Body Self-Maintenance 1

Finding tools to use to work with your body is essential if you are to be successful on your quest of understanding your body and achieving the phenomenon of living pain-free. First lets define what is meant by the term "self-maintenance tools". Self-maintenance tools are things which allow you to access your pain and distortion in beneficial ways and which empower and enable you to learn about your body and your own individual pain-cycle. Over the years I have accumulated quite a list of tools which do just that, and which will become powerful allies as you travel on your path towards self-awareness. Allow me to share my arsenal with you...

1) The Flextasy!® Routine is, of course, the top of the list and the most important of your self-maintenance tools.

2) Next on the list is The Structural Release Roller:
This is the end product after many years of research and experimentation searching for the most effective and versatile tool capable of releasing tension throughout the entire body. What follows is a description to help you to understand the purpose, function, and use of the Structural Release Roller.

The Roller is a very simple and extremely effective self-maintenance tool. It is a valuable friend to have in your quest for flexibility and the relief of the chronic pain so common in the society and times in which we live. In order to fully appreciate and understand the function and purpose of the Roller it is necessary to don your x-ray glasses. By that I mean acknowledging and imaging your skeleton. The source of your chronic pain lies not in your muscles but in the articulation (or lack of it) of your bones. Soft tissue becomes stressed and sore through misuse and non-use of the many joints and hinges of the skeleton. By establishing the proper use of these joints and hinges the muscles are utilized the way they were designed to work and so become happy again, supple and pain-free.

The Roller will, when used properly, not only release muscular tension and differentiate muscles, it will allow for a shifting and restructuring of your very skeleton. This is accomplished in a gentle manner unlike other more aggressive methods of manipulating the bones. As the muscles release, the joints and hinges which the muscles (like rubber bands) cross become more open, the bones can reorganize towards their natural pattern. The spine will adjust painlessly and easily as you learn how to move and breathe while using the Roller on your back.

As you begin using the roller the amount of your discomfort may range from none to a lot. A body with happy soft tissue and an aligned properly functioning skeleton will have no pain or discomfort associated with use of the Roller. This is what you are working towards. With patience and persistence a pain-free body can in time become a reality. The goal of the Roller is two-fold: releasing chronic tension in the soft tissue and restructuring / realigning the skeleton so that chronic tension becomes less and less.

Breathing is an essential part of proper use of the Roller. Slow full inhales followed by exhales which deflate the body like air escaping from and collapsing a balloon. This is especially true for the especially tight, painful places. With the use of your breath you can gently and lovingly move into your aches and pains, instead of the normal reaction of moving away from them by using pain-killing drugs or limiting simply your movements. As you learn to breathe while receiving bodywork or using the Roller (which is bodywork as well) you can begin to handle your stress in a way which ultimately serves you and does not handicap you.

I recommend at least 10 minutes a day with your Roller, hopefully in the morning to set you right for the day, and especially at night to release any tension accumulated during your day. Once a week (or more), I suggest spending at least 1/2 hour with your Roller, preferably in the dark, in a warm, comfortable space. This is a time of true turning inward and if adopted, this practice will become one you look forward to with anticipation and knowing, as the results become apparent. In a very short time life without a Roller will be hard to imagine.

3a) Fix Your Feet BallsTM: These balls are the cheapest, most effective self-maintenance tools available for doing spot work.  I urge staying away from wooden massage tools as it is too easy to damage tissue when you think you are really getting in there! Tennis and handballs are less expensive and it would be hard to hurt yourself with them.

They are extremely valuable self-maintenance tools that will effectively address tension in and consequently release: the hips, sacroiliac hinges (back of the pelvis), feet, and basically, any part of the body. Stand on one or two at a time in your bare feet to release tension in your feet while restructuring the foot on the skeletal level. Forget expensive wooden tools or golf balls that will be ineffective or most likely bruise you. If your feet are healthy and happy there will be no pain when you stand on the balls. Keep working on your feet until you are pain-free. Notice if your shoes feel too tight after working on your feet in this manner for a while. If they do, sorry… get new, larger shoes to accommodate your now more functional feet.

3b) Massage BuddyTM:

Try sitting on the floor on this and searching around the back of your pelvis (sacral area) for sore spots. When that area is clear, roll over onto one side with the ball under one hip and try to clear the whole hip area of pain. Remember to breathe and to try to relax over the ball and to release any tension that may accumulate anywhere else in your body during this practice. Especially, keep your feet, hips, and sacral area clear of pain and you will appreciate the outcome. Lie on your back and use this tool to search for painful areas along your spine or anywhere in your back.

I highly recommend always having a few tennis balls and handballs around in plain sight to remind yourself to use them. The same goes for all of these tools. Too often it's out of sight, out of mind. Don't let your body rust while your tools gather dust!

4) Abdominal Release BallTM: The ab ball is the most effective tool I know of for releasing tension in the abdomen. It releases tension in the superficial abdominal muscles such as rectus abdominus and the obliques, the deeper and very important psoas muscles, as well as releasing tension in the fascial web supporting the organs and releases tension in the colon and the organs themselves, thereby promoting organ health.

What you may not know is that this practice of lying on the ab abll is it is also instrumental in relieving lower back pain. If you suffer from low back pain, and this includes sacroiliac pain, then get on the ball and be consistent until you can lie on the ball anywhere in the (hopefully) soft area between your ribs and your pelvis and experience no pain, even when breathing.

The practice is as follows: lie on the floor (put a pillow or rolled blanket under your ankles to take pressure off of your knees) with the ab ball in your gut and your hands palms up with the ball between your thumbs and first fingers. This allows you to take some of your weight on your forearms until you can relax down onto the ball. Find a spot where there is little or no pain and work out from there. If one spot will not release and is too painful, do not get stuck there, simply move it around on a slow tour through the whole area between your ribs and your pelvis. Little by little you will erase all the pain in this area and the results will be drastic and many. Your breathing will be easier and more full, tension in your whole body will be diminished, you will experience a sense of lightness, and the pain in your back will diminish as the pain in your front diminishes. They are two sides of one coin. Through this work you may experience emotional releases of varying intensity as this area is the seat of stagnate emotions, being linked to the breath and the solar plexus.

I recommend at least 10 minutes a day until you are pain-free and then periodically check it out and keep it clear. GOOD LUCK!