A few blizzards ago my son came in from an afternoon of earning money shoveling snow. “My back is killing me, Mom,” he told me. “Can I have a massage?” His back was in spasm and he desperately needed relief. I promised him a massage (I was a massage therapist for 25 years), but only after he did a few Somatic Exercises. Why? Because 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 his massage would be much more enjoyable once he reminded his muscles that they were no longer engaged in the arduous task of snow shoveling! When he got up off the floor after only five minutes of somatic movement, he expressed amazement at how much better his back felt.
Relieve muscles spasms safely with Somatic Exercises and pandiculation.
The following are Somatic Exercises that I taught my son to do to help his brain regain control of the 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. Gently contract the back muscles and roll the pelvis, and then slowly release your back, returning yourself 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 curl up as you contract the abdominal muscles.
- Inhale and slowly relax back to the floor.
Remember: this is not a sit-up! As you curl up, you are lengthening the back muscles as you tighten the belly. When you slowly come down, you are 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. That twisting movement is a natural movement, yet when done while lifting wet, heavy snow it can cause a lot of muscle tension on one side of the body. The side bend will help you relax out of that twist once you are 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. The brain controls the muscles, therefore repetitive activities (such as snow shoveling) can teach your muscles to become rigid and “frozen.” The solution is to get your brain to remind your muscles 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.