Season 3 Episode 5 Transcript
Movement, mobility, flexibility, strength… these are all familiar words, but how do you know if you’ve got em’? And why should you care? The second question is easy- the way I see it, movement is medicine. And I mean that literally- I have some examples:
Now, as to whether you’ve got good movement- I have a pretty simple formula to determine where you fall on the mobility spectrum, because make no mistake, it IS a spectrum! The formula is this:
Flexibility - Strength = Mobility
Let’s dig into this. Don’t think of it like math class! This is a formula that’s about YOU, and how you work. So try to apply these pieces of the formula to yourself. Ready? Ok:
Mobility is movement. This is what’s after the equals sign. This is what we’re trying to get to. Mobility is what lets you move confidently through your world. And it’s made up of a number of different factors, that pretty much are facets of either strength or flexibility.
Mobility (movement) requires flexibility of your muscles and tendons and ligaments. We don't always think of the connective tissue, the ligaments and tendons, when it comes to flexibility but they’re very much involved and important.
When you’re not actively doing anything with a muscle, it’s called being “at rest”. When you contract the muscle, it shortens and moves a joint. This is called flexing. Then, when you’re done moving the muscle, it has to lengthen or extend to straighten the joint back out, which is actually done by an opposing muscle flexing the other direction- think biceps and triceps. One bends your elbow, the other straightens it. You can also open lots of joints past their resting length, which we call stretching.
Ligaments and tendons need to be flexible as well. These are pieces of connective tissue, the white stuff on anatomy pictures, that connects muscles to bones, and bones to bones. It’s white because, unlike red muscles, it doesn’t get much blood flow. A healthy diet and good hydration are important to keep connective tissue lubricated and flexible, and flexible muscles allow for their proper movement too.
All this ability of muscles and ligaments and tendons to lengthen is your flexibility. Sometimes, even lengthening TO their resting state can be a challenge if the muscles have been in a constant state of contraction. The muscles get stuck in a tight state because they’re not moving and exercising and being strong. Plus, the state of your muscles IS the state of your tendons, and the ligaments can get dry and brittle and stiff if there’s poor circulation happening in the joint because it’s not moving much. For example, do you have trouble walking barefoot? It could be because your calves and your feet have been contracted to help you balance against a shoe heel for your whole life, so you didn’t fall flat on your face!
On the flip side, damage or injury can cause inflammation in connective tissue, and the swelling that comes with that can further inhibit flexibility. Not to mention, the lack of blood flow to connective tissue means it won’t heal quickly so these problems can linger.
So improving your flexibility is a critical piece of mobility. The other piece of the formula is strength.
Strength is the power you have to either move or hold a joint still against resistance. Again, think of the biceps and triceps, and imagine you’re a baker. Your biceps come into play when you, say, stir a batter with a big spoon. You use your triceps to push the elbows straight when you’re kneading bread. And when you pull a tray out of the oven, you tend to hold the elbows in a bent position and use your back and legs to stand up and then put it on the counter.
I think most of us understand being strong. Here’s the kicker, though: strength and flexibility work against each other. This is why our formula is “Flexibility - Strength = Mobility The stronger you are, the less range of motion you will have around your joints. For one thing, this is because of the sheer mass of the muscle impeding the movement- the bulky muscle gets in the way of the movement. Also, the strength of the muscles pulls on the joints in both directions, so they can’t open or close as far. It’s like a swinging door- if the hinge is set too tight, they won’t swing as far or as easily.
This means it’s entirely possible to be overly tight and lose mobility because you are too muscular. However, that’s not usually what happens! Very few people train and work their bodies to this point. What’s much more likely in our world is to lose strength from NOT moving as much as we should or could be. Then, what little muscle you have left hangs onto the joint as tight as possible for dear life, trying not to let the joint become unstable and fall apart.
