Stretching and Sports Training

My 7-year-old son recently began taking ice skating lessons at one of our local rinks.  He had been asking to take lessons ever since our outing to an outdoor set-up in Carmel, Indiana over Thanksgiving break.  Since he mentioned taking lessons more than once I thought we would try it. Not only does he love it, but he excels at it and I am really, very proud of him!

During the 40-minute lesson all skill levels are grouped off on the ice from Basic 1 to advanced.  I usually watch above in a closed off mezzanine to stay a little warmer and to get an overall view of all the adorable young skaters. I find it so interesting to watch different levels practice their skills and am amazed that, especially with the more advanced levels, what is required of their bodies to perform the required stunts. Any skater (or anyone involved in sports, for that matter!) will tell you its all about balance, flexibility, strength and coordination.  This requires not only good body awareness but proprioceptive awareness as well.

Kinesthetic (or Body) Awareness is how your body judges and adjusts to perform seamlessly in the world around you.  Have you ever held a full laundry basket as you walked up or down the stairs?  You aren’t looking yet you know at what level to raise or lower your leg to safely hit the next step.  This is kinesthetic awareness.

Proprioceptive Awareness, on the other hand, is internal messaging from the nervous system that drives our movements or how we move our bodies in relationship to joint position sense, temperature/pain, texture/pressure, stretch/tension/compression and lastly, vibration.  These are continuously utilized as we practice with our bare feet in Essentrics®.  Each motion we make with our feet sends a vibration or signal throughout the body to hold it upright to avoid falling or ultimately, injury.

Just like a skater, the foot, ankle and calf in the skate (and on the blade in their skate) sends a signal through the body to balance, hold and contract or relax the muscles for mobility and stability.  This is very important, especially when you have to rely on others when skating in group or in a pair!

As I was sat watching the lessons, I overheard a young lady tell her grandmother she was instructed to stretch on the barre on the other side of the room until her time on the ice. As an Essentrics® instructor versed in barre, I was curious to see what exercises she would perform or if she were taught specific stretches.  Not wanting to stare I turned back around to the ice when I heard a “thud”.   Looking around I found the girl slowly getting off the floor, holding her elbow and crying.  Come to find out she had her leg up on the barre, lost her balance and fell! I felt terrible for her!

Her grandmother went over to comfort her and bring her back over to sit.  Since I was right next to her (and just couldn’t resist;) I leaned over and said,

“I teach barre if you would like me to show you some moves.”

“Yes!” she said enthusiastically.

“First things, first,” I told her. “You need a much lower barre.”

Even though she was using the lower of the two barres on the wall to begin with, her hamstring was far to tight to allow her to get her leg up properly, causing her lose her balance and fall. I grabbed the chairs we were sitting on, we placed one leg up on our chairs and I proceeded to show her first how to relax her hips to allow proper movement.  I showed her how to tuck her hips under and how to extend them gently back.  Warming up the hips gently in this manner not only relaxes the reflexes and lubricates the joints with wonderful synovial fluid, but allows the participant to become proprioceptively aware.

I then instructed her to extend her leg on the chair straight out, toes pointed  (or as straight as she could get it…Darn tight hamstrings!) and made her round her back first, then straighten her back so she could feel the difference in the tension on the hamstring. Rounding the back causes a loss in the tension on the stretch as opposed to straightening your back with your posterior pushing to the back wall, which creates a more intense stretch and it all comes down to opening up the body as we pull the joints away from each other.  Imagine holding a Theraband or a rubber band at each end pulling it in different directions.  This is exactly what the muscle does when stretched in two different directions.  Not only is it relieving on the joints but it is extremely beneficial to gain not only the maximum flexibility but strength as well!

Training your body for any physical activity or sports requires a specific set of muscles that are usually utilized over and over.  In ice skating, specifically, there are a lot of concentric, or muscle contractions that shorten the muscles, used for mobility and stability.  Flexibility needs to be a large component for not only ice Ballet but every other sport as well!  But it seems that flexibility is a second thought.  We know it’s important, but why?  And most importantly, how can it be done properly so we can achieve the maximum benefit all while preventing injuries in the long run?

