Archive for muscle tension
Wouldn’t you agree that your neck, shoulders and head oughta move freely, easily and without pain or discomfort?
Simple, easy head movements done with a certain level of awareness can give you a:
• more comfortable neck,
• ease tension in the shoulders,
• and this can shift good feelings to other parts of yourself too.
Hijacked by tension
If your head or shoulders have been hijacked by tension, there is a natural way to release the build up muscular tension.
However, it might have to do with the fact that an important and vital connection may be “off”.
By lying on the floor, you can find out for yourself if:
a) you can do a particular movement comfortably and
b) if you can feel or sense the connection.
Watch the video below and see if you can feel the connection.
Head movement and connection
Have you checked in with your noggin like that lately?
If you haven’t, it’s never too late to dial in.
You see, if we’ve endured enough head and neck pain, that movement among others can prove to be difficult.
When my years of neck pain felt like a hard sore block that wouldn’t budge or let me move freely. Moving my neck seemed like it was one of the hardest things to do.
Yet when you consciously remind your body of the available movements that you can do, your brain can release neurochemicals of relaxation.
Making the connection – even if it isn’t there initially – will come with a little practice.
Not just 1 muscle
Mobility – the ability to move freely and easily – can be restored by regaining necessary function of a number of muscles involved, not just one specific muscle.
So if we are limiting our movement on account of pain or high tension, then this type of splinting or guarding can actually reinforce it since the brain is subject to programs and will begin to feed in information to keep things held in check.
Of course, it might seem counterintuitive to move, if it hurts.
So instead, you can imagine the movement taking place since that way you won’t upset the apple cart, yet the brain and nervous system will get the idea that the possibility to move, still exists.
The brain doesn’t know the difference between an imagined movement and an actual movement. The information and nervous system pathways turn “on”.
You can even go so far as imagining the connections too.
This all helps to prime the pump for eventual successful comfortable movement.
Head movements and the connection to the rest of your body is evident when you play with mindful ways to feel or sense your self as to how it relates with the rest of your body.
We are one piece, last I checked. The more you check-in in a different way, the far easier it is to self-adjust and turn down pain, discomfort and tension naturally.
When you move somatically, which is where you fully experience your connections and subtle feelings or sense perceptions.
You can experience the freeing up of pain, stiffness and aches as you fine tune further and deeper into your information highway of the nervous system.
This type of internal exploration is what you naturally did as a baby and child.
You were exploring deep into your sensory and motor system of both movement and the subtle feelings of small probing movement.
And if you recall or watch any baby, there’s a heckuva of a lot of exploration with misfiring, falling over and work to do to get a movement down pat.
Remember how long it took us to snap our fingers? What a triumphant moment that was.
Besides, if you’ve lost your snap, you can get it back.
Of course, as we age it can feel like ages to get it back, but it doesn’t have to be that way when you begin to experiment and tinker again.
What’s It Take
So if you go to the well of stored memory and spend some worthy time to reopen some dusty files and connections, then comfortable feelings in movement can be restored as easily and as effortlessly as it used to be.
It just calls for some quiet internal observation of your present ability.
When done in a specific “slow manner”, the part of the brain which can make the necessary changes of tension, will move the body back towards comfort and control.
To be more comfortable, may take a variety of easy, gentle movements so the connection is clear and you regain the ability to maintain comfort for life.
So have fun and keep that head sliding, gliding, turning and twisting comfortably so by feeling and making the connections.
The bony parts of our skeleton are usually shown like this:
This framework of bones appears to be supported at the bottom by our feet.
This structure would surely fall to the ground if our tissues, like the muscles, tendons and ligaments, did not connect the bones and keep the framework together.
The tissues of the muscles, tendons and ligaments have many sense receptors so we can feel and sense.
These living tissues resides inside the fascia, which has even more sense receptors than the muscles.
This housing is where our bones float and move under tension in the same way as this depiction of a model of tensegrity.
Tension is what keeps this model together.
And in this video, you’ll see how things move under tension.
As you can see, instead of parts, like a leg or a muscle of the leg like the hamstrings, we are integrated like the model so our various parts if you will, coordinate and are combined to be a living whole system of connective tissues of movement regulated by certain levels of tension.
This information flows in our nervous system and changes as we respond in our daily life.
