ease of movement

Especially Athletes! and All Others!

Diligent practice of hip stretches—what in yoga we often call “hip openers,” as though they are key to unlocking thesecrets of the hips—can dramatically increase your flexibility and range of motion around the hip joints. If you are athletically minded, this can be a good thing. But as with many good things, too much can be overdoing it.

The key for athletes is to develop or maintain balance between stiffness and openness: a balance of strength and flexibility in the muscles around the hips.This balance can change depending on both the athlete’s body and on sport-specific needs.

Depending on your sport, too much flexibility can be detrimental to your sports performance, as it can reduce your snappiness. Consider, for example the stiffness a runner needs for efficient transfer of energy to the ground. A floppy runner, one whose hips sag with each step, will have to work harder than one who springs lightly over the ground. But you need enough flexibility to move fluidly through your stride, without a hitch that can lead to an overuse injury. Poses that mimic the running stride, like lunges, can help you stay flexible through the range of motion used to run, and hip stretches that target the external rotators can help avoid overuse injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Piriformis Syndrome.

On the other hand, athletes need vastly more flexibility in the hips for engaging in activities like rock climbing, curling, or playing positions like catcher in baseball or softball.  A yoga practice for athletes in these activities can look very different from a practice for athletes who require more springy stiffness in their bodies; athletes who need to take deep squats can enjoy the full range of hip stretches, including poses that move deep into flexibility.

Consider where you fall on this spectrum. There may be a very good reason hip openers frustrate you, or a good reason for you to love and enjoy them. Either way, the process gives you an opportunity to consider what you can change and what you can’t, and to practice focusing your energy on creating useful change and accepting the unchangeable.

For all those who would like to improve balance and flexibility, reduce pain, increase range and ease of movement, and reduce habits of tension, consider becoming a student of one of the following: Yoga, Coordination Pattern™ Breakthru Training, Feldenkrais Method® of Movement Education, Personal Fitness Training, Pilates, Tai chi or Qigong,

Spinal Cord Injuries and the Feldenkrais Method of Movement Education

Cindy Allison, a University of Canterbury, (UC) PhD student, is carrying out the world’s first research on spinal cord injuries using the Feldenkrais Method to provide people the chance to recover movement and stability.

In the 1940s, Israeli physicist, Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, combined his knowledge of martial arts, biomechanics, neurophysiology, anatomy, learning theory, child development, systems theory, physics and psychology to develop the Feldenkrais Method, a form of sensory motor education.

Research has provided evidence of benefits including reduced pain, fatigue, stress and medicalcosts; and improved mobility, stability, coordination and breathing. However there has been no research done with spinal cord injury.

Cindy was drawn to the Feldenkrais Method because of her own pain and loss of movement and sensation. For her PhD she is developing the first Feldenkrais program in the world for people with spinal cord injury.

Rather than isolating muscles and working hard in an attempt to restore movement, Feldenkrais encourages expanding body awareness, and paying attention to the quality of movement and the effect that the movement has on  the coordination of the whole body.

You stay within your comfort zone; it is process oriented and fun. The focus is also on learning how to learn. Clients grow to understand biomechanics and learning principles, they are eventually able to improve their movement independently of the practitioner.

“I was so impressed with the method that I began researching its potential for people with spinal cord injury. Some of the world’s top neuroscientists advocate the method. I have people around the world with spinal cord injury discovering significant
improvement using Feldenkrais principles despite negative prognoses.’’

Kevin Hitchcock, a former director of news and Channel Ten in Sydney was told he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life, she said.

He has made an almost full recovery and written a book after improving via the Feldenkrais Method.

American Molly Hale, subject of a documentary film, broke her neck in 1995 and was told that she would be paralyzed from the shoulders down. Hale has made significant progress. In recent months she has walked unassisted for the first time since her accident.

Germany’s Irene Lober was able to ditch her wheelchair, ski, and climb hills despite being told she would need a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She documented her recovery in her Master’s thesis and then went on to train as a Feldenkrais practitioner.

Australian triathlete, Michael Forbes, describes on YouTube how he learned to walk again using Feldenkrais. More examples are on Allison’s website www.neuroplasticity.co.nz.

I suspect many more stories that haven’t been documented. Recovery is a gradual process but my clients have reported a number of benefits including reduced pain and spasm; and improved coordination and ease of movement, posture and breathing.

“Clients who had no sensation below their break are reporting that sensation and
movement are returning. I want to develop group programs that are accessible
and affordable for disabled people.’’

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If you know anyone with paralysis from stroke, head injury, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, please have them contact us concerning Feldenkrais Private Sessions and Classes. Visit our website for information about Feldenkrais and Carol Siddiqi, Feldenkrais Practitioner.