For all you sports lovers, here is some advice:

  • Relax when you move. Relaxation taps into the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing our body to remove itself from a too often used sympathetic system or what we commonly know it as “fight or flight.”  Relaxation, allows the body to safely override the muscle reflexes to extend maximally, which in turn strenghthens the muscles! Our motto in Essentrics® “Relaxation is the NEW strengthening!”
  • Use dynamic movements to stretch as opposed to static stretching.  There is a time and place for static stretching, however holding a stretch too long has been proven  to contract the muscle by way of muscle reflexes going into protective mode; not allowing the muscle to stretch to it’s full capacity.  If you really want to really tap into much more muscle, connective tissue and bones, it is important to move “with” the muscle reflexes by moving gently and dynamically through a stretch (a gentle movement or pulsation in a legthened position). Not only will this allow the muscles to relax but they will stay in the “opened” position longer after beginning your regular activities;  decreasing your chance of injury.
  • Breathe. Similar to relaxation, deep, focused full belly breathing taps into your parasympathetic nervous system, lowering your blood pressure, increasing healing circulation, relaxing muscles and connective tissue and aiding in better digestion and elimination to keep your body well-regulated. Deep breathing also reduces anxiety, which is good when in competition!
  • Use all the muscles, connective tissue and joints the way they were intented to be used every time you stretch. I know it’s common to think: “I’m an ice skater, I only use my legs and abs most of the time.  I’m just going to stretch those and be fine.”  Actually, we are not a group of separate muscles but rather connected chains! When one muscle is worked it affects another up or down the chain to either stabilize or mobilize our body.  In order to remain balanced, every joint, muscle, bone and surrounding connective tissue should be included, every single time, no matter what sport you perform.
  • Learn to become aware.  Become more aware of how your body moves whether in your sport or in everyday activities. This body awareness allows a deeper understanding and connection to not only how you body moves and holds itself in certain postures but you may begin to understand why it does so.  This is important  to make the necessary corrections to avoid injury or pain in the body.
  • Lastly, be kind to your body. I tell my clients, treat your body as it were an infant.  Care for it, carry it gently as you move and be grateful for all its wonderful capabilities!

For more information on static and dynamic stretching and how to properly stretch for your sport, contact me for a session in Essentrics®.  I can teach you some amazing ways to relieve tension, create more range of motion around the joints (flexibility) and increase your strength and power all with no equipment!

References: Dr. Emily Splichal, Podiatrist and founder of Evidence Based Fitness Academy

Miranda Esmonde-White, Founder of Essentrics®



5 Self-Care Strategies to Implement into Your Workout Routine For a Healthier Lifestyle

This week’s blog is guest written by Sheila Olson, a.k.a. FitSheila.  You may visit her website at  Enjoy!

Achieving a healthy lifestyle is not an easy feat. While it’s tempting to simply push yourself in a high-intensity workout, this too often means neglecting your basic self-care needs. Being self-aware and having the ability to check in with yourself allows you to address any physical and mental needs and create a balanced lifestyle.

Check out some tips below on how you can incorporate self-care into your fitness routine.

  1. Don’t Skip the Warm-Up or Cool-Down

Resist the urge to dive right into your workout. A proper warm-up and cool-down will ease you in and out of your workout on both a mental and physical level. The American Heart Association recommends spending just five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles. This will not only make them more flexible and less injury-prone, but will increase your physical performance. Likewise, time spent stretching at the end of your workout will help prevent cramping and stiffness.

2.  Train Smart, Not Hard

If you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle mass, pushing yourself harder is generally not the best route. Going to the gym every day or over-increasing your intensity is not the way to get the results you want. In fact, overdoing it like this can lead to a burnout.

