Physical Activity and Prevention of Injuries for the Welness of the Dancer
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
When we make physical activity as sport or dance, we should take into account our health and preserve our integrity. Often we have so ambitious plans, that we are not available to feel the messages of our body. However we should try to coordinate our aims with our real possibilities. So what are the necessary ingredients to improve ourselves? I believe that internal energy, curiosity, passion must to be accompanied by awareness. My purpose is to give you some practical and theoretical experiences, useful to stimulate curiosity and to enrich the experience.
Prevention of injuries should be obligatory for who practices physical activity. It is important to understand that each movement we do, from the simple standing up to move with a goal, have to be made with all ourselves. Our posture is the result of our personal history, what we are in this precise moment and it changes with our evolution. We will see how to make our posture more efficient, keeping attention on how we use the deep muscles. We will try methods of muscular stretching and we will try to put together in a coherent way all these experiences. Of course we have to learn in which way we can use new abilities, but we will learn all of this slowly …
CORE STABILITY - BREATHING - MUSCULAR STRETCHING - FLEXIBILITY OF THE SPINE - MUSCULAR RELAXATION - EFFICIENT POSTURE - PREVENTION OF INJURIES
Core stability – Breathing - Muscular Stretching -Flexibility of the Spine - Muscular Relaxation
Prevention of Injuries
POSTURE AND BREATHING
The term posture is developed to express the concept of body control, which aims to guarantee static and dynamic balance of our body.
According to Martinelli and Parodi (2008) the three cultural approaches that have given rise to the study of posture are:
• The biomechanics component
• The neurophysiological component
• The psychomotor component
Some definitions of Posture
Some definitions of the complex concept of "posture":
• The posture is the result of the interaction between biomechanical, neurophysiological, psychological and psychomotor components of the individual, that change in relation with the aims and the environment stimulus. (Martinelli and Parodi, 2007).
• The posture is the expression of lifestyle, experiences, memories of our physical and emotional injuries, the type of work and sports that we practice; posture is the way we breathe, the way we stand and we deal with ourselves and with others. Our posture is an expression of our history. (Raggi, 1998).
Analyzing the thought of some authors, in particular Francoise Mezieres, French physiotherapist (1909-1991) and Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), creator of a somatic educational system, we can get some general principles:
• A good stand position is that in which the body can move in any desired direction without fatigue. In the stand position, there should be no muscular effort resulting from voluntary control (Feldenkrais, 1978).
• The vertical position is possible and does not require any muscular effort, but the balance is precarious given the small support of the foot. The normal standing position involves some lordotic compensation for the stability and for the movements of medium and large size (Mezieres, 1967).
According to Feldenkrais there isn’t an ideal posture but a personal posture, in which the person (Cancedda, 2007) tries to learn freely new motor patterns helped by the teacher.
On the contrary Mezieres bases his method on the constant pursuit of perfect morphology, through a particular global muscular stretching. She thoughts that the balance of the body proportion is possible to find in each human being. (Mezieres, 1967).
Inefficient posture: possible causes
Among the many causes that can make a posture inefficient we can include the following concepts:
• During the movement, the strength to move should be transmitted from the pelvis, through the abdominal muscles and the spine to the head. When the limbs, chest, shoulders or other part of the body have to do this work, is it possible to feel fatigue . (Feldenkrais, 1991).
• Without a good prevention the wrong position during the movement can bring to a shortening of the spine muscles that improve spine physiological curves. The lordosis is always accompanied by internal rotation of the femur and with the block of the diaphragm muscle (Mezieres, 1967)
So on one hand, the movements come from a "functional center" said core, that we can identify with the area of the pelvis, from the other hand we can consider that the standing position is possible thanks to physiological curves, supported by the spinal muscles which need to be treated to avoid complications in the movement.
Methods of intervention
According to Mézières we are crushed by the force of our own posterior muscles. Therefore the only way to recover the correct function is try to reduce the shortening of the spine muscles. That’s possible trying to decrease the lordosis through the breath and the stretching of all body segments disposed in a precise alignment. Nevertheless, this work is not a mechanical process, but the subject gradually becomes aware and corrects the state of voluntary muscles and joints. In this way she can acquire the ability not to make the same mistake she has made in the past. (Feldenkrais, 1991).
