MOVE WELL STUDIO


Leave a comment

How to reshape your movement practice during the winter months

15271885_10154778028474776_6318546513650062579_oIt’s winter here in California – as it is for the rest of the hemisphere. With winter, many of us feel challenged to move enough. And yes, we don’t have “real” winter here, but it’s “real” enough when I see my students spending less and less time outside walking and more and more time still and at home. Roland and I are also magnetically drawn to the fireplace, cup of tea in hand and no intention to go out after dinner….So if it’s bad for us down here, what about our students in colder place, like Canada?

What used to be a sunny and easy walk on the beach is now a wet trot in the rain. You can see me in the picture above, squatting in full winter gear, base layers and all, taking some pictures of birds in the rain just last week. So whether you are here in warmer climate or somewhere else, winter is asking for a few adjustments to routine.

Here are 5 ways to make your movement practice more winter friendly, or um, make your winter more movement friendly:

  1. Choose appropriate clothing for your outdoor activities. Yes, it’s cold out. But you can get your wool socks and shirts out and warm up. As soon as you get out the door and start walking, running, biking, your own heat will provide all you need to feel comfortable. It may be worth investing in a pair of fleece or wool leggings and undershirts, so you can enjoy freedom of movement without being weighted down. When you have the right gear, it’s easy to say yes to your morning walk. I cannot tell you what a huge difference my rain boots have made to my beach walks. They almost motivate me to get out there and play! The same goes for your indoor practice. If the ice cold floor of your studio is repelling your single leg balance – get those sticky toe-socks on and get moving.
  2. Change your focus. While walking, hanging, running, hiking and water sports may be the meat and potatoes of your summer movement routine, winter gives an invitation to go inside and see what’s to explore there. This is the perfect time for an indoor climbing gym, a new dance class, or a membership to movement classes, such as the ones offered by Katy Bowman at Nutritious Movement. Maybe you have been waiting a long time to start arial yoga, or indoor swim lessons….use this colder time to do it.
  3. Don’t be all black and white. Just because you aren’t getting the same amount of quality of walking ( I know for sure the slippery sidewalks of my homeland are no place to be walking in winter), that doesn’t mean some walking won’t be possible. Maybe a shorter walk in the city, yet a longer hike on the weekend through the snow, with all the trimmings – sledding, snowshoeing, snowman building, the cool forts only people who live in the snow can boast – there is so much to explore out that isn’t about covering the same distance that you do in the summer. You body loves variability and seasons unmistakably provide the circumstances where you can go with the flow.
  4. All day movement is all day movement, rain or shine. We talk about this in our sessions, and even in our latest book all the time – it’s not the small amount of time we spend exercising, it’s the all day movement that makes the biggest difference to our health! How you inhabit your daily environment makes all the difference. Are you in an office all day? Plan your movement breaks every 30 minutes – take a short stretch break or walk to get a glass of water or to connect with a colleague. If you are at home trade the couch for the floor, play with pets and kids and do more housework and home improvement projects. The winter months are perfect to clean out clutter from the garage, reorganize closets and cupboards, finish small paint projects…when you make it about movement the work load is suddenly lighter! Win-win!
  5. Catch up on quiet practices. Mindfulness practice, also known as meditation is becoming more and more popular and accepted throughout schools, companies and organizations. What was once a strange practice reserved for a few members of certain groups or beliefs is now widely accessible through books, apps, classes and retreats. Winter time is naturally a time to go in, move on the inside and store reserves and inspiration for the spring when you are ready to come out and carry out the new ideas and intentions with fresh insight and ample energy. Check out Headspace and Insight Timer for a way to start your practice today.

How do you mold your movement practice to fit the winter months? Comment below and let me know!

p.s. If you have been considering working with me in private, I have 2 spots for new students open in December and January. Shoot me an email at movewellstudio@gmail.com and grab 50$ off your initial assessment when you mention this blog post!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Squatty Potty for beginners

I clearly remember the day the squatty potty became a part of our lives. I went to the bathroom, only to see a strange plastic piece in front of the toilet, with a note: “How about that for a sh**ty gift?”