So lack of strength will lead to lack of mobility because of the tightness it causes around joints, and also because that tightness leads into decreased flexibility as well. It’s a vicious circle that gets balanced out when we incorporate THREE pieces into our daily movements, whether they’re traditional “exercise” or the normal life movements we already do frequently. And those 3 pieces, dearest listeners, are another topic for another episode. Tune in again to my Holistic Lifestyling show, and learn how to balance your strength and flexibility- next time.
Season 3 Episode 4 Transcript
Today's episode is a special one. This is a Meet Your Herbs episode, because I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite friends, Solomon Seal.
Here's the thing: If hydration is life, damage causes dryness.
Stuck, constricted, restricted, uncomfortable, lingering dryness can make joints crack repeatedly, restrict our physical and emotional resilience and recovery, reduce circulation and healing and impinge on our ability to shift between movements, and from stillness to movement.
Stuck, constricted, restricted, uncomfortable, lingering dryness can make joints crack repeatedly, restrict our physical and emotional resilience and recovery, reduce circulation and healing, and impinge on our ability to shift between movements and from stillness to movement.
Solomon's Seal root slowly, gently, gets down into the stuck dryness and goes to work. It nourishes, builds, strengthens, heals, all without any kind of fireworks. There's an idea that to be good for us, it has to be big/fast/hard/intense/complicated. But it's amazing how often being passive is the most healing thing. Solomon’s Seal passively, doggedly brings fluidity back to your All of You.
It turns out that a slow-growing, shade-and-water-loving plant is the perfect plant medicine for slow-healing, often-forgotten-about Connective Tissue- the ligaments, tendons, fascia, cartilage, and other hold-it-together bits in your body that never quite get fixed. Connective tissue also creates the transitions between all your structures. Muscles become tendons that merge into bones, and there aren't clear distinctions between them.
Think of Solomon's Seal people as stuck, dry, worn, and propelling themselves forward anyway. That old injury?? It's fine! I don't even notice it!!🤪 they cry, hobbling towards the next To-Do self-distraction. Connective tissue is already slow to heal, so it's easy to dismiss and accept a more limited "normal" once the pain is gone, or adequately ignored.
It's hard to transition out of emotional stuckness too, especially when the world changes regardless of your preferences: People that think they don't want to give up on the day and go to bed yet. Or , say, the kids are moving out? Or there’s new, unwelcome responsibilities at work. How well do you deal? Maybe you'd benefit from Solomon's Seal too. I talked a bit a bout SS in the second season of this Holistic Lifestyling podcast, in episode seven, about herbs that help TMJ, tongue tie, and headaches. The specifics of how I work with Solomon’s Seal are something I share in my new membership- check out Become a Patron at my website paulasherbals.com
Season 3 Episode 3 Transcript
We know it can be really helpful to talk about who exactly needs pelvic floor support, because there's classic pelvic floor dysfunction issues. But there's also less obvious, or less common things that come up with less optimal pelvic floor positioning and support as well. So, while you might not actually have full blown pelvic floor dysfunction, a lot of things, including the last year of the pandemic, has been pushing people over the edge into less common pelvic floor issues. So that's are going to talk about today so you can figure out whether or not that means you.
So who needs pelvic floor support beyond people with classic pelvic floor dysfunction issues?
My argument is going to be almost everybody, but that doesn't mean that it has to be intense, or overwhelming to fix some of these patterns and these habits that we have that are causing some of our problems.
First, a classic pelvic floor dysfunction is going to look like some of these things: It's going to be stuff like sneeze pee or exercise pee or laugh pee. These are examples of what's called stress incontinence. It's when you can't hold your urine when your bladder is under stress, like when you sneeze, like when you jump on a trampoline, you’re doing jumping jacks, or when you run.
There's also urge incontinence, which is when you feel like or maybe you actually can't hold it. When you suddenly have to go and there's no option insight, but to get yourself to a bathroom. Stress incontinence and urgent condoms are classic pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms.
Some people experience pressure or a heavy, dragging feeling in the pelvic bowl. You might be experiencing prolapse. Prolapse is when organs, start to fall down. In the very worst stages of prolapse, things are actually starting to fall out. But that initial stage where things start to sag and start to fall is also a pelvic floor dysfunction symptom.
