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Which foot type are you?


Did you ever wonder what your foot type is? And if so, do you know the impact of your foot type on your movement, gait, and injury risk? How can you address your foot type so that you are maximizing your foundation, i.e your feet. You’ll want to connect your foundation with your core and integrate into your dynamic movement to stay injury-free.

We have three primary foot types;

  1. Everted foot type
  2. Neutral foot type
  3. Inverted foot type

None of these foot types are bad in and of themselves. However, it is important to understand the impact that it can have on function, as well as potential injuries.

On the left is the everted foot type which is associated with being unlocked and unstable. This foot type is typically classified as the flatter foot type or the more pronated foot.  The neutral foot type is in the middle, which is the optimal foot position. On the right is the inverted foot type which is associated with being locked, rigid, and stable. This foot type is commonly viewed as the high arched foot type.

Each foot type has different implications on movement and overall function. Therefore they should be addressed in an individualized manner. For example, if you have more of an everted foot type, a flatter, unstable foot, then the lateral structures of the lower legs will likely be tight. The outside of the lower leg and calf would need to be mobilized, and then the foot needs to be strengthened. In an inverted foot type, a locked, rigid foot type, it is important to mobilize the muscles on the inside of the calf and improve active ankle mobility to bring the foot into neutral. All of them will require some type of integration with your core and into dynamic movement.

There are exceptions to every rule, however, and there are different pathologies that you or someone you know may present with that need to be factored in. In addition to performing the appropriate exercises to balance your foot, you’ll also want your footwear to enhance your natural foot function, rather than replace it.  Your foot type, injury history, movement, and pathologies will determine which shoe would be best for you.

If you would like to understand what foot type you are and what to do about it please reach out for a 15-minute discovery session so that we can guide you on how we can help you on your journey.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION 101


The gut-brain connection is so powerful in your immune health, hormonal health, and nervous system. If you’ve ever had a gut feeling then you know exactly what the gut-brain connection is. The gut-brain connection is a bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain. The gut, meaning our second nervous system or our enteric nervous system, and our brain, our first nervous system. This bi-directional communication happens through multiple pathways, including hormonal, immune, and our nervous system.  The objective of the gut-brain connection is to maintain normal gut function, as well as appropriate behavior.

The first brain has 100 billion neurons and our second brain, our gut has about 500 million neurons. You can see how powerful this neural connection is, and this neural connection happens primarily through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates in the brainstem and then wanders down to the gut. It signals in both directions. For example, if you are getting anxious about a presentation that you have to give you might feel that in your stomach, but if you are eating some kind of inflammatory foods, then that can cause you to potentially feel anxious.

Now, the next connection is hormonal, and this is based on the neurotransmitters or the chemical messengers that we have that communicate between the gut and the brain. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in the gut that is produced by the gut bacteria. Serotonin is provides us with a sense of happiness. We also produce 50 percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, in our gut. Another hormone we produce is called GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), which decreases feelings of stress and anxiety.

Last but not least, our gut-brain in connected via immune pathways. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. So, when we have any kind of gut issue, we typically have an immune or inflammatory issue. In the case of leaky gut, for example, when you begin to have pathogens and toxins that are crossing the epithelial lining and moving into the bloodstream, this is going to cause an immune reaction. If this continues, this can cause a leaky brain because those pathogens and potentially undigested food can cross the blood-brain barrier causing inflammation in the brain feeling things like brain fog. So, as you can see there is a very strong immune system connection as well.

You may be asking, what can I do to optimize my gut-brain connection? The first thing you can do is try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which simply means a whole food, natural, clean diet. Make sure that there are lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables and fruits. If you are experiencing any specific gut or health issues, please make sure to reach out to us we’d be more than happy to help you.  We can see you virtually or in person.

The next thing is to manage stress. Stress is one of the biggest things that can impact the gut-brain connection on both levels. You can help to decrease your stress through mindfulness, meditation, breath work, yoga, journaling, reading, or whatever is helpful for you, perhaps even speaking with someone.

