Vagus Nerve Hack | Sternal Release

Are you experiencing any kind of blood pressure dysregulation, heart palpitations, bradycardia, slow heartbeat tachycardia, or faster heart rate that may be associated with your autonomic nervous system? 

Rather watch or listen? 

Sternal Release Exercise Precaution

Before we jump into the anatomy, I want to make sure that if you have any concerns about this particular exercise, please check with your doctor or health practitioner to see if it is appropriate for you.

Vagus Nerve Anatomy

With that said, let’s start with the anatomy of the vagus nerve, recognizing that this aspect of the vagus nerve is how we are going to influence it via the vagus nerve exercise. 

The vagus nerve exits the brainstem and we have branches into the ear, throat, and then the area that we’re focusing on today is the influence of how the vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart. It passes through the lung tissue, and the diaphragm although not innervating it, and then it moves into the entire GI tract. We can influence the vagus nerve it through the SA node of the heart, as well as a pressure change. We can target the baroreceptors that are lying within the carotid artery and the aorta. Because of this pressure change, we can influence the vagus nerve response and create the relaxation response.

How to Do Sternal Release + Reminders

Before performing any vagus nerve exercise, you always want to make sure that you are in a safe environment. Again, you should consult with a healthcare provider if this is necessary and appropriate for you. For example, if you’re experiencing extreme blood pressure dysregulation, this may not be suitable for you at this time. However, you do want to ensure that you’re safe, you feel confident in the exercise, and you approach it with gentle curiosity rather than aggression. If you’re starting this particular exercise for the first time, ensure that you begin with just a little bit and gradually increase your duration over time.

To perform this exercise, grab a medium-sized soft ball and lie over the ball, with the ball directly underneath your sternum. Allow yourself to settle in, taking some nice slow diaphragmatic breaths. Then, when you’re ready, take a breath in through your nose, pretend to cough, but don’t actually cough. Do this as if you’re holding your breath. Then exhale slowly, and repeat this exercise for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. However, we recommend starting with a very small volume of it might be very beneficial for you.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

If you need help more individually, please reach out for a discovery session. We would love the opportunity to help you in any of these areas. And in addition to that, you can feel free to join our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have monthly challenges, live Q&As, and an amazing community, all geared toward whole-body health. So hope to see you there!

Other things that might interest you:

4 Considerations for Your Best Nutrition Plan

Are you constantly searching for the next best diet? Maybe you’ve tried keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, or you’re looking for the right fit this time. If that’s you, read on for four things to consider when planning your personalized nutrition.

Rather watch or listen? 

Why nutrition plan should be personalized

I truly believe that nutrition should be personalized for you. We can’t just look at what our friends or relatives are doing because there are many things to consider. Today, we’re going to discuss four key categories.

Key categories of a nutrition plan

1. Current health status and clinical symptoms

For example, are you experiencing cardiometabolic issues like hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol? Are you dealing with inflammatory bowel disease or IBS symptoms? Do you have an autoimmune condition? 

First, look closely at your current health conditions because you may need a specific therapeutic plan for you. Additionally, examine clinical symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, mood issues like anxiety or depression, and inflammatory issues in your immune system. With various symptoms in play, all these factors must be considered to determine the best plan for you at this time.

2. Lab work

We aim for objectivity here. It’s not about labeling the carnivore diet as bad or the vegan diet as good; it’s about understanding how your chosen diet affects your body. Consider your gut health and microbiome and check for low vitamin levels like D, B12, and iron. A nutrient panel can reveal what your diet provides or lacks, eliminating the need for guesswork. Making this process more objective is crucial. 

If you’re feeling great, with good energy and no health issues, and your labs show positive results, your diet is likely working well for you. Conversely, if subjective feelings conflict with objective information, it’s essential to be open-minded and delve deeper into what’s happening.

3. Environmental factors

Now, let’s consider environmental factors. What are your food preferences, likes, and dislikes? Any food aversions? Explore your genetic predispositions, such as the MTHFR gene, impacting B vitamin metabolism and detoxification, and genetic deficiencies, like the DAO (diamine oxidase) enzyme, which may necessitate a tailored approach. Addressing mold exposure, candida, and other specific issues becomes crucial when considering clinical symptoms and health status. 

Environmental exposure is vital to factor in; for instance, if someone is exposed to mold. We also need to consider if there’s a genetic deficiency in breaking down histamines. In such cases, a low histamine diet might be necessary, distinguishing it from perceived sensitivity. 

Proactively addressing exposure through nutrition is vital. Consider incorporating more phytonutrients and antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress if your body is under environmental strain. By understanding and addressing these environmental factors, we can proactively mitigate their effects through dietary choices.

4. Adverse food reactions

Lastly, we have adverse food reactions, which fall into three categories. First, there’s food sensitivity—an IgG and IgA-mediated reaction—which can be delayed. This means a reaction might occur on day two, three, or even four after consuming a potentially sensitive food. 

On the other hand, a food allergy, an IgE-mediated reaction, results in an immediate response, varying from mild to severe—ranging from itching in the mouth to an anaphylactic reaction. 

Additionally, there’s food intolerance, where the body lacks enzymes to break down specific food components.

To create a personalized diet plan, we must consider these reactions. For instance, one person might avoid a certain food due to sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy. However, it doesn’t mean you should avoid it too. Testing methods, elimination diets, and allergy tests can provide objective insights. It’s crucial not to eliminate foods solely based on assumptions, making the process more objective and informed.

Key takeaway

We consider all these categories, acknowledging numerous other variables. My biggest takeaway for you is to avoid blindly following a specific diet merely because it’s popular among influencers, friends, or family. 

Evaluate your individual needs: your activity levels, interest in food, cooking preferences, and the feasibility of meal prep based on your schedule. All these factors are crucial in designing a healthy and sustainable meal plan tailored to you. It’s not about pursuing perfection but finding what works for you and allowing it to evolve over time. You may not start with a perfect diet, but gradually develop habits and broaden your perspective on food – not just as fuel but as information, medicine, a means to connect, and a way to heal your body. Nutrition is powerful and influences every reaction in your body. To function optimally, we must eat optimally.

If you found this helpful, please give it a like, share it, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Feel free to reach out if you’re seeking an individualized approach to your nutrition plan – we’d love to hear from you and schedule a discovery session. Also, check out our fantastic community on The Movement Paradigm app, which is available on Apple or Google. Join us for various programs and abundant information. It’s a great community to support you on your journey. Hope to see you soon!

