I’m a big believer in balance. By striving for this in life, not giving too much of yourself to any one area, you feel more fulfilled. At times, you may think that you might not be reaching high standards in any of those areas due to time pressure; but a little bit of everything, in my opinion, is a better way to live. This philosophy sort of flows in to my philosophy with helping people reach their wellness goals. You need to aim to fill a number of buckets in order to achieve your best wellness. Buckets I push my clients to fill are: Food, Strength, Breathe (or Cardio), Flexibility, Sleep and Nature. I’m going to be providing some content to digest in these areas.
ELDOA – the (in)complete guide to
Some of you will have come across this incredible form of “stretching” but I’d like to give you a bit more background on it and encourage you to give it a go if you haven’t already. (Then your guide will be complete). ELDOA is actually a French acronym – the english translation being “Longitudinal (axis) Osteo-Articular Decoaptation”. It amounts to your bodys’ equivalent of the medieval stretching rack, without the pain or blood loss! Some have compared it to “hanging decompression” as well – which research has proven causes muscles to spasm around joints to hold on. ELDOA is different.
The primary goal of ELDOA is to increase joint space by decompressing (decoaptation) the specific joint. There is an ELDOA for every joint in the body. As the ELDOA “create” space, there is an improvement in joint mechanics, increased blood flow, reduced pressure on the vertebral (spinal) discs, a reduction of pain, spinal disc rehydration, improved posture, and a sense of well being and awareness. Because our own tissues are working to create the space between our joints it’s much more effective than hanging for decompression.
ELDOA has the added benefit of providing a lengthening and strengthening effect on your muscle envelopes – the Fasciae. Our fasciae is what connects our entire body together, running across multiple regions and attaching, separating, stabilizing and enclosing muscle, organs and bones. It’s otherwise know as connective tissue.
ELDOA was dreamt up, and extensively practised and tested by esteemed French Canadian Osteopath Guy Voyer. It’s now in practise worldwide and has helped thousands avoid joint surgery. Professional sports teams have adopted it and athletes are beginning to sing it’s praises. You can go to the ELDOA.com website and find a practitioner (my name is on there). There are mulitple classes running now in Auckland – LOFT45’s very own Kiri Atatoa and Brent Meier (master ELDOA trainer) are both excellent teachers, with classes running once or twice a week each. The best way to try ELDOA is in a class, where you will learn a specific warm up, and then a series of ELDOA moves which will leave you feeling taller and more relaxed at the end.
I’ve noticed benefits in a number of areas now from practising ELDOA myself and with clients over the past couple of years. I’d had a neck/thoracic spine jabbing pain that would come and go that nothing could make a difference to, other than letting it’s run its course over a few days. Since doing ELDOA I have only had a mild version of it once or twice, lasting maybe a day. I’ve also noted that any slight lower back restriction I might feel disappears instantly with one of the stretches in particular. Clients have had big improvements in back pain and dysfunction, hip niggles, posture and strength. There is even a couple who have had an 1cm increase in their height! Go and try it!
The power of good sleep
Over the past few months I’ve written about a few wellness related topics. For optimal wellness they all go hand in hand, but it’s widely agreed that sleep trumps all. Sleep is the time to restore and power your body back to perfect. You release most of your growth hormone; fight inflammation, infection and trauma through the release of cytokines; and your sympathetic nervous system (fight-flight) gets a chance to relax, reducing cortisol levels (our stress hormone).
We’ve all felt sleep deprived and the feeling of absolute fatigue that can induce in us. Trying to go about daily life tired is just hard. So thinking about general wellness – eating well and getting some exercise done is nigh on impossible. If you’re well rested you can accomplish anything.
Here are my top tips to power up your sleep:
Create a bedroom environment that relaxes and nurtures you. Bedrooms should be cool, dark and have the best bed you can afford. Ideally banish pets from your room. Ear plugs and eye masks are a good idea for your sleep “kit”. I love a fan – both the white noise component and the fact that if your room is prone to mosquitos they’ll be banished too.