Next, is making sure you’re getting enough sleep. Also make sure that you’re getting an optimal amount of sleep as well as quality sleep.

Lastly is movement. Instead of thinking of exercising 30 minutes a day, try to just move as frequently as you can throughout the day. This will help to optimize your immune system, nervous system, as well as your hormonal system by getting in regular quality movement.

I hope this helps you become more successful and achieving what you want in your life and your health.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



UNLOCK THE POWER OF EXTREME FOCUS | Wake up your Reticular Activating System


Do you want to unlock the power of extreme focus and be able to use your mental energy to do whatever you want? Well, let’s start by waking up the reticular activating system of your brain.

Have you ever decided to buy a car, or if you’ve bought a car and you’ve picked a certain color and now you see that everywhere? When I decided that I wanted a jeep, I began to see jeeps everywhere. When I bought a jeep, I realized that the roads are inundated with Jeep’s. My Reticular Activating System has brought to my attention, to my consciousness, that all these Jeeps were around all along, but now, I am noticing them. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of neurons located inside of the Reticular Formation, which is in the brainstem. This is the most primitive part of our brain. The Reticular Formation is responsible for cardiovascular function, pain perception, sleep cycle, consciousness, and habituation, which is directly linked to the Reticular Activating System.

The Reticular Activating System is responsible for our wakefulness, our ability to focus, our fight-flight response, and how you ultimately perceive the world. It can control what we perceive in our consciousness, essentially a gatekeeper of information. When we are at a restaurant and we’re speaking to our friend or significant other, we can tune out all of the extra noise that’s happening, and be able to focus in on the conversation that we’re having. That is a perfect example of the RAS at work because otherwise our system would be overwhelmed and just inundated with constant sensory information. The RAS acts as this gatekeeper so that we can focus our attention on specific things, and remember… these specific things can help us meet the goals that we’ve set for ourselves.

How can you wake up your RAS so that you can have extreme focus, better sleep/wake cycles, and be able to have a deeper consciousness and intention throughout your life? Read on.

1) Evaluating the head and neck position. If you have had a concussion, some kind of traumatic brain injury, a sports injury, whiplash from a car accident, or just chronic overuse and repetitive stress injuries; you could have some type of misalignment in the cervical spine. This can cause compression on the brainstem and affect cranial nerve innervation.  As the head comes forward into this extended posture it can create compression, and therefore decrease blood flow around the brainstem for the cranial nerves and the reticular activating system to function at its optimal capacity. So, reach out to your physical therapist or movement expert to help you with this.

2) Vestibular/Visual Exercises: The RAS is connected to our vestibular system, so think of our inner ear, and the connection with our visual system. A great exercise to do is to hold your finger out in front of you, keeping your eyes focused on your fingertip, and then turning your head back and forth. As you’re continuing to gaze right at your fingertip, you can start to move your head side to side, then you can go up and down, and you can even go on a diagonal.

3) Meditation: Meditation is a fantastic way to be able to use your senses to hone in on your present experience and filter out whatever is unnecessary. Of course, just like anything meditation is a practice that needs to be cultivated over time, but probably one of the best ways to begin to tap into the power of the RAS. This can help bring you clarity and focus to allow you to reach your goals.

4) Turning your brain on the exact messages that you want:  If you want a silver Jeep, start thinking about the silver Jeep. It’s that simple. If you want to be confident in a dress that you want to wear, then start thinking about it. If you keep thinking that you can’t do that, you keep getting distracted from my goals, you keep thinking about all the things that you haven’t done or you can’t do, then unfortunately you will not be directing your attention, focus, or drive and activating this RAS to achieve what you want. So start thinking about what you want in your life, and use that as a way to really drive your conscious behavior and therefore your subconscious behaviors.

I hope this helps you become more successful and achieving what you want in your life and your health.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



WHAT IS A HEALTHY PELVIC FLOOR?


Let’s discuss a much-overlooked topic in modern medicine, especially as it relates to rehabilitative medicine…the pelvic floor. Yes, both men and women have a pelvic floor, and both can be compromised and contribute to many different conditions including but not limited to incontinence issues, sexual issues, and chronic pain.

