with movement.

I was able to film most of my study breaks. I started with this nice 10-minute movement session to open my body up.

I love doing balance work during study breaks. I find it is just the right type of nervous system challenge to allow my brain to rest intellectually while being stimulated. Afterward, I feel like I get a brain boost.

My knee is noticeably sore, not quite painful, but it’s speaking to me. Balance is considerably more challenged than it was a couple weeks ago. I have had to cut down on hiking and squats for repetition. Walking across campus is already an aggravation. I feel like this level of balance work is right at the edge of pushing my knee to recover without making it hurt worse. I feel like I’m walking a fine line right now. It’s going to be a few weeks before I have a better picture of why my knee hurts.

Even just a couple minutes of balance play on the slackline makes a massive difference in my studying. I find it great for stimulating creative thinking… Which is how I learn best.

The slackline really brings out the challenge with my left knee. It’s amazing how much pain can disrupt proprioception. Two weeks ago, my left knee was just as solid (or unsolid) as my right knee. Today it felt super hard to control, especially when I stood up from my left foot. I put more focus on standing on the left side.

After noticing how proprioceptively challenged my left leg was, I decided to add some challenge to my vestibular system. This really shouldn’t be so hard… But it was freakin hard. I haven’t been working on this much and I really need to.

I’m trying to maintain balance in different foot position while moving my head and eyes. The last couple minutes I had my eyes closed.

I am feeling a bit more control in my shoulders. A year ago, I could explore a ton more space on the parallette bars. Up until this past week, I stayed off of them for the past year due to shoulder and elbow pain. This is definitely a positive sign of more recovery.

This session was only a couple minutes, but I felt sufficiently physically challenged with a boost to my nervous system.


I’m finished with sitting to study for the evening. Instead, I put on a chemistry video while doing a Movement Restoration session. This felt perfect after a full day of school work.

I am loving staff work at the moment. It is super challenging. I love how it feels as I work to maintain my posture through a tall spine, with my shoulders engaged to my core, while reaching away through my heels, toes, top of the head, and arms. I was able to find an amazing full body lengthening of my spiral spine, side body, and backline from feet to fingertips.

This was a great finish to a solid day of moving. None of my movement breaks lasted longer than 10 minutes. All combined, I got over an hour for the day. Considering the amount of school work I have to get through, this was a better movement strategy for my body compared to sitting and studying for 8-10 hours in large blocks with a one-hour workout managed somewhere in the day. What I love most about today was that all my movement breaks felt like I was playing.

My brain won’t sit for long hours at a time and retain information and my body will revolt if I don’t move regularly. By taking short movement breaks, my body felt better as the day wore on; my nervous system felt appropriately stimulated; I felt more capable of tackling the coursework I’m attempting to learn, and I had an overall productive day.

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Spiral Staff and Wrist Mobility Movements -Jan 30

I really didn’t want to move on this evening. My day started at 5:30a. I was at school from 7a-3p and then worked till 7:30. My knee was achy from trudging across campus. The hills wreak havoc by the end of the day… especially downhill. The voice in my head was very adamant that I needed to lie down. The more I checked in with my heart and body, the more I could feel the voice was wrong. It was because of my long day and achy body that I needed to move.

The next question was how hard. Did I need an easy restoration or a workout? I made my way to my movement space and proceeded to listen and allow my body to tell me what it needed.

In this session, I worked on wrist and shoulder mobility. I pulled out the staff for the second time in a week. I love using the staff to explore shoulder to hip mobility. I picked up some of these staff movements from my teacher Joseph Schwartz of Applied Anatomy. It is super challenging and feels amazing. I forgot how much I love using such a simple tool. The half kneeling spirals feel simply amazing. So much unwinding from the day.

I love working on my deep resting squat. Three years ago, I could not even get into the deep squat position without falling over backward. It took me about seven or eight months to just get down, but I could only hold it for about 10 seconds. It took me 6-8 more months to develop a full minute.

My deep resting squat is not perfect by any means, but this is a massive improvement, with room to grow. I’ve put in a ton of work and can feel the payoff in my body. I still experience chronic pain, but so much less of it is from back pain, hip pain, or neck pain.

In this session, I continue to play around with the staff focusing on the mobility relationships between the scapula, thoracic/lumbar spine, and hips.

By the time I finished with this short session, I was feeling really good about making the time to move as opposed to doing nothing. It was a choice well made.

Whenever I work on shoulder mobility, I make a point to add some stability work. This is a very short addition, but I was tired and already achieved what I needed from the evening’s overall session. My focus at this point was to load up the shoulders and try to get to bed by 10p. That 5a alarm clock is pretty daunting at this point in the evening.

I begin with some pendulum planks and then slow bear crawls. On these bear crawls, I like to exaggerate the stability movements of the scapula around my rib cage. I want to ensure that I can absorb the forward crawl from an open to a closed packed scapula and that I can drive away from the closed packed to open scapula going backward. This is to make sure there are no gaps in my scapular stability… which there are… and I’m always working on them.

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Five-Minute Early Morning Movement Restoration -Jan 29

“I don’t have time to move,” is the most common thing I hear. I hear it not only from my clients but more importantly, from within myself. It’s that nagging little voice that tells me “I’m already doing too much,” or “I deserve a break.” Sometimes it’s true, but most often it is a fabrication.

My schedule feels slammed, 16+ hour days, starting at 6a, with very little breaks between clients, study, and parenting. There are days where I don’t have time for a designated time-consuming movement session. Instead, I have to feed movement to my body in 30-seconds to five-minute snack breaks.

That is the case in this five-minute early morning movement restoration session. I moved all day, throughout the day with clients, but still needed a bit more. This five minute morning routine felt like infusing strong coffee directly into my body. I felt opened up and ready to flow. The rest of the day was slammed. Some days this is all I can get and I’m grateful I didn’t listen to the voices in my head telling me I didn’t deserve it.

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Movement Restoration w/ Hand to Shoulder Stability and Balance Challenge – Jan 27

After last nights gentle movement session, tonight I realized I needed to work a bit. This was a really nice Movement Restoration session with a focus on hand to shoulder to core work. It warmed me up really well and had a nice level of challenge. I kept the movements as slow and fluid as possible while pushing my edges.

This is the best shoulder ROM I’ve had in months. It’s hard to believe that six weeks ago I could barely move my arm in certain positions. I’m pretty pleased with the level of recovery. I still have a long way to go to get back full function.

This was the second half of the night’s Movement Restoration. My shoulders feel really good, so I feel like pushing myself a little bit… but not too hard. Considering the combinations of knee pain and being only a few weeks into recovery for elbow tendinopathy, I can’t do high intensity… It’s too risky and not worth it. At 44, and with my injury history, setbacks can be huge. So I have to skirt the line of pushing myself and listening to my body… I’m not always successful…

I loved this workout. I worked on crawling variations focusing on moving slow and controlled, which can be pretty damn hard. I felt strong in all the positions. I found a balance movement that really challenged me. I love being frustrated by movements. I love the challenge of being frustrated by movements. It kicks my ego’s ass and felt like a really good workout for my hip stability and control.

The only downside to this workout is when I kicked up practicing handstands on the wall. I kicked off with my left leg and felt a pop in my knee. It felt like a good pop, but considering all the pain I’ve been feeling, it has me nervous. Thankfully I got to finish off on a bright spot with two relatively slow and controlled chin-ups that felt really solid. I haven’t been able to do a single pain-free chin-up in months. Another good sign of recovery for my shoulders.

I will monitor both shoulders and knee tomorrow.

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