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Old 02-27-2009, 11:31 AM   #1
mathewjgano
 
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Restorative side of Aikido

Hi folks,
I'm curious about which ways people have found Aikido training to be healing or in some other way restorative. I remarked in another thread about my times playing soccer in high school in which my ankles, knees and hips would be so sore after a game that I could barely walk up a flight of stairs.
This got me to thinking about chronic pain and the somewhat healing effect my Aikido training has had on it. The most notable is a shoulder injury I sustained at work. It was the kind of injury which made it hard to put my shirt on in the morning and I still notice it from time to time now that I'm hardly training. At any rate, on days when it hurt particularly bad, if I trained, not only did the aching go away, but it felt stronger as well. I've noticed this kind of thing with other injuries. I've also noticed that when sensei is contorting the offending joint, it almost never hurts like it does with less experienced "muscular" folk.
Thoughts? Similar experiences?
Take care!
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-27-2009, 11:57 AM   #2
Grant Buhr
Dojo: Yoshinkan Aikido Buseikan Dojo
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

I dislocated my left hip in a skiing accident 25 years ago; it had been somewhat stiff and inflexible ever since. After a few months of Aikido, I had equal mobility in both hips. My wrist flexibility improved markedly as well.

That said, I have found it very hard on the knees.
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Old 02-27-2009, 12:37 PM   #3
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

I'm quite flexible anyway so that might explain part of it but my experience seems to be quite different from most people's. I don't find it very restorative at all, I feel better if I don't train really, except that I start to miss the exercise (and some other aspects of aikido) after a while. Maybe it's also that I have a job where I get to move my body during the day.

In general it's true that minor injuries heal better if you don't completely stop using the body part in question, gentle movement will help with healing. I just don't find aikido all that gentle, maybe it's just me. I know several dojomates have made comments similar to the posts above this one so it doesn't seem to be our style of training that is the difference.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 02-27-2009, 12:49 PM   #4
Russ Q
Dojo: Shohei Juku Aikido Gibsons
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Hi Mathew,

When speaking with my dojo mates and my students I find responses vary on this question. As for myself I find it quite restorative. If I'm mentally tired and/or not enjoying a good attitude then I find I'm invariably feeling better after keiko. Physically, it depends on what I'm dealing with. If it's a general tiredness/stiffness then a vigorous training session tends to make me feel better. I will end up with the kind of soreness in my muscles that tells me I've had a good workout and I'm better for it.

I have had knee surgery to repair my ACL and some meniscus damage and my experience is the same as yours re: feeling better and stronger after keiko. Our warm up taiso, expecially, keeps my knee feeling healthy and strong.

Cheers,

Russ
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:29 PM   #5
Eva Antonia
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Hi all,

when I was young (from 8 to 16 years) I did acrobatic gym and nearly ruined my joints. I had really severe lower back pains during the folloowing 20 (!) years, and already when I was 19 doctors told me that there was nothing to do about it.

But when I started with aikido, these pains just VANISHED after some weeks. It was incredible. So in addition to a general aikido addiciton I have a very serious reason to continue with aikido until I'm very, very old.

Another thing is if I have a minor cold or just some stress, one hour on the mat generally wipes it out. That is also very appreciated.

Certainly there are some minor disagreeable impacts of aikido like mat sores, blues or sprains in this or that articulation...but I find that in comparison to the positive effects, not counting the FUN of it, these are absolutely negligible.

Best regards, and have all a nice week-end,

Eva
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Old 02-27-2009, 04:58 PM   #6
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

One day a teacher visited from a neighboring city. I was working with a new guy on nikyo. The teacher was clarifying something for me on the new guy, and *pop*!

Teacher: Oh Jeez, what'd I do?

New Guy: *wiggling thumb* That feels great!

Turns out new guy had been living with a partially dislocated thumb for the previous month or so.

If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.

- Thomas Hardy
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:00 AM   #7
Abasan
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Hi,

I've amongst other things a back injury termed as spinal protusion on my 3rd of 4th lowest lumbar spine. I had it before I started aikido back in 96. It was one reason I didn't start earlier because I feared all the falling might aggravate my condition.

