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Is Your Back Pain Getting You Down?

Does your back pain make you feel miserable? Are you frustrated by the endless pain and discomfort? Does it make you feel hopeless? Are you petrified by the thought that your back pain might never end?

I’m not surprised, I felt the same way. Back pain sucks big time! And it can really take over your whole life!

You wake up in the morning already exhausted, why? Because your back pain was so bad you couldn’t get comfortable, so you lay there, sore, aching and exhausted. You pray for the sweet embrace of sleep. But it never really comes, you may doze for a while, but deep sleep evades you. You just can’t get comfortable enough to sleep well. So morning rolls around and you start another day tired, frustrated and in pain.

When the alarm goes off you are faced with your first challenge of the day; How am I going to get out of bed? Which will be swiftly followed by challenge #2, how am I going to get my socks on?

Sound familiar?

So you somehow manage to get out of bed and get dressed, grimacing in pain throughout the whole ordeal. But now it’s time for challenge #3, walking downstairs. Will I go down sideways? Or one step at a time? Or maybe backwards? But they all hurt! You struggle down the stairs holding on to the banister for dear life.

Sound like your experience?

Finally downstairs, you shuffle to the kitchen and prepare and eat your breakfast standing, of course. Not that you really enjoy it or have much appetite, because all your attention is consumed by your constant back pain.

Does this ring any bells?

Now its time for back pain challenge #4, sitting at your desk trying to get comfortable for your days work. (Pre pandemic this might have been a slightly different challenge, getting into your car, or on to public transport, or maybe mounting your bike) But now you’re working from home. So you head to your “office” and desperately try to find a sitting position in your chair that allows you to pay attention to your work, and not the constant aching pain in your back. You tried standing at the desk, but that just made your back hurt even more. Eventually you get into a position that is somewhat tolerable and start working. But its hard to concentrate when you have back pain.

You do your best tho, because you have to keep going right?

When lunchtime rolls around you consider taking some painkillers AGAIN but deep down you know they are not the answer, and you worry about taking them long term. Your mind briefly asks, surely theres’ got to be a solution. But there’s no time to think about that right now. You need to get some lunch. But that means now
you have to stand up, Challenge #5; “Hmmm… how am I going to get out of this chair?”

Sound like you?

During your lunch you wonder how long you can carry on like this.

In the afternoon, work gets busy, the pressure mounts a little. And you notice that the busier you are, the more intense you back pain becomes.

What’s that about?

But you grit your teeth and finally make it through to the end of your work day. You used to enjoy going for a run a few evenings per week after work to blow of the cobwebs. But since you developed this back pain you haven’t been able to run at all. In fact even walking for any distance is a challenge now, and afterwards your back pain seems to increase.

You really miss going for that run…

During dinner you snap at your partner, they were just asking you a question, but you feel so exhausted from the constant pain that it’s really beginning to affect your mood. You think back to your work day and realise you were quite abrupt in conversation with a colleague earlier too. You feel bad about being irritable, it’s just because your back pain is really getting to you now. But you don’t want to complain, and they wouldn’t understand anyway.

So you sit in front of the TV and try to distract yourself from the pain, binging on the latest series. And it kinda works, but eventually you have to go to bed. Which means you have to navigate the stairs again, undress, wash, and get into bed. Repeating all the challenges you started your day with in reverse order.

Sound familiar?

And to finish your day you are left with the prospect of another restless, painful and sleepless night, before you have to repeat it all tomorrow. With back pain. Again.

No wonder your back pain is getting you down.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, if you are currently living this reality, I’d like you to consider a possibility:

Imagine your life without chronic back pain.
What would it be like?
What would you do?
How would you feel?
Who would you be?

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of a comfortable pain free back, check out my Back Pain Relief Video Tutorial below. I want to help you because I had chronic back pain too. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. I want to share with you a simple Somatic Movement sequence I use to keep my back feeling comfortable and pain free. Watch it, follow along and experience what happens. Change is possible. Let me know how you get on. I want to help YOU.

