My feet hit the floor first thing in the morning when I get up from my tatami board and mat on the floor where I sleep.
While brushing my teeth and washing my face there is a half cylinder under the sink which serves for the first calf stretch of the day. In reverse I repeat this going to bed at night. After taking my shower, I bend, stretch and squat pulling the short handled squeegee cleaning off the water from the shower walls, floor and doors. Feels wonderful…
Putting on my clothes I stand on each leg as I pull up pants, pull on socks, and shoes. Again a victory feeling as now after many years practicing the Figure Four exercise with socks and shoes off and on, I can achieve this dressing activity without hanging on or leaning on furniture. This has strengthened my muscles. I in turn use this strength daily. On my way down the hall to the downstairs, I am mindful of posterior push off*. No mincing steps for me!! This is repetitive all day. Going up and down the stairs I keep my shank vertical.
In the kitchen, I stretch and stand on tiptoe to reach my favorite cereal toppings and put them back in their place on the top shelf. I squat and reach (no fancy pull out shelves for me!) to find pots and pans stored on lowest shelves. I continue reaching movements for plates, vitamins, etc. It feels good – I feel more powered and awake.
When standing to prepare fruit, veggies, stirring soups, looking for food in fridge, waiting for water to boil, I check in for the weight over the heels and on both feet equally. ( I have a life-long habit of standing on my right leg with weight over toes). Once corrected I feel the muscles that were compensating relax and feel a wave of comfort in my back, shoulders, neck and glutes.
To eat my meals, I take a tray with my food to one of three places: a coffee table in the living room with a pillow to floor sit, elevating my tail bone to neutral; a ball chair at the dining room table; or occasionally sitting at a bar chair at my counter (alternating the legs for the sitting Figure Four stretch).
Cleaning, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming, scouring is my gym! I think you see why. After an hour of that, I usually work up a sweat and I have a two for one – the movement of cleaning chores is whole body exercise, I feel good, my home is clean, and I still have the money I would have paid for those services in my bank account. Ditto for gardening.
For a desk I use a portable laptop stand to hold my laptop computer or book. It shifts to different heights to use sitting on the floor, standing at a counter or table or squatting! This stand also accommodates books, notebooks for journaling, etc. When doing standing computer work I take advantage of doing my calf stretches, top of foot and bottom of the foot exercises.
I have furniture in my home – couch, easy chair, dining room table and chairs and bar stools – all for my family, friends and guests who mostly prefer furniture. I also have a nice soft rug, bolsters, pillows and mats for all styles of floor sitting, squatting, kneeling and yes, standing and reclining – all aligned and in comfort.
I made a promise to myself five years ago that I would walk with purpose to do errands. I enjoy these errand walks and carry home purchases giving my upper body a workout. I also walk with friends as that is a great way to socialize and walk which are both top priorities in my life. I enjoy walking on the earth, roots, grass, small rocks, pebbles, boulder rocks, and meadows whenever it’s possible. I love finding trees with limbs just waiting to be hung on, swung on and climbed. I love beach walks at all times with mostly low tides and the easy walking on broad firm sand between incoming tide, tide pools and the soft sand beyond.
I bring my focus to how my body is aligned all day long. (See our book Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility, pp. 167-169). This is the basic foundational practice I incorporate in my daily life whether I’m doing household chores, walking for pleasure, hiking or walking to do errands. All day I check into my plumb line from my ears to shoulders to hips to knees to ankles with weight mostly on the heels, the toes are mobile – not weight bearing. When I correct to this alignment, I immediately feel the release in my shoulders, neck and back.
Over the years I have learned, taught and practiced the Restorative Exercises of Nutritious Movement. I use minimum aspirin and other over the counter pain relievers. I still do not need Rx medication for pain or joint repair surgeries. I use MDs when they are needed. However, my usual first line of health and prevention is my chosen life style which includes Nutritious Movement and the use of complementary healing modalities: chiropractic, body work (cranial sacral, myofascial therapy, massage), meditation, contemplation and am passionate about my friends, family and life purpose.
Our bodies are whole, not divided into the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. What is true for me and probably for most people, is that when we heal on one level that will also manifest with greater ease and function on all levels. I incorporated Nutritious Movement into my life over 12 years ago and still use it as my go-to owner’s manual for the body. It’s been fun to share with you and I wish you good luck in your practice.
*From KatySays Blog: “To truly move forward using your muscles, then you have to generate an opposing force. You understand this when swimming, or when dipping an oar into the water. Even your tires push back to move the car forward. It’s how things are done. If you are falling forward, then not only are you NOT using your posterior, you are using your joint cartilage to cushion the fall. And there’s not an unlimited supply. Walking correctly means you get to use your BUTT muscles. The gluteal muscles extend the hip (fancy words for lifting the leg out behind you), but on a treadmill, because the belt is moving toward you, you don’t get to push back. Instead, your lift your leg out (hip flexion) and fall forward. Congratulations, you burned up a lot of calories but weakened your pelvic strength. Try taking your act on the road (as in, not on the treadmill) and practice the “ice skating” feel of a pushing-back gait pattern.”