In the end, I tried aikido anyway. Of course it was fortuitous that I started with Ki Aikido and lo behold, my back felt much better after very regular training. All the rolling and exercise does help me.

I do notice that after missing the last 2 years of practice because of other health issues that my back became much worst. Added to the fact that I was bed ridden during that time probably compounded the issue. But since practising again although not as extensive as before, I find my back getting a bit better now.

I've also met an 70 year old lady who wasn't able to walk without assistance now happily going her merry way after a couple of years doing aikido. However, please note that she also practises shin shin toitsu method of breathing and ki exercises along with normal aikikai practise.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:30 AM   #8
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Before starting Daito Ryu, I had a number of niggling pains in my back and shoulders, These have disappeared.

My posture has improved, my circulation has become more fluid and I have much more energy.

In addition, I have given up smoking thanks to Aikido!

A Kyudo master has said that practicing Budo adds ten years to one's life. I would double that ( at least!)
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:05 PM   #9
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Hi folks!
Thanks for sharing!
Do you folks think there is something particularly usefull in Aikido (or other aiki methods) which has helped with these injuries or is it just consistent activity? ...do you think, say, regularly swimming would produce the same results? Why or why not?

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:53 PM   #10
lbb
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

I'm of the anti-mystical/magical school of thought about these things. Events and outcomes have causes, whether we can explain them or not, and if an activity is "restorative", there are non-mystical reasons why. Also, just because something is mental or emotional rather than physical or tangible does not make it mystical, in my view. But I digress.

I don't think that there's anything healing or restorative about aikido per se, simply because aikido can be approached and practiced in many ways, not all of which are healthy (in any sense of the term). In addition, there's such a wide range of conditions which may need "restoration". For example, I have rheumatoid arthritis, and the first and best advice my doctor gave me when I was diagnosed was, "Move move move, no matter how much it hurts." Osteoarthritis...not so much.

With that said, I think aikido practice has the potential to be a restorative or healing force for many conditions. Things that contribute to this are:

- Focus on correct movement. Awareness of what motions harm and what motions are okay, developing a better understanding of your body's limitations, repeated correct movement, etc. can all lead to a more pronounced use of correct movement and avoidance of harmful movement in daily activities.

- Conditioning. Better core strength, overall strength, flexibility and some aerobic conditioning (if you take lotsa ukemi!) provide a better framework to support healing.

- Getting past self-pity. A lot of people who are injured or dealing with a chronic condition can really wallow in how tough they've got it. After a while, though, they look around the dojo and see that the world is full of people with asthma or bad knees or who knows what all, and that they're patiently putting one foot in front of the other.

- Positive environment. A good dojo demands leaving your mental junk at the door and forces you to Be Here Now. In modern life, most people don't get that experience, which is pretty much essential to keeping your grip on reality. The problems of an injury or chronic condition are made much worse by an unquiet mind that can't consider them calmly.

Of course, these benefits depend on both the dojo and the student. The most "healing" environment in the world is of no benefit to someone who is not ready to accept healing (and if you've ever known someone like this, you know that there's a world of difference between someone who is calling out for, even loudly demanding healing, and someone who is ready to accept it). A lot of people fail to see a benefit that's right in front of them, because they've got their eye set on some much bigger, grander, more comprehensive solution that probably doesn't exist in real life. I doubt there will ever be a cure or comprehensive cure or treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in my lifetime, and some days I admit that makes me slightly angry at the cosmos. But I'm not one of those who lets that anger make me disdain the partial solutions that are in front of me today. You have to be of this mindset, I think, to get the benefit that aikido (or swimming, or whatever) has to offer.
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Old 03-01-2009, 05:38 PM   #11
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Events and outcomes have causes, whether we can explain them or not, and if an activity is "restorative", there are non-mystical reasons why. Also, just because something is mental or emotional rather than physical or tangible does not make it mystical, in my view.
Well you can probably guess I'm not anti-mystical in my approach, but my sense of the mystical is that it is essentially a physical expression so I'm hoping any possible descriptions would focus on that side of things...through a kind of behavioralist lense, if that makes any sense. "Which practices yield which results and why," if people are inclined to get real specific. I'm open to any kind of restorative results people would like to share, though I was thinking more about physical injuries.

