Why pay attention to your breathing?
1. It brings our attention inwards to ourselves.
We must be accepting and kind to ourselves in order to move forward in our lives in a healthy balance.
2. It allows for self discovery.
Only by stopping to listen will we see, feel and hear how our bodies are asking for help.
3. It allows us to slow down and recalibrate.
This gives us an opportunity to reestablish balance and re-energize. ( There is much science supporting this statement. I am working on writing easy to understand explanations for the physiology behind balanced, effective breathing. Which will be posted in this blog soon.)
4. It provides a much needed distraction from the outside world.
Serotonin is a molecule that acts as a hormone and a neurotransmitter, which is essential in mental and physical health. It is a key component of good immune function (1). Serotonin is associated with positive mood. It is our ‘feel good‘ or ‘happy‘ hormone.
I write this article to inform you that there are proactive ways to positively modify your serotonin levels.
Research shows that adequate blood levels of serotonin are associated with positive moods and people with low levels tend to be prone to anxiety and depression.
“…negative emotions were associated with increased disability due to mental and physical disorders, increased incidence of depression, increased suicide and increased mortality up to 2 decades later. Positive emotions protected against these outcomes.” (2)
In 2007, Dr Simon Young, PhD, editor in chief of the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience wrote an editorial “How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs” (2).
Here is a brief summary. read more…
Why Stretch the Pectoral muscles?
Two good reasons to stretch your pectoral muscles are; 1) to decrease shoulder, neck and arm pain, and 2) to improve your posture. Do you remember being told to sit up or stand up straight? Can you relate to slouching? Tension in the front shoulder, and chest (pectoral ) muscles (aka pecs), is largely responsible for the common forward shoulder posture, which accompanies the slouching posture. The following stretches will help you straighten your posture and free up your shoulder function.
How to Stretch
- Begin by facing a wall.
- Stretch out your right arm – it should be a little below horizontal.
- Place your right palm against the wall.
- Rotate your trunk slowly to the left – just far enough to to begin to feel a stretch in the front of the right shoulder and/or upper arm.
- Your feet should align parallel to the wall.
- Place your left hand on the wall in front of your chest.
- Keep your right shoulder blade down – i.e. don’t let the shoulder shrug upward.
- Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times with each side read more…
Surviving Snow Shoveling
With snow shoveling, specially the wet heavy stuff, comes the increased incidences of heart attacks and back injuries.
Why the Heart Attacks?
The reason for the heart attacks, while shoveling, is over stressing the heart with exertion.
The two main reasons for this are: 1- lack of physical conditioning and 2- trying to get the job done too quickly.
You need to know your limits and you need to pace yourself. However, when the snow falls, and you need to get to work, the scramble is on to move as much snow as quickly as possible. Hence, the heart attack or injured back.
Why the back injuries?
Again, the need to know your limits and pacing yourself are paramount. There is also the need to use proper body mechanics in order to minimize strain on the back . As in every physical activity, you need to develop a balance between strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. read more…
Why does raking leaves cause back pain? Most of the time this is because you are unwittingly straining the back muscles and joints of the spine.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Using proper body mechanics when raking, as well as performing other chores around the house, can greatly reduce back pain, strain and other injuries.
The safe way to rake leaves is to let your arms and legs do the work. Do not twist your body, or sweep to the side. Sweeping to the side requires twisting of the body. As a result, this creates torsion forces on the muscles, joints and other tissues around the spine. These torsion forces are unnecessarily strenuous, and damaging to your spine. Keep your movements in the forward and backward direction only. read more…
What are the hip flexor muscles?
The hip flexor muscles are responsible for raising the thigh toward the trunk – i.e. hip flexion. They are active in stepping forward when walking or climbing stairs. They are also important in the kicking motion. This muscle group includes the Psoas Major, Psoas Minor and Iliacus muscles. They are often referred to as the Iliopsoas muscles and are generally located in the front of the lower spine, pelvis and hip. Other muscles of the thigh also assist in hip flexion.
Why stretch the hip flexors? read more…