11 Mar Get your back into the swing of things
It’s that time of year again – when nature starts to rustle and come to life. We feel the air getting warmer, the days getting longer… we anticipate budding trees, green grass…
And, if you’re like me, being on the golf course as soon as you can. Maybe it’s your garden, the baseball diamond or a beach volleyball court calling you.
But before you get back into the swing of things, I urge you to ensure your back, core, trunk and hips are in good shape.
I’m speaking from personal experience. Last spring, I ran out to the golf course for my very first round of the season… late, in a rush and without warming up.
Ok, not one of my proudest moments. But it did (and does) happen.
My ‘back’ story: When I took the first swing from the tee blocks – after I caught my breath from running to catch up to my group – I winced and I said “oh that’s going to need a chiropractor” joking aloud.
Call me a superior manifestor, but that very thing did happen. It took about six months for all of my strained muscles to say, “That’s it! You’re not paying attention to us. We need your attention, NOW!” Oh there were signs all along, but I thought it might have been from all my travelling, staying in various accommodations, lack of routine, yada yada yada.
The short version is: I did in fact need a chiropractor and a Feldenkrais practitioner to help me. I found myself lying on my couch on Christmas Day unable to move from some severally overstretched/pulled/strained muscles and ligaments. I didn’t want to hassle my go-to chiro, while he was cooking his family Christmas dinner, even though he said he wouldn’t have minded. What a guy!
Laid up on my couch on Christmas Day, unable to participate in any family gatherings, in sheer pain, totally incapacitated and needing someone to ‘fix’ me, prompted me consider alternatives – alternatives where I could help myself. Where I could relieve my own pain vs. needing someone else to do it for me.
Besides, I had lots of down time on Christmas Day to research options. What I found was something that blew my mind, my way of thinking and my habitual patterns of moving. It took me into a whole new world of mind/body connection.
I know you’re likely thinking: She’s a yoga teacher, a meditation teacher, you’d think she, of all people would have a better awareness of mind and body. I like to think that I do. But here’s what I learned:
When we operate in a habituated pattern with contracted or stressed muscles, our brain forgets how to relax them. They stay in their contracted state and we are unable to voluntarily relax them.
- Our body is far smarter than us. It takes the path that is most efficient – the one of least resistance.
- Our bodies know that certain muscles are required to be contracted constantly, because of what we do repeatedly – like sit, for example. They will keep those required muscles contracted so that they don’t have to keep re-learning how to contract them.
- We get a form of amnesia (know as Sensory Motor Amnesia, according to Thomas Hanna, Somatics Founder) about how our muscles are supposed to work in their natural state and how it feels for them to be relaxed.
When I found these movements, I completely related to the principles of Somatics. After my Christmas back breakdown I immediately incorporated these movements into my daily routine. Since that day, I haven’t seen or needed my sweet, accommodating chiro.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t use a chiropractor, or any other practitioner for that matter. I personally just didn’t want to rely on someone else to fix me. Independent? Stubborn? Or smart? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Here’s what I do know. Somatic Movements have changed my thinking and how I move. They’re simple movement patterns to retrain your brain on how to communicate with your muscles. They’re not intended to be strengthening or endurance exercises. They’re neuromuscular exercises.
Here are a few short videos to get you started on exploring your own body and its patterns:
- Intro to Somatic Principles
- Back Pain Relief
- Hip Pain Relief
- Back & Hip Pain Relief
- Release Shoulder & Hip Pain
- Neck & Shoulder Pain Relief
If you have any discomfort or pain in your body, I’d highly recommend trying them. Or you can come to one of my yoga classes where I incorporate them along with traditional yoga poses. As for your golf swing, functional movements have really changed how I spend my time lifting weights.
Here’s a great video that outlines simple exercises that re-pattern functional movement (including your golf swing at 7:41) using only one dumbbell. Simple, effective and strengthening!
Happy and safe swinging,