• The posture is an expression of our personal history.
• Good posture involves the maintenance of the standing position without effort, with the alignment of the joints and a maximum possibility to direct the movement in all directions.
• The standing position involves spine compensation and the body is crushed by muscle tension.
• When the muscle of the body centre are replaced in their job by other body parts, there will be effort sensations.
• The posture becomes more efficient through the awareness of dysfunctional patterns and the knowledge of new sensory motor patterns.
Breathing is an innate biological function and it is mostly involuntary.
However this instinctive function is sometimes disrupted by blockages that prevent the free expression. There are some way to breathe that can positively affect the posture and help us to manage our emotions.
Types of breathing
We can classify three types of breathing:
- High breathing.
It is limited to the part of the upper chest and it makes more use of the muscles of the shoulders and clavicles.
- Medium breathing.
It's that kind of breathing most used in our culture and involves
primarily the intercostal muscles.
- Abdominal breathing.
It is an efficient and healthy breathing that involves more
Breathing is generally divided in two phases: inspiration and expiration.
The inspiration is active and requires energy intake:
- Increase the anterior - posterior and transverse chest diameter.
- The external intercostal muscles contracting moves the ribs and the sternum upward and forward.
- The diaphragm contracts and moves down.
On the contrary the expiration is a passive process without energy intake:
- Decreasing diameters anterior - posterior and transverse chest.
- The external intercostal muscles are released and move the ribs and sternum downward and inward.
- The diaphragm is released and rises.
The diaphragm is the principal muscle of the breathing and one of the most important in maintaining a good posture (Cittone, 1999).
It can be described in this way:
- It has a dome shape convex cranially and divides the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.
- It is divided into two portions: a central tendon portion and a peripheral muscle portion.
- During the rest it provides for 70% of the inhaled air.
- With its innervation affects the cervical region (phrenic nerve C3, C4, C5).
- It influences the shoulder, the coasts and sternum. (Back region).
- With its pillars affects the lumbar region.
- With its insertions intertwined with psoas, fixed lordosis. (Cittone, 1999).
The diaphragmatic block
The diaphragm through its direct and indirect connections with the whole body influences the posture and the emotions. However a breathing block, due to chronic stress or anxiety, immobilizes the diaphragm. This reduction of movement can lead to problems in the management of the emotions affecting also the posture.
Breathing in stress management
There are many methods and schools using breathing to take action on stress management (think: Yoga, Vipassana, Qi-gong, Rebirthing). This is possible because breathing affects the state of the nervous system.
The nervous system implements, in a short time, the functions of regulation of physiological responses to perturbing events (Squatrito, 2002).
Broadly the nervous system is divided into:
- Central nervous system, consisting of:
Brain (which is in the skull) and Spinal cord (included in the vertebra canal).
- Peripheral nervous system. Which provides to transport external stimuli to the brain then transmitting the input from the brain to the muscles.(Parker, 2009).
- Autonomic nervous system which controls involuntary visceral functions critical for homeostasis.
It is divided into:
- Sympathetic: comes into action in emergency situations
- Parasympathetic: It stimulates rest, relaxation, digestion and energy storage.
Predominance of the Sympathetic nervous system
If activation of the sympathetic nervous system predominates, the breathing you notice is:
• Accelerated or frantic.
Under the effect of an intense stress, there is an acceleration of heart rate, with hyperventilation and excessive muscle stiffness (Stevens, 2008).
Predominance of the parasympathetic nervous system
If activation of the parasympathetic nervous system is the most predominant, the breathing you notice is:
• Diaphragmatic breathing.
It has in the non-alarm condition. It possible to observe lowering of heart rate, decreased sweating, melting of tension and stiffness, sensations of relaxation, tranquility and well-being (Stevens, 2008).
