What is "Good Health" ?
By: Vicki Aldridge
Health & Wellness Council
We all aspire to good health. So, what is ‘good health’
I consider it to be a balanced and efficient active state of being for the mind, body and soul. At the end of the day; Movement is life. If you don’t move you die. But you want to move easily, lightly and in the highest resonance. Also, prevention is better than cure. Aim high, make an effort but enjoy the ride! This enhances the feel-good factor and happy hormones! At the end of the day, we all feel better when we have a fit and healthy mind, body and soul.
In the natural horse world one of the well-used sayings is; Focus leads to feel which improves timing to achieve balance. We have to put some effort in!
We all know our own bodies are the best self-healing, rebalancing organisms ever! They astound me every day what they are capable of. The most important modality for healing and health is vitality. Life force. It has to do what it needs to do within before you can express yourself without.
It is also important to be in resonance with yourself and your environment. Therefore, it is important to know and love yourself. Be in rhythm with yourself, your surroundings and environment. Allow all your atoms to be fully vital and balanced to fully optimally and achieve maximum energy efficiency so you have more energy for love and joy. Physically smiling has been shown to make us feel good but takes more energy and effort than frowning.
It is also important to living your journey, in synchronicity, so you feel at ease and can enjoy the ride. Knowing your human design, and who you aren’t is key to this, therefore you are not trying to live another life and you can now when you are being influenced by others and not being your true self. This is actually inevitable therefore needs to be actively recognised and managed particularly in close friend and family units. Ideally you have to love your life and your design. Gene keys are also a useful resource to embody our higher selves, whilst also acknowledging the shadows.
New paradigm is achieving and maintaining absolute health and ease of movement through your body and your life; tread lightly – not just treating disease. This may take some adjusting as we discard all dis-ease, however we have to keep striving. If I’ve learned anything it there is no one answer or cure. It’s a balance approach to health to achieve a balanced healthy life!
So, to get good stuff out we have got to get good stuff in. That is down to you. Going back to my original naturopathic training we used the naturopathic triangle. Each condition or organ has to be addressed from three different angles.
· Emotional; know and express yourself, acknowledge and transmute lower emotions (they are your body’s feedback) *quote from human design* - energetic balance with earth, gravity, surrounding. Out of balance can cause frustration. In balance peace.
· Biochemical; chemical balance with earth, gravity, surrounding - food, supplements, - pharmaceutical drugs, Care with cleaning products, toiletries etc
· Structural; fitness, posture, exercise, Strong back/soft front, Physical balance with earth, gravity, surrounding - surgery
Good Breathing techniques links all these. It helps to manage energetic flow from emotional response, it chemically relaxes the body by breathing in through the nose and physical helps rebalance us in time and space – also rebalances flow. Increased frequency with positive thoughts and energies. As a general rule breathing in through the nose is most important. There are options to breath out through the nose or mouth depending on energy requirements.
Other natural therapies can help but they are just to tool for resetting your bodies healing mechanism. We all sometimes need a little help from a friend.
We have different leg lengths and body heights, and our chairs vary hugely too. Sitting posture becomes an awful lot easier if the chair fits YOU and you don’t have to try and fit into it! Here is some more specific situational sitting advice; Desks; Its about the relationship between you, your chair and your desk, and then everything else. It is all there for you so make the inanimate objects work and come to you. I have found a few golden rules that usually work to get a desk setup to work for you.
• If you are 5’6”, or 167 cm, and below you usually need a foot stool.
• If you are 5’8”, or 172 cm, and above you usually need to raise the chair (and desk) height.
• Between 5’8” and 6’ you can sometimes get away with just raising your mouse, keyboard and screen (use a book or ream of paper)
• If you are 6’, or 182 cm, and above YOU HAVE GOT TO RAISE YOUR CHAIR and YOUR DESK UP! Otherwise you will be slouching and storing up problems for later! If you lower the chair you lose all your leg and foot support and your body still collapses.
Sofa; If you are tall then sofas rarely support your legs so try to find something like a bean bag or low foot stool to take the weight of your legs. Again, if you are shorter you usually need a foot stool. Reclining chairs are a reasonable compromise but again you need to find your sitting bones and get your thighs lined up to avoid leaning/collapsing to one side. Car; When getting into the car ‘square up’ so you are sitting straight, find your sitting bones and straighten your thighs in line with your hips. Again, it helps to set up your car seat as well as possible. To do this firstly adjust the seat angle to support under your thighs, then adjust the distance of the seat from the pedals, so you can reach them comfortably, then adjust everything else. This is best done when you are still in your active neutral. Most modern car seats are very adjustable so on a longer journey change the seat position little and often but only when it is safe to do so. The bottom line is we really aren’t designed to sit in chairs so sitting ‘well’ is physically and mentally tiring. Studies have shown that we can only sit well for twenty minutes. We need to keep our energy up to maintain balance and defy the gravitational pull, and avoid collapsing/slouching. So, you need to be mindful of this and reset regularly, or get up and move. Posture relies on physical and mental balance so feed your body well, breathe steady and deeply, be present and aware how you are sitting and keep active/ moving! Simple.... no!, but just give a go, be mindful of it, and be inventive with solutions. There are no rules just guidelines. Remember some changes are better than nothing but if you don’t try it will never improve! It is a huge subject so if you would like more help we are here if you need us! All the best and keep well.