Other things that might interest you:

6 Ways to Overcome Burnout

Are you feeling completely emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted? You feel like you can’t keep going? Today, we are going to talk about burnout, which is actually an ICD-10 code, i.e., a medical diagnosis.

Rather watch or listen? 

What you need to know

You’re exhausted in all aspects, and you feel like there is nothing in you to do what you need to do. You might have a lack of energy, daytime sleepiness, and overall lethargy. You might feel like you perform poorly at work, at home, or even in other aspects of your life.

Stages of stress 

When considering the nervous system or stages of stress, we have our state of social engagement where we’re connected, mindful, grounded, curious, and safe. When in fight or flight, we’re in survival mode. Our body and nervous system do everything to protect us.  We’re either fighting: angry, frustrated, worried, anxious, or even in a panic state, or in a freeze state, where you can feel shut down, overwhelmed, disconnected, and maybe even suicidal. In this freeze state, there’s blood sugar dysregulation, significant sleep disturbances, feelings of exhaustion, fatigue, and procrastination, where you just feel like you cannot do what you need to do despite knowing what you should do. 

It’s important to recognize this because in looking at the stages of stress, stage 3 stress is where burnout exists. 

What can you do about it?

Let’s get into the important part: what can you do about it? 

1. Identify if there are any physical causes

The number one thing I want you to think of is being able to identify if there are any physical causes of your burnout. For example, do you have a medical condition like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s? Do you have a nutrient deficiency, such as vitamin D or iron, contributing to this depletion of energy that prevents you from doing the things you love and want to do?

This will require some investigation. I strongly encourage you to reach out to a functional medicine practitioner, a dietitian, or even your doctor to help identify the underlying root causes of why you might be feeling this way.

2. Focus on your sleep

Focus on your sleep, not just the quantity but also the quality. It’s not only about the number of hours you get each night but also about the conditions that promote restoration, repair, and healing for your body. This may vary for each person, but it’s one of the most crucial factors.

Consider wearing blue light blockers after 7:00 p.m. and establish a nightly ritual before bed. Use down-regulation techniques like breathing exercises, vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, yoga, or hypnosis as part of your pre-sleep routine. Additionally, pay attention to the room temperature, ensuring it’s cool and dark, and optimize your natural circadian rhythm.

There are numerous ways to enhance sleep hygiene. I recommend starting with one approach, turning it into a habit, and staying consistent with your sleep pattern. This consistency will help optimize your natural sleep-wake cycle, contributing to the healing process for your body.

3. Sunlight

Ideally, aim for 20 minutes of direct sunlight within the first 20 minutes of waking. It’s essential to be outside, even on a cloudy day, as the sunlight’s photons influence cortisol levels. This natural exposure helps increase cortisol production in the morning, supporting melatonin production at night and optimizing hormones related to the sleep-wake cycle.

Sunlight during the day offers benefits beyond vitamin D; it positively affects mood and overall health when consistently integrated into your routine. This shift can help move you from stage three stress and burnout towards a state of social engagement and connection.

If getting outside, especially in the morning, is challenging, consider using a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light. Bright light therapy has proven helpful for the mentioned benefits. Set it up during breakfast or coffee time as an alternative when outdoor exposure isn’t feasible. While it may not match the Sun’s effectiveness, it serves as a valuable alternative.

4. Regulate your blood sugar

This might sound a little far-fetched, but it is the most important thing to regulate your stress, fatigue, and overall energy levels. The simplest way to achieve this is by eating every 3 to 4 hours. This means having something when you wake up, not necessarily attempting to fast during this time, but assessing your current state and striving for consistently balanced meals with a focus on protein.

Ensure each meal includes at least 30 to 40 grams of protein to stabilize blood sugar. If cortisol is dysregulated, leading to multiple awakenings during the night or early morning peaks, consider having a small snack before bedtime. Pumpkin seeds are a good option, providing zinc, magnesium, protein, fat, and fiber to stabilize blood sugar, along with magnesium promoting better sleep.

Alternatively, try a scoop of peanut butter. Peanut butter contains tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, which in turn is a precursor to melatonin. This can positively impact mood and sleep regulation and help balance blood sugar throughout the night.

5. Vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, etc.

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, and meditation. These tools and strategies can be incredibly helpful in regulating your nervous system. In the burnout state, where thoughts of “should, should, should” lead to procrastination and overwhelming fatigue—emotionally, mentally, and physically—it’s crucial to shift focus to the body in a positive way.

Step out of your head and into your body, initiating movement and bringing awareness to your sensations and feelings. Consider vagus nerve exercises or explore somatic practices like body drumming, where you shake, tremble, and discharge excess energy that may not serve you well. There are numerous positive practices to integrate gently; it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Start with small steps to explore your emotions, feelings, and physical sensations at a deeper level.

6. Re-evaluation

Lastly, consider re-evaluation. This involves reassessing everything: your work, your life, your relationships. Can you learn to set boundaries and say no when you have nothing left to give? Recognize that the last bit of giving can be particularly depleting. Acknowledge this and say no, allowing yourself to say yes to your own needs.

Take a deep, inward look at everything in your life at the moment. Make adjustments to grant yourself the incredible opportunity to live life to the fullest. Embrace your authentic self, enjoy your work, your family, your relationships, and all that life has to offer. Providing yourself with this chance is crucial.

If you found this helpful, please give it a like, share it, and comment below. I’d love to hear where you are on your journey. If you need assistance, we’d be delighted to help. Reach out for a discovery session, or join us in the Movement Paradigm app, where we have an incredible community dedicated to whole-body health. That’s precisely what we’re offering, and we want to help you heal and address the root of your health issues. Remember, you can overcome burnout, and we are here for you. Have a great day!

Other things that might interest you:

All About Carpal Tunnel

Are you experiencing chronic thumb pain? Do you feel weakness, finding it hard to open jars and grip things? You might even be feeling numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation in your hand. If so, this blog is for you.

Today, we’re going to talk about carpal tunnel. If you, or someone you know, is stuck in that frustrating cycle where everyday tasks become a pain-filled ordeal, you’re not alone.

Rather watch or listen? 

Causes of Carpal Tunnel

Now, what are some of the things that may cause carpal tunnel? 

