Updated: Jan 24
I remember when I was about 14-years old, my parents took me to Paris, France. I was
looking forward to experiencing the culture, arts and history the city had to offer. As we traveled through the city I needed to relieve myself, and found the nearest public washroom. As I headed into the cubicle, I was perplexed to see no toilet. Instead, there was a modified toilet that required you to place your feet on either side and squat down deep enough to take care of business. Ah, relief.
I would never forget that experience, and finally when I studied my degree I learned why this deep squatting pattern would be so beneficial to the biomechanics of the body and the health of the digestive system!
From my experience I would argue that optimal health begins with your mindset. Your attitudes, intentions and perspectives are shaping your inner world and the experiences you have in the outer world. Negative thinking, poor mental health and related symptoms often lead to negative physiological changes which in turn produce physical symptoms and dis-ease.
The second piece of the health puzzle are your food choices. Since 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin coined the term you are what you eat. Consider also - your body is completely renewed every 7-year cycle, then if you wish to have a positive change in your health, vitality and longevity, understand that it takes a combination of short-term gains, with a long-term vision. The challenge we all face these days are the constant bombardment of 'quick fixes' that often leave us with a hole in our pocket, craving more unsuitable foods and returning back to our old habits. Therein, lies my first point - start with a change of your mindset. Then go after your foods!
Every organ in your body is connected to a nerve arising from your spinal cord. Each nerve also controls specific muscles and dermatomes (skin patches). Thus, if we have some kind of imbalance or inflammation to a muscle, skin or organ - it can and will influence those related soft-tissues. For example, let's say you are experiencing some constipation. This feedback is enough to cause a disruption of the motor control and function of the iliopsoas muscle. This is a critical muscle for spinal health and gait. When it becomes compromised, especially in chronic cases, it can lead to spinal issues such as scoliosis and lumbago, in addition to contributing to compensatory patterns which lead to knee, hip and neck pain.
Healing from the inside out through our thoughts and our foods, for me, is the best way forward to attaining health, vitality and happiness.
Take the Beet Test
This is a simple test to assess your digestive and elimination systems.
Add some beets to a meal, noting the date and time. You are then assessing two measurements.
1) Transit Time This measurement is noted when the beet color first arises in your poop. It indicates how long food takes to travel from mouth to anus.
<12-hours - indicates a fast transit time and, therefore, poor absorption of nutrients as you may be eating too fast and not chewing your food sufficiently.
12-24 hours - this is optimal and indicates a healthy transit time.
>24-hours - indicates a slow transit time and a constipated bowel. 2) Retention Time
This measurement is noted when the beet color last appears in your poop. It indicates how long food remains in the digestive tract for absorption until it is eliminated.
<24-hours - indicates a short retention time and therefore, poor absorption of nutrients as you may be eating too fast and not chewing your food sufficiently.
24-48 hours - this is optimal and indicates a healthy retention time.
>48-hours - indicates a long retention time and a constipated bowel.
Deep Squat to Deep Relief!
Ever heard of a squatty potty? The whole design of this product is to elevate your feet whilst you are sat on the toilet and prepared to take a bowel movement. If you consider the biomechanics of this position, you would be sat in a deeper squat position. This is why the French had it right. By squatting deep, you are massaging your internal organs, assisting in peristalsis - moving the contents along the digestive tract - and ultimately along the colon to its exit point.
As you balance your digestive system through food choices, always remember that optimal digestion then begins in your mouth. Sufficiently chewing your food aids in the preparation of the food bolus to travel into the alimentary canal for swift and efficient digestion. This week I'm sharing my #1 exercise choice to significantly aid your daily elimination program and likely help alleviate your back pain caused by poor digestion and elimination!
Follow my guidelines in the video below. Perform this Breathing Squat for 10-30 repetitions each day, progressing from a chair height to a deeper and deeper squat with your heels flat on the floor and knees behind the toe line. Ensure you exhale as you descend into the squat and inhale as you ascend out of the squat. This will also aid in the massaging of the internal organs through the diaphragmatic movement of respiration.
The Digestive Health Personal Checklist
O - Hydrate every day with a good quality water source. O - Support your emotional health through regular laughter, doing what you love and loving what you do, healthy relationships and time for rest and relaxation. O - Good sleep hygiene helps your body to regulate its natural circadian rhythms.
O - Reduce your stress response - stress will never end so learn methods to help you reduce and mitigate your stress response. My personal choice is meditation and yoga. Other examples include Tai Chi, Qi Gong, slow walking in nature and vacation time.
O - Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar and dairy and increase your anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, fruit and protein sources.
O - Regular, daily activity to stimulate blood flow, maintain muscular health and get some sunshine and fresh air.
O - Regularly practice the breathing squat exercise to naturally aid in bowel movements.
O - Regular massage care to aid in muscle recovery, appease any viscerosomatic influences and help reduce the stress response. O - Request a visceral massage to specifically treat the abdominal muscles, deep hip flexors and digestive system to aid your digestive health.
Any questions, you can reach me at my clinic by phone: 403 589 4645 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org To schedule your next massage visit my online booking calendar.
Please help me on my mission to relieve stress, tension and pain. Share this anyone you know that would benefit from this blog :)
Yours In Muscle Health,
Jason Barlow, RMT