If you know someone who is struggling with back pain, perhaps you could share this blog post with them.

P.S. You can also find this blog post at learnsomatics.ie/blog

If you are a regular reader you might want to sign up for the Learn Somatics email newsletter. Somatics news, tips, videos, events and blog posts to your inbox. Sign up here.

As always thanks for reading!

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We’re Moving!

The Somatic Movement Blog is moving to a new home over at;

learnsomatics.ie/blog

If you have enjoyed my posts here and have found them useful, I really hope you will click the link above and join me over at my new home! If you do be sure to sign up for my free Back Pain Relief Video in the side bar or, if on mobile, at the bottom of the post. This will also subscribe you for all my future blog posts at learnsomatics.ie/blog

I look forward to seeing you there, and as always thanks for reading!

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Want to Super Charge Your Breathing Practice Now?

Do you practice breath work? Would you like to make it even more effective and rewarding? Read on to learn how…

Breath work practices have become increasingly popular in the last few years. This is a very positive development. Breathing practices are a great way to self regulate and calm our nervous system. They give us back some modicum of control over ourselves and our emotions.

With that in mind, I want to share a brief conversation with you, that I had with a client recently. They kindly gave me permission to share this.

Client: “Oh, I did my breath work that I haven’t done in months because I’ve been meditating, and I wanted to switch it up, and I felt so much more air going”

Me: “Oh really, so since you’ve been doing your Somatics you felt you have more air?

Client: “ Yeah! I haven’t done breath work like in a month or something, and I thought like, oh my God! This is going to be like super tough because it’s 4 rounds with breath retention. And I had the longest breath retention time that I ever had. And I haven’t even been doing my breath work practice. It was amazing!!

“Something here in my ribs or something, must have changed because I had so much more space to breathe in air”

Me: “I’ve had this conversation before. People do breath work but if your trunk is really tight, you’re not going go to get that much out of it. If you’ve got some relaxation in the muscles of your trunk and ribs, because they all attach to your ribs right? If they’re relaxed, your breathing practice just sort of opens up a lot.”

Client: “And it (the breath) was going up, like I was super extending it, and I thought, ‘How did I do it before?’. I remember I felt like the air was going diagonal because this rib was probably a bit locked up, and I thought wow! That’s amazing! Because I’m so out of shape with it because I have’t done it in so long, but I held my breath longer than I ever did (before)”

Me: “So you actually had your best breathing practice?

Client: “ Yeah, yeah!! It’s insane!”

Me: “That’s a good endorsement, I love it!”

What’s interesting is that this client never mentioned their breathing to me. They initially wanted help with a completely different complaint (which also improved greatly).

But as you can see above, they experienced a vast difference in their breathing practice as a result of learning some basic Somatic Movements. The Somatic movements reduced their subconscious muscular tension. And the reduction in tension allowed them to breathe easier.

So how is this possible? Well it becomes clear when you look at the the anatomy of the trunk and ribs.

There are a very large number of muscles attached to the ribs. You have the extensors and the lats in the back. The pectorals and abdominals in the front. And there’s also the internal and external obliques making up the sides/waist. Essentially all of the muscles that are involved in moving your trunk, are attached to your ribs.

These muscles aren’t thought of as breathing muscles and strictly speaking they aren’t. BUT, because they attach to the ribs they can have a strong influence on your ability to breathe freely. For example if your abdominals are tight you won’t be able to belly breathe effectively. Or if your thoracic extensors (mid back muscles) are chronically contracted it will be difficult to expand the back of the ribs. A tight oblique will limit air intake into one side of the ribs and so on. All these large muscles can, and do, restrict breathing when they are excessively tight.

You start to get the picture. Habitual tightness in ANY of the muscles attaching to the ribs will get in the way of your breathing. And that leads to a significant reduction in the efficacy of your breath work.

And that’s before we even get to the muscles directly involved with breathing. The intercostals between the ribs, the diaphragm and the smaller accessory muscles.

