Slide from Snow to Spring
Ready for spring? I bet you are. We may still feel cold but the earth knows spring is coming. As it softens around new growth, we too need to soften winter's affect on our bodies. Like the earth, we need to thaw the tension of winter.
Winter is nature’s way of telling us to slow down. Spring is nature’s way of telling us to wake up. But waking up our bodies after a brutal winter is tough. We have been tense, taut, attempting to go, go, go when we should have been hibernating. We sent our bodies mixed messages – go, lead a regular life but watch out at every step, every snowflake and every bit of ice. Now we wake up and need to reclaim a natural rhythm, a natural way of being in our bodies.
Like hibernating bears, we are creatures of nature. Like the earth’s surface, we are 70% water. We are mostly a liquid body. Like the moon and the tides we are in a constant state of expansion and contraction, ebb and flow, waning and waxing, ever-changing. Our liquid bodies are constantly changing, part of which is due to our body’s fascial system. This system is a continuous web of tissue that envelops and infuses our entire body. It consists of cells, ground substance (similar to jello) and fibers. Constantly expanding and contracting, fascia, like water, changes states depending on its level of energy and activity. You feel it with hardly realizing it.
The protector of our organs and bones, fascia can instantaneously become solidified frozen like ice, stronger than steel and resilient to great force. Like snow, it has the ability to physically morph from a gel-like state into a liquid-like state and back. This is called thixotropy. Healthy, hydrated fascia effortlessly provides balance of flexibility and stability for the entire body by allowing muscles to fluidly slide and glide like silk. Over time and with stress, fascia becomes thickened, dehydrated and stuck, solidified like wood. Thixotropy requires energy and responds to heat created by touch or light pressure over a sustained period of time, regular gentle stretching and consistent movement of the whole body.
We live in a culture deficient in movement, touch and body awareness. In this technological age our movement choices have grown monotonous. We are more comfortable holding onto tension than releasing it. We are designed for movement but sitting in front of a device is the default. When we are deprived of what is natural, we shift away from homeostasis. No wonder it can be challenging to enjoy relaxing into winter’s snow day mentality. Many of us don't know how to relax or have difficulty because we are so physically – and mentally -- tight.
Our bodies are the vessels that house our minds, our energy and our souls. Our tissues are containers filled with memories of past traumas, injuries, unexpressed feelings, repetitive movement patterns and sedentary positions - our life experiences. Our issues are in our tissues! Restricted tissue can be a magnet for tension and this unreleased tension is stored in the fascia. The way we live affects the way we feel in our bodies. The way we feel affects the way we interact with our world, how we move, and how we treat others.
Can we summon up energy to melt tension in the same way the sun’s energy melts snow. Yes! Using foam rollers, balls and other hands-on techniques to compress restricted areas creates thixotropy, releasing muscular and myofascial tension and tightness. Gentle stretching elongates and unwinds tissue, realigns joints, reclaims suppleness, restores mobility, improves posture and replenishes energy. We can create a sense of well-being and facilitate an awareness of the body-mind-spirit connection as an integral part of daily living. It leaves you feeling like you've had a massage, only you give it to yourself. You have literally melted adhesions and restrictions.
Self Myofascial Release may be one of the missing ingredients to living a balanced lifestyle in the modern world. Giving yourself a "Thix Fix" can mellow you back to homeostasis, a balanced state of harmony within that allows for stress to roll off your back, neck and shoulders.
Honor the transition of the season, winter into spring. The cardinal is singing his mating call and bulbs are erupting through the chocolate covered soil. Watch the sun’s energy work melting magic on the world. Find your own internal sunshine, break out a foam roller and start peeling back the layers of winter’s tensions.