When our connected parts move, the position and tension changes so the whole system can coordinate its actions.
Even though we can move around or sit, certain parts of the brain can be programmed with too little or too much tension.
Ideally, our tension levels would come back to neutral when things come to rest or when we’re aware enough to let the tension say, drop from our shoulders.
We know when that doesn’t happen to some people like athletes. They feel pain levels or tension levels rising, if they stop moving for instance.
They know if they can just get through the movement part, they’ll be ok enough to finally sit, rest and then deal with any recurring stiffness, tension or pain resurfacing.
Others simply struggle to move comfortably on account of those tension levels which remain in check or at levels we think we can handle .
So if we live with compensations, where things are seen as an elevated shoulder, internally rotated leg and our center of gravity is displaced.
The compromise on the living movement system may be felt as too much tension, too little tension or we’ve even lost our sense in some areas.
The brain will keep going with tension levels held in place or jacked up on account of accruing more throughout the day.
When tension levels are too high, we can find our way into a back cramp or spasm and the stress just grinds on us.
When tension levels stay on for too long, stiffness continues.
Our mobility and flexibility are hampered.
As people struggle to move comfortably or not as well as they used to, it is usually easily noticeable, even though we can learn to live with it and compensate further.
So our movement system may not just be the 600 or 800 muscles that have been identified, rather the muscles are just part of it.
Instead of a cause and effect way of looking at things, like our back muscles being a problem. Our inner relationships of parts moving as a whole is capable of change from within since the one big muscle, the brain, can change tension levels throughout our body.
You see, where we sense pain doesn’t always correlate to where the problem actually lies.
While it’s true that muscle shortness or tightness can distort our postures and we can feel pain, stiffness, stress or tension.
Some distorted postures do not, though most will admit it doesn’t look like they can easily get around.
Our adapted way of movement or being held in certain levels of tension can be compromised to the point where we don’t function as well as we could, even though we can still get by.
When we begin to change tension levels to restore mobility, so that flexibility returns, and we regain control over how our movement functions, then the tissues begin to move more comfortably.
The big muscle, the brain, can certainly amp up pain when things goes haywire.
It can also reverse course as the levels of tension reintegrate so our whole being moves around more effortlessly.
Even as far back as 1680, Herman Boerhaave, the founder of modern day clinical medicine noted…
He knew that the act of pandiculation, which today we know is a brain based event which actually changes tension levels. Helps to regulate tension so the muscles and movement system can come to rest.
Today, he would be able to see how the nervous system can carry the information from the brain through various feedback loops…
…so that the movement system can sustain more optimal levels of tension and has the ability to return everything to its resting place.
When you play with resetting tension levels, then everything returns to its place so that you no longer are tensed over this or that and can easily & comfortably float from within, even as you age.
This extraordinary act happened during the course of my training to become a Hanna Somatic Educator over ten years ago.
At the time of the fall, I was both surprised and mesmerized by all the movements the little fellow attended to before triumphantly walking back into the woods.
While I was learning about this animal act and how we could use it both manually for the hands-on bodywork as well as for the movement patterns we teach.
What I came to discover is to Move Like an Animal and give up the ways in which I was taught to stretch.
Simple conscious movement done with an ever growing awareness trumps all the stretching techniques I practiced, even those I practiced for hours at a time to “not” relieve my chronic pain years of fibromyalgia.
I had no idea the brain could reset tension levels and didn’t think much of it initially, even though my knee was recuperating from an accident on account of micro-movement.
Tension levels can appear to hold us in place. Many of the compensations which hold us out of balance are held at the level of tension signals generated by the brain.
When we learn to turn the switch off, the tension levels lessen so we can reprogram our muscles for more effective and easier movement. The upside is, stiffness and pain go away.
In the past decade, I’ve continued to put this to the test in soccer tournaments where we play some 3-5 games over the weekend or more during weekly competitions.
My peers fill up the physical therapy and massage tents with all the usual aches and complaints of tight hamstrings, groins, sore backs, calf cramps and more. Just from playing a game so many people stiffen or can’t rest knowing they’ll get even stiffer in between games.
While I’ve had my shares of injuries from the collisions and the odd mayhem which happens, I continued to foster the ability to Move Like an Animal so that the general stiffness doesn’t happen. The aches and pains of a collision lessen rapidly.
