Do you have a body?
You a dancer type or a gym rat?
I’m a dancer girl from way back, no gym for me, but I do have a large assortment of free weights, bands and DVDs for fitness where I use my body weight.
Can you do everything you want to, at the gym, dance studio, or regular life? Have you stopped doing those things because you’ve hurt yourself?
Some days I have a hard time of it myself.
Do you want to be able to do anything you want in say 20 yrs. from now? Yea, me too!
This blog isn’t about getting the dimples out of your booty, or toning your triceps, it’s about preserving function, gaining more self-awareness, treating your bod better!
Nurse Ratchet Short Story!
Terry is a life long dancer with over 3 decades of study and clinical experience in therapeutic somatic modalities.
Terry is CPR,ALS, ACE,CMA,CMT, PTA and CLM certified. She has developed a program of self-care with the goals of promoting body awareness, DIY methods for pain relief, education for injury prevention and strategies for preserving joint and motor function.
Little Longer Ramble if you care!
My love of movement and dance was cultivated at a very early age. I remember as a toddler, attempting to follow my mother as she exercised to Jack Lalane. She took karate and other martial arts, and played tennis long before the benefits of exercise were common knowledge. My father was a military officer so I was exposed to calisthenics. For me to develop a life long relationship with dance and study of the body is not surprising considering the atmosphere I grew up with.
In college I studied Physical Therapy and Dance and while I didn’t graduate with the PT degree, it led to a career in Heath Care and a vocation studying movement based, somatic approaches for self-development and to enhance my practice of dance and eventual teaching of dance. Those studies eventually led to more certifications and experiences which have informed my career in health care and enhanced my teaching of dance.
In my day job I’ve worked with Physical Therapists, MD’s and other practitioners in a multitude of settings and specialties for over 30 yrs. In clinical settings, I’ve worked with, on and in, young, old, dying and dead bodies. In the dance studio I’ve observed and worked with bodies in good health and function.
In both of those settings I was witnessing what I call “body grief” at our response to loss of functionality. (More on that subject later). Whether the loss was a result of self-inflicted injury due to repetitive use born of poor education and awareness, illness, old age or otherwise it is a commonality amongst all of us.
Early on I developed a practice of self-care, to develop self-awareness and keep up my function and fitness level. I needed endurance. I was on my feet 10 hours a day and 4-5 hours a night for most of them. My practice served me. Realistically, having the advantage of youth and enthusiasm on my side was a big plus. I know the bigger contributing factor in my endurance and longevity in the dance world (teaching and performance) was/is based on my heightened sense of self-awareness or kinesthetic sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve injured and hurt myself as you can see, but through my practice of self-care and study I was able to function at a high level in my daily life and dance career.
Almost 3 years ago, I had a fall where I suffered a small fracture in my arm. When I say small, I’m not minimizing as many of us do. It was small enough that it didn’t need a cast or surgery. Admittedly, being I was out of the country I didn’t seek immediate care, but tended to it in my own way. When I returned to US, my ortho applauded my efforts at self-care and prescribed Physical Therapy to restore function of my arm and hand to decrease the chances of getting (RSD) reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. A disorder of the Sympathetic Nervous System which can lead to chronic pain.
I embraced the Physical Therapy knowing from my education and experiences with patients how important it can be, but also knowing it only offers a small piece of the puzzle to eventual wellness and restoration of my function. My continued rehabilitation is dependent on me now as I uncover the layers of compensatory pattens.
“Mainstream” Medicine with all its advances still has major flaws. You know this and I know this. There isn’t a body of knowledge in Medicine or in our education systems, that offer a comprehensive method of teaching self-awareness or a manual for the care of our bodies. Medicine doesn’t tell us how to fix it until it’s broken, and even then the information is inadequate for some. This situation is a two-way street and often patient (society) driven. In our quest for a quick fix, many people seek attention and care from a surgeon without ever exploring the healing that their own bodies and brains might be capable of. Many others like myself, know the limitations of the practice of medicine today and own their potent role in the self-care and healing process.
Somatic therapies that were developed in the beginning of the last century by pioneers like Alexander and Moshe Feldenkrais along with Mabel Todd and all of their students who integrated that knowledge into their practice of body re-education to fine tune movement, offered a hearty foundation of study that has educated body workers, manual therapists and dancers.
This body of knowledge complements and in some cases confirms the developments of the movement sciences such as explorations of the areas of motor control, brain lateralization, motor development, neuromuscular retraining, sensory motor integration, the neurobehavioral basis of locomotion, biomechanics, and the mind-body connection in chronic pain and other illness at the end of the last century.
Research tells us now that movement assists in the learning process, in infancy, childhood and continues into adulthood. There are studies that show us the relationship between poor movement quality in children who develop or have a learning disability. There are strategies to help in the learning process with movement education. Neuroscience is telling us that the quality or mechanics of our movement, our dexterity, and visual coordination are paramount to learning and can change our brain activity and function. Neuroplasticity experts are telling us we can create new neural pathways with movement and our learning can continue into old age.
This broad base of knowledge and study from the pioneers of the human movement potential/somatic exploration/self-help genre can supply us with tools to fill in the gap of mainstream medicine. In this digital, electronic era, technology is firmly integrated into every aspect of our lives. Our creative efforts, our communication and our commerce, once relied upon through interpersonal interactions, are now structured around our digital self. The dancer/student/consumer in me loves the learning that can occur via the internet. Whether I am teaching a class or taking coursework remotely. The office nurse in me loves the opportunities for learning and teaching patients. My body is not happy about this. My experiences aren’t unusual. All of us are spending more and more time sitting and computing. The price tag is diminished eyesight, eye strain, poor posturing, obesity etc. I won’t embellish because there are hundreds of articles about what is happening to us as a result of the electronic digital age.
Teresa Del Giorno CMA, PTA, CLM
CPR, ACE, ALS
I’ll try to make the posts short and to the point, so you can read one and get off the computer.