Instead, it is better to train smarter. Your muscles need time to rest and recover to grow. Overtraining can also lead to problems sleeping, cause exhaustion, and create mood swings. You should aim to work out three to six times a week and vary your routine by concentrating on different muscle groups each day for the best results.

3. Catch Those ZZZs

Sleep is incredibly important. In order to fully accomplish your health goals, you need to prioritize getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try putting away your phone and turning off that TV. CNN warns of blue light emitted from screens that tricks the brain into thinking it is still daytime. Instead, swap your phone for a book, or try meditating before going to bed. Turning your phone off or putting it on silent mode for the night is another good way to keep from getting distracted when it goes off.

4.  You Are What You Eat

It’s no secret that what you eat is important in maintaining a healthy diet. While it’s easy to remember to pay attention to all the carbs, protein, and fats you consume, most people forget about their vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients are just as important. They are what keep your body running as it should.

Don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day, either. Staying properly hydrated ensures all the nutrients you eat get to all the right places in your body. Watch out for signs of dehydration like increased thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine, exhaustion, headaches and dizziness. Be sure to drink up if you experience any of these signs.

5. Have a Self Check-In

Both while exercising and throughout the day, listen to your body. If your arms are sore, work another muscle group. If you have a headache, drink some water. If you are stressed, take time to do a hobby that you enjoy.

It is also a good idea to keep in mind why you are doing what you do. This skill is especially important in those recovering from substance abuse. Many going through rehab find exercise a great outlet and motivator for getting healthy and staying sober. It can increase confidence and provide a sense of accomplishment.

However, many are also susceptible to replacing one addiction with another and may start obsessing over weights and calories. Successfully keeping an eye on the why and regularly checking in with yourself can prevent this from happening by knowing when it’s time to seek help.

Slowing It Down

In many ways, self-care is about slowing things down. It is about taking much-needed time to take care of yourself and putting your needs first. By doing so, you can achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

What does it REALLY mean to have a Balanced Body?

This is a very loaded question if you ask me! In referring to Essentrics®, a balanced body means that all 650 muscles, 360 joints, 205 bones and all the surrounding connective tissue are functioning evenly so that not one area of the body is working harder.  If one area of the body is working harder that means the muscles may be tighter (agonist) and the opposing may be looser or weaker (antagonist).  This can create imbalance, which can lead to pain.

In order to know how to be balanced its important to understand how imbalances occur. Our bodies are meant to function seamlessly through life-even as we age!  So how is it we seem to get more aches and pains as we get older?  It is not necessarily linked to our chronological age but rather attributed to how long our bodies have been exposed to environments that cause those imbalances. So, how hard have you been on your body throughout the years?  Remember that 21 year old daredevil you once were?  Never thought that would eventually creap up on you, huh? 😉skateboarding_picture_1_168189

Imbalances, throughout life, are caused by many different things: habits, work environment, recreational activities, injuries, surgeries, scar tissue, muscle cell atrophy including a sedentary lifestyle! When our bodies are imbalanced compensations natually occur (because our bodies are just so smart!)

Say, for example, your left shoulder has been giving you pain and you cannot raise it past your ear.  In order to reach something from a tall cabinet you lean your body to the right to reach higher since your shoulder will not go any further.  In the long run this causes tightness in the muscles on your right side: your opposing spinal muscles, latissumus dorsi and obliques, for example, which are now causing pain in your lower back, all from compensation. We are not a body made up of separate muscles but rather muscle and connective tissue chains that communicate with one another to function.  If one area is weak, another area will compensate so we do not completely become disabled from the first sign of imbalance. (An imbalance we may be unaware of!)  And unfortunately those imbalances, if left untreated, can lead to pain.

So what can be done?