1. Repetitive activity

Using the mouse all day, engaging in repetitive labor, or activities such as knitting or sewing can trigger carpal tunnel. However, we want to recognize that there’s always an underlying cause.

2. Other causes

Some less obvious factors include hormonal and metabolic issues, inflammatory problems, systemic inflammation, as well as conditions like type 2 diabetes and thyroid disorders, which are correlated with carpal tunnel.

It’s important to understand that carpal tunnel is a specific area. When referring to carpal tunnel, we mean the compression of the median nerve at the level of the carpal tunnel in the wrist after it exits the cervical spine at C5, C6, and travels down the arm into the hand.

As mentioned earlier, you may experience weakness and pain in basic activities, such as using your phone. However, jumping straight to surgery isn’t always the solution. Carpal tunnel compression can occur at multiple levels, starting from the spine, through the scalene area in the neck, pectoralis minor, and down to the pronator teres in the forearm.

Patients often consider surgery immediately, but this approach can lead to more scar tissue, trauma, inflammation, and additional problems. Successful outcomes from carpal tunnel surgery are rare in my experience with patients. While specific cases may warrant surgery, considering anatomical differences between individuals, such as gender-related structural variations, it’s important to always evaluate the mechanics involved.

Assessing Carpal Tunnel

When assessing carpal tunnel, we don’t focus solely on the affected area. We examine everything happening in the neck and spine. 

Check Range of Motion 

Firstly, check your cervical spine’s range of motion for any discomfort. Can you touch your chin to your chest, look up with your face parallel to the ceiling, and turn fully to both sides without pain or symptom reproduction? Ensure symmetry in movements between both sides and check for compensatory patterns.

Breathing

Now, assess your nasal breathing. Are you able to breathe nasally? Are you able to maintain your tongue at the roof of your mouth? This position allows for proper expansion and contraction of the abdomen during nose breathing, avoiding unnecessary strain on the neck and shoulders.

These basic assessments are important because any compensation in these simple patterns indicates a potential issue higher up in the chain. For instance, someone complaining of thumb arthritis and weakness may trace the problem back to median nerve issues caused by neck involvement.

When considering surgery for carpal tunnel, it’s vital to weigh numerous factors and examine all reasons comprehensively. I’ve witnessed numerous individuals successfully avoid carpal tunnel surgery by addressing underlying issues and achieving higher functionality, even engaging in activities that may strain their hands. It’s essential to explore these alternatives and delve into the root causes of movement, pain, or health issues whenever possible.

What Can You Do

Now, what can you do? 

1. Immobilize affected area

During the acute phase (1 week) of your carpal tunnel symptoms, especially as you’re trying to figure out why it’s happening—be it repetitive use or any of the other factors I mentioned—it’s crucial to immobilize it as much as possible, particularly if you need to continue activities. 

If you’re typing or using a mouse extensively, it’s helpful to use a brace to stabilize the carpal tunnel in that acute phase, even while sleeping. This can prevent uncomfortable positions during sleep and waking up with excruciating pain and weakness. Consider it a protective measure that can gradually be phased out as you start feeling better.

2. Identify repetitive activities and make changes

Identify those repetitive activities causing the issue and make some changes. Implement basic ergonomic adjustments at work, use wrist support, take breaks—the most crucial thing—and optimize your posture. Note that perfect posture doesn’t guarantee injury prevention, but you can observe where you might be compensating.

Throughout the day, focus on breathing and movement variability rather than fixating on the ideal desk posture. Every 30 minutes, change positions, move around, take short walks—think of them as movement snacks. This approach aligns better with your body’s preference for avoiding prolonged static positions. Spending hours with your neck forward or in one position can contribute to pain and inflammation.

3. Address inflammation

If the nerve is inflamed, there are things that you want to think about from an overall health standpoint. Looking at things like your diet, is there anything that you are eating, or maybe even drinking alcohol or excess coffee, or things that might be putting you in a more inflammatory state? 

You can check out some of my other videos to understand that, but ultimately, there could be potential inflammatory triggers such as stress, food, bugs, toxins, trauma, and hormones.

4. Work on your movement

It’s important to note that everyone’s experience will be different, as the issues they face vary. For instance, do you struggle with instability in your shoulders? Or perhaps your core isn’t as stable as it could be? Another factor is motor control, which refers to your ability to sequence, time, and coordinate your movements. If any of these problems are present, it may cause you to compensate at the wrist and elbow, perpetuating the cycle of discomfort.

Working with a professional is really important. Get a great movement assessment or a physical therapist so you know how you’re moving and what you need to do to correct that.

5. Nerve glide

When the time is right, which is not in the acute phase of your carpal tunnel syndrome, is nerve glides. To do this, stand up and use a wall for support. Place your opposite hand on your shoulder and press it down firmly. Then, with your fingers down and your elbow bent, straighten your elbow, flatten your palm, and turn your head. It’s important to remember to depress your shoulder while doing this exercise. You can start doing it without a wall, but using a wall for guidance can be helpful.

Go back to the center. Breathe in and breathe out. You only want to go to the point of tension; do not create more symptoms. If doing a few of these worsens your symptoms, it’s not suitable for you right now. If you feel fewer symptoms, you likely have more nerve tension, making this exercise appropriate. I recommend starting with one set of 10; assess and feel how it goes. If it feels good, limit it to no more than three sets a day. Ideally, work with a professional to ensure appropriateness.

Think of it like flossing your teeth; just as dental floss moves through teeth, your nerves floss through muscles. You’re not stretching the nerve but encouraging it to glide through the tissue more freely. This is crucial when addressing chronic issues.

If it was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, comment, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

You can also join our Movement Paradigm app, where we have an amazing community. We have a great group of people who are all focused on whole-body health, high-quality movement, programs, mindset, nervous system regulation, nutrition, and so much more.

Other things that might interest you:

Vagus Nerve Hack | 4-minute Facelift

Are you experiencing anxiety or chronic stress? Maybe you feel like it’s daunting to try to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing. Well, if that’s the case, I’m hoping that this technique will be very effective for you, bringing you from a state of fight or flight or even freeze to a state of social engagement where you can be calm, grounded, mindful, and connected.

Rather watch or listen? 

Why consider the 4-minute facelift?

If you’re feeling like you are experiencing this chronic stress and anxiety where it just feels really hard to connect and move inward, then I would recommend this reset. It is a version of Stanley Rosenberg’s work but is a bit more expansive to bring you to a state of social engagement. 