The ability to recover quickly and be able to play again continues even as I play in the national and state level senior competitions. So I even took this decade long experiment further and did not ice or use up the tiger balm or even have a need for a hot tub.
While those measures can ease things a bit, I took the squirrel’s point of view and re-mend with simple conscious movement.
Since I’ve helped many, many people do the same, the book:
is now out of the cage and available to download from Amazon. If you can read this, then you’ll be able to see it and read on your electronic device.
What are you waiting for? Are you ready to Move Like an Animal and Be Comfortable for Life?
Certainly there are yoga poses where you turn the spine and pull back counter to the twist.
As one contemplates our breath and associated feelings, some people attempt to achieve greater length by trying to get more.
Twist and Shout Another Way and Lose the SMA
In Hanna Somatic Education, we use somatics exercises to engage the brain in order to affect a change of information the muscles receive.
Somatics exercises are unlike most approaches since we go at things from a brain based perspective where we use mindful movement rather than any static holding positions.
The brain, the one big muscle, can effectively reset the resting tension levels using a more delicate approach. Much like untying a knot, gently moving our tissues unlocks held tension and stiffness.
When we push a contracted area, the targeted muscles become shorter. They pull back to the known set levels. They have lost their way to neutral or rest with high tension levels. The term we use is sensory-motor amnesia (sma).
SMA, muscular stiffness, stress and high tension patterns are temporary yet ongoing phenomenons until we change things with a simple movement update using the brain’s cortex.
You are a self adjusting living organism and you can adjust the feel and sensitivity levels of your muscles so they remember their way back to neutral when you twist yourself about.
Birthright to Move Well – Twist and Shout
When I lived in the near 2 decades of chronic pain, I knew there was a way out. What I didn’t know was how to simply update the body’s movement software.
Using the brain and adjusting with what appears to be deceptively simple movement, I could live a comfortable life and take out any kinks, stiffness, stress, tension and recover from injury quickly.
Our birthright is to move well. When we get off track, we can use that space between our ears to get things back online, running smoothly once again. We can twist and shout for joy as often as we want.
Twist and Shout Class
The ability to twist our self in one direction and then another can be enhanced through conscious movement rather than arduous exercise or holding our self in position for any length of time.
If we find ourself sitting too much in a day, we can grow our spine to greater length by doing a few simple easy movements which may seem initially challenging until our brain remembers to inform the muscles to let go.
Surely they will… and you can twist and shout about it.
This week, I’ll be offering an online somatics exercise class where all you have to do is listen and follow along. You can join me live or get the replay.
You’ll learn one amazing somatics exercise pattern to counter what our back keeps encountering… its gradual decline and shortening.
In a few minutes, you can:
• feel taller, straighter and longer
• feel the back relaxing
• and have greater mobility so movement itself is freer
C’mon and twist and shout with us.
Healthy adults can do kids stuff to remind our muscles how comfortable they can feel once again and again.
Pandiculation is kids stuff
Most of us began to pandiculate in the 7th week of our life. If we’re a healthy adult, we continue this very natural act to reset our muscles and movement system. This gives us comfortable movement.
If not, we can remind our nervous system of its former ability and bring it back to consciousness. This ability reminds us of our feelings of well-being.
The kids stuff we used to do fortunately has been systematized as somatics exercises which are gentle, easy reminders to self-adjust our muscles back to the comfort zone.
Kids stuff reboots our movement software
The systematic somatics exercises allows us to explore our internal terrain in novel ways which fosters the development of our brain’s motor cortex as well as re-eliciting our capacity in our sensory cortex to sense ourself at finer levels.
For instance, the simple act of breathing can be opened up merely by pandiculating ourself to improved health.
This type of kids stuff is relevant at all ages… and this type of kids stuff reboots our movement software towards better breathing and more comfort in our movement system.
Stiffness or stiff movements are learned over a lifetime and are replicated as a habit. Can we dissolve what seems like chronic or acute stiffness… you betcha we can. Remind ourself of the former kids stuff we used to do and we can feel the stiffness let go in our back, shoulders, and neck for example.
A healthy vertebrate animal moves with ease, grace, suppleness and in harmony since its movement system is coordinated and not bound up, down, sideways or held twisted.