  • Be mindful of postures throughout the day. For example: sleeping, standing, sitting, working, carrying groceries, kids, etc.
  • Understand how you feel in these positions. Does your lower back hurt because you stand with one foot propped up on the other, causing your hips to deviate? Do you hold the phone hands-free between your ear and your shoulder stressing your neck muscles and cervical vertebra? What areas of the body do you feel pain and in what positions do you feel the pain the most?
  • Make a log. Write down the areas of the body you feel strain or pain when involved in repetitive motions, standing or sitting.  Or better yet, have someone take pictures of you (secretly) so you can understand what you look like in different postures throughout the day.
  • Find a therapeutic fitness class. By “therapeutic”  I mean a class, such as Essentrics®, that focuses on all working parts of the body in balanced way.  It should be easy on the body, work from toes and feet to hands and head. The program you select should not only improve flexibility and strength but help you gain more awareness of how your body functions and should function.
  • Find an acupuncturist to do dry needling into deeper tissue, a massage therapist who specializes in Myofascial Release techniques and/ or learn how to use a foam roller to release tight or toxin filled fascia (connective tissue). Most of the time pain stems from the connective tissue rather than the muscles because of the higher percentage of nerves in the tissue.
  • Relax. To make a positive difference in how your body works it is important to relax-both mentally and physically. Breathe deeply and slowly and allow time to feel what your body feels, good and bad.
  • Find a specialist. When needed, find a specialist in body mechanics such as a physical therapist, sports trainer or therapeutic exercise specialist.

It is important to know that imbalances can be a detriment to the body and it’s daily functions.  Know that you are not alone in this!  There are many, like myself, who have made it their life’s work to help! Stay tuned for my next post!

Suggested reads:

“The Pain-Free Program.”  By: Anthony B. Carey, Founder of Function First®

 “Forever Painless.”  By: Miranda Esmonde-White, Founder of Essentrics®



Techniques To Balance Our Muscles

As I stated in my last post Essentrics® primarily focuses on eccentric training of the muscles. Essentrics®, however, is built upon a collection of techniques designed to keep the body balanced throughout the routine.  For instance, if we point the toes down toward the floor in plantar flexion it is important to point the toes up into dorsiflexion.  This prevents one side of the body from working in an unbalanced manner. For this reason it is important to not only train eccentrically but concentrically: to balance the body.

In my previous post, I touched on two techniques that help to balance the body between concentric and eccentric movements.  One is a positional technique: a technique used to position the body to ensure correct load path and the other is a neuromuscular technique: a technique used to trigger a response in the nerves and muscles.

One positional technique in particular that utilizes concentric and eccentric movements is called short lever/long lever.  A short lever is essentially a muscle that is shortened and a long lever is a muscle that is elongated.  In other words, a short lever is an arm that is bent at the elbow or a leg that is bent at the knee.  A long lever is when the limb is in extension.  Often in Essentrics®, one sequence of movement can combine various short and long levers.

When we discuss the neuromuscular technique, agonist/antagonist, it is explaining what happens to the muscles when shortened or elongated as well, however, unlike short/long levers, agonist/antagonist are reliant upon each other to occur.  In essence, when someone bends their elbow and concentrically contracts (shortens) the bicep (agonist), the tricep elongates or relaxes (antagonist). Amazing, right?


 In “Pull the Donkey” technique arms begin in long lever and end in short lever.  Notice the right leg in long lever and left leg into long lever.

It is important to have concentric training balance out our eccentric training.  Balance in training is of utmost importance in not only keeping our bodies in alignment but pain-free as well!

Resource:  Essentrics® program and Miranda Esmonde-White

















Concentric vs. Eccentric Training

Let’s clarify 2 ways we strengthen our muscles: concentrically or shortening the muscle fibers and eccentrically or a combination of contraction and elongation of the muscle fibers. One movement shortens the muscles toward the body’s center and the other proceeds from the center. Is one more strengthening than the other? Before we answer that question, let me give an example to clarify the two techniques.

The most common example of concentric/eccentric load training is a bicep curl with weights.  When done correctly, by positioning the elbows in an isolated position next to your waist, the weight is pulled up from the waist to the shoulders, shortening the muscle.  This is concentric or positive muscle training.  The next step is to bring the weights back down to the waist. This is eccentric or negative muscle training. Both strengthen the muscles, just in opposing ways.

