Sneaking a look at the timer, I think, how many minutes left?! My mind and probably face begin to show signs of worry and discomfort. The limb grows colder and the pins and needle feeling of lost circulation flood my awareness. Learning to model is certainly a process! When you feel like you are in agony, you look like you are in agony. This article will serve you well as you learn about blood circulation and its role in figure modeling.
Sketch Cabaret has so much to offer to both seasoned and aspiring models. Veronica has created a culture that is inclusive, beautiful, and creative. One of our primary focuses in Sketch Cabaret is on professionalism. It is important to pay attention to the finer points of your, and in turn, the clients experience.
Paying attention to blood circulation as a figure model plays a vital role in our health as well as the quality of our work. Anything that is done regularly should be done mindfully. According to the Live Strong website, lifestyle habits that involve cramped sitting and standing postures or just extended periods of sitting or standing can lead to circulation problems.
The article continues by identifying the symptoms of poor circulation:
"Circulation problems can involve such symptoms as:
- tingling and numbness (also known as Neuropathy) - fatigue - brain fog – poor memory - cold hands and feet - leg pain when walking - shortness of breath - lack of energy - irregular heart beat - hemorrhoids - dizziness when standing or rising quickly - swollen ankles and legs - poor and/or slow healing of wounds and bruises."
So what’s a figure model to do? Let’s start with some modeling specific tips. First of all, loosing circulation in a limb for 20min is not the same as loosing it elsewhere in the body. You will be fine. However if you are very uncomfortable people drawing you can tell so my first tip is to take your breaks when offered. Even if you don’t need to take a break quite yet, take it. Stretch, go to the bathroom, walk around, and drink some water. Remember to tape the pose and find identifiers first if you need to return to that pose. (Bear’s Tips!)
It can be helpful to practice deep belly breathing during your poses. It will help relax the pose, your body, and increase circulation. Dr. Prafulla Dorle explains the circulatory benefits of belly breath quite well, she states:
"When we breathe in the diaphragm is pulled down, due to this the pressure in the chest is reduced and on the other hand the pressure in the abdomen is increased. This causes the compression of veins in the abdomen and pushes the blood towards the chest and into the heart. During the process of breathing out the diaphragm goes up to the normal position. The pressure in the abdomen reduces. This reduction in pressure causes the blood from both the legs to be pulled towards the abdomen. In the next cycle of breathing the same blood is pushed towards the heart and the cycle continues. During the practice of deep breathing the above mentioned effect is enhanced and it improves the venous return to the heart. "
When choosing your pose try to pick something with clean lines. In the last workshop we talked about relaxing into a pose and the use contrappostos (lean more heavily on one leg, let your pelvis shift so it tilts to one side.) Contrapposto is a technique that shifts the body from its axis and makes the pose appear more dynamic and relaxed. When you are relaxed, your capillaries and the muscles become relaxed. This helps the flow of blood through the capillaries and maintains a proper circulation.
Stand with soft knees (without locking both knees,) it forces you to use the muscles in the leg which in turn improves circulation, balance, and endurance. It also cushions and improves healthy functions of the knee. While standing or sitting still for long periods, significant amounts of blood can pool in the legs or arms which leads to a drop in blood pressure. The body’s standard response to a drop in blood pressure is to lower the head so that less pressure is required to force blood into the brain. (Fainting)
The circulation in your legs is reliant on positive pressure. When the muscles of the legs move, they act as a mechanism that squeezes the blood up assisting its movement. By contracting the muscles of the calves, thighs and buttocks (which can be done without moving) you can keep the blood moving and prevent the worst of the effects of blood pooling. It is possible to stand still for considerable periods if you follow these methods.
Dehydration also causes a drop in blood pressure. Plasma, the liquid portion of blood, is made primarily of water. When you are dehydrated, plasma thickens which slows blood circulation. Adequate water intake maintains plasma's ideal consistency. To stay well hydrated, drink 8 glasses of water a day. It may be helpful to set your phone to go off every hour you are awake as a reminder to go drink a glass of water.
Try to drink a glass of hot water in the morning before taking anything. It has been found that hot water improves blood circulation. If you add honey and lemon, it also boosts your body immunity. You can also add herbal tea, cinnamon sticks, or slices of fruits or vegetables. Too much cold water can stimulate kidney problems. Try to drink at least extra pint of hot water if you are going to perform physical work or exercise. Hot water also makes your digestive system work better. When you drink coffee, tea, alcohol or soda, drink an extra glass of water for each of these beverages. If you have 4-5% less than the recommended daily amount of water, it can affect your mental & physical performance by up to 20-30%.
It has also been shown that intense changes in temperature can improve circulation. Try running cold water over your body for a moment at the end of your shower. At the very least it will seal in moisture by closing your pores and make your hair shiny.
Let’s move on to daily habits that can improve circulation and overall health. Daily exercise and diet play vital roles in circulatory health. Start by walking more. Walk up stairs, park farther, opt out of that ride, take a daily stroll, etc.
Resistance training is also important for improving circulation because it strengthens the heart and lungs. Stretching is the other part of the exercise equation.
After exercise, blood has a tendency to collect in muscles. This conditioning is known as blood pooling. Stretching after exercise helps keep circulation high and speeds muscle recovery. To prevent muscle pulls and tears, never stretch cold muscles. Stretch after your workout or after a five-minute warm-up.
It is a good idea to include inversions into your daily routine. Legs up the wall, shoulder stand, and headstand all place your legs at a higher level than the heart. This allows the blood to flow towards the heart with the help of gravity. "Thus the venous return is increased, improving the circulation. On the other hand there are chances of increasing blood pressure. In the inverted position the heart has to pump blood against gravity, so the blood pressure can increase and inverted postures are contraindicated in those suffering from high blood pressure." (Dr. Prafulla Dorle)
There are many notable effects that yoga has on maintaining circulatory health. Yoga causes compression and decompression of veins, increases elasticity of blood vessels, prevents the deposit of cholesterol that causes thickening of blood vessels and poor blood pressure.
The food we eat also has a profound effect upon the circulatory system. Eating unhealthy foods inhibits blood circulation and healthy foods can improve it. Proper nutrition and hydration will help your muscles recover from figure modeling and workout sessions faster.
Some herbs to include into your diet for healthy circulation include; Cayenne Pepper, Ginger, Cilantro, and Celery Seed. Also, include healthy portions of fiber, colored vegetables, nuts, and seeds into your diet. This diet emphasis will help you increase your intake of High-density lipoproteins, HDL’s. This is a form of good cholesterol that helps to clear the arteries.
According to the American Heart Association, you can boost your HDL levels by quitting smoking, losing weight and increasing your intake of whole grains, vegetables and healthy fats such as olive oil. Avoid foods containing high amounts of animal fat, such as bacon and sausage, or simple sugars such as candies or pastry. Foods and drinks to avoid include processed/ refined foods, foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
Last but certainly not least. Not to be a nag… but stop smoking. According to MayoClinic.com, smoking can damage your arteries, making it more difficult for blood and oxygen to be distributed throughout the body. Quitting smoking is considered by some to be the single most effective thing you can do to improve circulation.
I hope that this paper has helped shed light on habits to be embraced in effort to honor your body and art. Raising self awareness in the figure modeling field, can and will create a lasting authentic experience on the podium and in your artists hearts.
Some artists shrink from self-awareness, fearing that it will destroy their unique gifts and even their desire to create. The truth of the matter is quite opposite. ~James Broughton