Things like abdominal separation. This is called “die-ah-STAY-sis” or “die-ASS-tah-sis,” depending on how it's pronounced by the people talking to you. So Diastasis Recti is an abdominal separation that happens most often in childbirth.
But you don't have to be bearing a child to put enough pressure on your abdomen for separation to happen. So that separation can happen through lots of other stressful strenuous means.
And also hiatal or abdominal hernias or classic pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms. Now, you might not be experiencing any of those or you might think, well maybe but it's not enough to really be going on with.
There's also less obvious, and less commonly talked about symptoms that you can experience that ultimately lead back to a misaligned or an unsupported pelvis.
These are things that definitely can cause a lot of discomfort, even pain, and lack of quality of life that can have lots of reasons for them- lots of root causes- but a pelvic floor fix is often a majorly necessary first step to repairing any of them.
So people who might want to be on the lookout for having some pelvic floor support work happening in their lives include people who sit a lot. When you sit there's a bunch of things that can happen.
You might be not sitting on your sits bones, sitting on your tailbone instead. And that's going to cause all sorts of misalignments in both the muscles and the bones.
Also when you sit, your front of the hip muscles get really short and then when you stand up, now your pelvis gets pulled out of alignment because those muscles don't link, and as long as they need to.
People who stand a lot also need to be on the lookout for these types of pelvic floor issues because usually when we stand still, we're throwing out a hip, we've got feet crossed and one in front of the other- we don't tend to stand in a perfectly aligned parallel position. And that builds up a habit of having the pelvis out of alignment.
People who run are also going to want to make sure that their pelvis positioning is nice and square, because otherwise you're going to be leading to asymmetries in your muscles and your bones, and also a potential for things like low back pain if stuff is tucked in a direction it shouldn't be.
People who hike a lot as well, because as you're going up and down hills, up and down rocks around trees, the ability to maneuver and be nimble on your feet is coming from your center of balance, which is in and around the pelvis.
And also people who play sports like golf and tennis, because they tend to be inherently a symmetrical sports. You're always lining up your golf swing and twisting in the same direction, try hitting it from the other side it's going to be really difficult. Same thing with tennis players- you have a dominant arm, and that's the one that's going to be using all of the force. So, that tends to build asymmetries, through the rest of your body and that impacts your pelvis as well.
So these are just some samples of what are classic pelvic floor issues, less obvious pelvic floor issues, and the activities that people might be doing that could lead to some different types of pelvic floor issues.
Yes, I do teach pelvic floor support work. But I’m also launching a patron account so people can become members at a low cost per month, to my additional content. So I'm going to be extending the discussion from this podcast into more specifics about what is causing some of these less obvious problems and how you can start to adjust for that, inside of my membership.
It's not a good idea for me to be sort of generally giving advice like that open on a podcast, on a blog post, because people can do very inappropriate things with that type of information, but on the inside of a membership, that's where we can start to get more direct and more specific.
So head on over to my website paulasherbals.com. Check out how to become a patron, and what the two different tiers of my membership look like. And if you'd like to have some more information about what's going on and how to adjust your life habits to prevent and reverse some of these issues, you'll be able to do that right there.
Season 3 Episode 2 Transcript
It’s Late Spring here in the Philly area, and I’ve been watching the HBO series Mare of Easttown, and reading a bunch about the making of it. One of the frequent stories that I find about it is the accent, that the Philly accent is so. Hard. and that filmmakers and actors don’t really try for it. Apparently this show’s accent, from Delaware county, is even more difficult. My pilates clients are talking about it a bunch and I gotta say, it’s HARD to hear a regional accent from inside the region! But I didn’t grow up in this, and I was made very acutely aware of my coal-region accent when I did arrive about 20 years ago. So if you’re listening to my podcasts from outside Philly and its environs, the one thing I’ve been noticing but didn’t have an explanation for before all this accent discussion is the way I NOW say words like “o-v-e-r”. Most people would shape their mouth to say “ohver” but it turns out I have really embraced the relaxed mouth “oever”! So, listen on and who knows what else you’ll hear!