Can we free ourself back to more harmonious states? Could some simple easy kids stuff be the ticket?
Paying attention to our internal state while we are moving allows us to recalibrate. Our body knows the way back to reset ourself to comfortable states. It’s simply a matter of kids stuff when you get right down to it.
In our earlier kids stuff moments we were highly engaged in a learning matter. Now, we can rekindle this relationship of movement, let go of it artfully, then we remember how we re-navigate our internal terrain towards ease in moving around.
Sometimes we can experience a flash from the past, we can bump into past difficulties and yet smooth things out. In any case, we are re-establishing a finer way to move and self-adjust our entire movement system.
The quality of a movement rather than the strength or force of a movement is what sets us free. The precision in which we can be aware of our internal arrangements is a path to greater ease and freeing up our muscles to regain mobility while restoring natural flexibility.
When we reacquaint ourself with the method or process of natural reorganization, we might keep doing this kids stuff for the rest of our comfortable life.
Kids Stuff Class for Adults
When we’re injured it might feel as if we’re beginning from scratch to move around. All the bracing, holding on and tensing may seem normal yet when we let go of our holding patterns more quickly, we reboot as we did as children.
You can join me for an online kids stuff somatics exercise class. All you have to do is listen and follow along to remind yourself of how easy, simple movements can unlock tight, stiff, holding patterns. The brain will take care of it in seconds.
You’ll get to free up the back, shoulders, neck and hips in our one hour+ kids stuff class where you can join us live or get the replay.
Somatics exercises are the reverse way to lengthen muscles. Instead of stretching, you use the brain’s motor cortex to reset the muscles tension back to comfort.
Here’s how somatics works
Step 1 – You target the area you want to lengthen. You do this by contracting, instead of stretching, the muscles by being mindful of what it is you are doing. You have to pay attention, otherwise, the brain will not pick up the subtle cues you can notice in your body.
Step 2 – With somatics you pay attention to how you release the targeted muscles. Initially, this information may not always be clear. So no worries. With practice, you get better at feeling or sensing what is taking place.
You can immediately notice if there is any physical change when your body’s sensory-motor system is more intact.
When you “try” to stretch, this could lead the reflexes to turn “on” the switch of what is called stretch reflex. This can get the muscles to reflexively pull back, even into a back spasm.
If you push it or try to go for length or more range of motion, the brain will reset the tension back according to where it was formerly programmed to be held at. The brain’s cerebellum remembers this so when you point at something with your arm, there is pre-programmed point so your arm doesn’t go fly off of you.
So when you do somatics, you are going to get a change in length because the brain’s motor cortex can reset tension levels which cannot be reset by the cerebellum; which does preprogrammed learned movement.
The somatics movement below can relieve both the back and hamstrings of its excess tension.
In less than 2 minutes, you can feel what happens. You can listen through the first time and then replay it again to give it a go.
Otherwise, all you have to do is listen and follow along:
Check out this somatics move
So, how was that? A little different, a little odd?
Did you gain any length?
Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t, yet isn’t this a far different approach than stretching.
When you voluntarily use your muscles, your brain’s cortex can reset the length of the areas you target. Your brain will create chemicals of relaxation so you relax your self back to comfort and gain greater control.
Somatics movement classes
We offer many different kinds of somatics movement classes to help you lengthen, improve and gain greater control so you can recover more quickly and maintain comfort in the activity you enjoy.
Whether you go our book or our movement classes which target the brain’s cortex; all you have to do is follow along and let your muscles go along for a somatics journey which can give you the reverse way to feeling free once again.
We often hear about a core workout. So how do we go about knowing what to do and what will help us?
The middle of our self is what many call the core. How we move the core and translate our coordination out to our extremities is important. We can then move easily, agilely and powerfully when we need to.
We used to believe our muscles were attached to the bone. Now we’ve come to understand our muscles are attached to other muscles. We generate movement with our brain’s intention. We let it coordinate our actions and we know whether or not there is room for some improvement.
A Complete Core Workout
The core is generally considered to use the muscles of the spine. In the front, muscles such as the abs, and in the back, those muscles which run from the neck to the lower back. On our sides, we can use our waist muscles.