The pelvic floor is essentially the base of our core. It has to be integrated with the rest of the surrounding anatomy. That means the organs, the bowel and bladder, the connective tissue, and the ligamentous tissue all have to be deeply integrated and fine-tuned for everything to work in this rhythmical dance back and forth. It also helps to support our daily functions, prevent urinary and fecal incontinence, improve sexual function, and many other functions that we’ll discuss.

So, what does a well-activated pelvic floor actually do?

1) We are constantly transmitting force through the body. So, a well-activated pelvic floor is going to attribute to the closing force to prevent any leakage of urine, fecal, or gas.

2) Research shows that between 60 to 80% of women with stress urinary incontinence can cure it or significantly improve it with pelvic floor retraining.

3) A well-activated pelvic floor is also going to allow the appropriate relaxation response of the pelvic floor muscles to allow for proper emptying of the bladder and to prevent any post dribble or leakage after you’ve finished urinating.

4) It should also be relaxed enough for proper evacuation of the bowel, but provide enough resistance for optimal defecation.

5) It supports the internal organs such as the vagina, the bowel, and the bladder. Especially as it relates to women and pregnancy, the more intact the pelvic floor musculature is, the less likely there will be a prolapse.

6) It increases the tone which allows for greater sexual awareness, and you need to have a pelvic floor that can relax completely so that you can have more pleasurable pain-free sex.

7) A well-activated pelvic floor will relax and significantly stretch during vaginal delivery.

8) A well-activated pelvic floor will work in coordination with your diaphragm and the rest of the abdominals. This is very important in looking at overall movement and movement efficiency.

In summary, a well-activated pelvic floor is important for so many necessary functions. When it is not functioning well it can contribute to a whole host of problems, one of which, that we see consistently in our office, pain. Chronic pelvic pain, low back pain, hip pain, and even knee pain can all be driven by pelvic floor dysfunction. It’s way more common than you think!  It’s also an area where we tend to hold our emotions. So, I want to point out that as important as it is for the pelvic floor to contract, it is equally important for the pelvic floor to relax. If it is always tight, then we are not able to fully contract and fully relax it, which can contribute to the same issues. That is why it is very important to get evaluated properly. If you are having any type of symptoms that might indicate you have a pelvic floor issue, please contact our office to schedule a pelvic floor examination.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



MINDFUL EATING 101 | Having a healthy relationship with food


Did you ever wonder how mindful eating can help you have a healthier relationship with food? The first step in having a healthier relationship with food is really to begin to change your perspective about food. Food is amazing. It is a connection, it is a way to bring people, families, and cultures together. If we think of it from the perspective of medicine; food is medicine. It can be healing in so many ways. Not only can help with mot chronic and autoimmune diseases, but it can also be preventative for the majority of lifestyle-related diseases. Food is also information. This is so important! Food is constantly giving us information, it’s just whether or not we decide we want to listen to it or not. It gives us information about how it affects our energy levels, it may or may not contribute to digestive issues, or even aches and pains in our body.  Once again, we just have to listen to it and explore it. Food is a powerful. When we think of it as this powerful gift that we have in our lives that not only allows us to  survive in this world but to thrive; it seems that we can be more present in our eating and improve our relationship with food.

When you sit down to eat your meal, be aware of what’s happening in your body. Are you actually hungry, or are you full, bored, stressed, or even sad? Take inventory of what’s happening and a pause to tune in to see why you’re eating. Then, aim to eliminate all distractions. Try to clear your environment and make sure there’s no TV or phone. Try to limit all distractions so that you can be present with your meal, be in tune with the process of eating. Next, you want to think of non-judgment, one of the pillars of mindfulness. We tend as humans to judge ourselves and other people especially as it relates to food. We can tend to have a lot of rules and rigidity about what’s good and what’s not good. So, taking that moment to pause and allow yourself to be present, to be still, and to think about the food that you are putting in your mouth. Free yourself of all the rules and allow yourself to experience the process of eating.