But which form actually strengthens more effectively? In modern day fitness it is common to think that strength is synonymous with concentric training; pumping weights to form muscles intodownload-1.jpg large, bulky shapes seen on the likes of the Incredible Hulk or Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Picture a professional body builder: they look very strong because he or she has “big” muscles, however compared to the strength of a ballerina, whose strength training is more specifically eccentric, pound for pound she is much stronger. And all this is done WITHOUT added weights!



Now, hold up!  You’re saying a ballerina is stronger than a bodybuilder?  Yes!  Because when the body is trained eccentrically, arms, legs, torso extended away from the body, the load is automatically heavier, which recruits as many muscle fibers as possible to move and hold the extended limbs.  Concentric training, on the other hand, only recruits the muscle fibers needed to bring the weight closer into the body.

To clarify, let’s go back to that bicep curl example. When the weights are pulled up concentrically, the bicep is strengthened and shortened, however when performing a negative (bringing the weights back down to starting position), both the bicep and it’s opposing muscle, the tricep, are used: the bicep to control the weight on the way down and the tricep to extend the arm at the elbow.  Moving the weight eccentrically then recruits a lot more deep muscle fibers to allow the muscles to move the weight down safely to avoid injury. These deep fibers are also needed to be strong and stable for daily functional movements.

Eccentric training, when done without weights, is not only a very safe method of training but it is the most effective strength training!  The other great benefit to eccentric training, as opposed to concentric training?  The joints and connective tissue are liberated instead of compressed.  It allows increased range of motion around the joints, which by definition is flexibility!

In the end, however, it would not be correct to point out the importance of concentric training to our program.  There are several instances where concentric training is vital and one is abdominal training.  Our abdominals play a very important role in core stabilization, spinal heath and correct posturing to name a few.  It is our role, as fitness professionals, therefore to strengthen the core in any way we can.

So it’s only fair to point out that we utilize concentric as well as eccentric training, but our focus: eccentric training!  To me it sounds like a winner!

For more information on the Essentrics® program, please visit:

(Principles of the Essentrics® Program by Miranda Esmonde-White)

What IS Essentrics®?

Essentrics® is a dynamic stretching and strengthening program designed to rebalance all 650 muscles, 360 joints, 208 bones including the surrounding connective tissue, organs and veins. By name, Essentrics® is trademarked by creator Miranda Esmonde-White to emphasize the focus on eccentric muscle training.

Using eccentric contractions (as we focus on in Essentrics®) one is training the body in an extended position: arms and legs extended away from the body instead of inward, thus pulling up and out away from the gravitational pull on the body. By training in this fashion it not only takes pressure of the joints allowing more range of motion (flexibility) but it allows the muscles to strengthen most effectively.

Essentrics® is such a huge part of my life, not only because I teach it as a way of earning a living, but mainly because it’s my WAY of life.  I never knew much about FUNCTIONAL training until recently.  After years of weight lifting (which included a stint in body building) and other forms of high-intensity, high-impact training, my body began to fight back in the form of aches and pains.  Afterall, using FORCE is not always the ideal way to work the body.  Essentrics® came at the right time.  It has taught me it’s more about function for longevity as opposed to form-a.k.a. BIG BICEPS 😉

And, as a former gym buff, I didn’t want to compromise the strength training component weight training provided. What I realized, however, was that I wasn’t compromising strength in any way!  On the contrary, functional training, such as in Essentrics® strengthens MORE since the muscle is in an elongated position.  In fact, “going to the end of a stretch” (more on this later) and working WITH our muscle reflexes is highly strengthening!

A caveat: you must RELAX!  Relax to strengthen? That can’t be right!  Through years of research, experts in their field have discovered that as we relax while extending our bodies outward, away from our core, it allows the muscle reflexes to “relax” or “override,” if you will. When our muscle reflexes relax, our muscles can stretch to full capacity, which in turn strengthens ALL the muscle fibers more effectively!