As mentioned before, breathing can be used to positively affect the nervous system. The active recruitment of certain muscles, especially abdominals, reverses the usual respiratory mechanics making active the expiratory phase.
Muscles involved in forced expiratory breathing are:
- Internal intercostals
- Abdominals (rectus abdominis, external and internal oblique, transversus)
• Breathing is both voluntary and involuntary function.
• The diaphragm is the main muscle of breathing and posture
• Breathing is linked to our posture and emotions.
• Forced breathing helps to restore the relationship between muscle tensions and helps to restore the
balance between the nervous system’s levels.
The term "Core" indicates the functional center from which is possible to develop each movements of our body. In other terms it can be defined as follows: "It is represented by the complex coxo-lumbar-pelvic and it forms the center of the kinetic chain from which depart all movements that are transmitted to the upper and lower limbs." (Martinelli et al., 2010). According with the model of Bergmark (1989), the Core can be divided into two different muscle systems that are at the same time interdependent:
The local muscle syste
- Transverse abdominal
- Oblique interior
- Pelvic floor muscles.
The overall muscle system:
- Rectum Abdominal
- Oblique external
- Erector column
- Square of the loins
Local muscular system
Even though the different classifications, there is not a most important muscle of another (Mc Gill, 1999). Indeed all the muscles have to cooperate together to create a dynamic stability and to allow the spine to move in different planes of the space in an harmonious and efficient way. (Bergmark, 1989). Moreover an excessive overtraining of the global muscles without a sufficient level of functionality of the local muscles could create an unbalanced situation in which there is loss of stability (Norris, 1995). Therefore it is important a co-contraction of the muscles that surround the lumbar region to assure the stability of the spine (Richardson et al., 1990).
In this regard, the Panjabi’s model (1992), shows us that on one hand the concept of Core interests strongly the good condition of the spine, on the other hand it is essential the interaction between different components for the stability and preservation of the column.
These components can be distinguished in:
- Of neural control
According to this model, the stabilization of the spine depends on the ability of our muscle system to contract on the appropriate time (in addition with the passive structures such as ligaments and bones). This contraction is indispensable to protect the so-called "neutral zone" (1992), that region in which passive defenses of the joint are more breakables. This means that the area of the lumbar spine is deeply unstable (Hodges and Richardson, 1997). The lumbar curve assumes its highest level at L3 vertebra that is without the protection of ligaments that connect it to the pelvis. (Also at the level of L4-L5 there is is a lack of passive control system). The balance of these structures comes from the stability caused by the support of muscle contraction. (Martinelli and Parodi, 2008), which must be modulated through the right interactions, avoiding stiffness and lack of stability.
Functions of the Core
We can mention the following functions of the Core:
- Core stability provides protection for the spine, reducing the loads at the level of the intervertebral joints (Farfan, 2006). Indeed the majority of injuries of the lower back are the result of overuse caused by strong efforts that gradually expose the muscle tissue and the joints to injuries (Mc Gill, 1999).
- A proper recruitment of local muscles through a forward activation of these muscles involves postural adjustments, which allow the body to control complex movements, such as athletic movements. (Martinelli et al., 2010).
- Increasing the support of the whole structure the upper and lower body parts can move quickly and in an accurate way (Martinelli et al., 2010).
The pelvic floor is a part of local muscle system of the Core.
It can be defined as the soft muscles that delimited the pelvis in the lower part.
Pelvic floor muscles
The muscles of the pelvic floor are divided in different layers:
- Superficial and intermediate parts.
- Deep muscles of the pelvic floor. Plan deep (or pelvic diaphragm)
The pelvic floor and the muscle-skeletal structures of the trunk provide to stabilize the body. Moreover, the control of the pelvic floor improves the accuracy of the dynamic movements, supporting the lumbar spine. Whenever an upper or lower limb moves, the biomechanical structures of the pelvic region and / or the trunk are activated to counterbalance the part that moves. So the movement becomes harmonious, precise and functional. It follows that the muscles of pelvic floor contract in certain operating conditions, such as grasping an object with your hands.