Posture is an ongoing practice we have to work on trough out life, particularly as we get older. Physical and mental health and wellbeing are paramount to good posture.
Unfortunately modern lifestyles are not conducive to good posture. One of the major burdens we have created for ourselves is too much sitting particularly on soft chairs and not enough simple exercise such as walking.
In evolutionary terms sitting does not feature until civilisation was established. Up until this point we would have rested in the ‘archetypal postures’
• Cross legged sit
• Toe sitting
• Japanese sitting
• Half lotus position
• Long sit
It is thought that these positions help align our facial patterns from the false balance that sitting, particularly sitting badly, forms.
Practical suggestions involve
• Not sitting for prolonged periods of time (get up every 30-45 minutes if possible)
• Sit as well as possible – get chairs and setup that suit/fit your body size – make a desk setup work for you and not you work for it
• At rest either lie down in a neutral position or sit in the archetypal postures (see philipbeech.com)
• Move/ fidget regularly!
• Go out for a ‘good’ short walk as often as possible throughout the day
Stand up tall and proud, and balanced.
For many of the controlled exercises like Pilates, Thai chi, Yoga standing is often one of the first things we learn. Its not only how people first see us, our outer ego, but also how we feel on the inside. It is also vitally important to stand before exercise to give us a good chance of exercising well, even walking.
My guidelines for standing;
• Have your feet hip width apart; so your right foot is supporting your right shoulder and your left foot is supporting your left shoulder.
• Soften, not bend, your knee; this activate; your legs.
• Keep your weight even and in your buttocks. Ultimately, we are aiming to be centred with a low centre of gravity, therefore have most weight should be behind your hip and in your buttocks/ glutei, like a webble wobble. (our two strongest senses we have are vision and touch. It can be hard to look at ourselves even in a mirror but you can always put your hands on yourself, front to back, and left to right. Start to get a feel of where your balance or weight is. This is usually where you feel heaviest)
• Then take a deep breath in to lift your chest and relax your shoulders with the out breath.
• If you are balanced and comfortable you should be able to continue to breath easily.
• If you are unsure about the position is ask yourself how stable are you if someone was to push/tackle you would you be able to manage it?
If you feel you have your standing balance is fairly well sorted you can challenge yourself but standing on an uneven surface like a soft yoga block, wobble cushion and or BOSU. Then you challenge your balance by lifting and moving your arms, adding weights and try even unpredictable balance games like someone throwing you a ball. It all helps your balance which helps your overall physical fitness and posture, and it will make standing still much easier because your body just knows
Of course, the standing technique isn’t just useful for standing still, it is also useful when we change position, especially getting up from sitting/lying. It is a good idea to reset your standing balance before you move. Once you are standing balanced and stable then take a deep breath, lift your energy, engage your body/core and then move. The extreme version of this is how an athlete, dancer or marshal art person would do!
As good as it is this position is quite hard work to maintain for any length of time, particularly because we aren’t used to it. Of course, good practice makes perfect so the more you practice it the easier it gets!
If you have to stand for a while and you feel like you are/will get tired, then I would suggest you move, but if you can’t actively move, you should still be able to rock, ideally forward and backward. I don’t like the side to side rocking as it’s easy to become imbalanced.
The rocking techniques is particularly useful on many levels. It is handy when standing waiting such as standing in a queue etc. However, it is also a good rehabilitation exercise as it helps us find and use our deep back muscles, the multifidi, amongst others. It is like the walking action you just aren’t going anywhere.
• Start by standing well, feet about hip width apart,
• Step one foot forward at a comfortable stride length (you must remain stable and balanced).
• Start by moving your weight onto your front foot and lift your back heel, then shift your weight onto your back foot and lift your front toe.
• If that feels balanced and comfortable then you can find a rocking rhythm forward and backward. It should be easy, comfortable and sustainable. If it isn’t reduce your stride length until it is.
Remember just pick a level that suits you, maybe on the edge of your comfort zone but not outside it. The aim is to feel challenged but not out of your depth/ too unstable. Be creative and have fun!
Walk for joy
Our body likes to move! Almost 60% of our body is made up of fluids, and movement help those fluids to move and flow.