Build a bedtime rhythm. A relaxing ritual. Mine involves reading, but if I choose a book which is a little too interesting, it can delay my sleep. I need something not boring but definitely not suspenseful! I also use a drop of lavender and marjoram oil on my palms (relaxing and calming, which might be placebo – but is ritualistic too). This rhythm should mean also that you try to go to bed and wake at the same approximate time every day. Not doing so has coined the term “social jet lag”.
Turn off screens an hour before bed. If you have to use a screen – use the night function. If you have any worries on your mind, write them down before heading to bed. Putting your phone/devices “to bed” at around 7 or 8pm is a great plan too. Nothing can be gained from checking Facebook or your twitter feed, or the news for that matter, from then til morning.
Try to avoid food in the 2-3 hours before going to bed. Digestion can delay sleep and feeling really full doesn’t encourage optimal comfort. Brushing your teeth straight after dinner can help you to not back to the cupboards for more “comfort food,” because you’re probably not hungry. Avoid liquids 2 hours before bed to avoid toilet stops during the night, or as you are going off to sleep.
Avoid caffiene in the afternoons, or alcohol if you are struggling to sleep. This obviously includes tea and coffee, but don’t forget that dark chocolate has a little caffiene. And that sugar can act as a stimulant. Some people need to entirely cut out caffiene – it depends on how sensitive you are to it. Alcohol often helps you nod off into dream land but then tends to wake most people around 2am. If you’re waking in the morning still feeling tired that may be part of the problem.
Increase your exercise in the mornings and decrease it at night – hard exercise is stimulating. Mornings are best as the early sunlight ups your production of serotonin and dopamine – increasing your feelings of wakefulness, calm and focus. This helps to kick off the circadian rhythm cycle of the day, which dictates sleep/wake cycles. The pineal gland is triggered by the dark of night descending to release melatonin, which encourages sleep.
Some say don’t nap during the day, even if you’ve had a terrible nights sleep. Instead, go for a walk and maybe have a piece of chocolate to make you feel better. On the other hand, some say “sleep begets sleep,” especially true for young children; adults can benefit hugely from a 20-45 minute siesta as long as the timing is right and you work hard in the afternoon to tire yourself sufficiently to get back to sleep at night.
Learn to meditate to manage stress, and if you are having trouble getting to sleep (or waking up) you can use it easily as you will have practised to be able to use it as a sleep tool. I’ve recommended the Headspace app before – “Calm” (the app) is another similarly brilliant place to start with meditation.
Magnesium deficiency can contribute to poor sleep – and can cause cramping which wakes you. Supplementing or improving magnesium sources in your diet may help. Veggies are high in magnesium, as are nuts and seeds, salmon and tuna, avocado, raspberries, figs and bananas.
If you consistently put all of these tips into action and you still don’t sleep well, a trip to a sleep lab is probably the next box to tick. Lots of people have sleep apnoea and don’t realise – and it’s life changing for them to sort out.
“Sleep is the best Meditation.” Dalai Lama.
Tired right now?
If any of you have been feeling like your sessions are harder or endurance training slower right now – there’s an explanation – and not the one where your weight has crept up due to the fridge being so handy!
https://www.outsideonline.com/2411873/mental-fatigue-athletes-study-2020 This article by one of my go-to sports-science writers, Alex Hutchinson, explains that studies have found mental fatigue can be detrimental to performance. It may be the opposite for some of you right now (my life seems a little easier than usual at the moment), but others of you are under lots of stress which of course contributes to mental fatigue. If this is you – acknowledge and accept that possible effect on your training/life. However – pick some simple things to combat it; like going to bed earlier, limiting screen time, not eating after 7pm, meditating, picking up a good book and getting lost in it, or hanging with your kids/pets and just absorbing yourself in the fun of it.