• From the Core originates the movements
• Core training is important to perform precise and efficient movements
• Its stability is essential to protect the spine and ensure through its pre-activation the best position of the body to express a movement.
The spine is the central support of our body. It is involved in postural balance and it is necessary to coordinate movements between the upper and lower limbs.
It consists of:
- 24 mobile vertebrae
- 9/10 fused vertebrae that form the sacrum and coccyx
- Intervertebral discs, tied together by strong ligaments and supported by strong muscles.
Despite the vertebrae show differences between them, we can describe the composition of a typical vertebra. It is formed by:
- Body: front cylindrical portion
- Vertebral arch: posterior portion composed by a spinous process, two transverse processes and four articular processes.
- Intervertebral disc: it is a disc of fibrous cartilage that enclose a central part composed for 80% by water and from proteoglycans.
The intervertebral disc has different function:
1. It connects vertebrae (with the exception of the two first cervical vertebrae: atlas and axis).
2. It absorbs the shocks that the column has to support during movements of the body.
The physiological curves are essential to enable the upright position and to distribute the weight between the vertebrae. Without them we could not perform movements of medium and large size. Moreover we can’t move in different directions of the space such as bend flexion, extension in behind, lateral inclination, twist to the right and left side or make combined movements.
- The two concave curves posteriorly found in the cervical and lumbar spine are named lordosis.
- The two convex curves that corresponds to the back spine and sacrum are named kyphosis.
Some possible accidents at the lumbar spine
In this brief note, we will give some general hints on accidents that may affect the lumbar spine, suggesting to the reader interested in the issues of the spine to consult the scientific literature.
Low back pain
Low back pain is localized in the lumbar spine even though it doesn’t show any signs of suffering of the anatomical structures involved. It arises because the spine is not able to support the load of the weight. (Poggini, 2012).
Among the possible causes:
- Pelvis fixed in antiversion position: the curves of the column tend to worsen and the stress is on the lumbar spine.
- Pelvis fixed in retroversion position: the curves tend to flatten until they disappear causing stiffening of the entire spine.
Discopathy is the degeneration of the intervertebral disc due to constant compression that does not allow recovery of lost fluids.
Among the possible causes:
- Hypertensive muscles of the posterior chain.
- Constant contraction and shortening of these muscles.
- Overload of the structures.
Pressure on the third lumbar disc based on the position taken. (Nachesom, 1973).
Hernia is caused by the displacement of the nucleus of the intervertebral disc from the center to the periphery breaking the fibrous cartilage.
Among the possible causes:
- Continue and repeated mechanical stress in a not physiological position.
- Movements of flexion and hyperextension associated with twist.
Sciatica is caused by the compression of the roots of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body which runs along the posterior thigh and posterior side of the leg to the foot. The compression of this nerve is caused by the expulsion of the nucleus.
Piriformis syndrome is a mechanical compression of the sciatic nerve due to the stiffness and the consequent increase in volume of the piriformis muscle that causes lower back pain sometimes until to the lower limb.
To avoid one of these lumbar spine problems is good to focus on preventive aspects that should never forget during a job training. We can make a list of the most important principles:
- Respect the physiological curves during static and dynamic movement looking for the correct alignment of the spine.
- Maintain flexibility and mobility of the spine avoiding stiffness and overload.
- Try to combine the movements with a fluid breathing.
- Stabilize actively lumbar spine with a good use of the muscles and through the pre-activation of the deep muscles.
• The "Core" is the centre from which start the movements that arrive to the periphery through the involvement of multiple joints (Andorlini, 2014).
• The multiple joints of the spine transmit the movement from the center to the limbs.
• The lack of interaction of the parts, the constant effort on the spine and an inefficient movement may cause several problems to the spine.
THE MUSCULAR STRETCHING
The continuous effort to improve performance brings the sport’s scientist to look for more effective methods of training, without forget the injury prevention. There are numerous techniques and precautions used in order to minimize the risk of accidents, but not all of them are really effective. This is the reason why the practice of exercises aimed to the prevention of injuries has became customary for the most athletes of any level (Rastelli and Chiavaroli, 2010). Especially those type of exercises aimed to improve the "flexibility", considered an important component for the health of the organism (Rubini et all., 2007).
