What's With The Banjo?

Actually, this weeks class is about Cross Lateral movement, but I thought the banjo might get your attention. Also, banjo playing (like cross lateral movement development) is a great way to stimulate healthy brain function (actually not everyone feels that way about banjos - there are websites devoted to deriding banjo players. Go figure!)

Pretty good banjo playing alignment (be thankful you can't hear it). Would have been better with feet on the floor, if they could reach from this chair. I could have placed a box underneath them (right Lisa?)

Forward head anyone? How about compressed lumbar spine and sitting on tailbone. Last week we looked at a skeleton in class and could get a sense of the pressures this kind of posture would place on the body. Pick the first picture, but put your feet on the floor (or a box) and go play your banjo.

Cross Lateral movement is a big part of being able to move well with optimal muscle use and metabolic function. When it's working well for us we have an easy and natural opposite arm to leg swing that propels us forward via the muscles of the back body when we walk, and naturally counterbalances us with every step.

When we have limited range of motion in our joints, or general feelings of stiffness - we often find it difficult to maintain that easy cross lateral swing, but the good news is we can get it back.

Even better news is that while working on your cross lateral movements you are also stimulating brain function. It can be challenging though - to rewire these movements that involve you working smoothly with opposite arm to leg - so be patient and kind to yourself. There is no rush, and as many of you have found - it gets so much easier with practice and you will feel a lot of space opening up in the body when you work with these movements regularly.

Home Program Addition: On your regular daily rotation you already have (do each exercise for 30 seconds to a minute, at least twice a day):

  • Standing Hamstring Release (as often as you think about it)
  • Calf Stretch
  • Toe Stretch
  • Strap Stretch
  • Head Ramp and Head Hang neck release

Lets add:

  • Double Calf Stretch (if you've forgotten how to do any of the exercises, just scroll back through the blog, they are all there)
 Double Calf Stretch: We did this in class last week and people loved it so much we'll do it again next week too. It you ever watched Spinal Tap, this turns the Calf Stretch up to 11. That's right, it's that good! Lean forward and let your palms rest on the seat of a chair (or a bench or desk or .... you name it). Moving one foot at a time, step up onto the half dome with both feet. Keep the heels on the floor. Make sure your feet are straight ahead and relax your back, gently lifting your tailbone to the ceiling to increase the stretch down the backs of your legs.

Double Calf Stretch: We did this in class last week and people loved it so much we'll do it again next week too. It you ever watched Spinal Tap, this turns the Calf Stretch up to 11. That's right, it's that good! Lean forward and let your palms rest on the seat of a chair (or a bench or desk or .... you name it). Moving one foot at a time, step up onto the half dome with both feet. Keep the heels on the floor. Make sure your feet are straight ahead and relax your back, gently lifting your tailbone to the ceiling to increase the stretch down the backs of your legs.

If you would like a Somatic home practice with a cross lateral elements, both the Hip Lift and Reach and the Body Yawn programs cover this territory. The Body Yawn has the more moderate (cactus arms) Backlift, and the Hip Lift and Reach has the full Backlift. They are each around 20 minutes long.