Float Away

Whether it’s physical feats through sport/activity, the grind at work, or pressure at home, it’s hard to turn OFF. Our frenetic identities of “living” today, are a multichotomy, to say the least.

What are you doing to wind down, relax, let go, take respite? What are you doing to recover from hard workouts, difficult weeks, and life stresses?

Some of you may or may not have found your gateway to ease (i.e. deep breathing, walk in nature, ocean swim, meditating, yoga, massage, stretching, etc.). Here’s something else you can try!

I recently went to “Life Spring Float Tank Centre” in Cockburn. Watch my video above to see the float pod and set up in a private room.

To be honest, I initially looked at floating as a ‘placebo’. Whatever it is that you like, want or feel the need to do-> THAT will help you! Back to floating… after reading many articles dispersed over the last 50 years I was schooled and intrigued.

Generally speaking here, from a few standpoints (there are more):

Physiology- ↓ heart rate, ↓ blood pressure

Neuropsychology- ↑ production of alpha & theta waves and ↓ production of beta & gamma waves

Pain- ↓ chronic pain

Recovery- ↑ musculoskeletal recovery

So what? Well, it has helped thousands of people with anxiety, PTSD, addictions (smoking, alcohol), fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, psychosomatic illnesses, and athletic recovery.

Most studies work with the R.E.S.T. {Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique/Therapy} principle/theory which ties in perfectly with reasons why people would want to try a Float in the first place. You have a private room, private pod, no sound, no vibration, essentially no stimulation. It’s just your naked self in the water.

Now, if you are an A.I.R. head that might be a challenge. A head that has the “Anxiety Induced Relaxation” attached to it, going to a million thoughts a minute upon ‘trying to relax’. You might want to pretend it’s a game and do exercises in the water to help you get in the mood of chilling. There is plenty of room in the pod to stretch, do yoga, squat, etc. You don’t HAVE to close your eyes and sleep the whole time. I, myself, did 30 minutes of stretching. It’s your 30 minutes (or 1 hour) of time. Do as you please!

We are all bombarded with hyper stimulation today, producing way too much cortisol, creating a cataclysmic effect on all the systems in our body. Everyone knows stress generates inflammation. Small amounts of inflammation that the body can flush out are fine… but heightened, prolonged tsunamis of inflammation will not go unnoticed. How the inflammation manifests itself is entirely individual. How are you switching off today? Why not try a float! It might be what you need.

Low Back Health for Swimmers

It’s official!

I’m doing the solo Rottnest swim February 27, 2016. For those of you that do not live in Perth, Western Australia, it is a 19.7km swim [Yeah! If I am to swim in a perfect line! LOL] from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island. You can swim solo, as a duo or as a team; but, the solos are the only swimmers guaranteed to join in on the fun because there’s so many entries in the teams every year! You need a motor boat and a paddler (preferably two), then your off into the ocean abyss!

Sure, sure there’s risk of hypothermia, sunburn, dangerous weather, poor sea conditions, feeling pukie pukie in the water because it’s so salty and the smells from motor boat fumes, jellyfish stings, and shark attacks… among other things.

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But really, it’s just like anything you do in life: there’s always a risk. Walking out your front door is a risk; but, you take it everyday :)

Anyway… let’s talk about the Making Movement Matter of swimming!

I swam 3k this morning in the ocean {only 17 more to go} and I felt great. YET, I could slightly feel my low back. If you swim OR just started swimming again OR are increasing your swimming mileage you need to seriously consider the mechanics of swimming itself.