The term “flexibility” indicates the elongation capacity of skeletal muscle.
Flexibility can be either static or dynamic. Static flexibility is defined as the range of motion (ROM) achievable by a single joint or by a series of joints (Gleim and Mc Hugh, 1997). Static flexibility should not be confused with the joint’s laxity that is a function of the joint capsule and ligaments. Dynamic flexibility refers instead to the facility of the movement within the range of motion (Of Giminiani and Scrimaglio, 2011).
Instead the term "stretching" indicates the set of exercises to improve the ROM of one or more joints and differs from the term flexibility that, as specified before, refers specifically to the ROM. (Magnusson and Renstrom, 2006). Some stretching techniques are aimed to alter the visco-elastic properties of muscles and tendons (static stretching), while other techniques have an effect on neurophysiological reflexes, as the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) or Mitchell’s technique (Bandy and Irion, 1994).
In light of these considerations, it is interesting to try to investigate what is the most effective type of stretching to improve flexibility. In other words to increase the efficiency of our musculoskeletal system in its entirety.
Considering the following principle exposed by Francosie Mezieres:
"Each localized action, both in traction both in shortening, causes instantly the shortening of the whole muscular system." (Mézières, 1984).
It indicates how the analytical stretching on a single muscle district, will bring to a compensation in another side of the system. To understand this concept we have to consider the posterior muscular chain.
Posterior muscular chain (PMC)
"The numerous muscles of the back act like one single muscle" (Mezieres, 1984).
The posterior muscular chain is composed by polyarticular muscles that have the peculiarity of overlap on each other and behave as a single muscle. These muscles form a "chain" which is stretched from the heel to the occiput. (Cittone, 2011).
Between the most important muscles that make up the PMC, we can include (Myers, 2005; Cittone, 2011):
• Gastocnemius and soleus
• Hamstrings and sacrotuberous ligament.
• The ilio-psoas muscle that has a front organization, but functionally can be part of the PMC. (Cittone, 2011).
• The gluteus muscles.
• Erector spinae: (spinalis, longissimis and iliocostalis).
• Splenius capitis, cervicis and semispinalis capitis.
All these muscles are stretched simultaneously in order to gain a real flexibility, otherwise the muscular system, goes back to its old organization.
To create an extension that involves all the muscles in its entirety, first, we try to clarify the mechanisms involved in stretching of the musculoskeletal system.
It is the body tissue that moves the joint and affords, with its activity, posture and movement of the entire body in the space (Bottinelli, 2002). To perform these functions, the muscle have to be able to contract and relax. In this way the muscles can develop strength.
The morphological units of the muscle tissue are the muscle fibers:
In general the structures that composed the muscle are classified as follow:
• Muscle fibers
• Sarcomere (contractile unit base of the muscle fiber)
• Thick filaments composed by protein myosin
• Thin filaments composed by protein actin
• The tendons instead are the structures that allow the muscle to transfer the power produced from the muscle fibers to the bones, promoting the motion. (Bottinelli, 2002).
Types of muscular fibers
In skeletal muscle there are different types of muscle fibers that can be classified as:
- fibers II X (white or fast twitch) and that are involved in the rapid and intense muscle contraction;
- fibers II A (intermediate) that have a speed of contraction slightly lower, but with greater resistance;
- fibers type I (red or slow) that are recruited for muscular work of long duration, but less power.
However in the skeletal muscles are contained all three types of fibers, in various proportions. (Bottinelli, 2002).
Muscle fibers in the absence of nerve stimulation are relaxed. To contract they have to be stimulated by alpha motorneuron that innervate the fibers. The nerve impulses (or action potentials) activates the muscle fibers innervated by alpha motoneuron, that produce the interaction between contractile proteins actin and myosin. The alpha motor neuron communicates with muscle fibers at the level of neuromuscular synapse. At this level the nerve impulse that comes down to the axon of the neuron can generate an action potential on the muscle cell membrane. (Bottineli, 2002). Several muscle fibers are innervated by a single motor neuron and form with it “the motor unit”.