My husband, a man of humor and love for health, had made the purchase for me. I tried to pretend no feedback was expected over the next few days. There isn’t much poop talk in our home – we have good poops and we aren’t obsessing with impoving them. How about sleep? Or productivity? Let’s talk about something that really needs improving.

Enough poop bragging. I was already sold on the squatty potty – I will take up any chance to move more! A couple extra squats per day – I was in. What I found in the next few days was that my time in the toilet became even faster and elimination felt even easier. I also enjoyed the nice workout for my hip joints. As my legs went up I also got an unexpected massage for my belly. See, when you are “squatting” instead of “sitting” to poo, the mechanics of it all look and feel very different. On the inside, muscles and organs are churning in a new, closer to their natural way.

Check out this fast-gone-viral video from Squatty Potty, which beautifully explains the action of the puborectalis muscle – one responsible for the anchoring of your poo pipes (picture here). You squat – you free up the pipes, you sit – you pinch them. Let the unicorn show you below…

Of course, I was excited we owned a squatty potty and that we were eliminating paleo style, so I was eager to share with my clients and friends. Many of them purchased one, only to come back and complain that they were uncomfortable getting in the “feet up” or “squat position”.

See, our bodies are shaped by the way we move, and if you haven’t been squatting multiple times a day, your squatting parts may be rusty. Doing some basic biomechanics observations, I found that most of my squatty potty averse clients were the ones with limited ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to flex the foot) and quite limited hip flexion (the ability to bring the knee to your chest). Add general lack of mobility through the spine, and you have a never-squat-to-poop scenario.

Here’s the pickle. The average person, pressed by urgency, won’t even stop to think about why they can’t get comfortable on the squatty potty. We live in a culture which has conditioned us to think like that. Today, people plan to get higher toilets as they get older, assuming their ability to squat will keep decreasing. We have it all backwards.

Want the truth?

  1. You can restore your ability to move at the ankles and hips in order to take a human poop. Your organ health depends on it. How about that for motivation?
  2. In order to restore your ability to squat, you need to first start mobilizing your ankles, hips and pelvis.
  3. In order for those small corrective exercises to work, you need to do them daily. You know, just like water works for you when you drink it daily.
  4. Exercises won’t work unless you also start to change the positions you habitually find yourself in (sitting in chair, sitting on couch, sitting in car).

 
 
Like anything simple, it takes some diligence and time, but every time you practice you will get a degree closer to your squat to poop natural design.

Here is the program that I put my aspiring squatty potty athletes on:

  1. They learn the calf stretch, kneeling hip flexion, and strap stretch to improve the mobility of the ankles, hips and knees. Then they use the baby squat and roll to stabilize the new positions.
  2. They sit on the floor – try the V sit, the indian style sit, the cross knee sit. That allows them to take time off chairs and couches – improving their hip mobility as they rest.
  3. I teach them to bolster the squatty potty. We find a comfortable height that their body is willing to bend to and start to use props to allow their body to adapt. See – between squatty potty and floor there are many levels that most people are already able to bend to. Little by little they are able to move their feet higher and get deeper hip flexion.

 

THE CORRECTIVES

 

THE FLOOR SITTING POSITIONS

 

BOLSTERING THE SQUATTY POTTY

Hooked yet? Start on your program to become a Squatty Potty athlete today 🙂 And let me know how you do!

To get a full introduction to this life changing tool, check out this video:


2 Comments

“Ships are safe in the harbor…

…but that’s not what ships are built for.”

I woke up to this quote posted by my mentor and friend Katy on the Aligned and Well Facebook page.

Timely, since I was just coming back from a barefoot walk-run and had spent the last minutes of my return home thinking about a new client from this morning. She had expressed how the new positions and ranges of motion we were exploring through some of the standing correctives in her workout felt very challenging and unnatural.

“I just don’t get it. It feels so different than what I am used to!”

