by Jennifer “Jenn” Gladwin
If you live in Maui, you definitely know how to play. As a collective we seem to master this idea, whether we are playing in the ocean, with a kite, on the tennis court, or out on the greens, we love to move our bodies and we love to have a good time. Maybe it’s this Maui lifestyle that has influenced my passion for helping all of my clients have more fun in their lives. Over the years, I have noticed a few solid ways that help people have more fun in whatever activity they are doing.
In this three-part blog series, I will go over ways to help improve your play, no matter your sport or activity level.
PART 1: Come From Your Core
As you move your body, notice where you start your movement from.
Here is an exercise to help illustrate: Lift your arm up to the sky. Now, notice your neck and shoulder, is it tightened, your shoulder moving up towards your ear? Typically, because we are a head and mind oriented culture, we move our arm from our shoulder. Now, take a breath and release your neck with your arm remaining in the air. Can you do it?
Our arm movements most efficiently start from our lats, or “side bodies” as this area is called in yoga classes. Our lats are big muscles that stretch along our sides and into the back that help move our entire shoulder complex, all of the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. If using our muscles efficiently and correctly, we don’t actually need our neck to lift the arm.
This exercise is just one example of how we are unaware of our origin on movement, and which muscles are initiating the movements. Over and over in all kinds of beginner and elite sports training you hear about core strength. Having a strong core is not just about having a 6-pack or doing a lot of sit-ups. Coming from your core is about making connections from your brain to the complicated network of muscles in your core. It’s about being able to use those muscles to make your movements efficient and strong. When you have the support of the center of your body in each movement, you can eliminate injury, increase power and in many cases overcome long term pain.
The first step in building these strong connections is to just notice your movement. Start becoming aware of how you lift your arm, take a step forward, or bend down to pick something up. As you increase your body awareness and the neurological connections from mind to core, you will be able to build upon a steady and healthy foundation to create stability and eventually, power.
Jenn Gladwin teaches swimming, “Core Camp”, and leads an adult swim workout at Maui Country Club. Learn more about Jenn www.getgladmaui.com. For exercises and more tips on how to Connect to your Core, email Jenn at GetGladMaui@gmail.com.
I’ve been coached by Jenn in paddle and swim technique. I showed her exercises prescribed by my PT for shoulder pain with the complaint that the exercises seemed pointless and were not helping. She watched me lifting and turning my arms (as the pt had told me) and said that-while I was “doing the movements”- I wasn’t engaging the right muscles to actually make a difference.
I awkwardly tried to alter my movements and still was shrugging my shoulders, failing at activating my lats and back. She touched the muscle that was supposed to be working…slowly, like magic! I connected my brain to engage the muscle and – wow it’s strange to move in a different way- but when I’m paying attention, my movements now take the strain from my shoulders and strengthen my back to provide more power to my movements.
I’m grateful to have more knowledge of my body and the opportunity to strengthen myself to excel in all of the water sports I love.
Maui Country Club says
Mahalo for sharing your experience Chelsea! We are so happy to have Jenn on the Maui Country Club team!