April 13, 2010 – First Appointment
After struggling for years with pain in my neck and shoulders I decided to try the Feldenkrais Method (pronounced feldenkrise). I have tried many things: daily heat, ice, stretching, and chiropractic adjustments, two physical therapists (who both made it worse!), and massage; most these methods help, the pain diminishes but alas never fully goes away and eventually will return in full force. A friend with a seriously debilitating condition had benefited greatly from Feldenkrais so I decided to give it a try.
I met Tiffany Sankary, a Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner in Somerville, and began by describing a history of my neck and shoulder pain. I decided rather than asking a bunch of questions to let her guide the session. The hands on method of Feldenkrais, which is what Tiffany was doing with me is a gentle, non-invasive touching and guided movement. It wasn’t long until I was feeling an immense sense of release and calm. I began to think of her touch like a consciousness, like her body energy speaking to my body energy that worked some kind of magic. For example, a simple pressure on my pelvis bones led to a huge letting go in my abdomen. Tensions I didn’t even know I had in my back melted away leaving me with a pleasing sense of heaviness and restfulness. I wanted to lie there all day!
Eventually I learned from Tiffany that my shoulders were happy to move backwards but not forwards. Years of gymnastics had never fully left my body, I walked slightly sway backed and with my shoulders back. A bad habit with cradling the telephone on my shoulder also reared it’s head. Throughout the hour-long session Tiffany repositioned my body – on my back and each of my sides and using bolsters and blankets to support these positions. She made movements that helped my back feel more right, less curved and with more ease.
Afterwards she asked me to roll my back in and out and notice how my body moved; we were focused on how my back, pelvis and neck moved together and worked to find a way to balance the movement so that my neck or pelvis weren’t doing all the work. Tiffany explained that even though one feels pain in the neck it could actually be the back that is not doing its job fully, leaving the neck to pick up too much slack. I left feeling like I really understood that, not just intellectually but in my body as well. And she asked me to continue to notice that and other sensations in my body in the coming days.
The Phone Thing
Thanks to a finicky and clunky-to-use Bluetooth device I talk on my phone the old fashioned way, holding the phone to my ear. Who knew this innocent gesture was possibly exacerbating the pain in my shoulder!? Near the end of my first session my phone rang and I picked it up, which led to short educational chat with Tiffany about noticing my cell phone habits. She asked me to notice that the position my arm and shoulder assumes is not natural to the body and I did notice tension in the area when I held my phone. I agreed to notice this and also to start using my Bluetooth.
The Strappy Purse Thing
On a similar note: I have a purse with a short strap that I carry over one of my shoulders. Tiffany asked me to notice how my purse when I carry it this way effects my body. I noticed that if I carry my purse as usual, over my right shoulder with my right hand on the strap it does undoubtedly create tension on my right side and also create an imbalance between my two sides. Wow. I agreed to explore the possibility of using a light weight backpack for day to day stuff when a cute little purse can be sacrificed without too much distress!