In New Jersey we’re experiencing yet another a massive snowstorm that dumped upwards of a foot of snow. While I absolutely love snowstorms and consider snow shoveling an excellent “workout,” I can do without the lower back pain it can cause.
My back is killing me, Mom. Can I have a massage?
My 21 year old son came in from an afternoon of earning money shoveling snow. His back was in spasm and he desperately needed relief. I promised him a massage after he’d done a few Somatic Exercises first. I explained that if I were to massage his muscles while they were in spasm, they might contract back against the pressure. This is called the “stretch reflex.” I assured him he’d enjoy his massage more once he’d reminded his muscles that they didn’t need to stay tight and “frozen.” When he got up off the floor after only five minutes of movement, he expressed amazement at how much better his back felt.
Relieve muscles spasms safely with Somatic Exercises and pandiculation.
Here’s what I taught him to do so that his brain could regain control of those involuntarily contracted muscles that were causing his back pain. To maximize the benefits, do these easy, safe Somatic Exercises before and after snow shoveling:
This exercise teaches your brain to regain control of the back muscles as you gently contract the back muscles and roll the pelvis, and then slowly release the back back to neutral. Go slowly and notice the pleasant wave-like feeling as your back moves from the base of your head all the way down to the tailbone.
ARCH AND CURL
Lie on your back with your knees up and feet planted. Place your hands, with fingers interlaced, behind your head. Inhale and gently arch your lower back and tip your pelvis in the direction of your feet. This tightens the back muscles (only go as far as is comfortable and never force!). Exhale and slowly relax your back to the floor. When your back is flat, tuck your chin, point the elbows toward the knees, pick your head up, and slowly your curl up as you contract the abdominal muscles. Inhale and slowly relax back to the floor. This is not a sit-up! As you curl up, you’re lengthening the back muscles as you tighten the belly. When you slowly come down, you’re relaxing the abdominals.
This exercise relaxes the muscles of the trunk so that both sides of your waist muscles are relaxed and released. When we shovel snow we always tend to shovel on one side only. Afterwards our backs on that one side are killing us! This exercise will help you relax out of that twist once you’re done shoveling.
Enjoy lengthening and releasing the entire center of your body as you learn to gently “wring your body out like a washrag” – from your shoulders down to your hips.
These easy, safe movements can be done every day to keep your muscles remembering how to relax. Because the brain controls the muscles, repetitive activities like snow shoveling can teach your muscles to become rigid and “frozen.” The solution is to get the brain to remind them how to relax again. All it takes is five minutes of gentle, aware Somatic Movement and those muscles will begin to relax and release. Then you can go back outside in the snow and play!
Click here to purchase any of the Pain-Free Series of instructional Somatic Exercise DVDs.