Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Essentrics: The Essential Addition to My Workouts

I haven't mentioned my hamstring tendonitis is a long time because I've found a way to 'manage' it.  But its far from healed.  I've come to accept it could be a life-long thing that will have better and worse periods.

For the most part, if I roll my acupressure ball under my thighs while sitting at my desk, avoid sitting for too many hours, use my foam roller and do at least 2 yoga sessions a week, I keep it under control.  But take away that routine and boom, the pain gets bad.  When I went to my grandmother's funeral in NYC, all the extra sitting I did (in the airplane, limo to and from the cemetery, etc.) left me in pain for a few days.  Its very frustrating.

Lately I've been (gasp!) getting tired of yoga.  What can I say, I get bored easily!  I have been looking for an alternative type of therapeutic movement and particularly for one that can also help with foot pain.  My feet suck.  Ever since I was pregnant with Little A they have given me problems.  Two sets of orthotics, 2 chiropodists, 2 physiotherapists, and a podiatrist, and I am still no closer to having answers.  It has me very worried for my charity walk in September.  I don't think 32km of walking will even be a cardio challenge for me, but its my feet I worry about!!

So because of all my aches and pains, I eagerly signed up for an Essentrics seminar at CAN FIT PRO this year.  It was described as being a stretching and strengthening program that can help heal injury and eliminate pain.  A lot of the movement also targets hips and feet. Where do I sign up?

I am so glad I did it!  I was pretty instantly smitten.  I think the best way to describe it is as a combination of Pilates and Tai Chi.  Its dynamic stretching and body weight strengthening with some slow, flowing movement.  I love it! 

The originator, Miranda Esmonde-White, is a former dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.  The  program have been adopted by various elite athletes and teams, including the Montreal Canadians, apparently taking them from being the most injured team in the NHL to the least injured team.

Here is some info from their website:

ESSENTRICS is on a mission to re-establish the true meaning of fitness and to help people experience what it feels like to be healthy and happy in their bodies. We believe that fitness should not be measured with an index, in miles, in muscle mass or in speed, rather, it should be measured in one’s ability to move freely, live actively and without pain. The mission of the ESSENTRICS Workout is to create a balanced body whereby the strength in your muscles doesn't inhibit your movement, and your mobility is enhanced by your strength. ESSENTRICS dynamically combines strengthening and stretching to develop a strong toned body with the complete ability of moving each joint and muscle freely and with full range of motion.

This is a program that enables your body to move fluidly and effortlessly in your daily life and all your activities; ESSENTRICS offers a fundamental level of true fitness. With thousands of testimonials from the programs devotees of all ages and fitness levels, professional athletes, Olympians, doctors and physiotherapists, we are confident that ESSENTRICS will target what you need, unlock what is tight, strengthen what is weak and tone what needs shaping.

ESSENTRICS is a unique program that rapidly changes the shape of your body through a dynamic and fluid combination of strengthening and stretching. This workout develops lean, strong and flexible muscles with immediate changes to your posture. ESSENTRICS is even smarter than that; it goes beyond changing just the look of your body, it also cares about how you feel in your body. With a diverse music playlist accompanying each routine, this equipment free workout leaves you feeling energized, positive and healthy.
How does it work?
ESSENTRICS strengthens and stretches every muscle in the body eccentrically, rebalancing the muscular structure in continuous rotational movements. It incorporates various techniques including PNF and isotonic movement while systematically working every joint in the body. The basis of the workout is a dynamic combination of strength and flexibility exercises, designed to pull apart the joints by elongating the muscles and challenging them in the lengthened position. This full-body technique works through the muscle chains, liberating and empowering the muscles, relieving them from tension in the process. While the technique is original in itself, it has been influenced by several disciplines. ESSENTRICS draws on the flowing movements of tai-chi which create health and balance, the strengthening theories behind ballet which create long, lean, flexible muscles and the healing principles of physiotherapy which create a pain free body.

And it really does feel good. I bought the entire series of episodes from their 2012 TV season on recommendation from the salesperson at the CAN FIT PRO tradeshow:

I've done a few 30 minute sessions so far and I really do feel better.  My muscles usually feel a bit raw after yoga from the deep, static stretching, but they really do feel stronger after doing Essentrics.  No hamstring pain but it still gets rid of any stiffness!

I am trying not to convince myself this will heal my hanstrings but I am feeling hopeful.  Think this might be right for you?  You can purchase their DVDs online.

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