THREE-PART SERIES: Renew Your Energy by Consciously Moving and Breathing in 3D
The body interacts with a three-dimensional environment (on three planes), but often we restrict our bodies by only moving in one dimension. Purposely engaging a full range of movement with conscious breath can infuse the body with much-needed, energizing oxygen.
We seem to be moving differently throughout the day as we sit, stand, drive, and walk. But actually, we are moving in repetitive and limited patterns that over time diminish our vitality.
If any movement pattern goes unused, the brain will prune away neural connections that support it. In short, if we don’t use it, we lose it. Unused movements can create compensatory movements that become habits. These habits create a “new normal” in the brain. Healthcare professionals often see this translate to osteoarthritis, degenerative disease, bursitis, tendonitis, and chronic pain throughout the body. As the years pass by, people experience this unconscious compensation as a loss of function: getting down and up off the floor, reaching arms out or up, climbing steps, or tying shoelaces.
Connect to a bigger picture!
Limited and repetitive movement patterns are a silent variable unraveling our attempts to live a holistic life with vitality.
A holistic view of life refers to looking at the bigger picture, how you live, and the choices you make. These ultimately impact your time, your body, what you do, where you go, the thoughts that you think, and the emotions that you express or don’t express. Looking at the bigger picture of one’s movement patterns, it is easy to see how we have “pruned” away from the wholeness of movement. We are meant to move along three-dimensional planes of movement: side to side (frontal/coronal plane), turning right and left (horizontal/transverse plane) and forward-backward (sagittal plane). Conscious movement or paying attention and focusing movement in a specific direction is important.
As an adult, it is easy to see that most of our movement patterns are in the sagittal plane. However, it is really the frontal (coronal) plane that will determine our quality and ability to move in any direction or to stand on one leg or keep our balance should our base of support narrow.
● Standing and putting on pants
● Reaching arms out to the side or high above the head
● Moving in and out of a booth or a car
● Toilet hygiene
● Lying on your back and scooting across a bed
● Walking up or downstairs
Some Body Parts Are Built for the Frontal Plane
Do you remember lying on the ground to make a “snow angel”, or the “jumping jack” exercise? Recall how the arms and legs move: that’s frontal plane movement. But the torso and the pelvis are also designed to move in the frontal plane. You do it every day without even realizing it during toilet hygiene. Next time you go to the bathroom notice how you lean to one side to wipe or clean your private parts. You unconsciously tilt the pelvis and shift your body weight, aka your center of mass. This side tipping of the pelvis in the frontal plane allows you to stack and balance your torso over one sit bone. At the same time, the torso side bends away from the weighted sit bone (also frontal plane movement) so that your hand can more easily reach behind and underneath you. The ability and quality of the pelvis to move side to side, stacking our center of mass, head and side bending torso over one sit bone in sitting or a foot in standing, is the fundamental movement pattern behind walking, climbing, crawling, side-stepping and turning.
Try a Movement Exercise
Consciously perform the pelvic tilting and side bending torso motion while noticing your breath. The movement can be done in a chair or standing up. The result should be a fuller, deeper breath and potential for the breastbone and ribs to lift out of a late afternoon slump or after long periods of sitting. Essential to the movement is to always feel the weightiness of the sit bone (when seated) or the grounding of the footprint (when standing) as the torso side bends away from the sit bone and foot.
Try these guided steps:
Seated frontal plane pelvic tilt.
Sitting at the front of the chair with your back unsupported and feet slightly to the right. Press the right foot into the floor and notice the “teeter-totter” effect of pelvic tilting: the left side is weighted down into the chair and the right sit bone is lifted into the air.
Seated frontal plane torso side bending.
Notice how the torso makes a “C” shape, folding toward the side of the lifted sit bone. Even though the left arm is lifted up and over to the right and the left palm is actively pushing toward the ceiling, the left side of the sit bone remains grounded through the movement. Breathe in and out for 1-2 cycles. It is possible to feel the left side of the torso and waist area expanding outward and inward during the breath.
Standing frontal plane pelvic tilt.
Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Keeping your right knee straight, lift your right heel and arch from the ground. The ball of the right foot can stay on the ground. Notice how the pelvis shifts and tilts to the left, inviting your left footprint to become more weighted into the floor.
Standing frontal plane torso side bending.
Notice how the torso makes a “C” shape, folding toward the side of the lifted right heel. Even though the left arm is lifted up and over to the right and left palm is actively pushing toward the ceiling, the left side of the footprint remains grounded. Breathe in and out for 1-2 cycles. It is possible to feel the left side of the torso and waist area expanding outward and inward during the breath.
Enjoy a full, deep breath, and come back next month to discover how to move and breathe in the transverse plane!