Belly Tension vs. Tone

September 1, 2010

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Belly Tension vs. Tone: There’s a Difference
If I took a poll probably 80 to 90% of the respondents would say that they’re self conscious of their belly and that they make an effort to hold it in. When we make that effort we are creating tension in our body which is very different from tone. When a person’s body has tone the muscular effort involved in any movement is spread throughout the entire body making the activity feel effortless.

There are many Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® exercises that organize and tone the system. For the moment, however, I simply want you to notice the difference in your movement capability when you hold tension in the belly and when you let it be soft.

Do this little experiment to see what happens when you tighten your abdominal muscles to hold in your belly in.

Stand up and pull in your belly. At the same time tighten your sphincter muscles, your gluts and your pelvic floor.

Now keep all those muscles tight and walk around. Not a great feeling is it?

This time let go of the muscles and let your belly be soft. Walk around again and notice the difference. You’ll probably find that it’s much easier to move this way.

Sit down and put your hands on your keyboard. Pull in your belly, tighten your gluts and your sphincter muscles again and begin to type a few sentences. You may notice that your arms become quite stiff when you hold your self in this manner and typing is a bit of an effort.

Continue sitting with your hands on the keyboard but this time soften your belly, release your gluts and your sphincter muscles and type again for a few sentences. Feel how this changes your ability to type.

You may not consciously hold your muscles as much as you did for this experiment but by exaggerating the tension in your body your nervous system can feel how much more comfortable it is to be relaxed. Once you can feel the difference you’ll know what to look for and be able to self correct if you get too tight.


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