Think of it this way: imagine holding your arms in toward your body bent at the elbow for 5 minutes. Now imagine holding your arms out straight to your sides for the same amount of time.  Which takes more strength over time to hold?  No question the arms lengthened out to your sides! Training the muscles in extended positioning is more strengthening and as long as it is done safely, without added weight. It is considered the most effective strength training!


Join me next week where we compare the ever popular concentric muscle training to eccentric training!

Arms extended in opposition away from the core works the muscles eccentrically.

Reference: Essentrics® training manuals, Miranda Esmonde-White

I Hate my GUTS!


That’s it!  I’ve said it…I HATE my guts.  Hate is such a strong word, I know! But there it is.  I have had my guts since the tender age of zero and have learned that it is a finicky,

downloadspoiled brat who prides itself in being a HUGE FOOD SNOB.  “If you feed me that,” it says “I’m going to give you a big stomach ache, equipped with distention that makes you appear 5 months pregnant and TONS of gas!!” Anyone else been there?!

So what’s to be done about it? Here are some suggestions based on my experience:

  • Stop stressing out! Easier said than done but if your life isn’t in immanent danger (which it most likely is not) take a deep breath and put things in perspective.  You DO have control over how you feel at any given time.
  • Eat Healthy. At least embrace the foods that make you feel AMAZING not only physically but mentally as well; foods that don’t zap you of all energy and leave you with anxiety. Come on! You KNOW what they are;)
  • Exercise. Move that blood!  Detox your body and regenerate those cells!
  • Stop the MADNESS! Take time to just sit and be still without the obligation to those thoughts that loop over and over in your head.
  • BREATHE! Breathing long and deep lowers the blood pressure, tunes into that parasympathetic nervous system that relaxes the body and moves the blood, especially in the gut, aiding digestion.
  • Sit up straight or stand during (and post) eating to take compression off the guts and allow the food to pass through and digest more easily.
  • POOP!! EVERYDAY!! This is HUGE if you want to feel good mentally and physically. Utilize supplements if you have to but try to stick to non-addictive, natural methods.
  • Learn to love your guts and take care of your guts and show it the respect it wants (and deserves).


These are the things that have helped me manage my fussy guts.  And instead of loathing, learn to be grateful for the wonderful things your gut does RIGHT for the body!  Still having issues?  Read back into my previous posts on gut health!  And good luck!




What’s this BLOG all about?

I thought I would take a moment to comment on my BLOG. In the past my posts have ranged from gut health, to stress, to IBS to bone broth recipes, to fitness… whew! But you know what? This blog is a journey…my health journey. And sometimes with any journey, there are deviations.  Deviations that end up adding to the whole story: the story of health-inward and outward.

In essence, I write to help those of you who may be in a similar situation with their health OR to share knowledge gained through my fitness line of work.  It may be about how I’m feeling that day or what’s happened in my life related to my health or a tidbit I thought valuable enough to share. I hope you will follow me on my journey so you may learn something about yourself through my experiences.  And I hope to inspire you to go forth to be your best by FEELING your best!

Please comment on my posts, add something that may benefit others or better yet, share this blog!

Your partner in health,


My wonderful and supportive husband and children whom I hope to instill that anything is possible!

Disclaimer:  I have no intention of treating, diagnosing or leading you to believe that I am the ultimate authority on health.  I am a victim of my own circumstances and in being so I wish to share what I have learned with the intention of directing you through an alternative perspective. If you experience symptoms worthy of a LICENSED practitioner, I sincerely recommend you locate one knowledgeable enough to help you find ultimate relief.  Thank you!


Why am I so TIRED all the time?

It’s 3 o’clock pm.  Your burger and fries (and Frosty 😯) for lunch just deposited into your intestines, and now you’re ready for a nap.  The best thing to do is to grab a coffee, or that Snickers bar you were going to eat for that mid-morning snack—SO GLAD YOU SAVED IT NOW! WOO-HOO!