The take away point is, reduce your muscle tension first. Then your ribs and diaphragm will be able to move more freely, and you can get much more out of your breathing practice.

If you’d like to experience this for yourself, try a little test. Practice a couple of somatic movements before you do your breath work. And see if your breathing improves as a result. You can expect deeper inhalations. Smoother exhalations. More freedom of the ribs and diaphragm. And a more enjoyable and effective breathing experience overall.

To help you with that, follow along to my Daily Routine video below. This routine will help you to reduce muscular tension in the trunk generally. And in doing so, will make breathing easier. As well as reducing stiffness, decreasing pain and increasing comfort.

Give this strategy a try and let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear your experiences with it.

Want to get notified about all upcoming Learn Somatics events? No problem: Sign up for my Email Newsletter.

Click here to take an on-demand Somatic Movement class right now?

Until next time!

Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash

On Demand Somatics Classes

I’ve got some exciting news for you guys. I’ve just launched my online movement class library. Check out the video below to learn more.

If you’ve been enjoying my tutorial videos on YouTube these classes are for you. Here’s the link if you’d like to try out a class with me right now:

https://app.arketa.co/learnsomatics/on-demand

And if you don’t want to take class I’ve got some more new videos coming up on YouTube this week. So keep an eye out for them too.

Alright until next time, keep practicing!

3 Easy Ways to Release Your Tight Psoas Fast

Do you have a tight psoas? Have you been stretching it unsuccessfully? Are you tired of being unable to get it to release in any meaningful way? Then you’re in the right place.

A chronically tight psoas can contribute to;
Low back pain, groin pain, hip flexor pain, difficulty/pain when trying to stand in a fully upright posture, buttock pain, radiation of pain down the leg, pelvic pain, limping or shuffling stride when you walk.

Chronic psoas pain and/or tightness is often the result of the muscle (or muscles) simply being in a constant state of contraction. That just means it is constantly tensed to some degree. There are any number of reasons why that might be the case, too much sitting, an injury, a fall or slip, an emotional event, etc.

When any muscle is constantly tense it creates a sensory motor problem, in Somatics we call this Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA). If you cannot fully contract AND relax a muscle or muscle group you cannot use it properly, as it means you do not have full control over it. Now you have a muscular dysfunction. And if the muscle in question is the psoas, you have a psoas dysfunction.

It’s pretty easy to imagine how any muscle that is constantly tense would eventually feel stiff, sore and make you move less well and less freely.

It’s also easy to imagine that a muscle that is constantly contracted would be tired and fatigued. And a tired muscle is a weak muscle. Anyone who has ever exercised at all can attest to that. At some point, your muscles fatigue and they can no longer exert the same amount of force. They feel weaker.

Now, any muscle that is constantly tensed is being held in that contracted state by your unconscious brain. So stretching it is not going to help. You have to change the order/command/output coming from the brain. Instead of constantly telling the psoas to tense or tighten, you want to tell it to relax and lengthen. Hmmm…. interesting. But how do we do that?

Well you don’t do it by stretching, or foam rolling or painfully pressing on trigger points. While these strategies may provide some temporary relief, they don’t change that output from the brain. So the tightness comes back pretty quick as the brain is still telling the muscles to contract.

Okay, so what else can we do?

Well, what if you contracted/tensed your tight psoas muscle on purpose? Made it even tighter than it already is. By tightening it voluntarily and deliberately, wouldn’t you be re-establishing your conscious control over it? Yep! And then once you had contracted and tightened it deliberately wouldn’t you be able to slowly and carefully CEASE contracting it? Why yes, yes you would. And once you had relaxed the muscle deliberately wouldn’t it feel more comfortable? Absolutely.

In Somatics we call this process, deliberately contracting muscles, then slowly relaxing them; pandiculating. It’s easy to do and it works fast.

You can apply pandiculation to all and any muscles of the body. Including your psoas! To assist you in that regard, I’ve made a playlist of all three of my Somatic Movement tutorial videos that address the psoas (and the low back and hip flexors too!) If you’d like to learn how easy it is to pandiculate your way to a soft, relaxed and comfortable psoas, you can check out the playlist below. Any one of these movements will do a good job of releasing a tight psoas, or you can combine all three for more complete learning. And I’ve added a bonus movement at the end of the playlist that improves control of the hips and legs that should feel really enjoyable to practice after releasing both your psoas.

If you find these videos helpful, please like, comment and share.

Need help with a specific problem? Want to Learn Somatics faster? Book an online appointment with me here: Online 1-1

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Feel Better And Move Better In Just 15 Minutes!

I’ve got something special for you today to help you feel better and move better. I have put together a short video of 7 Somatic Movements, that makes up a simple but effective daily Somatic Movement routine. You can find it at the end of this post.

I’ve really enjoyed sharing individual Somatic Movement tutorials on my YouTube (and Odysee) Channel. But I know and understand that for many people the real challenge is knowing which movements to practice regularly. 

Well you don’t have to wonder any more. In this free video I will guide you through a standard daily Somatic Movement routine in just 15 minutes! That means in just 15 minutes you can;

  • 1. Reduce muscular tension throughout your entire body
  • 2. Relieve the physical effects of stress
  • 3. Increase comfort and feel better
  • 4. Move better and more freely
  • 5. Improve your sleep

Whilst this sequence is designed as a daily reset of sorts, you can also use it as a warm up, or cool down for any sport or activity, or to set you up for a good night’s sleep. All the movements in this sequence are fundamental Somatic Movements that I personally use pretty much every day to keep myself feeling loose limber and relaxed. I dread to think where I would be without them really.

Somatic Movements are designed to be used every day, or at least most days. The reason for that is because every day we can potentially accumulate excess muscular tension as an involuntary response to stress. And we do not want to let that tension build up over days, weeks, months or even years and become a problem.

So we can use a Somatic Movement practice every day (or almost every day) to release the tension and stress built up during the day, and allow us to feel relaxed, comfortable and at ease again. And of course the more regularly you practice the better the results

Furthermore, by practicing regularly, we can become proficient at the movements more quickly. The more proficient you become at pandiculating, the less repetitions of each movement you will need to perform to attain a state of relaxation, and therefore the shorter and ore efficient your practice can become. Once the muscles are relaxed you can move on to the next movement or if its your last movement, finish up and carry on with your day.

So why not follow along to the video below and reap the benefits of a simple but amazingly effective Somatic Movement practice. If you find the video helpful please leave a comment and/or share it with anyone you think might benefit from it.

If you haven’t already you can subscribe to my YouTube/Odysee channel so you don’t miss out on my regular Somatic Movement tutorial videos.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep on moving!

Featured photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Learn Somatics

Enjoy Freer and More Comfortable Walking Right Now!

I don’t know about you but I love a good walk. There’s something deeply calming and soothing about the simple act of taking a walk. And of course it’s even better if you’re able to take that walk out in nature.

I consider myself extremely lucky to live a short drive from the sea. So I try to get out there for a walk at least a couple of times a week. I love how even though I walk the same route more or less, it always feel different. Sometimes the sea is calm or rough, sometimes the tide is very high or very low, sometimes the skies are clear or gloomy. So it’s always the same, but always different.

Bliss!

One thing that might make your walk less enjoyable though is if you can’t walk comfortably, or if you’re feeling stiff and tight in your body. Then a walk can become a bit of a struggle, and that’s no fun for anyone, regardless of the scenery.

So with that in mind, check out my latest Somatic Movement tutorial below. In this video we address the Oblique muscles. These are the muscles that make up your waist. When these waist muscles get stiff and tight, they can make walking feel clunky, laboured and uncomfortable. A stiff waist can also cause you to put more pressure on your hips, knees and ankles than is necessary.

Why not explore how to pandiculate these oblique muscles? The result: improved rotation of the trunk for smoother, freer and more comfortable walking and even running.