Our vagus nerve is 80% of our parasympathetic nervous system. However, we also want to consider our facial nerve, trigeminal nerve, and glossopharyngeal nerve, which are all involved in the expressions of our faces. 

How to perform this exercise

We’re going to start by using either hand on either side of your face. Begin by placing one hand on each side of your face, just outside the nose. Press gently on the first layer of skin, feeling the tissue. Move the hands up and down, assessing resistance. Be gentle with your skin and tissue. Identify the area with more resistance and hold that position until you experience a sigh, swallow, yawn, or a combination, indicating relaxation of the nervous system.

Move to the inside of the eye, applying a little pressure. Move the hands up and down, finding resistance. Hold the position where resistance is felt until you experience a sigh, swallow, or yawn. Return to the starting position, going a bit deeper into the tissue. Move in a circular motion, identifying resistance and holding until the tissue softens or shows signs of relaxation.

Focus on one side of the face to observe the path and increased blood flow. Use the tongue on the roof of the mouth, moving through the alphabet to activate the glossopharyngeal nerve and enhance awareness in the tongue area. 

Following that, perform an ear release by gently pulling back and down on the side of your ear. Feel the gentle pull towards the outside shoulder and await any signs of relaxation, like a sigh or yawn.

Combine all these steps on both sides of your face. Lastly, do the cheek lift for about 30 seconds. Bring your tongue to your nose, lift your cheeks, and turn your head. Hold for 30 seconds, and then bring it back to the center. This should create a relaxing yet invigorating feeling, a sense of presence.

This is a great way, as many of the other vagus nerve exercises are, to be able to use this sensory information to provide input to the brain, to be able to regulate our nervous system, and to bring us to a state of safety and connection.

Hopefully, you enjoy it as much as I did. And if this is not the right one for you, that’s okay too. There are so many options. Still please explore them and see your response, how you feel, and how you might be able to integrate that into your day. 

If you found this information helpful, please be sure to give it a like, share it with others, leave a comment below, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

If you’re interested in accessing a wide range of programs, including those on nutrition, somatics, and vagus nerve exercises, as well as movement programs to help you optimize your overall wellness, consider checking out our app, The Movement Paradigm, available on both Apple and Google platforms.

Other things that might interest you:

Neck Pain Causes and Solutions

Are you experiencing chronic neck pain? Do you feel like you’re always holding tension in your neck, and no matter how many stretches you do, it just does not seem to resolve? Today, we’re going to talk about some root causes of neck pain. Also, of course, some solutions for it. 

Rather watch or listen? 

4 Neck Pain Causes

1. Breathing and/or airway dysfunction

Let’s start with one of the biggest issues, which is some type of breathing and/or airway dysfunction. This means that we can be in a sympathetic state, indicating that we’re in that fight or flight state. This means that we’re going to be breathing from our neck and shoulders. 

We breathe 25,000 times a day. So, if every breath is coming from here, you can appreciate how tight this is going to be. We can also have an airway dysfunction, indicating that there could be a deviated septum, a narrow airway, or changes in the jaw. Even poor tongue posture can play a role in exacerbating these issues.

In essence, many things might indicate that there is an airway issue contributing to poor breathing throughout the day and during sleep. 

2. Posture

Although there’s no clear link between posture and neck pain, we want to think about any potential compensatory patterns that we have in our body, as they can ultimately lead to compensation in movement and, potentially, pain.

For instance, if you spend long hours at your desk staring at a computer, you might develop certain habits. If you’re always looking at the screen to the left, your muscles and tissues may adapt to that position over time, becoming shorter and possibly causing discomfort.

This doesn’t mean you can’t move your head in different ways, but it’s worth paying attention to regular activities to see if there’s a chance to adjust and put yourself in a better position. Making small changes might help prevent potential pain down the road.

3. Headaches or migraines

If you’re experiencing any ongoing headaches or migraines, this often can be associated with neck pain. But, once again, we want to understand the underlying causes of that. Many times, it can be associated with jaw clenching, which can be correlated with airway dysfunction.

4. Lack of stability or motor control

Neck pain occurs when the neck compensates for a lack of stability or motor control, which we refer to as sequencing, timing, and coordination, somewhere else in the body. A good example of that is our core or abdominal area. It’s a beautiful balance of having the respiratory diaphragm work in synergy with our pelvic diaphragm, and all these muscles need the right coordination to stabilize our spine. This way, we can generate force and move efficiently in everything we do.

If we lack stability in the core, then something in the body has to figure out what to do for that. So often, that can be the neck. For instance, if you are trying to do a core exercise on the ground, and instead of the core really doing what it’s supposed to do, you start to get tension and abnormal tension in your neck. It’s a perfect example of how this could happen.

5 Neck Pain Solutions

So what can you do about it? 

1. Optimize your breathing

Let’s talk about some key points. First, address your tongue position. The resting tongue position should be on the roof of the mouth, gently touching the top teeth. This allows our airway to open so we can get optimal breath. We want to think about breathing in through the nose, and instead of breathing straight back, think about breathing up. As you breathe in, aim for full expansion in the abdomen. Think of it as a 360-degree breath—front, back, and sides of the abdomen. This creates inter-abdominal pressure. As you exhale, the abdomen contracts and the ribs come down.

If you feel like you can work on your breathing and improve it over time, that’s amazing. If it seems challenging to improve, you might need to explore other options to identify if there is indeed some structural airway issue that may need addressing.

2. Stop stretching

Often, when we have neck pain, our instinct is to stretch and stretch. When anything is tight in the body, these muscles are doing exactly what we need at the time—they’re protecting us. So if there’s a lack of stability somewhere else, if breathing is not optimal, then our body is doing what it needs to do to compensate and maintain homeostasis or balance.

We want to be kind to it. If we just take away that compensation, it might have a temporary fix, but it won’t be an ongoing solution. Instead, I love recommending the salamander stretch

You’ve probably seen this in my other blogs and videos, but it’s worth repeating. This is based on Stanley Rosenberg’s work. Interlace your fingers, bring them behind the back of your head, and relax your arms. Keep your arms down, side bend your upper body and look with your eyes in the opposite direction. Hold this for about 30 seconds. You might experience a sigh, swallow, or yawn—a sign of relaxation. Come back to center, then switch to the other side, eyes in the other direction, holding for 30 seconds. Before and after you perform this exercise, I recommend checking your range of motion. Normally, there is an immediate improvement afterward.

