AcuPro ® http://www.acupro.com.au Fri, 17 Oct 2014 01:39:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Stretching & Your Health http://www.acupro.com.au/stretching-your-health/ http://www.acupro.com.au/stretching-your-health/#comments Sun, 11 Aug 2013 09:18:31 +0000 http://acupro.com.au/?p=3083 Stretching is a vital ingredient to maintaining flexibility and elasticity of tissues in the body. In our everyday lives a few minutes of limbering and stretching can help to alleviate tight muscles from sport, sedentary or active work, and stress.…

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Stretching is a vital ingredient to maintaining flexibility and elasticity of tissues in the body. In our everyday lives a few minutes of limbering and stretching can help to alleviate tight muscles from sport, sedentary or active work, and stress.

There are a huge range of stretches and ways to stretch. The following are some extremely effective methods for improving flexibility throughout the body.

Contract & Relax Stretching

Otherwise known as PNF stretching (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) this method is very effective for relaxing tight muscles and improving tone throughout the body. This style of stretching can be applied to any muscle groups that are stubbornly tight or difficult to relax with regular static stretching.

If you are interested in the technical lingo, the reason this type of stretching works is via a physiological response called Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR).

Contracting a muscle without shortening or lengthening it is called an Isometric contraction. Immediately after this contraction there is a relaxation response in the muscle. There is another mechanism in the body known as Reciprocal Inhibition (RI).

When you contract the muscle opposing the primary movement (the antagonist), the muscle you are aiming to stretch will relax i.e. If you’re stretching the hamstring muscle group, try gently contracting the quadriceps (front of the thigh) to assist the release of the hamstrings.

There needs to be some caution applied when performing this style of stretching due to the risk of straining a muscle with overly strong contractions. Therefore here are the steps for performing a Contract & Relax Stretch:

Method One

1. Hold the regular stretch for approx 20-30secs to create an initial relaxation in the muscle.

2. Now gently contract (20-30% of your maximum strength) the muscle being stretched for 5-10secs while exhaling.

3. Once you have stopped the contraction in the muscle, increase the intensity of the stretch slightly (you should notice a significant increase in flexibility).

4. You can perform steps 1-3 in a continuous cycle 3-5 times.

Method Two

1. Hold the regular stretch for approx 20-30secs to create an initial relaxation in the muscle.

2. Now gently contract (20-30% of your maximum strength) the opposing muscle group (the antagonist) to the one being stretched for 5-10secs while exhaling.

3. Once you have stopped the contraction in the muscle, increase the intensity of the stretch slightly (you should notice a significant increase in flexibility).

4. You can perform steps 1-3 in a continuous cycle 3-5 times.

Partner Stretching

Stretching with a friend or family member is great way of making stretching more enjoyable and getting some rapid improvements in flexibility. This process needs to be done carefully and with good communication between the pair to prevent muscle strains.

Spend some extra time listening to your partner’s body and asking them if the intensity is too much or too little.

You can also apply the contract & relax method to allow the person stretching to relax the maximum number of muscles possible. Since your partner is helping you to get the stretch, concentrate on your breathing and relaxing the entire body.

If you have children, get them involved and have some fun – kids are naturally flexible and enjoy copying their adult role models.

Breathing & Stretching

The use of the breath is very important in the stretching process. The following steps will assist you getting the most from your stretches:

1. Start with a long and slow inhalation through the nose until the lungs are completely full of air.

2. Slowly release the breath through pursed lips, flattening the stomach muscles and move further into the stretch.

3. Relax into the stretch on the inhalation.

4. Increase the stretch on the exhalation.

5. Hold the stretch for approx 30-60secs.

6. Keep the breathing slow and regular to prevent hyperventilation.

7. Increase the intensity of the stretch in small increments.

8. Listen to your body and don’t over do it! Stretching should be an enjoyable experience that is performed within your pain threshold.

I hope this  helps you get more joy, good health and flexibility from your stretching routines.

 

Yours In Good Health,
Tom Eckersley
AcuPro® Director & Inventor
B.H.Sc.(Chiro) – Dip.(Rem.Massage / Shiatsu) – Post Grad Cert.(Acupuncture) – Cert.(PT)
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Yogic Practice http://www.acupro.com.au/yogic-practice/ http://www.acupro.com.au/yogic-practice/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 00:47:17 +0000 http://acupro.com.au/?p=2964 The importance of breathing, moving and thinking well is given the credence it deserves within the yogic philosophy and practice that stems back milennia through Indian culture and lifestyle.

Whether you’re seeking recommendations for starting a yogic practice as an …

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The importance of breathing, moving and thinking well is given the credence it deserves within the yogic philosophy and practice that stems back milennia through Indian culture and lifestyle.

Whether you’re seeking recommendations for starting a yogic practice as an absolute beginner, or you’re an experienced yogi or yogini, there are always jewels knowledge and wisdom to be taken from others’ experience and practice of yoga.

There are numerous forms of yoga, and the “best” one is the one that you find the greatest affinity with, both in terms of movement and the environment that you practice within. We always recommend going to a number of yogic styles to gain a greater perspective on the movements, teaching styles, and studio atmosphere. It is always different and you will undoubtedly find a yoga form that just “clicks” with your mind and body. That’s when you’ve found your practice… for now anyway 😉

Always be mindful of your limits and test them playfully and within your physical, mental and emotional limits. Pushing yourself too hard is just as detrimental as not pushing yourself enough. Always strive for balance in the mind (thoughts) through the movement of the body and breath, which is the natural unfolding of meditation through movement. You will notice a stilling of the mind and increased awareness of the physical self, which will lead to you a greater undertstanding of how your body moves and how you react (or don’t) to certain situations, feelings and environments; which can be paralleled to our everyday life experience.