I get it. But when was the last time you changed or reached a novel outcome by doing what you’ve always done? Wasn’t that the definition of insanity – doing what you’ve always done, yet expecting a different result.

Your relationship with your body is shaped by a variety of factors, but one of the forces that has a powerful pull is what you believe time with your body should look like. Your preconceived notion of what a corrective program or exercise should resemble has you prepared for an experience when you walk through my door. You’ve seen videos, attended classes, received personal instruction, sometimes from tens of specialists before you set foot on my floor.

You expect to “work”, “stand up straight”, “strengthen” and “stretch”. There is a comfort to knowing what we will do together and a certain degree of wanting to feel challenged but only within what you expect the challenge to feel like – whether it’s burning muscles, feeling pleasantly tired or learning a new exercise.

When I present you with a challenge outside the zone of what you thought “it” would feel or look like, it feels so novel and unnatural, that you may find yourself rebelling against the sensation, the movement, the position, or even my presence as a teacher. Irritation, discomfort, frustration, regret, doubt and even profound anger can be found living under the tissues exposed by new positions and movements.

As a teacher, I am always honored to meet those sensations and emotions of discomfort at your doorstep and support you as they come through and open new possibilities. When working with pain and dysfunction, we often find that our safe harbor is not safe at all, and we need to steer the ship out into open waters, even if they feel choppy at first.

In my own body, I am often a witness of novelty, experienced as weirdness and discomfort, as I venture to recover forgotten ways to move and be with myself. That only assures me that I am leaving the harbor, and isn’t that what we are made for?

P1510286


Leave a comment

Are bunions genetic? A video from our favorite doc!

Roland and I are working on our new book. In this new half a bible sized health book, there are several chapters on feet, transitioning to healthier shoes and helping your body deal with the effects of modern sedentary life.

Over and over, we address the fact that bunions are not genetic.

A bunion – also known as hallux valgus. This deformity appears as we lose the strength in our foot and the whole limb collapses onto the inside of the ball of the foot with every step you take. Think of it this way, instead of moving back behind you in one straight clean line, the leg rolls in and the mechanical forces of gait slam that poor bone into the ground, where the body eventually ends up building extra tissue to protect the foot and the abnormal joint. Often, a bunion begins with shoes that sport a toe box that’s too tight, a front that is lifted too high or a positive heel, then later continue to be formed and deformed by the forces of gait.

Women often come to me, complaining of bunions. When I ask them about their shoes, they tell me it’s not their shoes, but genetic. “My mom and grandma had bunions, too.”

One lady went so far to say she is from Croatia and all Croatians have calluses and bunions.

Sure, you might have a genetic predisposition to have bunions, but it’s not like going bald, getting grey, or having blue eyes. You have a bunion because your shoes are forcing your feet into a position that creates a bunion, making you walk in a way that creates a bunion and exercise in a way that creates a bunion. If you had the chance to move without the restriction of shoes, experience nature and an appropriate amount of movement, you’d probably never have a bunion. Perhaps your choice of shoes or your gym routine is genetic, too?

With a risk to piss some people off and give others hope, here is a video from our favorite food doc:

Set your feet free – join my newsletter  to get regular updates on workshops coming up!

Ready to read something new AND set your feet free? My teacher and mentor Katy Bowman just released a new book on transitioning to minimal footwear and letting your feet function like Mother Nature intended!

wbb


Leave a comment

Walking advent calendar with Katy Bowman

walking

                                   Will you walk for a prize?

My teacher, mentor, friend and super inspiration, Katy, is brilliant. If you are my student you probably hear me say Katy is brilliant at least twice each workout. Or you ask me: “What does Katy think?” at least twice each workout. Because, well, she is able to make the ordinary, extraordinary.

Take Christmas and walking – two things that normally have nothing in common, until Katy comes in the picture. Enter the walking advent calendar, where for a month, Katy posts a new walking habit to work on every day!

On day 6, she posted about head position while walking. Check it out over here! Do you HEAD out on a walk, or is your head aligned over your shoulders when you walk?