3. Identify any habitual patterns

Is your computer screen over to the left? Can you move it right in front of you? Are you on your phone for hours looking to the right? Just observe these things that you might be doing all day long and consider making some modifications. You don’t need to have perfect posture all day long—I’m not suggesting that. But it might be beneficial to change some of these habits that you’re doing for hours and hours a day.

4. Create stability and strength in the rest of the body

Learn how to build a resilient body. I know that might sound like a lot, but when we think about becoming stronger from the ground up, from our feet up, we can establish a strong connection and have a foundation for stability, strength, and mobility. This way, our neck doesn’t need to compensate all the time. When there’s chronic neck pain, unpacking things such as optimizing breathing, building stability and mobility (for example, in the thoracic spine), and then building strength can truly shift the trajectory of your pain in a lasting way.

5. Identify causes of chronic pain

And last but not least, whenever we have chronic pain, we want to consider a couple of other things. First, is there any systemic inflammation occurring? Are there factors such as certain foods, hormonal imbalances, or chronic stress playing into this systemic inflammatory response, especially when the pain persists? Additionally, we want to distinguish between acute pain and chronic pain. 

Chronic pain involves central sensitization, where our brain perceives a high alert of pain all the time. We need to learn how to use nervous system regulation and other strategies to down-regulate the nervous system, recognizing pain as information and shifting from a heightened sense to pain associated with a specific movement pattern. In chronic pain, there is no tissue damage at that point, whereas in acute pain, there can be tissue damage.

As always, I hope this helps you understand your neck pain a little bit more and, of course, some of the things that you can do to begin to change your pain and improve your health.

If you found this information helpful, please be sure to give it a like, share it with others, leave a comment below, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

If you’re interested in accessing a wide range of programs, including those on nutrition, somatics, and vagus nerve exercises, as well as movement programs to help you optimize your overall wellness, consider checking out our app, The Movement Paradigm, available on both Apple and Google platforms.

Other things that might interest you:

3 Vagus Nerve Hacks

Are you experiencing some kind of dysregulation in your nervous system? Perhaps you’re feeling dizziness, blood pressure fluctuations, or even heart rate fluctuations like bradycardia, where your heart rate is low, or tachycardia, where your heart rate is high. You might even be experiencing other unexplained digestive symptoms.

Let’s dive into three simple vagus nerve exercises that can help shift you from a dysregulated nervous system state to a state of social engagement, where you are grounded, connected, mindful, and in a state of safety and connection.

Rather watch or listen? 

The oculocardiac reflex

For the purpose of today’s blog, we are going to jump right into the vagus nerve exercises. You can check out all of my other blogs on somatic exercises and vagus nerve exercises to help you regulate. 

Today, we’re going to focus on the oculocardiac reflex. This reflex is essentially influenced through the eyes and has an impact on our state of social engagement. It’s also connected to other cranial nerves, such as the trigeminal nerve and the vagus nerve, and it specifically influences our heart rate and autonomic functions.

Vagus nerve exercise 1

The first technique we’re going to discuss was initially described in 1908. When applying pressure to the extraocular muscles, it can lead to a potential 20% decrease in heart rate. 

When performing this exercise, please ensure you apply very gentle pressure. Use a completely flat hand and gently cover your eyes, avoiding any poking or excessive force. Apply gentle pressure and hold it until you observe a sign of relaxation, which could manifest as a sigh, a swallow, a yawn, a deep breath, or a general state of relaxation.

Vagus nerve exercise 2

The second exercise is a convergence exercise. To perform this, you can use either your finger or a pen. Begin by having your eyes fixated on the tip of your chosen object. Slowly bring the object closer to your eyes while maintaining your focus. Continue observing until you reach a point where the object appears as one instead of double vision. You can repeat this exercise until you experience a relaxation response.

Vagus nerve exercise 3

Moving on to the third exercise, which is the cheek lift, this integrates everything we’ve discussed so far. When we consider the cranial nerves associated with the state of social engagement, it involves multiple cranial nerves, with facial expressions playing a significant role. Our facial expressions influence how we regulate our nervous system and co-regulate with others when we interact in social settings.

Start by bringing your tongue all the way to the tip of your nose. Next, focus on lifting your cheeks as high as possible. You’ll simultaneously raise your tongue and your cheeks. Lastly, turn your head to the final position and try to hold it there for at least 30 seconds or more. Begin with the tongue, then the cheeks, and finally, the head turn. After approximately 30 seconds, return to the center and repeat the exercise on the other side.

Key takeaway

I recommend doing all three of these exercises. Begin with the first one and pay attention to how you feel. Check if you experience that sign of relaxation or a drop in heart rate, which you can measure. As mentioned, the heart rate can decrease by up to 20%, so ensure you feel comfortable and safe. Proceed to the second exercise and reassess to make sure everything still feels good. If you’re still feeling great, move on to the third exercise to integrate everything together.

To incorporate these exercises into your daily life, consider your facial expressions in your day-to-day interactions. Aim to smile and minimize significant frowns and expressions throughout the day. Softening your facial expressions can have a significant impact on your nervous system, influencing your own emotions as well as how you affect those around you. This, in turn, can positively impact various aspects we discussed earlier, such as regulating heart rate and blood pressure, optimizing immune function, and promoting digestive health.

If you found this information helpful, please be sure to give it a like, share it with others, leave a comment below, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

If you’re interested in accessing a wide range of programs, including those on nutrition, somatics, and vagus nerve exercises, as well as movement programs to help you optimize your overall wellness, consider checking out our app, The Movement Paradigm, available on both Apple and Google platforms.

Other things that might interest you:

Gut Health and Chronic Pain: Strategies for a Pain-Free Life

Are you experiencing chronic pain? Perhaps you’ve been to pain management doctors or health professionals, and you can’t seem to resolve this chronic pain that is deeply affecting the quality of your life.

We have seen so many people come into our clinic with chronic pain, and I think that it’s important for you to understand if you are experiencing this — how your gut plays such an important role in not only why pain is happening but how to improve it. So today, we’re going to take a deep dive into talking about chronic pain and gut health and pain-free strategies for your life.

Rather watch or listen? 