OK, Intentional Conveniences and Inconveniences. All the way back in season 1, episode 1, I introduced these ideas. Simply, they are ways to make things that you want to learn to do more convenient, and ways to make things you want to do less, more inconvenient.
For example, I want to walk more. So one thing I do is make it more convenient by keeping some appropriate weather gear and headphones in my car. This way it’s much easier to hit the park and listen to my audiobook or a podcast. I've also found that the closer I am to home the more I want to BE home, and the less likely I am to go to my closest park, so I’ve started coming home on a road that parallels the one I live closest to, that also goes right past my park. Since I’m already there, and to celebrate missing all the red lights on the main road, I might as well take a few minutes to do a few laps!
The other thing I’ve done is found a walking buddy. This way, it’s actually inconvenient to cancel on her, and we’re both much more likely to meet up as planned.
If you go back and listen to my season 1 podcast episodes, you’ll hear lots of tips for these intentional conveniences and inconveniences. Basically the idea is, how can we make it easier, or harder, depending on what you want to do? The solution is called “stacking”- layering things together.
Say you want to get better at a new habit, like stretching. You’re looking for ways to intentionally make it more convenient for you to practice, since the act of creating a dedicated stretching routine is where most people fall flat- that’s too BIG of an initial commitment for a lot of us.
Specifically, let’s say you want to stretch your hamstrings. These are some super helpful muscles to stretch- I highly recommend it! So, to stretch them you need to bend at the hips, right? What if you stretch them every time you reach to load or unload the dishwasher or the clothes dryer. Or maybe you stretch them as you brush your teeth. Or here’s a great idea that combines a number of good habits- use the Pomodoro technique to take more frequent breaks, during which you stretch! This is a time management technique that alternates 25 minute work sessions and 5 minute breaks to keep you focused, engaged, and not so “sitting disease” oriented. My favorite Pomodoro timers are the MarinaraTimer.com one and the Pomodoro chrome extension. I'll link them in the transcript.
The idea here is to combine multiple, short experiences of stretching your hamis with things you already do in your day, stacking them together so it’s easy- it’s convenient- to practice.
Now, intentional inconveniences make it harder to do something you want to do less of anyway, or harder to forget to do something. Say you’ve adopted the Pomodoro technique but you’re still not stretching- your break hits and you take off for the bathroom or a snack or your Instagram every time instead.
Ok, so leave your phone on the other side of your office. Sure, you can grab it and scroll on a break, but you have to go over there to get it and that’s a reminder to stretch- you put it there on purpose! Or maybe you throw a pillow on the floor by your desk chair or in the doorway- it’s in the way, it’s reminding you to take a quick stretch before you step over it- ha! Did you hear it? Before you step OVER it.
Stacking intentional conveniences and inconveniences are like tying strings around your fingers, except that the ultimate goal is to make these habits you’re trying to influence automatic and unconscious. If you ever watched the Great British Baking Show (that’s what it’s called in the US, but I understand it’s Great British Bake Off for real in the UK- sorry about the name change) one of the bakers a few seasons ago was Val, of the singing cakes. She was always moving, doing side steps and all kinds of little, almost fidgets, to get a little bit of extra movement in. That’s a habit she intentionally created decades ago for herself, and she doesn’t have to remember to do them now- for her, baking just includes exercise. That’s the kind of stacking and automation that we want for our own choices.
The challenge is, then, for you to pick a thing you want to do more of or less of, and to brainstorm a bunch of ways you can stack it. Then, start with just one or two intentional conveniences or inconveniences and start building. You’ll quickly find that you can make these tiny adjustments and influence huge changes in not a very large amount of time!
I would love to hear some of the intentional conveniences and inconveniences that you come up with! Share yours with me over on Instagram, I’m @paulasherbals
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
And, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them I'll earn a few cents. Thank you for supporting my work.
This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.