Now, try to use your senses to experience the process of eating. What do you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste? Let’s say that you are going to have an apple. You can start by observing the apple. What shape is it? What color is it? What texture is it? You can even smell it. Smell it before and maybe after you take a bite of it. After you take a bite of it, chew the food thoroughly, 20 to 30 times.  The digestive enzymes in the saliva allow for the start of a healthy digestive process.  Actually taste the food in your mouth and assess all  the flavors.  Then as it goes down the esophagus into the stomach, try to sense what’s happening. How does that feel as it moves through your body, what does it feel like after you chew the food entirely? Assess your experience. It can be such a beautiful experience because it can shift your perspective on how you look at food. If we did this all the time, none of us would eat too much. We also wouldn’t eat foods that don’t make us feel good because we’re really in tune and completely present in the moment with our eating.

Try to introduce mindful eating into your life. It’s a way to begin practicing mindfulness. It is a way to begin to have a healthier relationship with food. It is a way to eat what your body is signaling you need to eat, as opposed to just eating because you’re stressed or bored and using emotional triggers as a driver. There are so many benefits to this. I encourage you to explore it and see how it is for you and how you can introduce more of it into your life.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS; Hacking your subconscious


Have you struggled with setting goals for yourself? Or maybe you have struggled with achieving your goals? Our conscious mind is one percent of our mind where our subconscious mind is 99 percent of our mind. To achieve whatever goals you set out  to do,  then you have to make sure that those two are aligned. The conscious goal could be, for example, “I am going to work out three days a week,” but the subconscious mind takes into account all of your past experiences with trying to work out either successfully or unsuccessfully, all of your thoughts, emotions, and day to day activities. We have to make sure that if your goal is to work out three days a week, that you are doing everything in your power to set yourself up for success so that you can achieve that goal. For example, if you do not necessarily block the time out, you don’t have enough time in your schedule, you don’t know where you’re going to work out, you don’t know what you’re going to work out with, or you don’t know what you’re going to do for your workout; then, the goal of working out three times a week will be highly unsuccessful. A good example of this is New Year’s resolutions. Many people set forth all of these New Year’s resolutions, and the majority are not successful because they are not aligning that subconscious mind with the conscious mind.

The second thing to consider when goal setting is using the different language of how you make your goals. “I would like to work out three times a week or more by January first or sooner is a good way to write your goal. That allows you to change the power of the subconscious mind. By changing how you set your goals and then also how you set yourself up for success to achieve your goals is a sure way to success.

I am 100 percent confident that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to, but make sure that you go through the process of setting a realistic goal, setting yourself up for success to achieve a goal, and then also using the right language and not limiting yourself by barriers or numbers. Instead, create an openness to do really amazing things.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



Arthritis: An Inflammatory Condition


Have you or someone you’ve known experienced some kind of arthritis? Perhaps it has been debilitating and or it has affected your quality of life? Let’s define arthritis and discuss the drivers of osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, and what you can do to prevent it.

Many people experience aches and pains as they age. Is this normal? Not really. Is this common? Yes. Is there something that we can do about it? Yes. You do not have to embrace the deterioration of your body as you get older. There are things that you can do to prevent osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Let’s talk about some misconceptions about osteoarthritis. First, “everyone gets it”, which is not true. Second, is that it is genetic, and that is also not true. It is in fact, a matter of diet, lifestyle, and the environment.

Osteoarthritis is pain and inflammation in the joint or multiple joints. Research shows, however, that osteoarthritis is due to inflammation in other parts of the body. Specifically, it can be related to high insulin levels.  With diets, specifically the Western diet that is high in sugar and processed foods, can lead us to high insulin levels and poor blood sugar regulation. This is one of the key drivers in osteoarthritis. We want to remember this key thing, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. If we are having any type of systemic inflammation or excessive inflammation in our body, this can drive osteoarthritis. Often, you will see that a person that is experiencing severe osteoarthritis all over their body. They are in a very inflammatory state.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition. It affects 1.5 million Americans, but the interesting fact is that it has been happening at younger and younger ages. This is when the synovial fluid becomes thick and murky and creates degeneration in the cartilage of the joints. The joints can become very stiff and painful. One of the biggest drivers of autoimmune conditions, once again, is going to be a predisposition genetically, the environment, and activities of daily living. One of the biggest contributors to autoimmune disease specifically rheumatoid arthritis is a leaky gut, otherwise known as intestinal permeability. Our immune system begins to attack healthy tissues, too.