Understanding chronic pain

Chronic pain is technically defined as pain lasting over 3 to 6 months. Now, if we have acute pain, let’s say, for example, an ankle sprain. You step off a curb and roll your ankle, and you experience an acute response, which is your natural defense and repair mechanism. White blood cells rush to the area, and there is increased blood flow. This results in swelling, pain, and possibly redness.

This is a normal response, precisely what our system is supposed to do. However, in the case of chronic pain, there is no obvious tissue damage at this point. For instance, with an ankle sprain, you would typically have damaged the ligament in the ankle. In that case, there was actual tissue damage that occurred. When we experience chronic pain, there is no actual tissue damage. Nevertheless, our brain continues to perceive this pain. It keeps telling us that there’s still pain and that something needs to be resolved.

We can experience a variety of chronic pain conditions. For instance, arthritis, including osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to ongoing inflammation, resulting in chronic pain. The keyword here is inflammation. Whether it’s autoimmune in nature or osteoarthritis, it involves inflammation. It’s essential to recognize the role of inflammation in chronic pain.

Another example is fibromyalgia, which can cause widespread musculoskeletal pain, along with issues like sleep disorders, memory problems, and mood disorders. 

Additionally, we can have conditions like allodynia, where there is an increased sensitivity to pain. Think of this as hypersensitivity; for example, when something lightly touches your skin, it shouldn’t theoretically cause pain, but it can trigger an exaggerated response from the nervous system. 

In essence, when considering pain, we should focus on how our nervous system processes it. As I mentioned, we have acute pain and chronic pain. Chronic pain is unique because it involves sensitization of the nervous system, which continues to perceive pain even after the tissues have healed.

Gut’s role in pain

Now, let’s discuss the role of the gut in pain. As I mentioned earlier, inflammation is closely tied to our natural defense and repair mechanism, which is crucial for maintaining our overall well-being. Our immune system is performing the necessary functions.

Consider the gut and the microbiome, where we have over 400 million different bacteria residing. These bacteria play protective roles in our immune health and immune modulation. They also contribute to the synthesis of neurotransmitters and play a vital role in digestion and nutrient metabolism. Moreover, they affect the effectiveness of therapeutics, medications, supplements, and various other bodily functions.

It’s worth noting that the gut comprises 70% of our immune system, thanks to the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). This specific lymphoid tissue has a profound impact on our entire immune system, making it incredibly powerful.

If we have any type of gut dysregulation, such as dysbiosis (an imbalance of bacteria), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut, i.e., intestinal permeability, parasites, or poor digestion, this can lead to a whole host of problems, pain being one of them! If we have poor intestinal health, for example, we may not be absorbing our nutrients properly. This can lead to micronutrient deficiencies and even macronutrient deficiencies, and so on. Therefore, the gut plays a massive role in chronic pain. In every patient I’ve ever worked with who has chronic pain and inflammation, we consistently see, time and time again, with stool tests, that the gut plays a huge role in their pain.

When you’re really trying to uncover some of the underlying causes of your chronic pain, you do want to look at specific testing. This could include stool testing and examining specific inflammatory markers, such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and sedimentation rate. There are really specific things that we can look at to get a better picture of this chronic pain and inflammatory cycle. Once you’ve done that and have more information, you can also explore things like a micronutrient panel to understand where you or someone you love might be deficient. 

Pain management strategies you can use

Here are some pain relief strategies you can use by addressing your gut.

1. Address your nutrient intake

This seems the most obvious, but addressing your nutrient intake is just the beginning. Are you eating a diet that is whole foods and high in fiber to enhance the diversity of your microbiome? Having a diverse and fiber-rich diet can be one of the most helpful things for your microbiome. You can also focus on consuming different colors and nutrients. We often say, “Eat a rainbow,” and that’s not just art; it’s also science. Eating a variety of colors provides you with nutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants that can help mitigate oxidative stress, which, in turn, helps reduce ongoing inflammation that might be contributing to your chronic pain.

Herbs and spices can be powerful additions to your diet. Consider incorporating items like turmeric, ginger, cloves, and rosemary. You can either add them to your meals or take them in supplement form. Depending on what you discover from potential stool tests or a more in-depth examination, you may want to consider a specific gut protocol to address any underlying infections, dysbiosis, or inflammation that may be occurring in the gut.

2. Consuming essential rich fatty acids

Omega-3s, mainly found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, play a significant role in healing, not only in reducing inflammation but also in supporting membrane health and mitochondrial function.

3. Movement

You should approach movement from a graded perspective, meaning that doing too much too soon can set you back. Movement can positively impact our digestive system, nervous system, and mitochondria, making it one of the most powerful ways to influence chronic pain. However, it must be purposeful and gradual. For example, if you’re starting to walk, don’t jump into walking for an hour. Begin with 5 to 10 minutes and gradually increase the duration as you gain confidence, feel good, and allow your tissues to adapt to the new stressor.

4. Nervous system

Lastly, let’s not forget about your nervous system. There are various ways to address your nervous system, such as through walking, hugging a friend, participating in yoga classes, or engaging in movement. Understanding chronic pain and how to address it definitely involves addressing the nervous system. If you have a history of trauma, you can check out my recent blog on that, as it’s also an important factor to consider. When dealing with ongoing stressors, it’s not necessarily about eliminating stress but rather learning how to navigate through stress. Addressing your nervous system is a top priority when it comes to healing your pain.

Key takeaway 

I hope you can appreciate the significant role of your gut health in your chronic pain. It’s important to understand that you can take actionable steps to alleviate your pain. Yes, it might be challenging, and yes, it’s a journey, but there are things you can do to initiate the process. 

Even if you can’t perform stool testing or any testing, start with some of the steps I mentioned about optimizing your nutrition and movement, nurturing your nervous system, and improving your sleep. These actions can truly begin to transform your gut microbiome, restore your body’s balance (homeostasis), and kickstart your journey toward healing from your pain.

If you found this information helpful, please be sure to give it a like, share it with others, leave a comment below, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

If you’re interested in accessing a wide range of programs, including those on nutrition, somatics, and vagus nerve exercises, as well as movement programs to help you optimize your overall wellness, consider checking out our app, The Movement Paradigm, available on both Apple and Google platforms.

Other things that might interest you:

Biology of Trauma: How You Can Heal

Are you experiencing ongoing health issues that just can’t seem to be resolved—autoimmune disease, chronic gut issues, maybe things like neurodegenerative disease? Maybe you’ve experienced trauma as a child or as an adult, and you know that it might be affecting your body physically, but you’re just not sure how?

