The Health of Hooping

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Dr. Barker enjoying hooping.

On Memorial Day, this year I received my first custom made hula hoop and I fell instantly in love with hooping. Let me explain what hooping is. It is not just standing in place and rotating a hula hoop around your waist, it is a series of tricks where the hula hoop is on and off of your body. You eventually try to perfect these tricks and put them together in a dance or a flow to music. I learn my hoop tricks from friends, hooping DVDs, and hoop dance tutorials on Youtube. I keep a journal of the tricks I know and the tricks I would like to learn on a weekly basis and then I keep incorporating them into my flow routine. As a chiropractor and health educator, I am so pleased to share with you some of the major benefits of hooping.

1) Cardiovascular Workout
When you dance in a continuous routine and even just learning some of the tricks over and over again, you sweat. I have read that you can burn as much as 250 calories in 25 minutes of hooping. On facebook I have seen the amazing transformation of hoopers loosing a lot of weight enjoying hooping. Hooping also improves blood flow thus improving heart health.

2) You Move Your Whole Body
One of the tag lines I share with my patients is to move your body everyday and in every way to keep your joints lubricated and your muscles pliable. Hooping involves your whole body and achieves just that. It also increases the flexibility of the spine. The spine houses our central nervous system which controls all of our organs, cells and tissues.

3) Improves Posture
As we age or if we adopt a poor posture, it usually looks like our shoulders are rolled forward and our mid-backs start to curve forward. With this posture, the anterior muscles, like the pectoral major and minor, become tight and the posterior muscles of the thoracic spine or mid-back, such as the traps and rhomboids, become weak. I teach my patients to stretch their chest muscles with a corner stretch and I have them strengthen their back muscles with rows and other exercises. I have noticed that many of the hoop tricks encourage both of these movements, thus allowing the chest to open up adopting a much better posture. We also use the muscles in our upper back to push (thus strengthening) when we do chest and shoulder hooping. I believe that when the chest is more open also, a persons attitude becomes more positive and confident. It also allows the heart chakra to open and makes the person more loving.

4) Core Strength
In hooping you can’t escape from strengthening your core. It is virtually a part of every hoop trick on and off your body. These moves strengthen and lengthen the abdominals, obliques and erectors. Strengthening your core improves your posture and prevents back pain.

5) Smooth Moves
Hooping is an art form like any other type of dance and everyone has a slightly different style. Some people hoop fast and some slow, but the common denominator I see in most flows are a continuous and smooth style of dance. I believe this is a great way to exercise because it is not jarring to the joints. I personally love hip hop dance for this reason as well.

6) Improves Your Mood
Just like any other form of exercise and dance, you are improving your emotional health as well by releasing endorphins, which are feel good hormones. Because I love hooping, I really feel happy while hooping and afterward as well. Hooping relieves stress and is also quite meditative.

7) It Helps With Brain Balancing
Any movement that you do that crosses the midline of your body improves the communication of the left and right hemispheres of your brain. We have a left and right side to our brain with a bridge in between called the corpus collosum. Many of us, use one side of our brain more often then the other. But by certain movements, we can improve the communication between the the two hemispheres via the bridge so that we can use both sides of our brain. Just by spinning in a circle in both directions achieves just that. Many hooping moves go across the midline, like weaving. Also, we use both of our hands and this improves coordination and of course brain balancing.

” The hoop is a round circle that is infinite and perfect just like we are.”