My work with the Feldenkrais Method® can greatly relieve low back pain, one of the most common areas of chronic pain in the body. In helping people become more aware of how they can use their bones for support in movement, relief can be immediate.
Often with back pain, people have mis-aligned movement which requires additional support from their musculature.
Over time, their habits can lead to muscle fatigue and compression of the nerves. Guiding people back to their bones for support and sensing their movement with this skeletal support can immediately relieve fatigue and free up the musculature. Here’s a common scenario:
“Pain in the Butt” – Sciatica
Let’s say your back is uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to sit or stand for more than a few minutes without fatigue or spasm. Maybe you have pain that zings down one buttock or even the back of your leg (sciatica). Maybe you worry about bending over and the possibility of your back giving out or seizing up when you have to stand up again.
Here’s one quick lesson I have developed that is effective and can guide your back into a better alignment. Warning: if your back is unstable or you have severe pain, find a professional to help you. If any of these lessons aggravate a symptom, stop immediately. *If you have pain in your tailbone, avoid this lesson or do the movements for only a few seconds at time.)
Back Lesson 1 – Balancing the Base of the Spine
- Get a firm blanket or two bath towels and roll into a tight cylinder.
- Find a flat chair, stool or bench
- Sit on the chair with feet ideally at a ninety degree angle under your knees
- Take a few breaths to relax and slow down. Sense your pelvis and upper body. Can you find your two sitting bones? Do you feel these bones on the chair? Are they even or is one more prominent?Stand up and put the blanket roll pointing forward on the chair and now sit down on it – straddling the roll as if it were a saddle. Breathe and sense your pelvis, see if you can soften your pelvis to be more comfortable. Warning: If your tailbone (coccyx) is too sensitive or sore for this, don’t continue this lesson or only stay in the straddle position for a few seconds– it’s easy to aggravate the nerves if you have an injury to your tailbone.
- In the beginning, sit for 10-30 seconds on the roll. Enough for 2-3 slow breaths and time to soften a bit more of your pelvic floor into the roll. Then stand up, remove the roll and sit again on the chair. Notice if you can sense your sitting bones a little more clearly.
- Repeat one or two more times– straddling the roller, breathing, sensing pelvis softening, then remove it and sit on the chair. Each time check if your sitting bones become clearer and more even in sensation. I recommend sitting no more than a few minutes on the roll.
The more clearly you can feel both sitting bones evenly pressing on your chair, the better your pelvis bone (versus the muscles in your back) can evenly distribute the weight of your torso. In my years of practice, this simple trick of balancing the pelvis and torso using this tool with the magic of gravity often reduces back pain by 50%! (I’d love to run a study on this if there are researchers out there reading this– send me your feedback, and that will help with my data tracking.) The more you practice sensing this with awareness, you will develop a stronger sensation of pelvic skeletal support and your muscles can rest and function better.
Let me know how this lesson works for you or if you have questions. I will post a podcast of this lesson in the near future. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.
©Annie Thoe, GCFP; www.sensingvitality.com 2012 - writings on Feldenkrais, Nature and Healing