In this blog, we’re going to talk about the biology of trauma—how trauma can affect our physiology.

Rather watch or listen? 

Why understanding the biology of trauma is important

I’m interested in trauma because I have experienced a fair amount of trauma in my life, just like so many of us have. One of the things that I’ve learned, however, is how movement has healed my body. Understanding the science of why movement is so powerful in healing and being able to discharge energy is so important. Also, understanding how, without addressing repressed and suppressed emotions and trauma, it can result in physical issues, such as cancer and other chronic health conditions.

The Polyvagal Theory and how it relates to trauma 

I think it’s always helpful to start with the Polyvagal Theory. This theory is by Dr. Steven Porges, and it really gives us a great visual representation of our nervous system.

Ventral vagal state (social engagement/safety)

As we break down the three aspects of our responses to our nervous system, let’s start with the state of social engagement. I like to refer to that as our state of safety, our state of connection, and our ability to relate. This is where we can connect to ourselves, connect to the greater world, and be compassionate, grounded, and mindful. From a physiological standpoint, this is where we’re able to rest and digest and have optimal immunity, mobility, and digestion in our gut.

Sympathetic state (mobilization/activation)

When we think about our fight or flight response, which many of us are familiar with, we consider it as our survival mechanism. In the fight or flight state, we’re primed to survive. Blood rushes to our extremities, our pupils dilate, and our blood pressure and heart rate elevate. We’re preparing to either fight or flee to ensure our survival.

Dorsal vagal state (immobilization/collapse/emergency)

Then, there’s our freeze state, also referred to as the dorsal vagal state, while the state of social engagement is known as the ventral vagal state. 

In this freeze state, we can become overwhelmed, disconnected, and even experience shutdown or suicidal thoughts. From a physiological standpoint, you can think of it as our emergency state. Our body doesn’t know what else to do and simply can’t continue. This is where trauma comes into play. 

When we’re in a fight or flight state, we activate the HPA axis, our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is our body’s stress pathway. This is when cortisol and adrenaline are released, and it’s meant to protect us. It’s not inherently a bad state, as we often think. However, if this state persists for an extended period, with continuous stressors, we reach a point where we just can’t go on anymore.

When we haven’t dealt with these things, we can’t even process them. Additionally, consider that when we don’t have enough in the tank to keep going—not enough nutrients due to the damage caused by constant cortisol and adrenaline release—we become depleted. In either of these two cases, we move into a freeze state, which is our dorsal vagal response, our emergency state. This is when physical issues start to manifest.

In this state, we might receive a new diagnosis of an autoimmune disease. We might begin to experience dysautonomia, a dysregulation of our nervous system, which includes heart rate fluctuations such as bradycardia (low heart rate) or tachycardia (high heart rate). We could also experience symptoms like dizziness and blood pressure dysregulation.

Additionally, we could develop conditions like cancer or persistent gut issues that we keep trying to treat but just can’t seem to get better. Often, this is where the biology of trauma begins to reveal itself. When trauma hasn’t been addressed or discharged, it leads to physiological changes that ultimately alter our biology. These changes affect how our physical being copes with life’s stressors and continue to function.

The role of fascia in trauma response

Additionally, we also need to consider the fascial aspect of our physical response to trauma. When we’ve experienced any kind of trauma, it can look very different for each person, as it’s filtered through our own unique lenses, including our belief systems, values, and biases. Two individuals exposed to the same event might have entirely different responses due to these factors.

Regarding fascia, think of it as our three-dimensional network surrounding our organs and muscles, acting like the glue that holds everything together and serving as our force transmission system. However, when we have patterns of trauma, whether physical or emotional, it can ultimately impact all the information traveling to the brain. In our fascia, we have more interoceptors than proprioceptors. Interoceptors are the receptors responsible for providing us with internal awareness of self, like hunger, pain, heart rate, and breathing rate.

So, information from our internal environment is constantly signaling to the brain. These cues are consistently directed to the insular cortex of the brain, which is another major factor in how we hold these patterns in our body.

To illustrate, consider if you’ve ever had a scar, whether it’s from a c-section, thyroid tracheotomy, or any other type of scar on your body. A scar is essentially fascia with collagen fibers that typically have a certain arrangement but become cross-linked, making the tissue strong but less elastic. When we begin to address these scars, we often experience emotional releases. This is because a scar is connected to many things, including our physical tissue and the traumatic events related to surgery, falls, or injuries. 

Working on a scar can lead to significant emotional releases, shedding light on how our fascia and tissue influence our emotions. By considering all this information, there is a path to healing your body both physically and emotionally.

How you can heal your body

So, how can you heal your body? 

1. Address your health conditions

First, you want to address your health conditions. This might sound counterintuitive, as you may have expected me to say to address the trauma first. However, when your body is simply unable to cope any longer and you’re completely depleted, addressing these physical issues becomes crucial.

This depletion can manifest as nutrient deficiencies, such as magnesium and zinc, especially when you’re under significant stress, which depletes these essential nutrients needed for overall function. You also need to address physical issues like gut problems, including parasites, SIBO, or leaky gut. If you’re dealing with mitochondrial issues leading to chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and similar problems, these must be addressed as well.

Addressing these physical issues allows your body to start processing some of the emotions and provides the opportunity for your body to feel safe again. In the state of social engagement, we need to feel safe and connected. Unresolved past traumas that haven’t been processed leave us feeling unsafe as if we’re in a constant emergency state. Therefore, it’s important to address physical issues to kickstart the journey of healing from trauma.

2. Bottom-up approach

We often think about dealing with our trauma and emotions, in general, from a cognitive perspective. We try to rationalize and talk ourselves out of feeling a certain way in various circumstances, which can be quite challenging. When we consider a bottom-up approach, we focus on somatics, which essentially means movement.

Somatic practices involve utilizing the body to process and discharge emotional energy. One key aspect is working with the fascial tissue. It’s important to move the body in a safe way, allowing ourselves to release and process this energy literally. Various practices can help on this journey, such as somatic experiencing and Dance Movement therapy, which is considered one of the original somatic practices. The core idea in somatics is a movement-based approach.