A core workout wouldn’t be considered complete if we left out the hips or pelvis muscles. A typical core workout could be doing a variety of ab crunches so we can help stabilize the spine and protect the back.
Can a core workout be too much of a good thing? Certainly some people specifically focus on the abs. If you want a core workout such as this, just hold your breath. That way you can develop your six-pack abs and stabilize all you want.
Too much of core workout centered on the abs can eventually pull the chest wall down and leave you with a tight stomach, a sunken chest or less mobility. The other way to achieve this is to sit too much and let gravity take care of it.
On the other hand, the one big muscle, the brain, controls the resting levels of our muscles. Mel Siff, the author of Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, noted that reprogramming the brain was more important than strength training or aerobics.
Instead of stabilizing our spine for a base of support we can use our dynamic movement system for easy, comfortable movement. When we need more power, we can use our ability to generate it with a seamless transfer throughout our entire coordinated being.
A core workout for good posture
To be able to sit comfortably with a good posture takes the requisite amount of balance of tension. Too much on one side and we could be pulled too far forwards, shifted to one side, rotated or slumped back.
Maintaining our mobility so we can move comfortably lets us use our natural flexibility to be strong. Lose the flexibility, diminish the mobility and now the posture will struggle to keep upright or even walk comfortably.
When we shift towards a brain based way of reprogramming tension levels, then sitting and walking becomes more effortless. A good posture is maintained by the signals we can self-corrects through our sensitivity of this fine balance in tension levels.
A simple easy core workout can be the reminder it takes. Minor or micro-adjustments can be the shift we need or have forgotten to remember to use to be able sit comfortably upright without a back support. The best back is the one you have and can maintain with ease.
Rock around the clock core workout
Simple, easy movement using an intention to move uses our brain’s intelligence to rewire the nervous system so our muscle to muscle system is enhanced. This enhancement is how healthy vertebrate animals naturally reset themselves and remain agile and powerful.
You can join me in this week’s online core workout where you’ll learn how to rock around the clock and free up the front, back, sides, and length of the spine. We’ll also get those hips and pelvis involved.
All you have to do is lie down, listen and follow along. It’s “oh too simple”.
A core workout doesn’t have to be arduous, we can simply move and coordinate our own powerful actions to leave us both relaxed and ready.
Are you awake at night wondering, “help me get to sleep”. There are any number of strategies for sleeping well, yet nature has already set it up for us to get a good night’s sleep.
Waking up 60x/minute – Help Me Get To Sleep
I remember taking an overnight sleep study at the sleep center where I didn’t even get to finish it. They told me to go home in the morning after informing me I was waking up 60x per minute. No wonder it felt like a mack truck hitting me every morning when I groggily awoke.
I needed some help with sleep since I was living with lots of stress in my muscles on account of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The chronic pains I used to live with were enough to keep me awake at night even though I slept with a tens unit to quiet some of the muscles down, a heating pad to soothe the back and an ice pack wrapped around my neck to ease those aches… all this after a long soak in an epsom salt bath.
Little did I know Fido had the answer to help me get to sleep.
Help me get to sleep sooner rather than later
Healthy vertebrate animals like Fido sure know how to sleep. Ah to live the happy life of a dog, yet he does something to get the tension out of his muscles so he can sleep easy.
Those cute little maneuvers he does is not a stretch, it’s called a pandiculation. He’s contracting a series of muscles and letting them release. This procedure gets the brain to send chemicals of relaxation to the targeted areas. Fortunately, we’ve systematized this as somatics exercises where you “remember” how to access this natural process.
Yepperdoodle, as our 5th grader would say. When we were children, we would do that morning stretch which we had begun to do in our mother’s womb. We were programming our muscles for both function and a relaxation response.
We got older and forgot about it. We’ve been told to stretch to keep limber. Well stretching as we know it is dead wrong according to the research. Don’t freak out, I happen to be a divorce counselor on the side.
We can go about it another way which is to use our brain to get our muscles relaxed so we can sleep better.
This might sound a bit counter-intuitive but you won’t be thinking help me get to sleep when you doze off by doing some simple somatics exercises that anyone can do.
Like Fido, when we do somatics exercises we are doing that “p” word, getting the brain to make relaxation chemicals. As we do some simple movements, we’ll begin to do things like yawn and get sleepy… all without a lot of effort either.
