Heal Thyself

As I sipped a well-earned cup of tea in the Yoga Nook garden, I knew instantly I was coming down with something. I could feel it in my throat as I swallowed. That’s always the first place I’m aware of an infection. There’s some weakness in my constitution that leaves my throat vulnerable. I’ve suffered with it since I was a child.

I had spent a good part of Sunday cutting back the spring growth at the front of the Cochran studio, so for awhile I tried to imagine that it was just the dust and pollen. It would pass, I’d feel fine in an hour or so.

But by that evening, I knew that dust and pollen were the least of my worries. For two days now, I have laid around like a zombie — sleeping the day away in front of the TV, binge-watching between the dozing, completely unproductive.

This morning I woke late but brighter, and finally my throat feels better. But wait — now I have shoulder pain. Stiff and sore from no movement, my body’s complaining from the lack of mobility. As I dozed on the sofa, my left shoulder must have been tucked awkwardly under my torso. I can feel the pattern in the muscles under the shoulder blade and the unaccustomed stretch in my mid-back.

Somatic Educator, heal thyself!

The area around the scapulae is a common cause of complaint for many of the clients I see one-on-one. A large proportion of people suffer from scapular dysfunction as a result of improper use, poor posture or injury.

Because the position of the scapulae is vital to healthy arm movement, it’s important to organize this flat, highly mobile bone optimally on the back ribs. Scapular dysfunction can cause neck and shoulder pain, as well as upper back and arm discomfort.

Students frequently ask me for “stretches” for pain and discomfort in the shoulder girdle area. Aware of my own soreness, I can understand why they want to stretch. The problem is that stretching is not the answer. Indeed, stretching alone could create more damage and increase pain.

The answer is somewhat counterintuitive until you become familiar with the way AIM (Awareness, Integration and Movement) works. Contrary to the instinct to stretch, what is needed are contraction and slow release of the muscles that are causing the displacement, then reeducation of the muscles that are creating the irritation.

We are always attracted by the pain, thinking it’s where the problem must lie, but the area of pain is frequently the symptom, not the cause.

Even as I type this, I’m bringing awareness to my posture and to the displacement of my left scapula. I’m slowly contracting then releasing, and for just a few moments the irritation disappears, so I know I’m on the right track. It will take awhile to release and reeducate, but eventually I’ll be back to work with a better understanding of my clients and myself.


Related articles: 
The World on Your Shoulders
Correcting Poor Posture with AIM Somatic Movement
3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Back Pain

Image credit: Dax Tran-Caffee via Flickr (CC)


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