Living in an ageless body
Special to The Union
For many years we have accepted that stiffness, discomfort, pain and lack of mobility in our bodies is an inevitable result of aging.
Jackie Mason, a movement specialist, claims she has found the key to living in an “ageless body” where stiffness and lack of mobility can be completely reversed or dramatically reduced. Her approach is to access the intelligence and sophistication of the brain to re-train how we move.
“For various reasons, we learn to move poorly,” Mason said. “But we can just as easily learn how to move well again in a relatively short amount of time.”
Mason uses basic principles of how the human skeleton is designed to move to re-train people. She accesses the brain through the nervous system and the skeleton to send the appropriate signals to the brain to do something different.
Mason has many clients who could no longer run due to multiple joint pain, but now they run farther, faster and with less effort.
“The human structure is actually designed to run, so when people tell me they don’t run anymore, I am reminded of this false notion that we have to stop doing certain activities because we are aging,” she said.
Mason encourages her clients to discard their running shoes for thin soled shoes, like the Nike Free or Vibram Five Fingers, so their brain and body can feel the ground beneath their feet and make appropriate adjustments. Individuals who have suffered a stroke or other neurological events, which affect their motor skills and movement, benefit dramatically from this approach.
“The damage occurred in the brain, and the recovery and healing must take place from the brain,” Mason said.
She feels strongly that the current approach to a stroke, using repetition and strengthening, although well intended, doesn’t offer the brain the information it needs to recover movement affected by the stroke. Scientific studies show that strengthening isolated muscle groups and stretching actually reduces agility. For further reading, go online at http://www.designedformovement.com.
Many people want to know how long the re-training process will take. The answer to that question, notes Mason, depends on the individual. Important factors to re-training include; body awareness, motivation to change, willingness to practice new habits, how chronic the pain is and its duration.
“Some clients are good to go in a couple of sessions, while others may take a few years,” she said.
Mason has been seeing one client for four years who experienced a severe stroke 27 years ago.
“We had to completely reintroduce to his brain the existence of his right side and now we are training each component how to move with his whole body,” she said. “It’s an awesome task that celebrates the incredible learning power of the brain even after a traumatic event like a stroke, and 27 years later.
“Ideally, seeing a person right after a stroke is optimal because the brain has not yet habituated to movements associated with it,” Mason said. “There are movement specialists that have worked with people right after their stroke, even if they were in a coma, and they relate that when the stroke sufferer woke up, they got right out of bed and walked out of the hospital.”
Not everyone comes to Mason with pain. She also works with performers like athletes, musicians, dancers, actors and presenters who desire to optimize how they perform their chosen activity. This might be in a workshop context or a few sessions where she can observe what they do and suggest changes that optimize their technique.
The best news is that as individuals learn how to move better they start to live more consciously in their body as part of their whole person, which transforms all aspects of their life. Limitations that seemed insurmountable become less daunting and options become limitless.
For more information, go online at http://www.designedformovement.com.
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