A Strategy for Soothing Aching Inflamed Muscle Tissue

June 29, 2010

Do you have an area in your body that is chronically achy and inflamed? Perhaps you’ve tried everything to reduce the discomfort but nothing seems to work. Years ago when I was starting my Feldenkrais practice I came upon this lesson which was originally developed by Feldenkrais practitioner and trainer, Ruthy Alon; it will help to relieve muscular discomfort in the low back. I've given this lesson to many clients over the years who tell me it’s “body magic”.

For this lesson you’ll need to have a soft bed pillow, and a surface to put it on that’s about the same height as a stool or kitchen chair—a coffee table is ideal or a bed will work as long as it’s not too high. You’ll be kneeling in front of the coffee table or bed and draping your body over the pillow so you may also want something under your knees so they’ll feel comfortable. When you’re in position, your knees and hips should be bent at 90 degrees so that your pelvis is in a neutral position and your spine is completely supported. Just being in the position will help your back to release.

  1. Now that you are kneeling in position and your body is draped over the pillow put your head in the most comfortable position—either facing down towards the table or turned to the side.
  2. Put the palms of your hands on your buttocks and begin to pull the muscle tissue up in the direction of your waist. Hold for 10 seconds or so and then release. Let everything go and completely relax for 2 or 3 breaths.
  3. Now, put your hands back on your buttocks, lift the muscles again, hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat several times in the same fashion. Each time you let go, completely relax and notice if there has been a shift in your comfort level. 
  4. Move your attention to your chest and feel your breath lifting your chest on the inhale and releasing the chest on the exhale. Continue with this for a few breaths.
  5. This time, take your attention to your belly and feel your breath move into this area. Notice how the breath follows your attention and you begin to feel more breath going into the area you focus on. 
  6. Now, direct your breath into the L lung and inhale and exhale for a few rounds. Notice that as you breathe into the L lung the ribs on the L side separate and get farther apart and then as you breathe out they come back together a little bit like and accordion.
  7. Switch your attention to your R lung and direct your breath into that space feeling the expansion and contraction as you inhale and exhale.
  8. Let that all go and breathe naturally. Feel the difference in your whole trunk.  You may notice that you breathe easier and more fully with much less effort than before.
  9. Rest for a few moments.
  10. Notice if there are still areas where there is tension in the low back. Pick one of those spots and rest your hands on the affected area.  Breathe into your hands a few times.
  11. Before you breathe into your hands the next time slide the tissue directly under your hands towards your waist.  This lifts the muscles a little bit where you are feeling the tension.  Keep muscle tissue lifted while you direct your breath to that same area.  You should feel a slight tightening of the tissue as your breathe in and a release as you breathe out.  Now, gradually lower the muscles that you had lifted with your hands.  Notice what has changed. Has the feeling of tension and discomfort decreased somewhat? If there is still some discomfort perhaps the location has shifted a bit. This often happens so now move your hands to that area and repeat the process of lifting the muscle, breathing into that area, feel the tension and release and then lowering the muscle.
  12. When you’ve released all the tension in the areas your hands can reach, rest and notice your new comfort level.
  13. Use this movement sequence as a tool to help you find relief for low back discomfort.


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