I’ve just walked back to the office at 7:30 am on Saturday Oct 6th from the Opening Ceremony for the Avon-Walk-a-thon: a two-day up to 39 mile event here in NYC. Being The Stretch Lady was a blast for 2007 Fifth Annual event! I volunteered to lead the warm-up earlier in the year and was delighted when the offer was accepted. 3900 people gathered to walk, 430 of them survivors of breast cancer. The talks were poignant as are the facts. Every 3 minutes another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Every 13 minutes someone dies from it. The good news is that more and more women are surviving the disease, including those with Stage 4 diagnoses. As cancer crusaders help to raise awareness and money we all continue to need to pay attention to our bodies and get moving. And we also need to pay attention to our bodies while we are moving!
Words to Remember:
First of all the mantra I created is Breathe, Tune In, Hydrate and Stretch Later on in the day it becomes: Breathe, Tune In, Rest and Stretch (still keep drinking water)!
Here are some of the tips for walking that I shared: as “the Stretch Lady” explaining that this is an adaptation of Moving On Aerobics for Cancer survivors:
Take some big breaths in and let your arms rise up and down as you do so.
Shake out your arms and legs to loosen up.
Begin with gentle movement that simply checks in on your range of movement
Pick apples (notice the people behind you and say hello)
Swing, sway a bit
Take a step forward and rock from the front to back foot, waking up your feet – your weight shifts from the whole foot to ball of the foot, lifting and awakening the arches.
Check in with your spine by placing hands on knees and curling and arching the back slowly and gently while inhaling and exhaling.
Rest (or Pace yourself)
Another key theme of course is to pace oneself.
Tuning in is a key to this. If you listen to body signals you are more aware of when to slow down or adjust your body. Micro-adjustments are all that you need at that point. If you block signals then when they start to bark at you, you will need a much more drastic recuperation – to lie down and stretch.
One micro-adjustment I described is the angle that your feet point while walking. While they should mostly be directed straight forward it is okay to vary the direction slightly throughout the walk to stimulate a variety of muscles around the hip socket. Just make sure that your kneed is always directed over your second and third toe.
Torso: The core of your body: Let your right arm rise up along the right side of your body as you press down with your foot and stretch out your side.
Legs: Calves: Stretch one leg back – front leg is bent, back leg is straight Thighs: Bend the back leg and feel the quadriceps lengthening down. (or Stand in a balanced runner’s stretch/yoga pose if you can) Find your hip joints (make a flat table top with your knees bent) and stretch out your hamstrings (back of the legs). Continue with this flat back while bending at hip joint and let knees bend or be straight. It works well to straighten one leg at a time.
Core: Stretch your torso and shoulders again with side to side and circular movement. Stretching can take you places! We ended with stretching in all the directions people came from.
I asked all three thousand nine hundred people to stretch their upper bodies toward the south, the north, the east and the west while naming places from each direction that folks come from.
It felt great to be in sync and carefully moving together. It was exciting to recognize how far some people had traveled to get to NY and to acknowledge their dedication to traveling by foot for two days filled with compassion for helping others.What a community! Consider joining this walk or another one, for your health and the health of others.