Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pain-free?

I spent the day yesterday in a workshop with Lee Albert, a neuro-muscular therapist from Kripalu Institute for Yoga and Health. We were learning Positional Therapy, a form of muscular therapy you can mostly practice on yourself, without the need for a therapist. Of course, you do need to learn the techniques first. (Uh, DUH.)

And the theory behind the practice is very simple. If a muscle is too tight, tense, or in spasm, it is going to cause problems. These problems could look like misalignments of the bones or joints, asymmetry in the body (almost always a problem) or pain. Perhaps numbness if the misalignment is causing pressure on a nerve.

And the solution is to put that tight, tense muscle on slack. In other words, to find a position where the muscle is not tight, and then to hold it there for about a minute. In a minute's time, the muscle will "reset" itself, rather than returning to its previously tense state.

This is the theory. In practice, Albert admits it might take many times per day, possibly for days, weeks, or even months to return the body to its neutral, symmetrical state. But it also might happen in the first try.

Albert also talks about the fact that muscles can be SHORT and TIGHT, and also LONG and TIGHT. Short, tight muscles might eventually need stretching to lengthen them (once they are no longer in spasm) but long, tight muscles do NOT need lengthening by stretching. These muscles usually need to be strengthened to bring the body into balance. How do you know if your muscles are long or short? That's easy: muscles on the front of the body are usually too short. We tend to contact these all day long in order to sit and type, drive a car, watch TV, all the things we do for hours at a time. The muscles on the back of the body tend to be long, as they are stretched out while we are busy contracting the front of the body. But both sides are usually TIGHT.

Other advice we received at the workshop included:

Drink plenty of water! Muscles that are dehydrated will not relax or release. Once you are dehydrated, it can take MONTHS of drinking sufficient water to rehydrate all your muscle cells. Most of the water, initially, will simply be excreted. So KEEP DRINKING!

Get more magnesium. Our soil has been depleted of this precious mineral, so our food sources are not giving us nearly enough. Albert recommends foot baths containing at least 1 pound of epsom salts. My husband and I followed this advice last night, and I can vouch for the relaxation! (We did warm foot baths while watching Breaking Bad. We're only on Season 2 so please don't spoil anything for us!) And what food is high in magnesium? CHOCOLATE! (You heard me right.) So eat your delicious chocolate while soaking your feet. Muscles cannot relax if they are deficient in magnesium.

Sit less. Sitting is the new smoking. The more you sit, the sooner you will keel over from some fatal disease. (I'm not making this up!) Sitting is bad for every part of you. You need to get up and move more often and sit for shorter spans of time. (I know this is a challenge for those of us who are trying to WRITE!) According to Albert, standing still for long periods is not much better. What is better is MOVING!

So that is the gist of my Mothers' Day weekend workshop. When I got home, my husband fed me lamb kabobs from Mimi's in Turf Valley. They were delicious! All in all, a great day.

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