Before we get into what would be most helpful, let’s talk about what you should not do; take chronic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These will ultimately turn off your immune system, contributing to poor regulation. Although it may mask symptoms temporarily, it is not optimizing your immune system for the long-term.

In both cases of arthritis, a major goal is to reduce inflammation. Also, reducing your insulin, eating less sugar, eating to balancing your blood sugar, and keeping them stabilized throughout the day is critical. Improving your gut health and determining what foods are inflammatory for you is necessary. Doing so will help you to optimize your overall immune health and be able to prevent these types of inflammatory conditions.

As it relates to movement, please consider seeking out a qualified movement professional to help you on your journey to make sure you are moving well and without compensation.  Even though it’s inflammatory, you want to optimize the joint positioning, referred to as joint centration. Think about the shoulder joint, a ball and socket joint. When the ball isn’t in that center position of the joint, it will shift forward and often start to cause pain and irritation in the joint. So you’ll want to make sure that you’re stabilizing the joint and strengthening around it. Essentially, you’ll want to load the joint in its pain-free non-restricted range of motion.

There you have it; powerful ways to prevent and improve arthritis as you go into your older years.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



5 INFLAMMATORY TRIGGERS you should know about


Do you suffer from chronic conditions such as chronic pain, joint stiffness, muscle stiffness, digestive issues, skin issues, delayed onset allergies that have seemed to haunt you later in life, or perhaps any other chronic health condition you’ve been suffering from? In this case, you may have what we refer to as systemic inflammation, where your body had a loss of tolerance and it is not able to manage inflammation well on its own. Seventy five to ninety percent of all human disease is linked to excessive or persistent inflammation, so it is really important to figure out what may be inflammatory for you in your body. Let’s discuss five different categories of inflammatory triggers.

1) Food. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a western-style diet filled with rich, processed foods, fatty foods, and sugary foods. It is the classic pro-inflammatory diet that a large majority of Americans consume. Additionally, there are also 12 potentially inflammatory foods that could be driving your health conditions. Some of these foods may seem healthy and very well can be, however that doesn’t mean they are healthy for everyone. This could be anything from soy, peanuts, processed meats, red meat, shellfish, and the list goes on. Click HERE for a video on 12 inflammatory foods. Your friend may be able to eat gluten, but you may not be able to.

2) Bugs. This could be a parasite that is causing an infection and ongoing inflammation in your body. It is really important to be tested for this especially with chronic health conditions that you’re trying to determine what the root cause is and a comprehensive stool test including a parasite test will evaluate for that specifically. This could also be something like a tick-borne illness contributing to an ongoing infection that your body is trying to manage.

3) Toxins. This can include internal toxins as well as external toxins. External toxins are things like herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning chemicals. We also have it in the products that we use on our bodies. On average, a woman uses 168 chemicals before they leave the house in the morning and a male uses 87. A female teenager uses even more than that. So, we want to think about the toxins that we are exposed to in our daily environment but also in our outside environment. Mold is a common example of a toxin that many people are exposed to without knowing. We can also have internal toxins. Yeast overgrowth, for example, is an internal infection your body many be trying to manage or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). There’s a lot of toxins that we are exposed to in our environment, even if we try to control what we can control.

4) Trauma. This can be anything from chemical trauma, mechanical trauma, or emotional trauma. One of the biggest aspects of trauma is going to be stress. Stress is one of the number one things that contribute to inflammation in the body. There is also physical trauma.  You could roll your ankle or hurt your knee while you’re running, etc., which can cause acute inflammation. If your body can’t manage it, then it can become systemic inflammation.