For example, you can try a simple exercise like the butterfly hug. Bring your arms over your chest, interlace your fingers, and let your hands rest gently on your chest. Just this act can bring comfort, soothe your feelings, and make you feel safe and supported. Begin to alternate and create a slight vibration in your body, providing sensory information and allowing your body to settle in.

It’s important to stay in the exercise until you genuinely feel a response. Often, we cut such practices too short. Don’t rush it. Allow yourself the gift of time to feel comforted and safe. Whether that takes 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes, it’s okay.

3. Integrate everything together

Third, it’s essential to integrate everything together because we must ensure that we’re addressing the physical issues comprehensively. We can’t simply attribute a physical health condition solely to trauma. Instead, we need to examine the physical condition in isolation and make sure we’re managing all aspects of it. This includes treating symptoms and addressing the underlying causes while simultaneously working on the journey of learning to regulate your nervous system.

Understanding the power of the autonomic nervous system is crucial. You can find more information on this in my blogs and videos about the vagus nerve. There are numerous ways to examine how our nervous system functions and regulates our autonomic functions, which encompass everything from our breathing and heart rate to digestion and swallowing. When we can address all these aspects, we create a more comprehensive approach to healing.

We learn how to regulate our nervous system throughout the day, enabling us to return to a resilient zone. This allows us to navigate any stressors that come our way, whether they’re flying at us rapidly or occasionally. However, it takes time, practice, and a deep understanding of your nervous system.

When you truly understand your nervous system, you realize that you have significant control over it, and you gain the power to choose what to do, when to do it, and how to do it for yourself. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. In my online vagus nerve course and somatic course, I provide various exercises, but you have to find what resonates with you personally.

By addressing this through a movement-based approach, taking care of physical issues, and understanding the connection between your physical health and trauma, we can truly help you heal your body and live your best, thriving life.

If you found this information helpful, please like, share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. If you want to join our app and join our community, please make sure to check out the Movement Paradigm app on Google or Apple. Get a 7-day FREE trial!

If you’d like to learn more about how we can assist you on your journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a discovery session. We look forward to helping you on your path to wellness.

Other things that might interest you:

4 ways to improve pelvic mobility in your gait

Are you experiencing hip pain, back pain, or even knee pain when walking or engaging in other dynamic activities such as climbing stairs or running? Do you find yourself constantly searching for the perfect shoe or feeling like something just isn’t quite right? Your gait is one of the most powerful assessments of movement efficiency, revealing how you interact with the ground. The way you absorb impact and utilize it as energy is profound. 

Today, we’re going to delve into the topic of pelvic mobility and how it influences your gait cycle. We’ll also explore some exercises that can help you improve your walking, dynamic movements, and even running if that’s something you’re interested in.

Rather watch or listen? 

What you need to know about pelvic mobility

When walking, we encounter 1.5 times our body weight in force. When running, we encounter up to three to four times our body weight in force. And when we’re jumping, it could be up to eight times our body weight in force. That means that we have to be efficient about how we interact with the ground.

After doing probably thousands of gait assessments at this point, I’ve realized that there are some common themes, and one of them is something that is often ignored: pelvic mobility

We’re always thinking about what we need to stretch or what we need to strengthen. But we also want to consider how the pelvis moves in our gait cycle. We actually need proper rotation of the pelvis, side bending of the pelvis, and forward and backward motion. Any excessive movement or limitations in these aspects can affect our stride length, how we interact with the ground, and the impact force coming through our body.

So, although there are many things to talk about with gait, we’re going to zero in on pelvic mobility today. For example, Kim et al. showed that in chronic stroke patients, an anterior pelvic tilt, which is when your pelvis is forwardly tipped, affects balance and symmetry. These simple factors can have a significant impact on our overall function.

Ways to improve your pelvic mobility

1. Pelvic mobility from the floor

Place your hands on your hips and forward bend, tipping your pelvis forward and arching your back. Then, bend the pelvis backwards, flattening your back to the floor. Repeat this motion a few times, initially assessing if you feel any discomfort, if the motion is smooth, or if there’s any shaking. Notice if it feels limited in one direction more than the other.

Next, move into side bending. From here, bend your hip toward your shoulder, then return to the center. This can serve as both an assessment and an exercise. When using it as an exercise, focus on your breath. Inhale and exhale as you flatten your back in the forward backward bending, and if you’re doing the side bending, inhale deeply with a diaphragmatic breath and exhale as you go into a side bend. Once again, observe if there’s symmetry between the sides or if one side feels painful or crampy. All of these observations are essential.

2. Table position

Come up into a table position, and you’ll perform the same exercises from here. Focus on initiating the movement from the pelvis, not the upper back. As you go into the forward bend, tilt the pelvis forward, and as you go into the backward bend, tilt the pelvis backward. Coordinate this movement with your breath. Inhale as you tilt the pelvis forward, allowing the abdomen to expand. Exhale as you tilt the pelvis backward.

When moving into the side bend, think of it as “wagging the tail.” Breathe in, and then exhale as you perform the side bend. Pay attention to whether there’s symmetry on both sides or if it feels restricted. All of these observations are essential for how you would perform the exercises.

3. Pelvic rotation in table 

From table position, straighten one leg and rotate the pelvis toward the stable leg on the ground. Take a breath in, and then exhale as you drop your pelvis into this hip, and then bringing it back up to neutral. Inhale, and return to neutral. This exercise is really helpful for working on rotating the pelvis into a stable leg.

4. Airplane exercise

This exercise focuses on maintaining a stable hip while moving the pelvis toward the stable leg. Stand on your right leg and position your left leg as a kickstand. You can start with a breath in as you rotate your pelvis into your right leg and exhale as you bring it back to neutral. You can also progress this to single leg (no kickstand). Inhale and exhale as you return to a neutral position. This is a challenging exercise, and I recommend mastering the others first before advancing to this one.

All of these exercises can be powerful in improving your gait and how you interact with the ground. I recommend performing them in order, ensuring you can do the first-level exercises before moving on to the standing ones. Of course, you can integrate these into a comprehensive program that includes strength, stability, and mobility exercises. This can significantly impact your overall gait.  

If you found this information helpful, please like, share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. If you want to join our app and join our community, please make sure to check out the Movement Paradigm app on Google or Apple. Get a 7-day FREE trial!

If you’d like to learn more about how we can assist you on your journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a discovery session. We look forward to helping you on your path to wellness.

Other things that might interest you: