Change pain by getting a refined sense of position and movement in your body.

Injury from physical or emotional damage can leave lingering effects of altered control in your muscle systems. There are likely areas that are over active and areas that are under active. Slight position changes can have a significant effect on your ability to increase your comfort but you can’t make little changes in a locked down system.

The common advice to just pull your shoulders back or pull your head back doesn’t work if the too tight muscles never lengthen.

There are endless streams of exercises that you might choose or be instructed to do to alter or improve pain, but this series is different. The focus here is not on certain exercises, or doing them right.

This series is about developing a detailed sense of the parts of your body and learning how to locate position sense and locate movement sense. These fundamental senses are often reduced by injury, habit, exposure to trauma, or never developed well in childhood in the first place.

Additionally, we tend to think of our muscles mechanically like big rubber bands or pulleys shortening lengthwise to move our bones. We have lost the idea that muscles can work in little bits, like a patch of well directed tension. We think of our bones as being one whole unit for movement when really, a bone will have regions of movement along its length.

You might be someone with low back pain. When you try to move your low back it feels stiff. When you get moving it loosens up but it doesn’t stay that way. Possibly some of the moving parts are doing all the work and the stuck parts remain stuck. In order to restore activity to the whole area, you need to develop a bit of a detective sense about what’s working, language for talking about this, and imagery that helps.

You have a built-in capacity for this but it often gets lost. There are many ways we can imagine our moving parts. This is a way to do it in imagery that is playful, useful, and linked to progressively greater embodiment and self healing.

I will be laying out some images, shapes, and language for the series. I will endeavor to give some basic ideas and then build more advanced ways to play with the ideas. But first, start getting the basics.

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Use this as a warm up exercise if you want to start at an easy level.

Many years ago I was working with a client with a severe pain problem in his leg. The problem included a remarkably complete dissociation-disconnection-loss of his leg below his knee and above the ankle. So, even though he had his calf section of his leg alive and attached to him, he couldn’t actually feel himself as existing in that space/place.

This part of him not only was gone from his internal map of his body but was horribly painful constantly and could not tolerate any kind of touch. So, we were treating a part of the leg that was tolerant to contact that was nearby in a safer place.

As we explored his felt sense of his leg with me gently touching his outer thigh, it occurred to me to ask ” Without looking, can you tell if I am touching on the front or the side of your thigh?”

He answered “I can tell you are touching my thigh but I cannot tell if it’s the front or the side.” I was stunned. It had never occurred to me that a person could lose such a fundamental sense of processing. That got me thinking about how some people need to start from a place thats kind of like preschool.

For that reason, you may find it worthwhile to embark on refining a sense of your body position awareness from a basic place first just to be sure you connect yourself to the parts that are easily and securely in place.

Another point worth mentioning is that there may be parts of your body that are quite painful. You might find that as you touch base mentally with a painful place that even noticing the front…back…top of the area…bottom of the area…middle of the area that this is difficult.

Somehow you might also notice that is disturbing to you overall. You may have a body part or region that you avoid noticing because it somehow upsets your overall relative calm. If you have something going on like this, don’t focus on what is deregulating. Instead, practice feeling the parts and surfaces of yourself that are acceptable to visit.

We will get to this more in other posts but I wanted to point out that this deregulating quality is a kind of awareness to be on the look-out for. I generally call this Central Nervous System excitation. As a companion part of regaining a detailed ability to feel your body and it’s parts, keep some attention to whether your overall sense of relative calm gets changed.

You can use this starting place as an exercise in and of itself. You might find this all too easy and therefore boring. That’s great. Move on to something more refined. A crucial part of these exercise progressions is staying in a curious and exploratory state of mind. If the exploring is too easy you will quickly lose interest. If too hard, you’ll likely quit. As you investigate your sense of your parts and their position in increasing detail, you will find the right levels to train at. Stay tuned. This will get clearer as you will see as you move into intermediate level training ideas.

But, if you find that you are someone who has difficulty noticing your body as a whole shape, or some parts are difficult or disturbing, this is a good starting place.

You can do this as a 3- Dimensional grounding/centering exercise.

Notice you have a front side.

Notice you have a back side.

Notice you have a top which is your head.

Notice you have a lower part which might be your feet (or once was your feet.)

Notice in the top to bottom dimension that somewhere there is a middle. Most people experience their middle as somewhere in their torso.

Notice you have a side on the right and a side on the left.

You can be in any position and do this basic orienting exercise. You could be standing, sitting, or lying down.

Then visit your limbs.

You might say to yourself :

“I have a right leg.”

“I have a left leg.”

“I have a right arm.”

“I have a left arm.”

If you are missing all or part of a limb you can choose whether to visit what you have left or your memory of what you once had. If a limb is too painful to notice you can become curious about how near that place you can visit without overly disturbing your starting sense of relative calm.

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Imagine Your Neck using pancakes

January 15, 2020

This is a model of the neck using pancakes to represent different segments and their movement possibilities. The eyes in front are a reminder that there is a sense of where each segment is “looking”. The red licorice on the sides of the neck represents the large muscles there and then I take those off […]

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Collar Bones are KEY. Use a hot dog as an image to find this part of you!

January 16, 2020

In this video, the collar bone is represented as a hot dog, then split into 3 parts representing 3 different areas. Each 1/3 of the hot dog can imply a unique position sense and movement sense. This area is a KEY place for resolving neck, shoulder and rib pain. You can’t change your posture overall […]

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Is your collar bone rolled down or up?

January 18, 2020

The top of the core is the transition bone- the collar bone. It has a huge influence on how well you can balance your core and therefore your spine. Your collar bones influence how well your shoulders, neck, and head balance on your core. The collar bone muscles are great at holding steady positions and […]

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Looking at the front of your core

January 2, 2020

Using cakes as a model for moveable sections So, now we’re going to use my cake model as a representation of your torso. Here’s a glass bowl at the bottom which represents the hard bones of the pelvis. You can see that this is sort of a squishy model. At the bottom the orange is […]

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Looking at the back of your core.

January 2, 2020

How the spine relates to your core. Imagine your body parts in mostly food. We’re no longer looking at the front. We’re looking at the back of the cake. The column of your torso. It’s kind of hard to put this all together without making an utter mess. Imagine we’ve got a couple of vertebrae. […]

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What’s turning your core?

January 2, 2020

Explore where your core muscles are. For someone who has had injury to the spine or arthritis, there can be a number of interesting things going on such as extreme rigidity for the spine segments. Or there can be a trading of movement generated at the spine to movement generated out in some of the […]

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Low back help: Re-connect the feeling of movement with a specific frozen place.

January 9, 2020

Here’s a way to begin to find your lumbar spine. Yeah, low back pain is all too common. Usually chronically painful low backs have imbalanced muscle activity when one considers that the low back should be able to forward and backward bend, sideways bend and twist left and right. With intermediate levels of refined sense […]

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Position Understood orientation for your foot.

December 28, 2019

In order to start changing muscle action, you first have to have some sense of basic orientation to the part of the body you are noticing. Before getting very refined…you have to be sure the basics are in place in your awareness. Just like starting to use a compass or navigating system, you need a […]

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