Do You Lean to the Left or the Right?

This week we come to the final reflexive movement pattern. Again it is completely natural and is often called the Trauma or Cringe Reflex.  It involves the tightening of the tissues along one side of the body and a tendency to weight bear in the other. It's often a reaction to pain (perhaps an accident or surgery) that leads us to pull into the side as an act of self protection, but it also shows up with repetitive, asymmetrical daily movements like:

  • Always carrying your bag on one shoulder
  • Using your computer mouse with great frequency
  • Carrying a baby on one hip repeatedly
  • Leaning into one hip when you stand to chat or are otherwise engaged (when I first discovered this one I found myself slumping into the same hip when chopping vegetables, brushing my teeth and more)

You can probably think of many other ways you might favour one side and it can have major repercussions if left unchecked. Suddenly it might start to make sense why one shoulder sits higher than the other or why you had always thought *one leg was longer than the other. 

*The length of your legs is equal to the space between your pelvis and your femur (thigh bone), and the space between your femur and your lower leg bones. If you don't use your body symmetrically then none of those spaces are symmetrical (the tissue structures will take up more or less space from side to side). The habits that led to this discrepancy can be changed.

If you are slightly bending sidewards for much of the day you are also compressing the spine. This is potentially disc herniation, sciatica and many other painful problems. Freeing up the tight muscles and bringing balance back to the body can greatly relieve and even alleviate these problems.

Check in with yourself regularly this week and you may be surprised at just how often you lean to one side. You can start making changes straight away that will start to heal these tendencies. As soon as you find yourself out of balance recalibrate the way you are standing. The key though, is to take that time to check in regularly and actually notice the way that you move, sit, stand...you get the point!

  Spot the Barthound might be my new picture theme. This is the Thoracic release we did using the wall today in class. Notice the tailbone rolling up, the arms are straight and I'm pushing my bottom back over my heels. Advanced move: what about those ribs? Can you let them stay in place or are they collapsing? A lot of people step  too  far back in this one so be wary of that. It can be a fantastic release if you take it slowly. We also did a variation to release the side to the back by placing one hand on top of the opposite wrist. Always approach any exercise gently and slowly and if you feel uncomfortable, stop right away and let me know. We can always find an alternative.

Spot the Barthound might be my new picture theme. This is the Thoracic release we did using the wall today in class. Notice the tailbone rolling up, the arms are straight and I'm pushing my bottom back over my heels. Advanced move: what about those ribs? Can you let them stay in place or are they collapsing? A lot of people step too far back in this one so be wary of that. It can be a fantastic release if you take it slowly. We also did a variation to release the side to the back by placing one hand on top of the opposite wrist. Always approach any exercise gently and slowly and if you feel uncomfortable, stop right away and let me know. We can always find an alternative.

Part 4 of our Somatic home practice is the Side Raise. Specifically targeting the muscles effected by the trauma reflex. Here Martha Peterson teaches the variation we did in Week 3, and will do again next week. It is a favourite of mine with some extra love for the illiotibial band (Martha is a renowned international Somatics educator and we are thrilled to be hosting her visit to Victoria in November - stay tuned for an announcement of public workshops).

Value Added: For those of you enjoying the extra strengthening routines we added leg lift to the block squeeze for core foundations today, and pelvic list to the monster walk for lateral hip strengthening.

Next week, I plan to leave you well covered with some optimal walking basics and a recap of your 5 part Somatic practice. So keep up that pelvic listing...and everything else!