Yesterday I got an email from an attorney who’d bought my DVD several months ago:
Your first DVD was great. For months, I had a recurring pain at the top of my right glute, which radiated down my leg. After figuring out which Somatic exercises worked best to relieve the tightness and regain the ability to relax the muscle, the pain is gone and if it recurs, I know how to relieve it.
I asked him which Somatic Exercises were the ones he’d figured out worked best for him. His answer was:
- cross lateral arch and curl
- walking lessons, part 2
People are individuals, yet all humans’ brains respond the same way to stress. This is the beauty of Thomas Hanna’s discoveries. Every human being tightens the back or front of the body, or the side of the body when responding to stress, be it mental, emotional, or physical.
I created my Pain Relief Through Movement DVD so that people could learn to relieve pain on their own, at home. It’s great to hear from those, like the customer above, who has devoted time to getting to know his body again, and refining his physical awareness (proprioception) in order to figure out where his Sensory Motor Amnesia was and how to reverse it rapidly. I believe this can occur when we FEEL our Somatic Exercises, rather than simply DO them. When you FEEL your movement, you know what works for you and what doesn’t.
FEELING is different from DOING
When we DO something, our attention is often more in our head than in our body. I’ve seen many students “perform” the Somatic Exercises more concerned as to whether they’re “doing them correctly” than to “what the movement FEELS like as they do it. When feeling and sensing, rather than rote “doing” is the medium, you’ll find the results to be superior. Feeling and sensing opens the channels of learning. Your brain starts to coordinate your muscles in such a way that the movement becomes easier and easier to do. It’s much like a deer treading a path in the forest.
So – back to my customer’s favorite Somatic Exercises. Here are a few pointers about the benefit of these two movements for anyone with pain in their gluteal muscles – especially in the gluteus minimus, at the “top” of the buttocks:
Cross Lateral Arch and Curl
This exercise creates more rounding through the front of the body on a diagonal plane, which helps to further lengthen the back muscles on the diagonal. Not only do you lengthen through the upper back to curl yourself up, elbow toward the opposite knee, but you also release the lower back muscles on the side of the knee that curls up toward the elbow. If the top of your buttocks (glut minimus) is tight and painful, this movement will help release the lower back and the buttock as they coordinate together.
Walking Exercises, Part 2
This movement, done after “part 1,” which I call the “knee dropping inward” movement – reminds the pelvis that it can move in a nice rocking movement, as it should when we walk. The back muscles, waist, and abdominals all lengthen to allow the leg and knee to move over the foot, as would occur in walking. Many of us learn to keep our pelvis rigid when we walk. This makes for clunky, inefficient walking and contributes to hip pain. We don’t want to walk like “America’s Next Top Model,” but it’s important to allow the hips and pelvis to move slightly in walking. For those with buttock pain, this movement reminds the muscles of the core to lengthen and relax as they coordinate together to move the pelvis. The buttock contracts slightly in this exercise, as it coordinates the walking movement.