Jenn Hicks

Posts Tagged ‘Pelvis’

Aging and Exercise: Get up! Then down! And up again!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Nia: a Whole Body Workout

In Nia, we aren’t moving just our arms and our legs. We are moving our whole body.

Our torsos, chests, fingers, spine, toes, ankles, pelvis, heads — they all get mobilized during a Nia class.  The truth is, if we leave any body parts out, they tend to get lonely and jealous! Seriously, though, the use it or lose it adage is true. When body parts don’t get used, muscles stiffen, weaken and the end result is pain. And that’s not the way I choose to age.

In Nia we move through 3 planes: high, middle and low planes.  That means sometimes we move a little lower, dropping into the pelvis and coming closer to the ground (i.e., the low plane).  Other times we move at the level of the heart (i.e., the middle plane), and then there are times when we’re moving up above the head (i.e., the high plane).  Working through all these planes maximizes the conditioning effects on our whole body. Not just our arms and our legs.

What happens if we take out the middle plane, moving from the low straight to the high plane? As in low low low. As in getting down on the ground and then getting back up.

That takes it to a whole different level!

When’s the last time you got down on the floor and moved?  There are a ton of benefits related to doing that (building strength, maintaining flexibility, keeping the hips open and mobile). You only were able to learn how to walk because you got down on the floor. As an infant, you developed the right muscles, coordination and agility that allowed you to walk. Now, as an adult, you would not believe the healing benefits of getting down on the floor! Check out my post about my  5 day experiment with crawling on the floor.


Aging and Exercise: Gotta Get up and Down and Up and Down

As we age our bodies stiffen and creak. But why? Could it be because we’re not using them optimally?  Moving the joints is a way to keep them lubricated and therefore mobile. The more mobile we are, the less physical discomfort we experience.  So here’s an anti-aging idea:  Imagine yourself getting up and down and up and down and up and down from the floor.  But why would you want to do that?

Well, maybe to:

  • build strength in your legs and hips so that when you’re walking up stairs, you don’t need to pull yourself up using the railing (which puts a lot of strain on your upper body). At the same time, you won’t need to expose yourself to the multitude of germs living on that railing…
  • be able to bend your knees, hips, and ankles sufficiently so that when you’re looking for an item on the low shelf at the grocery store, you don’t wrench your back
  • develop the core and leg strength to get on off the toilet on your own as you age (I’m serious: we’re not getting any younger here!)
  • maintain the flexibility to be able to play golf
  • be able to get out of bed with ease; without grunting, clenching your jaw, or leaning down hard on your night table
  • be able to get down and make eye contact with children
  • be able to get in and out of a warm bubbly bath independently
  • continue to have picnics in the park, on a blanket, under a tree
  • be able to get up should you slip on the ice next winter
  • pick up the quarter/token/lottery ticket that you dropped without wincing
  • pick up a basket of laundry or bag of groceries in a way that doesn’t cause a visit to the chiropractor


So what if we got up and down off the floor for 60 seconds a day?

I’ll bet we’d stay mobile for a lot longer than if we didn’t!

(Oh, and here’s a great post about the importance of getting up and down as a means to maintain physical strength, mobility and flexibility and decrease pain as we age).


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Belly dancing and the Core

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
A belly dancer at the 2008 Sun and Salsa Festi...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve started taking belly dance classes at Joy of Dance (which, by the way, is the best dance studio in Toronto that I know of).  At first, I wasn’t sure if they were for me, as there is an incredible focus on technique.  Whenever there is a chance of doing something wrong, I find myself shying away from that potential wrong-ness situation.

But a few weeks in and I’m really finding that the classes are really helping me with my Nia practice.

How?  Well in Nia we work with the 3 body weights: Head, chest and pelvis. We consider these to be the core of the body and emphasize the alignment of the 3 so that each are stacked, one on top of the other.  When all 3 are aligned along the spine, the organs contained in each of those body weights can function optimally and the body is healthy.

Anterior Hip Muscles

Image via Wikipedia

In my case, my pelvis is not in direct alignment under my chest. That’s because I have lordosis (a curvature of the lumbar/low spine also referred to as swayback or saddleback). This means that my pelvis is tipped forward, and so my abdominal organs are not optimally situated.  I do experience low back discomfort/pain from time to time as well.

My understanding is that a major culprit in lordosis is the psoas muscle, a muscle which reaches from the low back to the inner thigh and can get really tight. I’m pretty sure I’m simplifying things considerably here, but I’m not a muscle expert and love to try to understand my own body.

I understand that the psoas is a fairly deep muscle, and is difficult to get at. That would make stretching the psoas fairly tricky.

Although I know there are ways to isolate the psoas and give it a good stretch, I’ve discovered that I can loosen things up in my pelvis area quite a bit when I’m belly dancing. The movements are intricate and deep and targeted.

That’s pretty satisfying and helps me maintain a more upright and aligned position in Nia.

In short, I *heart* belly dancing (and so does my psoas muscle!)

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