Archive for the ‘Stretching’ Category

The “S” Words, Which Ones Do You Choose!

Monday, July 29th, 2013

What comes to mind when you think about the “S” words.  Often we smile and think of the explosive word that releases tension in a frustrating moment.  What about the words that are so pronounced in our culture of stretching, straining, stressing and striving.  You know the dictate of, “No pain, no gain” – REALLY!

I’d like to transition our focus to the “S” words that have created so much more for me.  Think about exploring something, especially when it’s new with the focus of Safe, Satisfying, Sensing ourselves, Slow to notice what we’re doing or at least attempting to do, Small to discern little differences, Smooth vs. jerky, Soft instead of jarring ourselves and Subtle.  There are so many other “S” words to add to this list like, Silky, Sexy, Slippery, Skillful, Sliding….  When we take the time to listen, we can find a better path to travel from which we can hone our skill, improving and developing speed to go fast, strong without difficulty and finding that with NO PAIN we create a massive GAIN!  No baby pushes to the point of pain, they stop, recalculate and begin anew.  This is what we did when we were babies until maybe we were taught how to strive, stress, stretch ourselves to the limit and pay a hefty price in time.

So next time you are interested in going to the next step, “Slow down, you move too fast, gotta make the morning last just trippin down the cobble stones, lookin for love and feelin groovey”!

How To Protect Your Spine!

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

We all know that best intentions don’t always lead to desired results, and when they don’t, who’s to blame? We are too willing to give our power over to someone we consider an authority to teach us how to do something but are we really listening, sensing and feeling what we are doing? Too often the answer is no and then when we incur a problem we are frustrated, angry and sometimes resentful to try something new. We become jaded and either don’t explore other possibilities especially if immediate results aren’t guaranteed or we jump to the next trend in hopes it will be the magic bullet that fixes the problem! Thereafter, it’s the doctors office for a diagnosis and often a prescription to try and fix us or allay the problem we created for ourselves with the best intentions of improving our dynamic. So the question is do our actions best serve our intentions?

A little knowledge goes a long way and if we took a little more time to investigate and really sense and feel if what we are doing is the best approach we could stave off a lot of the compiling issues we create for ourselves. Well, good judgment is a by-product of bad judgment! How quickly do we learn from our experiences to make better calls that serve our intentions?

Stuart McGill, professor of Spine Biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, Canada has outlined a healthy, balanced approach to improve and maintain the concept of true “Core Stability” without straining, damaging and pushing our spines to the point of trauma. Have you ever heard of, it’s how you do what you do that matters, and “less is best”? What is your intention, to strengthen, flexibility, how about both! Think about saying yes and no at the same time! How easy is it to drink and talk at the same time, not very, so why is it so difficult to understand that there are times when we are saying yes and no in our musculoskeletal organization that compromise our actions and over time create a lot of the aches and pains, bulging, herniated, slipped disks that we as a multitasking, driven culture experience. It’s more about what we are doing and how we are going about it. Here is a site from the New York Times that dispels the myths of the latest trend of core exercises. To read more, click here.

Atrophy or Hypertonic?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Often a client comes in and tells me how someone told them they have atrophied muscles and that they have to work harder to strengthen this or that muscle. I’m curious about this assessment or diagnosis because what I feel under my hands is the total opposite. So I started to ask a different question. I noticed that the muscles in question where hard and resistant versus flaccid which would be a true sign of atrophy, and began to test the muscle firing. Again and again I recognize that the muscle is overworking and as a result of never stopping its work or contraction, it fatigues and miss fires due to exhaustion. My clients begin to sense and feel how they are gripping and how difficult it is to let go of the contraction, and that’s the place we begin. How to learn to let our magnificent brain and neuromuscular systems coordinate without getting in the way.

I think of the baby who certainly has very little muscular tonus and yet even within their first four to eight months they are able to begin the process of rolling, pushing, lifting their heads, extending their spine while resting on their stomach with arms and legs in the air. So it certainly isn’t how much muscle they have but rather their developing organization of how all is working together to achieve the desired result. For a baby it’s feeding or reaching for what is within their grasp to explore. And as a baby, they don’t have the years of habits imposed on them as to the right or wrong way of doing something. They simply figure it out by sensing and feeling, exploring with trial and error until they find the pathway. They achieve it on their own when their nervous system is ready without being imposed on. So when working with someone I am aware to notice what they do. There is a good reason for why they do what they do. I’m interested not to remove that as a possibility but in allowing them to find more options to increase their repetoire in functioning more optimally instead of muscling and pushing through it. That only fatigues the already too exhausted musculoskeletal system from performing what we want to do when we want to do it.

As I finish a session with my clients I notice how much taller they appear, how more settled and relaxed they seem and how fluid their gait and actions are whether walking, reaching, bending or really any daily function. They realize that they are learning something about how to reorganize themselves by sensing and feeling themselves instead of muscling through and forcing. They leave happier, more in balance with a renewed sense of ease and comfort.

Lengthening Your Hamstrings, To Stretch or Not To Stretch

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Here is a wonderful empirically based research report on how to more effectively elongate your hamstring muscle group without creating more trauma to the already overly contracted muscles and how to maintain this improvement. This clinical study employees the use of The Feldenkrais Method (R) of Awareness Through Movement (R) lessons to enable the muscles to return to a balance and maintain this, versus the habitual pattern of stretching, pulling and tugging that results in the stretch reflex that returns to the overly contracted muscle. To learn more you can go to for The Bottom Line, a clinical summary of this article by noted DPTs, James Stephens, Joshua Davidson, Joseph DeRosa, Michael Kriz and Nicole Saltzman.

This full study can be found in the Physical Therapy Journal . Volume 86 . Number 12 . December 2006.

National Institute of Health, Yoga and Awareness

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I had the pleasure to be part of CORE week at NIH this month introducing the Feldenkrais Method (R), Awareness Through Movement (R) lessons free to the public and employees of NIH. This was done to raise awareness of how better to attend to our health. CORE week represents coordination and relaxation.

NIH will continue to present offerings to the public throughout the year to raise consciousness on how we can better attend to our health and well being. In August there will be dance week and September they will offer Yoga week with free classes to any that care to partake. Feldenkrais will be present at all of these venues to share how this wonderful approach to learning and movement re-education can enhance anything you do from dance to yoga, golf, tennis, running…

To learn more about NIH’s offering contact Dr. Rachel Permuth-Levine at

Stretching, the Truth

Monday, February 16th, 2009

This article by Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times reiterates the abc of stretching. What’s good and what’s not so good that creates more injury instead of flexibility. The Feldenkrais Method(R) has been sharing this insight for more than six decades. There is a video within the article by Mark Kovacs, manager of sports science for the US Tennis Association in Boca Raton, Florida with a grouping of dynamic stretches versus the old and now understood to be harmful static stretches. To learn more about this read here.