As mentioned above some stretching techniques work on neurological reflexes. This is because, the motility of the muscles depend both by the musculoskeletal system that consists of the bones, joints and muscles, both by the nervous system that give the impulses to move (Martinelli and Banducci, 2011). Inside the muscle, tendons and joints, there are several types of proprioceptors which give to the person kinesthetic sensation:
- The neuromuscular spindles ( in the muscles)
- The Golgi organs (in the tendons)
- The Pacini and Ruffini receptors (in the joint).
In particular, the spindles are located in parallel with the normal muscle fibers and follow the same variations of the muscle.
Instead the Golgi tendon organs are located at the level of the tendons of the muscles, in series with the muscle fibers, and are stretched when the muscle is contracted.
We see how the spinal reflexes participate in the muscle length and tension regulation:
• The miotatic reflex tries to maintain constant the length of the muscle. For instance, if you add a load to the biceps brachii, the muscle, together with the spindle, try to support the new weight through an immediate reflex contraction, restoring the initial position of the arm.
• The miotatic inverse reflex acts when the tension on the tendons became too high (strong passive stretch or contraction exceptionally intense). This kind of reflex inhibits the alpha motor neuron thanks to the organs of Golgi and releases the muscle (maintaining a constant tension level of the tendons). In other words, this mechanism protect the muscle through the inhibition of contraction, resulting in the release of the weight.
The muscular contraction
There are several types of muscular contractions:
- Static or isometric contraction: it is a contraction in which the muscle length is the same. (Bottinelli, 2002). For instance, when you try to move an immovable object.
-Concentric contraction: it is a contraction in which there is a reduction of the length of the muscle and the muscular fibers became shorter.
- Eccentric contraction: during this type of contraction the muscle is stretched, for example during the deposition of a weight on the ground from a certain height.
Now we see how the combination of these elements can affect stretching in the muscle.
Let's take an example.
Imagine to maintain a supine position on the ground with the legs up. This position is useful to create an elongation of the posterior muscular chain (Mézières, 1949). It is important maintain the alignment of occiput, shoulder and sacrum on the same line. Moreover the pelvis have to be rest on the ground. The breathing is slow and the expiration is forced. The anterior muscles, in particular abdominal and quadriceps, have to be isometrically contracted. Thanks to this contraction, the muscles of the back improve their length , because there is an inhibition of the miotatic reflex due to the inverse miotatic reflex, which releases the muscles.
Advantages and disadvantages of the stretching.
On the one hand there are several evidences that stretching exercises during the warm- up can negatively affect resistance and power performance. On the other hand the decrease in the incidence of injuries seems to be related at the level of the muscular flexibility. Moreover perform stretching exercises at the end of the training session seems to be much more effective to improve the flexibility in the long term. (Rastelli and Chiavaroli, 2010).
We can conclude that the localized stretching determines just an extension of the existing sarcomeres, causing an elongation that is rapidly lost. Instead during a stretching session in which the subject has to maintain specific postures and contracts some kinds of muscles, there is the elongation of all the posterior muscular chain. This is achieved through the eccentric contractions of the hypertonic posterior muscles and isometric and concentric contraction of the anterior muscles, all supported by the breathing. This procedure, by acting both on the laceration of the connective tissue both on the inhibition of the neurological spinal reflexes, appears to restore the real number of sarcomeres, making the muscles really longer (Cittone, 1999). All this improves also the mobility of the joints that can work with less energy intake. (Bottinelli, 2002).
· The muscular flexibility is essential for the health of the organism.
· The stretching to be really effective has to involve all the muscular chain.
· The muscles may contract in various ways. The combination of different contractions together with the mechanisms of spinal reflexes and with the correct use of breathing, facilitates the relaxation of muscle tension.