There are many reasons why our energy levels aren’t what they were in our youth. It could be poor diet, such as the example above (sugary foods wreak havoc on blood sugar, plummeting our energy levels). It could also be due to a food sensitivity. When I eat foods not “designed” for my body, my energy will diminish, mostly because when I reenter my “healthy” diet the next day, I enter a state of detox, which can cause low energy levels—almost like a hangover.

But, what if your diet IS on track, and you have a stomach of iron? There are a number of OTHER reasons why energy levels are waning, such as:  an under active thyroid, not enough fasting during the evening hours, or weak/tight muscles. What? How do weak or tight muscles make me tired? I work out several days a week; surely, this doesn’t apply to me?!

Your muscles, when not used, or stretched, enough (i.e., avid gym buffs), could begin to atrophy.  Muscles and joints are meant to move in every direction—EVERY DAY—which usually doesn’t occur in a body building state. (I know; I used to train like one!)  The muscle cells would not receive enough nutrients (due to insufficient circulation), such that they would starve and shrivel up (like raisins), compressing all of the muscles into a tighter and tighter mass, compressing the joints. Then, the connective tissue around the muscle, or fascia (think Saran Wrap), has to shrink down to fit around the shrunken muscle.

So imagine, if you will, a 4 year-old hanging onto your leg as you try to walk (which frequently happens to me, by the way). It’s possible to walk, but it’s much harder, and I have to exert much more effort to do so, making me tired. When your muscles and joints are compressed by a tight band around them (the fascia), and it is not lubricated as it should be, it’s harder to move, so it takes a lot more energy! Do that all day long, everyday, and you will be dragging A**!!

Have you ever heard of mitochondria?  The mitochondria are the little “power houses” of our muscle cells. If you discover one day that you just “aren’t moving as you did in your 20’s,” or your energy just “wasn’t what it used to be,” it could be a lack of mitochondria DUE to the lack of functioning muscle cells from atrophy.

So, what’s the solution? Movement, movement, movement! And, I’m not just talking about a walk around the block; I am talking about movement of EVERY muscle, EVERY joint, EVERY bone, EVERY DAY!

So here is the formula:


More CIRCULATION/LUBRICATION of joints and connective tissue =

More HEALING to every cell =

An INCREASE in functioning muscle cells =

More functioning POWER HOUSES (mitochondria) =

Yep, you guessed it:

MORE ENERGY!! (As well as much more fat burning, even at rest—BONUS!)

“So, Jill, I’m in pain when I move!”  

The solution? Unless you are having knife-like pains that are absolutely debilitating, or you are under doctor’s orders, you NEED to MOVE to solve the pain problem! As we go through our days and “baby” our aches and pains, we continue to stiffen the connective tissue, muscle tissue, and joints. Each and every day we don’t move, it becomes worse because there is no healing blood flowing to these areas.

“When you have an injury, you want to make those muscles move and have the blood circulating to help heal the injury.”

—Anik Bissonnette in Forever Painless by Miranda Esmonde-White

It may be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the better you will feel. And, the better you feel, the more you will do!

I am happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding any, and all of my topics. I love feedback!

Be WELL today!


Reference:  Forever Painless, Miranda-Esmonde White.

Disclaimer:  This blog is not a replacement for medical treatment. Please consult a medical professional.

Posture-Why is it so Important?

When I was a young girl I was told constantly by my Mom to “put your shoulders back.” Does this sound familiar? I would roll my eyes and sigh; move on until she would say it again…(Maybe this sounds familiar, too??)

What I realized, as an adult, is that it’s not just as simple as telling someone to do it.  I know now why she told me to do it and I have to bite my tongue when I see my husband or kids slouching!

There is an abundance of muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments at play when it comes to holding your torso upright.  The erector spinae group is one of the most stabilizing, containing muscles that run the length of the spine, some from the back of the head, all the way down to either side of the spine.  Other larger muscles most familiar to us include: trapezius (traps), latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, the abdominals, obliques (side of the body) and of course the gluteals, just to name a few.