This includes the blood circulation, our lymphatic/immune system, our breathing/respiration, digestion system and every joint, particularly synovial joints, in our body. As one of my peers succinctly put it ‘if you don’t move you die’. So, it’s kind of important to move!
Like most things with the body it’s all about balance; homeostasis. You need to move just enough, to be as fit as you need to be, to do the activities your life demands with ease. Too little and you aren’t physically fit enough for your demands of the day so you can easily over use and strain your body pushing it beyond its natural capabilities. However too much high intensity exercise when you aren’t fit enough can also strain and wear your body out too soon.
However even arthritic joints need to move. Arthritis often refer to wear and tear of a joint, however, it actually translates as inflammation of the joint (arthro-means joint and -itis means inflammation). It’s worth noting you can have wear and tear of a joint without it being inflamed. It can be asymptomatic but still worn therefore weak and vulnerable. The best thing is to keep using it, at a comfortable level, particularly to maintain the joint stabilising muscles. Often a worn joint only becomes actively inflamed when/if it is traumatised. Unfortunately, the wear and tear in the joint means it has less tolerance and becomes traumatised more easily. So, with arthritis you still need to move and often feel better for the movement but it’s best to do it little and often, and at a low level.
Walking is one of the best rhythmical activities we can do. It is ‘free’, and should be available to us all at some level, even if it means just walking around the garden. There is a lot of research that shows walking in nature has many health benefits, however you should build up your levels and always feel physically comfortable doing it. Ideally aim for a reasonable distance every day. Remember we are looking at the long-term gain rather than short term achievement. This is hopefully about finding a sustainable level of exercise not just continually increasing your levels indefinitely. With regular exercise we don’t always enjoy it while we are doing it, especially if the weather isn’t good, however you usually feel much better afterwards, and it has great long-term health benefits. As long as you don’t try and walk too far or too fast. For those with musculoskeletal pain or in rehabilitation just remember limping isn’t walking!
Like all exercise techniques is key. It’s not what you do it’s how you do it.
1 Start your walking exercise by standing well; balanced and energetic as we discussed previously (your feet hip width apart with your evenly weight distributed, toes facing straight ahead (ideally so your knees are pointing to your second toe as long as It doesn’t cause pain, if it does ease the position until its more comfortable) and soften your knees.
2 Take a deep breath to bring your chest up, and bring your energy up, then start walking at a comfortable pace. Don’t try and take a big first stride. Aim small and build up.
3 Then you need to find a rhythm and gait that suits you. Your aim is a purposeful/energetic walk but you don’t have to start there.
Once you feel comfortable you can then have fun by challenging yourself and your walking style/ rhythm such as;
1 Play with speed, walk faster for a set number of steps, and then walk slower for a set number of steps, and settle at the comfortable rhythmical speed in the middle, then relax into a comfortable rhythmical walk and breath. This can be repeated until you are sure you are comfortable. This can vary day to day so investigate and play with it.
2 Energise your different parts/ joints of your body by systematically adding more energy (ideally between 10-75%) for a few steps until it feels comfortable and free; for example focus on your ankles then, knees, hips joints/groin area, swing your hips, swing your waist, shoulder blades, shoulders, bend your elbows then wrist and swing your jaw.
Feel free to get more detailed depending on your anatomy knowledge and how far you are walking.…then relax to a comfortable rhythmical walk and breath.
3 Lead with different zones of your body for a number of steps such as your left shoulder, then your right shoulder, your left hip, then your right hip, then relax into a comfortable rhythmical walk and breath.
4 Walk backward to a number of steps, remember to stay upright/ don’t lean forward, breathe and then spring forward into a comfortable rhythmical walk and breath.
5 Walk sideways either diagonally across a path, gradually increase the angle, for a number of steps, then forward into a comfortable rhythmical walk and breath.
Always remember while you are walking you looking for balance, rhythm, relaxation, energy in pace, stance and breathing…
Remember it should be comfortable and enjoyable experience, and never ever painful!
Ideally stop before you get tired and loss ‘form’!
If you need some help with rhythm and pace you can always listen to some suitable music!
These exercises can easily be extrapolated for runners and more energetic walkers.
Once you have been for a walk don’t just sit down for a long periods afterwards because you will easily stiffen. By all means sit down well and not for too long! And remember to keep hydrated.
As I said before walking is a good rhythmical exercise, like cycling and or swimming. However, coordination exercises are good too, such as sports like bowling, tennis, golf, exercises class, Pilates, yoga, dance. Walking is a good way to get fit to do a sport. Remember it’s not what you do it’s how you do it, be fit enough before you aim too high and take these skills into life.
As always something is better than nothing but if you don’t try it will never improve! I would rather you start by underestimating your ability and build up to a sustainable level than overdo it, hurt yourself and lose confidence. There are no rules just guidelines.
Good luck and have fun.