Natural Pain Control
through the Skeleton
Intelligent use of our skeleton is our natural pain control method for our muscles, joints and ligaments. What we use everyday from the day we are born is our skeleton, and we have little awareness of how to use it intelligently to create less effort in all of our daily activities. Our skeleton is the foundation to movement and this lack of awareness is what causes unnecessary physical suffering.
What you are about to learn, which is NEW and ELUSIVE is to be conscious of how to use your skeleton intelligently for efficient movement. When you become sensitive of how to move your skeleton to get the maximum range of movement with less effort, your posture will correct itself naturally, you will experience diminished pain and all of your life activities will be performed with quality, ease and grace. It is the attention you give to your skeleton as it moves that is you best defense for natural pain control. You may wonder in amazement how your skeleton, the movement foundation of your being, has not been given much attention except in some martial art practices. From morning until night, we use our skeleton to move about, but have little awareness of how to use it for natural pain control to our best advantage. Yes, we are told that when we lift something, to keep it close to our spine but, that is it.
When we look at older people with canes, humped backs, and distorted gaits, we are looking at people who have been severely disconnected from themselves. Many of us thought this was normal, but to believe that this is just a result of old age is an absolute myth. What we are seeing is amnesia from the improper use of our skeletal system, but if used properly, can make life easier for us.
When you witness older people walk and turn, their trunks are frozen with little movement and their legs move in the same pattern like a robot. You can also notice when many people start to sit in a chair, they use their hands to grasp something to keep them from falling into it. Without proper function of our skeletons, our bodies are in a constant state of contraction, circulation of blood is diminished and many people can develop bone loss, arthritis and pains in different areas of their bodies.
The secret to develop natural pain control for your body is through your focal point of attention during the movement of your skeleton. I witnessed a student in my Feldenkrais movement training class who was paralyzed from the waist down, using her skeletal awareness to walk around a table as she worked with clients. Her acute sensitivity taught her how to keep the balance of every movement she performed through her skeleton.
My Teacher, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais developed a knee problem as a result of a soccer game accident, which damaged his ligaments. He did not have an operation for his leg but used his focal point of attention to walk. Doctors who were not trained in self-awareness could not imagine how Moshe could even walk without a cane.
Mastering Life with Your Focal Point of Attention
The “Focal Point of Attention” is the KEY that creates change in you for natural pain control. It is the parts of ourselves that we focus on during movement, which creates the difference. This changes the neural pathways in the brain so that your posture can correct itself naturally and create more flexibility so that your whole being works in harmony.
There was a great golf teacher who taught people how to play golf in their living rooms by focusing on three parts of themselves to create the golf swing. He said, “To function at an optimum level we need to sense no more than three parts at the same time. If you include a fourth part as you focus during movement you will confuse the learning process.”
When you perform a movement many times in slow motion, the awareness of your skeleton expands. Also, feeling the invisible force of gravity expands your awareness. This is the key to learning how to learn.
Many of us are not used to experiencing how many parts of ourselves work together to make a movement easy with less effort. I would like you to experience this with a natural pain control lesson that can be performed for the rest of your life. This lesson will reduce the stiffness you experience in your neck, back and shoulders.
Sitting to Standing
1. Sit on a flat chair that is about knee high. Bring yourself to sit at the edge of the chair with your feet directly under your knees and a little more than shoulder width apart. Your hands do not rest on your legs but hang to each side of your pelvis.
2. In this position begin to rock your trunk forward and backwards several times. Your head, ribs and pelvis move as one piece with your chin slightly tucked in towards your chest. Lead the movement with your lower back/pelvis. As you do the movements feel how the weight shifts from your pelvis to your front feet as your head moves forward above your knees and back again to the starting position. Note: let your eyes look between your knees as you tilt forward. The back of your neck lengthens as you keep your chin close to your chest. Do not round your back or arch it but keep it all as one piece with a straight spine. This is like those toy ducks that bend at the waist as their head drink water from a glass. Repeat these several times slowly to feel what you are doing.
3. Now this time, continue the same movements with your trunk bending more forward, just in front of your knees. When the weight has shifted to the front parts of your feet, SLOWLY bring yourself to stand with attention to your feet pushing into the floor to bring yourself to stand. Note: if you feel like you want to fall backward as you stand, you have not moved your trunk and head far enough forward above your knees. To make this easier to do, just move your trunk backwards from the starting position to give you slight momentum to bring the weight above your feet to stand. You rock backwards before you move forward. This is the key! Repeat these several times until it feels effortless. Feel the weight shift from your pelvis to your feet as your pelvis rises from the chair.
4. You have just learned how to use your skeleton intelligently for natural pain control. Most people put their hands on their knees and push down to bring themselves to stand. This disconnects them from the lower half of their skeleton. After many years with this dysfunctional habit, people that continuously get up with their hands on knees teach themselves to develop tight shoulders, neck and back. This can even train your body to move towards having a cane or walker later in life. If you practice sitting to stand for six minutes every day for twenty one days, this will become a life habit and the movements will start to self-correct your posture.
Fine Tuning Points:
1. Move very slowly so you feel the weight shift to the front of your feet as you push up to stand. Feel weight shift from the pelvis to feet.
2. Always keep your chin close to your chest to lengthen the back of your neck as you move to stand.
3. Have your hands at your sides so you do not use them to help you.
4. Practice the movement in the stages I have shown you and the results will be greater. You are playing your body like a delicate instrument.
5. Be sure to rock backwards far enough to create a gentle momentum for standing.
6. You have mastered the movement when it becomes effortless.
Note: If you have back pain do not try to overcome it but only practice feeling the shift of weight to your feet until you are pain free enough to stand by pushing through your feet. In fact, to make it easier for natural pain control, you can do the movement by raising your pelvis one quarter of an inch from the chair to start with.
Skeletal Awareness is the key to Natural Pain Control
Your muscles become relaxed and evenly toned throughout your body when your focal point of attention is on sensing how your skeleton moves efficiently. The proper use of your skeleton through movement self-corrects your posture. In time, you will be able to sit slumped in a chair like an ape without worry, because with greater awareness of your skeleton, you won’t be affected. What this means is that your skeleton will balance and flex to the position you place your body in and will do the same in every new position. Your skeleton is adapting to the environment it is placed in.
“As you develop more skeletal awareness, you will use your bones as functional levers for natural pain control so you don’t over stretch your tendons and ligaments. Your muscles will be finely balanced to reduce stress and relieve pain.”
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