· There are several techniques that aim to change the muscular tension. The combination of these techniques, if put in a global vision, increases flexibility and improves the mobility of the joints.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCULAR RELAXATION
There are several ways to achieve a state of deep calm.
At the beginning of the last century, in the United States, Edmund Jacobson worked and studied intensively, as doctor and researcher, the way of functioning of the muscles. He noticed that muscle tension was often in conjunction with inner restlessness, stress, fear. A person internally stressed or scared has often muscular tensions.
Jacobson observed that after a short contraction of a group of muscles follows, with the time, a more profound relaxation. The principle thus appears paradoxical: the distension is achieved through a previous contraction, if this distension is longer than the anterior contraction. Furthermore, this process can be strengthened directing attention on the transition between contraction and relaxation.
The somatic changes achieved have a repercussion on the psyche and among these reactions we can include:
• Regularization of breathing
• Reduction of oxygen consumption
• Lowering of heart rate
• Reduced blood pressure
• Relaxation of skeletal muscles
• Modification of the brain with a feeling of calm
• Stimulation of the body's internal energy
It is true that the changes are different from individual to individual, but after a period of practice, it is easier to feel a state of calm, perceived as pleasant. This can improve the ability to deal with difficult and stressful situations. This process is possible thanks to the systematic training to decrease the perceived tension of voluntary muscles, which establish a positive circular process in which the deepest feeling of psychic calm leads to a greater muscular relaxation .
How to do?
At the beginning it is important to perceive the tension through a careful observation. Then the focus should be on the pleasant feeling of relaxation of the muscle.
The relaxation is progressive because the distension proceeds by degrees relaxing one after other the various muscular groups. Closing the eyes is useful to eliminate most of the external stimuli and focus on internal sensations. However is important to avoid the strain, but remain aware that exercise can be interrupted at any time, keeping the control.
You can begin by supine on the floor or sitting:
• The muscle group is contracted for about 5-8 seconds
• Do not hold your breath
• The tension should be not too hard
• Relax completely the muscle, after the contraction, for about 30 seconds
• Focus on the feelings of complete relaxation
It can be also useful make comparisons, "how do you feel now compared to before?"
The exercise can be concluded through these kinds of movement:
• Bend, stretch, extend your arms
• Breathe deeply
• Open the eyes
Moreover the tension have to be clearly perceived, but in no case should appear excessive fatigue. To avoid this case is better contract less as possible.
It is fundamental to adapt the training to the personal needs and preferences and not the contrary. This is also helpful to experience what is good for us. The positive influence of training on health , is due to repetition during the time and not just to a short period of practice. This is because, as shown in neuroscience research, to ensure that the improvements became stable and skill became permanent, you need a slow and steady work, which probably leads to the formation of new neuronal connections and not the simple strengthening and weakening of the existing connections.
Useful for who?
It is useful to fight the stress and the tendency to became nervous and anxious. (Stress produces glucocorticoids, also called "stress hormones" ). Too often we notice the body when something doesn’t work and we develop an anxious attitude or nervous disorders for which is difficult to find a real cause .These disorders arise because we have lost confidence in the body’s self-regulation, causing disorders in the regulatory functions of the autonomic nervous system.
Through training in relaxation you learn to know yourself starting trying to improve confidence in the body, breaking the vicious circle described above and eliminating disturbances. We should train every day, first in quiet environments, but later it should be useful performing the exercises in each environments. This is the only way to really integrate the exercises in daily life. With the time the deep calm is perceived as an enrichment of the life.
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 HEALTH: persistent integrity of homeostatic functions and adaptation, resulting from a correct coordination of physical activities, mental, so as to enable man to live in harmony in their environment constantly adjusting the optimum conditions of physiological whenever suffer from disorders 'external and internal environment.
 STRESS HORMONE: the glucocorticoid is a hormone that is released as a "stress response". This hormone is effective for short periods, as calls for the body to deal with emergencies by increasing heart rate and blood flow in the muscles. But if the hormone is released continuously, leading to disorders related to stress and the body wears out prematurely.