Courtesy of “Wall Chart of Human Anatomy” by Thomas McCracken and Martin Griffiths.

These muscles, along with some others, help to support our spine from top to bottom in all positions, including holding our spines in the correct, upright posture.  If the spine is not held in the correct position because of weak or atrophied (non-vital muscle tissue) muscles, this can lead to many issues such as imbalances in the muscular/skeletal system, which in turn could lead to higher risk of injury, acute and chronic pain.

If our muscles are weak around our shoulders and upper back, the back will curve outward   and the chin will jut forward out of alignment.  Kyphosis (hunchback) is a degenerative condition, but for most of us we have what is called postural kyphosis due to slouching.  Most of the time this change happens gradually and goes unnoticed until one day you look at yourself sideways in a mirror and are shocked!

So what’s the big deal about slouching-it’s just so comfortable!  Well, besides looking like cavemen, it can lead to a number of health issues: imbalanced musculature that can lead to pain or injury, surgery and even digestive issues from protuberance of the digestive organs.

Improper Posture-notice how the head juts forward. Courtesy of Essentrics®

Also, when you are leaning over all the time your lung space collapses, which leads to less air, less circulation and less blood detox.

Have you ever felt anxiety?  Sometimes it can be simply that our lungs are compressed, not allowing maximum space for oxygen.  Stand up straight, raise your arms up in the air, take a deep breath, hold it and feel the stretch in the intercostal (rib) muscles then exhale slowly.  Do that 3 times and I promise your situational anxiety will be alleviated!

Daily habits can also cause bad posture.  In our modern society we sit constantly in front of computers, TVs, in our car, and in front of an IPad and IPhone that are all putting our bodies at risk for muscular imbalances and therefore incorrect spinal alignment.  Even our children are following in our footsteps in this digital world and will be the next generation of terrible posture, poor spinal alignment and chronic neck and back pain.

So what can we do about it?

  1. Body Awareness.  This is the most vital component to having healthy posture. Body awareness means consciously being aware of the postures you hold yourself in on a daily basis. How is your posture when you are eating,  working, or standing? Learning to be conscious of  body posturing will make you better at recognizing when you are not in correct alignment.  According to Miranda Esmonde-White, the creator Essentrics®, most people have such poor body awareness that slouching feels correct and standing up straight feels wrong.  That used to be me!  Now that I have learned how to tone and stretch my back and torso properly it feels so wrong to slouch!
  2. Strength Training.  We can only do what our bodies are capable of doing. If we have weak or atrophied muscles it will be almost impossible to have correct alignment and therefore correct posture. Strength training the muscles in your upper back and neck are necessary in order to hold your head in the correct alignment.  (One example of a back strengthening workout done without weights:  Take both arms up straight above your head so that your arms are next to your ears.  Pull your arms up to the sky and keep pulling to stretch the vertebra apart-imagine a slinky being pulled apart, allowing space in between the coils.  Keep arms up then push one arm to the back wall, engaging shoulder blade. Repeat the other side.  Do both arms together, pushing to the back wall.  Make sure you keep your torso from twisting and do not lean into your lower back.  Next, take arms out to the sides, elbows bent, palms up toward sky and push down toward the floor-opening up the shoulders and chest breathing out deeply. Repeat 4-5 times for a great upper back workout! See diagrams below. This routine and other similar routines are courtesy of
  3. Stretching. Along with strength training you should have loose, not tight, musculature.   If muscles are too tight that can also cause imbalances.  Try  gently rolling your head down your chest from one shoulder to the other to loosen up and de-stress.  Just move daily!

Now you have the knowledge and tools to improve your posture starting with the habit of body awareness!  With body awareness you are well on your way to looking and feeling younger and more confident!

Have a happy and healthy day!


References: Essentrics®Level 1 Manual-Miranda Esmonde-White