Why would someone’s back be sore after a swim, ESPECIALLY since many therapists/therapies recommend water therapy and swimming? Well, let me tell you :)

A lot of swimmers rib thrust. This means when their arms reach overhead, with every stroke, they bring their ribs along for the ride. There are many reasons for this:

1. They have no idea they are doing it.

2. They might think it’s normal.

3. They’re instructed to do so inadvertently because their coach does it.

4. They lift their heads up too high and too much for sighting (in the ocean/lake).

{There’s other reasons, but I’ll do them another day}

Soooo, how can you fix it?

i. Awareness: Make sure the front of your ribs are in line with the front of your pelvis (ASIS anterior superior iliac spine). This is actually for everything you do: Day and Night. Keep your ribs down. Keep your ribs down. Keep your ribs down. It doesn’t matter: the answer is keep your ribs down. I emphasize it in the water with swimmers because it is sooooo easy to rib thrust with the buoyancy of the water, how it shifts our loads around. A lot of you will be “feeling like you are doing abdominal crunches” to keep those ribs in position, don’t overdo it! And make sure you don’t tuck your tailbone in! Every new position takes time. Be gentle with yourself.

ii. When you sight, only do so where your eyes just come above water {i.e. NO need to take your entire head and neck out of the water to see where you are going!}. AND be aware of keeping your ribs down while going into cervical extension. Swimming distances you want to point your nose to the ocean/lake floor NOT in front of you, this will only encourage more rib thrusting.

If your low back is uncomfortable and you want immediate relief, try rolling gently on your belly with a soft inflatable ball. Here I am using a coregeous ball developed by Jill Miller, Yoga Tune Up®. You are more than welcome to purchase a coregeous ball here. If you live in Perth, WA you can come to one of my classes, just email me here.

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YES, rolling on your belly alleviates your low back. Try it before you knock it :) It’s not going to be comfortable at first; but, it feels wonderful after you ‘allow the ball to sink deeper into your abdominal viscera’ {metaphorically speaking}.

My main goal is for athletes to ENJOY their sport, not having to worry about pain, discomfort, or injury.

Happy Swimming!!!

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Staying relaxed while in stroke seat [Rowing]

Question: From a high school girl “What kind of exercise can I use to help stay relaxed when stroking (quads and eights)””

Answer: WOW! This question stirred up a lot of memories! I was stroke seat in several boats and all experiences were different. There are several ways you can stay relaxed. I am not sure what is going to work for you, so I have a few suggestions.

1. How long have you been stroking the boat? Sometimes it just takes time to get familiar with your new role in the boat (making sure you understand all your responsibilities as stroke) and getting comfortable with the position. Yes, as easy as that. It takes time to achieve an ideal rate and rhythm. It takes time to appropriate communicate with the coxswain. It takes time to get the ‘feel’ while remaining relaxed.

2. Are you a gripper? If you gripped the oar when you first started rowing, sometimes athletes will have a tendency to ‘grip’ a little harder in stroke seat. Make sure you wiggle your fingers as you recover to the catch.

3. How is your breathing? Yes, breathing is suppose to be natural and relaxed; however, sometimes it gets all tangled up. If possible, think about exhaling while powering with the legs to the finish and inhaling coming up the slide to the catch. Little key words I love to implement in this case are “Inhale confidence” (or inhaling with confidence) and “Exhale tension” (or exhaling the tension) let all the tension go, as you proceed, long and strong with every stroke.

4. I had completely different group dynamics in all the teams for which I rowed. As stroke, one example was with 7 seat yelling out “If we don’t win this race I am not talking to any of you. FYI”. Another team, the 7 seat asked “Does my hair look okay?”. I certainly hope the boat dynamic allows you to ‘relax’ while rowing in the boat. Regardless, it is up to you to focus on the task at hand and you may need to work through that with your teammates or your coach.

5. How ‘relaxed’ are you off the water? If you have a tendency to be not-so-relaxed all day long, it would be hard to instantly ‘get relaxed’ in the boat. Make sure you cater your day to periods of relaxation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical, mental or emotional ‘tension’, your body takes it all in. Be good to yourself!

6. How’s your technique? Do you thrust your ribs forward or squeeze your shoulders back? These two movements cause incredible amounts of tension in the body and will not release until after you finish rowing. Make sure your body is only using the muscles it needs to use while rowing and you are not unconsciously creating tension where it does not belong.

I hope that one of these helped. Have a wonderful rowing season!