5) Hormone dysfunction. Oftentimes we think of just the sex hormones when we think about hormone dysfunction. However, the hormone dysfunction that typically is the kick starter for most people is our stress hormones (think cortisol!) and especially right now in life. This is such a challenging time for so many of us that the stress hormones really can drive thyroid issues and other sex hormone issues such as estrogen dominance or progesterone and testosterone deficiency. Everything works in a hierarchy. Don’t forget about our hunger hormones, too. Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells in your body. Its main role is to regulate fat storage and how many calories you eat and burn but not if it’s dysregulated. Weight gain anyone??  If you are consuming too many carbohydrates and sugar, insulin can also become dysregulated.  Hormone dysfunction is complex, multifactorial, and can surface in many ways.

You will have a greater inflammatory response when more of these receptors from all these different categories light up. Think of this as molecular signaling. So if you are a person that is eating inflammatory foods, you’re under a lot of stress, you already have a thyroid issue, then your inflammatory response is likely going to be greater. Therefore, you will lose tolerance and you will have systemic inflammation which puts you at great risk for many diseases. This can range from heart disease to cancer to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, MS, and Alzheimer’s. You want to think about how you can manage these five categories, and looking at all of them clearly and carefully to determine what are the driving forces for you that are contributing to you not feeling your best.

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about…feeling your best. How can you optimize your health, how can you take ownership of your health, and make sure that you are living with vitality and not just skating through the world? You CAN feel energized, motivated, and live you’re best life.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



Are you in tune with your body? | INTEROCEPTION


Did you ever wonder why some people are so much more in tune with their emotions and their bodies than others? Did you ever wonder how in-tune you are with yourself? Interoception, otherwise known as your internal awareness is also referred to as the eighth sense, one that we’re a little less familiar with. It also tells us about our autonomic function, such as respiration, digestion, our heartbeat, and even our emotions. We have visceral receptors that are constantly giving us information about our internal senses, but often times we don’t listen to them. At the most basic level, interoception allows us to ask the question, how do I feel? Am I hungry? Am I safe? Am I full? Am I sad? Do I have to go to the bathroom? Being in tune with what is happening inside your body is an amazing skill to have and has been shown to improve emotional regulation.

Interoception helps us to be able to manage our bodies, listen to the signals,  and take action. Having this greater sense of internal awareness helps us to be able to manage our emotions as well. We often tend to stuff our emotions and push them away as if they don’t exist. When we can be in touch with our own body, emotions, feelings, and be able to learn how to express them; we can have a better quality of life. This also decreases our risk of chronic disease and illness that is associated with not being in tune with all of those things.

So you may be wondering, how can I test my interoception? A simple heart rate test:  You can do this by sitting in a chair with your arms down to your side.  Close your eyes or keep them open and without actually putting your hands on your body try to take your pulse. You want to attempt to sense your pulse, your heartbeat, for one minute. After you record your number, then you will actually take your pulse. To do this you will use your pointer finger and middle finger and put them on your wrist on the thumb side to feel your radial pulse. You can also use those two fingers and put them right behind your jawline to feel your carotid pulse. You want to use very gentle pressure, and you should not need to dig in. Take your pulse for one minute and record your findings. You’ll wait two minutes, and then you repeat the test. Then, average the results of both the actual pulse and the sensed pulse.

Now to complete the following calculation:

1-((Average heart rate- estimated heart rate)/ average heart rate) = _______

For your results: a result of .80 or higher indicates that you are very interoceptly aware. A score of .60 to .79 indicates you’re moderately self-aware. Lastly, a result of less than .59 indicates that you have poor interoception.

Although this is not the only way to measure your self-awareness, it is a good starting point. If you find that you have poor self-awareness that is okay, there are lots of ways that you can begin to improve your internal awareness. Mindfulness is one of the best ways to become more in tune and aware of your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, surroundings, and become present in your own life. Many times we are anxious about the future or we may be depressed about the past, when in fact being present is actually a really wonderful place to be. Hopefully, you will appreciate how important it is to develop and integrate these interoceptive skills in your life so that you can be fully present and enjoy everything life has to offer.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.



HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VAGAL TONE | 9 ways to stimulate your vagus nerve


Did you ever wonder how you can consciously tap into the power of your vagus nerve to trigger your sense of inner calm and reduce inflammation in your body?  The vagus nerve is also referred to as the “wandering nerve” in Latin because it begins in the brainstem and it has multiple branches to the heart, viscera, and many other organs. It is one of the longest nerves in the body and it is 80 percent of our parasympathetic nervous system, also referred to as our ‘rest and digest’ system. In 1921 a German physiologist named Otto Loewi discovered that when you stimulate the vagus nerve it triggers the release of acetylcholine. Why is that important? Acetylcholine is like a tranquilizer that we have the power to tap into at any point through slow, long, deep breaths. When we have a high vagal tone or healthy vagal tone that is indicative that when you inhale, you have a slight increase in your heartbeat, and when you exhale, you have a slight decrease in your heartbeat. It is also associated with better physical and mental well-being. Conversely, if you have a low vagal tone, this is associated with inflammation, heart disease, stroke, poor psychological well-being, and much more.

Now let’s get into nine different ways that you can stimulate your vagus nerve to improve your vagal tone.

1) Cold exposure: Research shows that acute cold exposure will activate the cholinergic neurons that are part of the vagus nerve pathways, and it stimulates the vagus nerve. Cold showers are the easiest way to integrate this into your life. At the end of your shower, lower the temperature for 30 seconds of cold water and aim to do that consistently over time. That will,  in turn, decrease your fight or flight or your sympathetic pathways.

2) Deep, slow breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing, that is. You’ll want to make sure that as you’re inhaling, you’re getting full expansion of your abdomen 360 degrees. The key is a slow breath with a long exhale. You could start with a tempo of three seconds in and three seconds out. Over time, you want to begin to lengthen your exhalation as well as your inhalation. As you progress with your breath practice, the slower the exhale the more you will stimulate the vagus nerve and also create that relaxation response that we’re seeking. Especially in times of stress and anxiety, this should be a go-to. For some that have experienced trauma, however, this may not always be a safe place.

3) Chanting, singing, humming, and gargling: These are great ways to stimulate the vagus nerve because the muscles of the vocal cords are connected to the vagus nerve. This is a great way to improve vagal tone and increase heart rate variability, which is a sign of a healthy nervous system.

4) Probiotics: There are two specific strains, lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium,  that are directly related to the gut-brain connection as it relates to mood, anxiety, and depression. This is directly linked to the vagus nerve as well. It has been shown that by taking probiotics, you can improve the vagal tone and stimulation.

5) Meditation: This is a great way to improve vagal tone, decrease your stress response, and improve your mindfulness awareness over time. Register here for free weekly mindfulness sessions.

6) Omega-3’s: This comes from your fatty fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, etc. These are great foods that can help with improving vagal tone, overall mental health, and cognitive decline if there is any. Make sure to eat your fatty fish regularly to ensure you’ve got the appropriate amount of omega-3’s.

7) Massage: Make sure you get regular massage, or perform self-massage, to enhance the vagal activity and improve vagal tone. Things like foot reflexology is a great way to stimulate the vagus nerve. At the minimum, make sure to get your regular massage.

8) Exercise: Movement is such a powerful way to improve your vagal tone, to be more connected, and to enhance your sense of happiness. Making exercise and activities that you enjoy a big part of your life will help to improve your vagal tone and overall happiness.

9) Socializing and laughing: It’s such a great way to improve mood and enhance overall well-being. That of course is happening by enhancing the vagal activity and once again improving overall vagal tone. Make sure that despite the current circumstances in the world, you’re able to connect with people, socialize and laugh, and enjoy life as much as possible.

So there you have it, nine different ways that you can improve your vagal tone to make sure that you’re more connected to the world, you’re enhancing your physical and mental well-being, and you’re living life to the fullest.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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