If you enjoyed this movement, leave a comment here or on the Learn Somatics YouTube Channel.

Need help with your movement? Got chronic pain? I offer online 1-1s that can help you get moving comfortably again fast. You can book your session here.

And in the meantime get outside and enjoy your next walk!

Until next time!

The Simple Secret to Releasing Muscle Tension FAST!

If there was a really quick and easy way to release muscle tension, wouldn’t you want to know about it?

Well I’ve got some good news for you! There IS a really quick way to release muscle tension, but it’s kind of counter intuitive. Which is why most people don’t know how to do it. Check out my latest video to learn how:

If you found this video helpful, let me know and share it around. You can also leave a comment below or on my YouTube channel, I would love to hear your experiences with these movements. And if there’s something you’d like me to address in a future video, again just let me know.

I want to help you release muscle tension, move better and manage stress, so help me help you!

Until next time!

P.S. You can also read all my blog posts over at learnsomatics.ie

Start to Learn Somatics Right Now on YouTube!

What Are You Really Feeling When You’re Stressed?

Let’s talk a little bit about stress. Perhaps you’re feeling stressed right now. If you are, consider this question, ask yourself what does it ‘feel’ like to be stressed? What are you really feeling when you are stressed? What happens in your mind when you are stressed? And what happens in your body when you are stressed? What emotions do you associate with feeling stressed?

Continue reading…

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

3 Simple Reasons Why You Have Back Pain

Today I want to share with you, 3 simple reasons why you have back pain. So without further ado…

No. 1. Your Back Muscles Are Too Tense

Yep, it’s that simple. Your back muscles are achey, sore and painful because they are way more tense and contracted than they need to be. Don’t believe me? Press on them, Are they rock hard and tender to touch? If they are, then they are too tense.

Tense muscles are muscles that are constantly working. Muscles that are constantly working, are constantly tight. And muscles that are constantly tight eventually start to feel painful. Well of course they do, they never get a chance to rest. The result: Back pain!

You can learn how to release this muscle tension during my upcoming Back Pain Relief Workshop on April 3rd.

Now onto reason no. 2…

No. 2. You Cannot Move Your Back Freely

Another simple reason your back hurts is because you are not able to move it freely. Can you bend forward comfortably at all times? Say to pick up something from the floor? Or put on your socks and tie your shoes.

Can you twist easily? Can you trot upstairs freely? Can you get out of a chair easily? Or does you tight back make these kinds of activities feel like a struggle?

If you are unable to perform simple movements with your back, you are eventually going to end up with a sore back or you already have one.

I’ll also be teaching how to move your back with freedom and ease during the Back Pain Relief Workshop.

And finally…

No. 3: You Are Stressed

Muscles get tense in response to stress, whether thats work stress, family difficulties, relationships etc.

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress*

https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body

It’s that simple. If you are under constant stress, you will end up constantly tense, tight, achey and sore.

And now you’re saying, “Well that’s great, but what can I do about it?”

Here’s what you can do about it

You can learn how to relax your muscles. And the good news is, it’s really easy to do. And the even better news is that when you learn how to relax your muscles, you will also be learning how to move your back freely AND relieving the tension you accumulate in response to stress. Because of course we can’t avoid stress entirely. But we can learn how to manage our responses to it!

So even though we’ve looked at 3 simple reasons you have back pain, you only need 1 solution; Somatic Movements!

If you’d like to learn everything you need to know to make your back pain a thing of the past, sign up for my Back Pain Relief Online Workshop. During this workshop you will learn how to actually regain control of your back muscles, release all that muscular tension, move freely and easily and feel less stressed. Who wouldnt want that?

Increased comfort and relaxation are guaranteed when you Learn Somatics.

If you know someone who is struggling with back pain, maybe you could share this post with them.

As always thanks for reading.

P.S. Don’t forget the blog is moving to it’s new home at learnsomatics.ie. So if you want to keep up to date, visit me there and sign up for my newsletter!

Until next time!

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