Have you had inconsistent results from stretching prior to exercise? For example, maybe you feel a tightness in your hamstrings that no amount of stretching can alleviate. Or perhaps you feel like you need to stretch your lower back each day just to be able to function.
The problem with stretching is that it addresses the symptoms without addressing the underlying issue- it’s like taming a bad sunburn with aloe vera. This may help with the discomfort, but often you can take steps to prevent the sunburn from occurring.
In my opinion, The Feldenkrais Method is a great way to prevent tight and painful muscles! And the best way to learn about the Feldenkrais Method is to try it yourself.
Here is a short movement sequence that you can try*:
When doing The Feldenkrais Method, make each movement easy, which means you might need to make the movements very small. A simple way to make movements easy is to focus on your breathing - make sure that the movements are simple enough so that your breathing is uninterrupted.
1. Lie on your back with your legs long and spread comfortably apart. If you are uncomfortable with your legs long, you can bend your knees and stand your feet. Notice the contact you feel with the floor. Is your back resting completely or are there parts that are elevated away from the floor? How are your shoulders and legs lying?
2. Bend your knees and stand your feet about hip distance apart. Very slowly tilt both knees to the right. Do this movement slowly, stopping before you feel any strain. See how far you can tilt your knees to the right WITHOUT feeling any muscular stretch or strain. Try this movement slowly about 5 -10 times, then pause with your knees in the middle.
3. Raise both arms towards the ceiling and place your palms together. This will create a triangle with your two long arms (your hands are directly over your breastbone). Keeping the arms straight, slowly tilt this triangle to the left while keeping your palms together. This movement will begin by slowly lifting your right shoulder away from the floor as you tilt the arms to the left. Only go as far as you can WITHOUT any muscular stretch or strain. Take a pause after you’ve done 10 or so slow movements, and rest your arms.
4. Keep your right knee bent and lengthen your left leg. A couple of times, slowly push into your right foot in order to roll your pelvis to the left. Do this a few times, stopping before you feel any tightening or pulling in your back or elsewhere. Then form your triangle with your arms long, palms together. A few times, tilt your triangle to the left while you push into the right foot and roll your pelvis to the left. Notice that your right side is lifting off the floor, and your weight is slowly rolling onto the left side. Take a pause, bring your arms down and lengthen your right leg.
5. Bend both knees, stand your feet. Form your triangle again with long arms and palms together. Focus your eyes on the ceiling directly above you as you tilt your arms to the left. Your arms will move to the left, but your head and eyes will remain in the middle. Only go as far as you can go WITHOUT any muscular stretch or strain. Try this a few times, then allow your head and eyes to follow the movement of the arms. Notice if you are now able to go a little further with the arms. Take a pause, bring your arms down.
6. With both knees bent and standing, tilt your knees again to the right. Do you notice any improvement with this movement? Can you tilt your knees further now without strain or does the movement feel smoother?
7. Lie with your legs long and notice if you feel like one side of you is more in contact with the floor than the other side. Does one side of your lower back feel more relaxed? Does one shoulder rest closer to the floor? Does one leg feel longer?
If you like the improvements you got, try the other side!
If you are curious about how this method works, feel free to reach out to me and I can send you more information. Additionally, you can join Zoom Awareness Through Movement classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:00 pm. (Mountain Standard Time)
*Note: most lessons are done from the floor, however there are several lessons that can be done from a chair. If you are interested in trying the Feldenkrais Method, but are not comfortable on the floor, please contact me and I will send you a lesson to try!