We practice yoga to practice yoga, but the by-product of this seemingly physical exercise can have far reaching effects in our daily lives, whether it’s the development of patience, increasing our ability to make decisions or just be still in times of stress to observe rather than inflame a situation. Patience with yourself leads to patience with others, calming your mind leads to the calming of your environment and those around you. The microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm and vice versa, we create through our actions of body and mind the world we choose to see in front of us.

You don’t need to achieve any particular level, or state of transcendence to be gaining the lessons that yoga offers. Just be with yourself and the practice, and let it unfold naturally. The experience of yoga is largely personal and different for each of us, but the lessons gained are universal and apply to all.

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Barefoot Training http://www.acupro.com.au/barefoot-training-and-acupro/ http://www.acupro.com.au/barefoot-training-and-acupro/#comments Sun, 14 Oct 2012 08:12:50 +0000 http://acupro.com.au/?p=2772 We were born barefoot with natural movement and adaptive co-ordination that develops through exploring the physical world, receiving sensory information from the ground that we first crawled on and later walked and ran upon. The feet and hands are dense …

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We were born barefoot with natural movement and adaptive co-ordination that develops through exploring the physical world, receiving sensory information from the ground that we first crawled on and later walked and ran upon. The feet and hands are dense in sensory nerve fibres and send loads of information to our brain about the texture, density, temperature and contours of each and every surface we touch.

Once we remove the innate awareness of our environment by wearing shoes that protect and control the movement of our feet we lose a huge amount of sensory awareness and create a neural laziness that can inhibit optimal biomechanical movement and motor control of our stabilising muscles within the feet, ankles, knees, hips and spinal system.

From the ground up we create awareness of how we relate to the earth and control our movement upon it, which metaphysically represents the way that we control and move within our lives.

Re-engaging with our natural movement and awareness via barefoot training, be it running, resistance training or weights, yoga and pilates will create an increased sensory awareness and motor control of intrinsic muscles throughout the body – all the muscles you “didn’t know were there”.

Next time you’re walking barefoot on sand or loose earth take notice of the way your feet fall on the ground, maintain awareness of your toes spreading and the arches lifting to stabilise your feet and thereby your entire body – your body naturally remembers the way it wants to move to minimise force into your joints and improve efficiency of movement to create a healthy balanced physique.

When you walk or run on sand the proprioceptive neural pathways in your body carry information about where your joints and limbs are in space and relay this information instantly so you can adapt to the changing environment in the same way we need to adapt to the daily challenges of our lives.

Create an adaptive and creative movement in your daily routine and feel the difference in your posture and sense of wellbeing.

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Mind over Mat-ter http://www.acupro.com.au/hello-world/ http://www.acupro.com.au/hello-world/#comments Mon, 30 Jul 2012 01:04:34 +0000 http://acupro.com.au/?p=1 Training in any discipline takes persistence and effort in mind and body, whether you are aiming to improve your physical fitness or improve your state of mind through meditation, all things take self directed effort that stems from intrinsic motivation …

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Training in any discipline takes persistence and effort in mind and body, whether you are aiming to improve your physical fitness or improve your state of mind through meditation, all things take self directed effort that stems from intrinsic motivation ie. You are more likely to complete and successfully reach any goal if your energy and resolve come from an unbreakable inner motivation.

Take for example getting up early for a workout before your day job; it represents a self-sacrifice of sleep and usually requires going to bed at a regular hour, earlier than usual… which may not be compatible with your personal paradigm for everyday life.

Conversely, if you see the positive side of going to bed earlier and waking up before the sun rises for yoga, meditation, or any mental and physical fitness session, the gains you feel and see will be exponential as the world of possibilities are opened up before you. Changing one simple behaviour can explode into a catalyst for a changed life in every realm and reality you experience, giving rise to the dreams and desires that were yet to be realised.

One of the most powerful tools we have as humans is the capacity for creative visualisation and retrospective analysis, to create the future we want to experience. By spending five minutes before sleeping each night doing some creative visualisation of the world you want to live in, and the life you want to lead, each and every neural pathway that is used will be strengthened and help to create your ultimate reality.

In a practical sense that can be applied to visualising yourself getting up early in the morning easily and full of energy, ready for action and feeling fully rested. By removing all doubt from the conscious mind and focussing on the outcome you ultimately want, the effort required in the physical world is reduced by the intricate mental rehearsal that takes place in your wakeful mind, that can then continue to be reinforced during your sleeping hours.

It’s a skill everyone has and if you are one who loves to daydream or remember doing so as a child then that is the skill to be developed. A natural and powerful tool for changing your reality into whatever you want.

Studies carried out on athletes to test the recruitment of muscle fibres and activation of neural pathways, during creative visualisation vs. physically completing the task have shown the same pathways and muscles are activated with almost the same physical training response. Showing that if we really do put our minds to a task, then we can create the same benefits as when we actually engage in any activity, from chess to surfing and working we can obtain immeasurable benefit from visualising ourselves carrying out the task beforehand.

According to a study of military training tactics in the International Journal of Humanities and Applied Sciences (IJHAS).

“Changing the neural substrates of emotions and emotion-reaction will not only affect neurology of one’s brain but the physical reaction will be affected too, thereby assisting the individual to motivate and maintain the control on down-regulation of negative emotion in a constructive manner. Change in one facilitates changes in the entire human design.”

Military Psychology: Cognitive & Emotive Performance Enhancement Strategies by Dr. Rupali Jeswal

Throughout history we have been given the tools to change our reality, in the words of the wise:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

You may like to read some more on the technical aspects of the mind-body relationship and neuropsychobiology here:

Brainathlon – a game that is controlled by players’ brainwave activity

Dejian Mind-Body Intervention on Depressive Mood

Optimizing microsurgical skills with EEG neurofeedback

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