Bounce Back in Your Step
What I most associate with youthfulness is lightness. Children have the sweetest bounce to their step. They skip through a room jumping through clouds. It’s hard to maintain lightness as we age. To stay young we have to stay on the move. Imagine a group of kids swinging on the monkey bars. They’re in constant motion, stretching, twisting and turning their bodies.
From the heart to the brain, every part of us is held together by a collagen-rich, stretchy, web-like tissue called fascia. Our muscles are bound in bundles by connective tissue. If the tissue starts to harden from lack of use, the muscle becomes tight. This is how tension pools in our body.
When viewed under a microscope, healthy connective tissue resembles fishnet stockings. It has little undulations called “crimps” that stretch out like an accordion. That elastic quality is the bounce we see in a child’s step. Crimp atrophies over time through inactivity. The Plié exercises in Essentrics™ are one of many exercises that helps to restore the youthful bounce to our step.
Tai Chi Meets Ballet
Pliés are one of the best exercises for knees and hips. They also burn lots of calories and give you energy by strengthening your glutes and quads. Muscles that don’t get used start to contract. The shortening of the muscles pulls our joints closer together causing pain. When we develop strong legs and hips, it gives us more spring. Muscles are naturally bouncy and Plies are a fun way to build up flexibility and strength.
Unlike the traditional plié of ballet, the Plié in Essentrics™ takes a wide stance, commonly seen in Tai Chi. You stand in a comfortable wide stance. The feeling is light. Your knees are over your middle toe. Like ballet, alignment reigns supreme in Essentrics™.
Strong alignment keeps us from injury and rebalances the body. Building strength while elongating the muscles re-establishes range of motion. Like a dancer, we feel lighter on our feet.
Consistency is Key
Fascia needs to glide around as we move. When we sit for too long, it starts to congeal. Full-body movement breaks up the adhesions and keeps the fascia “slippery.” Healthy, hydrated fascia is what allows us to move in all directions.
Think of this way. Hand cream stays on the surface of the skin if it’s not rubbed in. Movement creates friction, which warms the synovial fluid. Oil that is not consistently softened will stay on the surface of the joints and muscles until it congeals and solidifies. Similar to hand cream, the oil within the sheets of fascia needs to be melted by movement every day.
Thankfully, we just need a bit of gentle exercise to get the fascia moving. Twenty minutes a day isn’t much effort to be rewarded with a strong, balanced body that uses energy efficiently and allows us to continue doing the things we love to do without pain or injury.