In this extract from former ballet dancer Miranda Esmonde-White’s new book, Ageing Backwards: Fast Track (£20, Harper Wave) you’ll learn how to relax a muscle that can cause you to look old before your time!
Relaxation is the way to increase your strength and reverse your age. It’s a bit of a brain twister, I know. Relax to grow stronger?
At first glance, this statement seems to be an oxymoron. But through my research and work with clients, I’ve learned that it is an absolutely astonishing way to rapidly increase strength and grow younger.
Learn to relax
Did you know that overtraining is as damaging to your health as being sedentary? What is surprising is that relaxation, the opposite of overtraining, is an extremely powerful and safe strengthening technique. And the beauty of using relaxation to strengthen is that it doesn’t lead to injuries and damage; it is healing and age-reversing.
By looking beyond the muscles and directly at the nervous system, I discovered the hidden explanation for why so many people look robotic in their movements. If you can’t release muscle tension, you can’t move your joints smoothly through their full range of motion. This explained to me why so many people’s muscles are in a permanent state of semi-contraction or semi-tension.
Let it all go
I would highly recommend that you try to teach your joints to relax prior to doing your workouts to get familiar with how it feels. As you do the warm-up movements, try your best to completely relax your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.
If you are having trouble, try visualising that you are boneless – nothing more than a rag doll. Watch yourself in a mirror to see whether you are looking more graceful and less robotic.
Soon you will enjoy learning to relax because it feels so good. Once you master this, your body will automatically use all of your muscles properly in everyday life. With the recruitment of your full musculature, you will feel as if you’ve lost considerable weight because moving becomes easy.
Visit essentrics.com for more information on Miranda’s method.
2 mins to a younger you
This quick and easy stretch will ease stiffness and pain by mobilising your psoas muscle.
The psoas – a deep muscle in your core, which connects your spine to your legs – can truly age your body if it becomes stiff. After warming up by marching on the spot for a few minutes, try this exercise to stretch and mobilise the psoas.
An imbalance in the hip flexor group causes pain and stiffness, so stretching them will help improve your posture and relieve back pain by rebalancing the muscles and connective tissue.
Repeat the sequence three times on each leg. This should take you one minute per side.