Mobility: We generally begin seated on a stool and move through a series of rhythmic mobilizations for the spine in all directions, which include extension and flexion, sideways, and in rotation, or “spiral” as we prefer to say. We can then intentionally and gradually combine these movements to create more complex spinal mobilizations. The seated position on the stool gives us the stability to begin to mobilize through the hips and shoulders.
Decompression: Many people, especially as we age, may have concerns about certain ranges of motion, such as flexion in the case of osteoporosis, extension in the case of spinal stenosis, or just about any direction in cases of back pain. But in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® we first teach a simple method of creating length and decompression through the spine, and then throughout the body, that can allow for a greater range of motion with much less risk of injury. This decompression allows for more movement without discomfort. Often the daily aches and pains we have come from some type of compression in the body, such as a shoulder joint or a hip that “grinds” with movement, or vertebrae that sink into each other. By learning how to create length and decompression within our movement patterns, we’re able to find more ease, freedom, and comfort. An experienced trainer can assist the participant in finding the appropriate range of motion within the decompressed state in order to navigate any movement contraindications there may be.
Balance: Balance is a major concern in aging. Fear of a fall may begin to limit favorite activities and an actual fall can have serious consequences. After we’ve mobilized the spine, hips and shoulders on the stool, we then generally do some standing work. The standing work mobilizes the hips, knees, ankles, and feet, all of which need a good deal of suppleness to maintain balance in daily activities, as well as in any sporting activities. Often a class tailored for an older population will include some simple “balancing steps”, which is basically stepping side to side and finding balance. Specific techniques are taught to use the reaching of the foot against the floor to find ease and strength in the balance through the use of oppositional forces. It may sound complicated, but there are simple images given in class that have significant effects on the quality and effectiveness of an individual’s movement.
Gait: Gait changes are also a concern with aging adults. As people lose mobility through the spine they lose the oppositional swing of the leg and arm that occur with the gentle spiraling action of the spine that is present in a healthy walking pattern. Also, with a decrease in foot and ankle mobility the individual loses the ability to roll through the foot with each step and begins to move in more of a side to side action, resulting in that shuffle that you can probably picture one of your elderly grandparents doing.
The GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® is an ideal fitness approach for older adults that is both gentle on the body and also provides the fitness and wellness benefits that are so important to support healthy, vital aging. The benefits of these methods are increased mobility and strength, gentle cardiovascular stimulation, support for the circulatory system, ease of discomfort from compression of the spine and joints, improved posture, healthier breath patterning, and simply a joy of movement. With the guidance of an experienced trainer, these exercises are safe for those with osteoporosis and many other health issues common among older populations.