Tomorrow, December 9, I am partnering with Katy to bring you Advent Calendar inspiration and prizes.

I will be giving away 6 webinars and a Skype session on my Facebook page, after you enter a fun contest and do something about day 9 of the walking advent calendar.

Please head over to the page and like it, so you can take part tomorrow, and don’t forger to check it out early morning!

move well:

Galina


Leave a comment

Movement diet meets elimination diet

When you come to me for advice regarding your pain or performance, we take a very detailed look at your movement diet: that includes not only the brave times when you lift a kettlebell over your head, but also the times you sit, drive, push a stroller, lay on the couch, stretch, garden, do yoga etc. All of these movements comprise your diet.

In a usual session we do a number of assessments and I am often able to give you a few things to do at home. Roll on a ball, meet your foam roller, learn how to relax, breathe like this, do specific exercises to learn a skill that you’ve lost. So far so good.

You wake up the next day, pull out my list of healing suggestions, and do them. 30 minutes later, you are off, driving, pushing a stroller, swinging a kettlebell, sitting on your couch, yelling at your computer. You get it. We didn’t really modify your movement diet, we just added another dish to it.

Sometimes, that addition can be powerful. My husband and I coach nutrition clients and often we add omega 3s and do nothing else to their diet. That simple addition sheds pounds, improves mood and often solves nagging aches and pains.

If we are lucky, adding my movement prescription will be a miracle omega 3 supplement – you will feel better a few days or weeks after you start doing your “homework”.

Sometimes, this is not the case. Enter the elimination diet.

elimination diet

When we talk elimination in nutrition coaching, we remove the most obvious offenders, or foods that people tend to react negatively to. If after a month or so of eating real food you are still not feeling better, we go after the usual suspects and take out a few foods for a month. This gives your body time to take a breath of relief, heal from the possible assault of those foods and gives you a chance to feel better and get motivated to learn more about your body. Once the month is over, we start to introduce one food every 3 or 4 days to see how you react. Say on Monday you have some oatmeal, and you feel great the next few days. We take the oatmeal out and then try eggs. Feeling great with eggs? Fantastic! Let’s add some tomatoes!

There is a lot of value to this approach, because it makes you aware and very sensitive to how YOU react to the things YOU do. There is no therapist or doctor on the planet, who can look at you and honestly say he knows why your shoulder feels like someone is stabbing you with a knife. At best, we are all making an educated hypothesis. Then we devise a plan based on that hypothesis.

To give you an example, say I have shoulder pain. During the evaluation we find that there are a couple of muscles that need strengthening and I will be working on my whole body alignment as best as I can. I start my day by spending 30 minutes doing my strengthening and corrective exercises, go for a nice walk pushing the stroller, drop of the kids with the sitter and then I sit in my car for an hour. I keep driving with my shoulders up in my ears because traffic stresses me. Then I go to my bootcamp class in the lunch break. Then after work, I get the groceries and walk 10 blocks with them. Home, I cook, put the kids to bed, and crash.

The next morning, and many mornings later, my shoulder is still hurting. Is it the groceries? Is it the bootcamp? Is it the way my shoulders go up in my ears when I drive? I don’t know.

Is it the eggs, oatmeal or pasta? The only way to know is to do an elimination diet. Are you up for it?


2 Comments

The big toe matters

When I see a new client for the first time, much of the session can be spent explaining the mechanical causes of different aches and pains. See, when your knee hurts, the cause may be at the foot, ankle, hip, core function and honestly, anywhere in the body. The way our culture works, having knee pain has you putting on a knee brace or seeing a doctor for the knee problem, and oftentimes interventions only give temporary relief, because the root mechanical causes do not get addressed.

I encourage you to be continually curious about what makes you feel better and what makes your condition worse. I also encourage you to always ask questions, look for solutions and trust that the body can heal with appropriate help.

I wanted to share this fantastic video of Dr. Ray that word for word matches what I teach in my foot education sessions.

Enjoy!