By Jacqueline Rubinstein
After years of having a desk job that includes hundreds of phone calls a week, one of my clients recently realized that her twisted sitting posture is a direct cause of her chronic neck pain.
She spontaneously realized, after a few months of us working together, that each time she has someone on the phone, she unconsciously crosses her legs and turns them far to the left. She then tips her pelvis so she is balanced on the right side, which allows her to turn her upper body back to the right to face her computer screen and type during the phone call.
She has, thus, put herself in a dramatic twisting posture, with only one sits bone and part of a foot to balance on. She had never noticed this habit before, but lately she has felt herself doing it over and over and over again.
With this newfound awareness of her twisting habit, she has the option of choosing a more even, supportive way to sit. She is practicing uncrossing her legs, putting both feet on the ground, and having her whole body face forward. Relief!
She has since realized she would much prefer to have a standing desk for her computer work and a sitting desk for her paper work. This gives her lots of options and mobility throughout her long workdays.
Noticing what it is she was doing, bringing her awareness to a blind spot in her self-use has opened up a whole new world of comfortable options for her.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent out an article about literally checking your blind spots (you know, turning your head to see behind you so you don’t hit anybody), with a really useful, simple exercise that will help increase the mobility of your neck, shoulders, and eyes in sitting.
This week, I want to talk to you about the more elusive, yet common blind spots we all experience.
Here’s another example from one of my clients: when she is worried or stressed out, she notices herself looking down at the ground while she walks. She feels all her thoughts rapidly swirling around in her head. She pulls in her belly tight, so her breath shortens and gets shallow, and she walks with the majority of the weight on her toes, with her whole body curled forward.
All of this awareness came after a simple suggestion that she try looking at the horizon as she walked. With that little idea, a full body response to stress was unraveled and revealed to her.
Now, she knows a sneaky way to interrupt her anxiety and stress. Instead of solving all the issues of her life (because really who can achieve that), she knows she can look at the horizon, shift her weight back over her heels, open her chest, and take deep belly breaths.
Just changing her standing posture lowers her stress level. Her head clears, and she feels powerful and in control again.
There are so many things we all do every day without realizing it. It’s truly amazing how many blindspots we all have!
Most often the source of chronic pain can be traced back to unconscious habits and the stress and unnecessary effort those habits require of us. Gaining a clear understanding of what exactly it is you are doing, gives you a choice: the choice to do the same old, painful thing or to try something new and more comfortable.
So how do you uncover your blind spots?
You have to be a dedicated detective to catch yourself in the act. Begin slowly. Look for hints or traces.
Does it seem like your difficulty comes when sitting, standing, walking, or lying down?
Okay, now what is it you are doing in that posture or movement.
Is your weight more on one side than the other? Are you turning one direction more than the other direction? Or perhaps you are twisting with your bottom half going a different way than your top half? Is your weight forward or backward? Start with the big picture and notice what you can sense and feel about yourself.
Then get more specific, what are your feet doing? Your hands? Your chest? Your head? Your pelvis? Your tongue? Your eyes?
Now here is the important part, don’t try to just change it all together. Forcing yourself into a new habit will just cause a new pain. Take time to really investigate the details of your pattern. Even exaggerate what it is you are doing. Notice how full can you make your self-image in this particular posture or movement.
Only now, after a thorough investigation, is it useful to start introducing new possibilities. Your brain is now aware of what it is you have been doing chronically for most likely many, many years. With this heightened awareness, your brain is available to learn something new.
If it is a one-sided action you do, switch to the other side. Then try spreading out your weight evenly on both sides. If you habitually turn one way, turn the other way. If you tend to use one eye more than the other, try covering up your eyes one at a time.
Increase your options!
Here is a summary of my recommendation:
Start with a thorough investigation–be a detective!
Get into the details-the nitty gritty of your habit
Notice what spontaneously happens with your new, heightened awareness
Then add new options to your repertoire!
Write to me and let me know what you are finding! And if you get stumped, come on in for a free assessment. I would be more than happy to be your co-detective in this work!
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