Quote:
In addition, there's such a wide range of conditions which may need "restoration". For example, I have rheumatoid arthritis, and the first and best advice my doctor gave me when I was diagnosed was, "Move move move, no matter how much it hurts." Osteoarthritis...not so much.
Is there any physical therapy for osteoarthritis? Or is it simply, don't use the offending joint(s)? I'm assuming this is where the bones begin to break down more than the cartledge?

Quote:
With that said, I think aikido practice has the potential to be a restorative or healing force for many conditions. Things that contribute to this are:

- Focus on correct movement. Awareness of what motions harm and what motions are okay, developing a better understanding of your body's limitations, repeated correct movement, etc. can all lead to a more pronounced use of correct movement and avoidance of harmful movement in daily activities.

- Conditioning. Better core strength, overall strength, flexibility and some aerobic conditioning (if you take lotsa ukemi!) provide a better framework to support healing.

- Getting past self-pity. A lot of people who are injured or dealing with a chronic condition can really wallow in how tough they've got it. After a while, though, they look around the dojo and see that the world is full of people with asthma or bad knees or who knows what all, and that they're patiently putting one foot in front of the other.

- Positive environment. A good dojo demands leaving your mental junk at the door and forces you to Be Here Now. In modern life, most people don't get that experience, which is pretty much essential to keeping your grip on reality. The problems of an injury or chronic condition are made much worse by an unquiet mind that can't consider them calmly.

Of course, these benefits depend on both the dojo and the student. The most "healing" environment in the world is of no benefit to someone who is not ready to accept healing (and if you've ever known someone like this, you know that there's a world of difference between someone who is calling out for, even loudly demanding healing, and someone who is ready to accept it). A lot of people fail to see a benefit that's right in front of them, because they've got their eye set on some much bigger, grander, more comprehensive solution that probably doesn't exist in real life. I doubt there will ever be a cure or comprehensive cure or treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in my lifetime, and some days I admit that makes me slightly angry at the cosmos. But I'm not one of those who lets that anger make me disdain the partial solutions that are in front of me today. You have to be of this mindset, I think, to get the benefit that aikido (or swimming, or whatever) has to offer.
Well said! Thank you, Mary!
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:07 PM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Matt, in osteoarthritis, cartilage is lost. This creates a couple of problems: 1) skewing joints out of normal position and 2) eventually creating a situation of bone against bone.
Keeping muscles strong, joints limber is of course very important overall protection and rehab BUT overuse will simply create more wear and tear leading to faster damage.

Janet Rosen
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:40 PM   #13
Amadeus
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

Pain is your friend. It can be a joint screaming "I'm about to snap" . In some cases there can be some stiff tissue in need of some action after a healed injury . The trick is to figure out what's what.

Love me, hate me, tolerate me or ignore me. I care!
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:05 PM   #14
Abasan
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Re: Restorative side of Aikido

If you read the book 'Outliers' by somebody...

You will come across this really interesting anecdote.
Apparently back when America first started getting immigrants coming from everywhere, one particular city stood out because it comprised solely of immigrants from this one particular city in Italy.

What stood out was due to some chance research, they discovered this city's inhabitants had no cancer, heart disease and were generally leading healthy and long lives.

The best scientists tried to figure out why. Diet, exercise? The immigrants whilst Italians, had to ditch some of their more healthy sources of food because of costs. So it wasn't olive oil or fresh tomatoes they were eating. They were taking in lard, carbs and all sort of nonsense. Neither were they exceptionally fit, since most of them were overweight in fact.

So what was contributing to this exceptional piece of good health? Genes maybe?

Finally someone came out with entirely plausible explanation.

The community of that city were a happy lot. They looked out for each other, they supported each other if they have problems, there was no crime, there was a lot of peace and joy.

So yes. If aikido brings you a lot of peace and joy and your dojo mates become your best friends, you have now built another family structure to support you and that will help you be healthy.

Face it. Modern people nowdays don't have much support from friends and family. And take it from experience. Support and love can really really help you when you're down and out.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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