The Shadow Side of Stretching Tension
When your back is tight, is stretching your first way of handling it?
And how does it work for you over time? Does your back feel awfully good when you stretch? Yet, you need to keep stretching that same tension over and over? If not enough, maybe you choose to go for a massage and the therapist helps you feel better too but soon after, the lower back tension or pain comes back. If this sounds familiar, read on…
Stretching your lower back by straightening your legs and rounding your upper back is not an integrated way to relieve your excess tension. It may feel good in the moment but it actually creates tension in your joints and overstretches your upper back. There is another more efficient way to stretch.
Stretching your hip joints once they are tight can help and it can backfire as well. One yoga teacher I talk about in “The Wise Way to Yoga” had a first hand experience of this challenge. She was practicing hip openers thinking she was safe because she experienced them as gentle nudging with no pain. One day however, after a class ending with her sitting crossed-legged on the floor, she could not get up.
An elastic band supporting a medium weight for a while progressively becomes overstretched. In the same way, her joint ligaments got overstretched and the leg bone and hip bone were not properly connected anymore which led her to the emergency room. Letting your torso hang from your upper back eventually overstretches those muscles too. There is a better way to free your joints from tension.
Without an awareness of integrated functioning, we sadly guide ourselves and younger ones to disconnect from body intelligence despite our best intentions.
Back pain, Movement, and Posture
How you move up and down in space whether to sit down or pick up something on the floor can create or relieve back tension. Using your back as a hinge instead of your knees and hip joints is the most common culprit creating or enhancing back tension or pain whether you are on or off the mat.
How you approach “good posture” in daily life or during exercises can also create or feed your back pain. That’s why I tell my student not to sit up “straight”. In doing so the common way, you may trigger existing back pain which prevents healing. How you sit or stand is a whole-body synergy. Knowing not to arch your back is not enough to prevent your back misuse when engaged in other movements. Using a pillow when sitting makes you feel better in the moment but depending on what kind of pillow you are using and how you use it can make a huge difference in whether it is supporting your whole-body synergy or not.
The 3 Secrets to Reclaiming a Pain-Free Back
If letting go of tension feels like a challenge to you, I want you to know that it is not necessarily your fault. We all inherited some misconception around movement and posture from the founders of Modern Fitness. We all inherited this tendency to focus on body parts instead of functioning as the integrated whole that we are. As seen in the picture above, it gets passed on from teachers to students, from parents to children.
Interested in knowing more about this and experiencing how light integrated functioning feels in your body? Click the following link and join one of my FREE events: Cécile’s Wise Ways: What’s New? or sign up for a complementary consult here.
Cécile Raynor has been teaching for 30 years, published the Wise Way to Yoga as well as numerous articles, and she was featured several times both on TV and on an “Expanded Awareness” radio show. Her blog has been read by thousands of people in over 100 different countries. Her work is based on the Alexander Technique, the best-kept secret of Olympic athletes and famous performers. They swear by it because it allows them to perform at their best with optimal safety. Although it is now commonly used by everyone. She also created the Body Intelligence Activation Process™, a mind, body, heart and spirit work that affects her students in all aspects of their life as they experience increased wellbeing.
Cécile has been helping people with poor posture, chronic muscular tension and pain, joints issues and headaches reclaim their ease of movement, their natural good posture, and the joy and peace of mind brought by well-being. She has also been a mentor for many students interested in embodied and integrated personal growth.
Cécile can be reached by responding to this blog or by contacting her through her website: https://cecileraynor.com/