KEYS TO FITNESS: Moving with Grace

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YONEMOTO, SHEILA-colorBy SHEILA YONEMOTO, P.T.

While working with a patient with weakness in her legs, I noticed she tended to “flop down” into the chair. Always looking for efficient ways to incorporate strengthening into daily movements, I suggested she sit without flopping because it would force her to use her leg muscles more.

After several attempts, she did it and remarked this was sitting down “like a lady.”

By making this change, she used her body more and had more control. She was also safer and there was less impact to her joints, and it was more pleasing to watch her move in this fashion.

While walking around the park, two runners passed me and I noticed the first one moved very loudly, his feet hitting the ground hard. He breathed heavily and took short, rapid steps. The other ran almost noiselessly as if his feet barely touched the ground with long, gazelle-like movements.

The first runner seemed to expend a great deal of effort, putting tremendous strain on his joints. It was almost painful to watch. The second runner made it look effortless, which made me want to watch. I wanted to be more like him as he moved with the grace of a well-trained athlete, effortlessly, noiselessly, timelessly, evoking beauty and admiration.

I felt sorry for the first runner because the way he ran looked very arduous and I feared he might suffer in the future.

Making the transition from awkward and laborious to graceful movement requires some effort but, once achieved, you feel lighter, more in the flow, more coordinated, more in control, freer, happier and more beautiful.

Fewer “shock waves” are produced, with less noise, less impact, less jolting. It becomes smoother, more rhythmical and gentler. As the observer, I am drawn into the movement, wanting to be a part of it and enjoying the feeling. It’s as if time is suspended.

What other actions can be done with grace? Perhaps the way we speak to and look at others, our manner of eating and driving, our appearance and our way of working. After all, what is grace other than the beauty of form or smoothness and ease of movement?

I have been stopped in my tracks by the beauty of a sunset, a work of art or music, a pretty face, a flower, an inspiring speech, laughter, or a tender embrace. These things have no force. They flow naturally and evoke lightness, a sense of suspended time and a connection.

A simple thing like sitting down in a chair can be done with grace and can change how you feel about yourself, plus it can strengthen your body and affect the world around you.

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Qigong, Chinese energy classes. Try a no-impact qigong class. Your first class, a $30 value, is free! Classes are held at Y.P.T. Call for more info.

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Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA  91801. Call (626) 576-0591 for a free consultation and free insurance evaluation, or visit www.yonemoto.com for more information.

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