Help Me Get to Sleep – Online Class
Join me in a Help Me Get to Sleep Online Class, which you can download so you won’t have to lie there thinking, “help me get to sleep”.
You’ll learn how to safely and easily let go tense or tight muscles and quiet them and the mind – just in case that gets in the way too.
With simple easy movements known as somatics exercises, you’ll get to relax muscles in the chest, arms, waist, and belly so the hips, shoulders and neck will be freer to rest the spine and your entire self.
Since 1680, we’ve known that muscles can come to rest with the “p” word. Who knows you might be able to say “help me get to sleep no more” by knowing how the brain and body can un-lock the code to help with sleep.
Does Fido understand the art of movement better than us?
The Art of Movement Loosens Stiffness
Aging seems to come with a price of more stiffness, less mobility and flexibility which is a long forgotten memory. So why does Fido continue to move well as he ages?
Simply put, he pandiculates. He sets himself up for successful movement when he practices what appears as those morning stretches. Instead of stretching, he is contracting himself along a series of muscles in order to gain both relaxation and function.
This art of movement practice virtually goes unnoticed by us yet is key to moving well.
Free Muscle Cramps with the Art of Movement
When is the last time you saw Fido run and get a muscle cramp? All we have to do is rollover in bed… and out go the lights. Ouch!
To free a muscle cramp or muscular spasm is no big deal when you come to understand the art of movement which will easily and surely release what seems to be a mystery for many.
A tight, tensed up muscle releases itself not by pulling away in the opposite direction. This forceful method continues to be the way most people go at it.
On the flipside is to use an internal switch by learning how to tune down the built-up or holding tension. This is done by subtle movements in the direction of the offending signal.
Obviously there is an art of movement required here, yet anyone can learn how to successfully release a cramp.
The Art of Movement At Home
Good news is you don’t have to travel far to regain or master the art of movement.
Please join me for an online somatics exercise class where you’ll gain access to the art of movement using the power of subtlety to erase stiffness, regain mobility and restore the lost sense of flexibility.
Youthful movement isn’t just for the young. The art of movement can be practiced at any age.
Relief for neck pain with an easy relaxation approach
Are you still doing the things you were doing with your neck 10 – 15 years ago? Or are you guarding or immobilizing yourself in order to protect yourself?
Relief for neck pain won’t be achieved through immobilization yet we can use discomfort as our guide to actually have a chance to relax tight, stiff neck muscles which might feel like a brace or vise we’re trapped in.
As we get older, does age prevent us from doing what we want physically in our body or is our accumulation of stress throughout our life taking its toll?
Do we have the capacity to discover a natural way of relief for neck pain by applying a novel approach which has been reported to relax muscles for over 300 years?
Hands-on approach to relief for neck pain
Pandiculations, which the founder of clinical medicine reported in 1680, relaxes our muscles has been systematically used by Hanna Somatic Educators where we teach people how to use the un-exercises of pandiculations systematized as somatics exercises.
Relief for neck pain comes when we un-do tightness, stiffness and regain lost mobility and return to natural flexibility which is comfortable without strain. As we move with greater ease, we can appreciate a greater sense of internal muscular connections.
In the video below, you can find out for yourself if the hip bone is connected to the neck bone. Afterwards you can try the hands-on approach as a means for relief for neck pain.
Simple movement can facilitate our understanding of how we are connected throughout our body. When we lose these connections, we lose a certain sense of ourself. Our internal guide to reset naturally avails itself so that relief for neck pain is felt as natural – as if we knew this all along.
In the many years of exercises I attempted, I had to come through a looking glass to both feel and understand how our brain can rewire the nervous system as we did as children. The conscious act of a pandiculation we did in our mother’s womb has the potential as relief for neck pain when we become reacquainted with a former ability.
Relief for neck pain and more
Please join me in this week’s online un-exercises (or get the replay) on a delightful class for the muscles of the neck and spine – which will include the back and belly as well as a movement for the ribs and hips which will tie everything together.
You’ll also learn to release some muscles in the chest and shoulders too which will help free up the arms.
And you’ll also learn a few more specific hands on techniques like you did in the video above.
Relief for neck pain can be accessed from within without any special equipment, just a little applied know how that you already possess within your nervous system.