You Can Exercise Away Back Aches and Pains, Believes Movement Specialist
Causes of Aches & Pains
Wondering why your muscles and joints ache? Walk past Anita Boser and she can tell you why. You probably sit, stand, walk, and lift in a way that damages the body, she's quick to say.
If you stand with splayed legs, your legs spread far apart and feet turned out, you create tension on your low back, points out this Issaquah, Wash.-based movement specialist and the author of Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again with Undulation and the audio version, Undulation Exercises (Vital Self, Inc., www.undulationexercise.com).
Just as bad, when we're slumped in a chair, we usually pull ourselves erect from the shoulders, thus increasing our upper body rigidity, rather than pushing up with feet placed on the floor.
"If you sit at a desk for eight hours a day, you have to counteract the inevitable rigidity with fluid movement-and a lot of it: enough to re-hydrate all of your tissue," Boser advises. "You can do that many different ways, but the method that works for the greatest variety of people is undulation."
Boser did not invent undulation, and she doesn't expect it alone to solve her clients' problems, but it's an important part of what she teaches, because these exercises can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. They can be done at a desk, during a commute, even in a wheelchair. Undulations can be used by marathoners to relax and stretch before a race-and by people so wracked with pain they're not sure they can climb out of bed.
A fibromyalgia patient credits undulation with keeping her body moving. "I practice undulation throughout the day. I really like that even subtle, quiet movements can be so effective. Many of the undulations are doable anywhere, anytime."
Most people over 40 experience stiffness, pain, and lack of energy. But Boser maintains that if you're willing to spend five minutes a day on simple exercise that can be done most anywhere, her books can help you restore lost vitality. The exercise guide teaches how to keep your body fluid with undulation, a smooth motion. The 52 exercises are unique: they build balanced strength and flexibility, rehydrate the discs between the vertebrae, and restore function to stuck joints, which creates a healthier spine.
This is what a mother of four and part-time Tae Kwon Do instructor has to say. "What I love about undulation is how much looser I feel afterward. I have no activities in my life anymore that are limited by back pain and have mostly pain free days."
The Undulation Movements
The Beginning Exercises (including Easy Sway and Happy Dog) are intended to wake up inactive muscles, so the body becomes aware of what it's been missing. The Intermediate Exercises (such as Mermaid and Tailbone Penmanship) build on the basics and use more imaginative movements. The Advanced Exercises (Snake Charmer and Caressed by Waves, for example) get even more playful, and the Mastery Exercises are innovative explorations into the spine (culminating in Old Faithful).
The beauty of this method is that it customizes movement for each individual. "Undulation is the lazy man's way to get the benefits of yoga. It helps me to find the places in my back that are stuck or kinked, and it works more quickly than a pre-set routine," says a local building contractor.
Although the undulation movement is inherent in other movement forms like yoga and dance, it's not given the spotlight. Also, undulation movements are very small. Some of the exercises can be done while you're around other people and no one will even notice. These tiny, slow movements target the small stabilizing muscles that many other forms of exercise ignore. Undulations literally bring fluid to places in the body that have been immobilized or dehydrated.
Learn more about Anita Boser, LMP, CHP. The printed version, Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again with Undulation, (http://www.amazon.com/Relieve-Stiffness-Young-Again-Undulation/dp/0979617901) includes photographs of regular people doing the exercises. On the audio version, the exercises are set to inspiring music (http://www.amazon.com/Undulation-Exercises-Anita-Boser/dp/097961791X). You can hear samples of the audio tracks and see videos at www.undulationexercise.com.