Taylor Swift was seriously onto something when she told us to Shake it Off, although I doubt she was referring to water composition at a cellular level or the central nervous system’s innate way of discharging excessive tension through rapid muscle tremors.
Without going into too much cell science, cells need to be negatively charged to talk to each other. Cells contain water and the best kind of water for cells is stuff called exclusion zone (EZ) water. EZ water was discovered by Dr Gerald Pollack, a bioengineering professor at the University of Washington and simply put, it’s the phase of water that is not liquid, gas or solid.
A lack of EZ water in cells leads them to be dehydrated, a weak negative charge in your neurons which hinders neuron communication, leading to cognitive ‘sluggishness’.
EZ water is created in a number of ways, including drinking raw vegetable juice, light exposure and vibration. This happens through normal exercise, but you can get a double hit of benefits by doing some crazy, shaking moves.
Ever seen an animal right after they get a fright? They tend to suffer from a brief, involuntary shaking fit before they relax and go on their merry way.
Voluntarily causing your body to shake can have a similar calming effect. Scientists believe that tremors turn down the central nervous system’s automated and hyper-aroused fight, flight or freeze response by creating a movement that releases the built-up energy and tension held in the muscles.
This isn’t a new idea. Parts of it are based on Qigong theories, an old Chinese practice of movement, thinking and breathing. If you search YouTube for Qigong Shaking, you’ll see that amateurs have butchered the practice beyond recognition, so I figure we’re now at the point of ‘anything goes’.
For your shaking practice: stand, bend your knees slightly, keep your back straight and then just go wild. I have come to believe there really is no ‘wrong way’ to do this, but just think of wild dancing and you’ll be on the right track. Jumping on a mini trampoline will also provide similar benefits, but wouldn’t have allowed me to get a Taylor Swift reference in, and probably isn’t as fun as shaking all over.
A super easy way to get some movement into your muscles is to do this before you get out of bed in the morning. Think of a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, with arms and legs banging repeatedly against the mattress in rapid succession. You can even get some motivation for the tantrum from the thought of how much you don’t want to get out of bed just yet. (I would not suggest doing this method the morning after a one-night stand if there is still a stranger in your bed. I’m just not sure how to explain this to a guest.)
My challenge to you is to make time to shake it off and just see how you feel.