A Few Years Ago I Couldn't Walk
My left ankle and knee mysteriously swelled up one day which left me couch-bound for weeks on end. The pain in my joints was almost unbearable. Even gentle movement was excruciating. But worse than the physical pain was that I couldn't do anything. Tears would come as I watched everyone else going out and having fun with their lives.
This problem lingered for a long time. It took me a year before I found the solution to the pain and swelling. I also had to deal with the aftereffects of not walking for so long.
Put simply, I had to de-limp myself.
But now I am moving and balancing better than ever
It took a lot of reprogramming of my attitudes and movements. But now I am able to move with so much more ease. I can feel the tension in my muscles is far less than it's ever been. The excruciating pain turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
My sense of balance was the issue. I had degraded my balance to a point where my muscles were doing the work my skeleton was meant to be doing. I'll get to more of that in a moment, but first a bit about my background...
I have always identified as an active person
An explorer who likes to move and play physically. I had been doing martial arts and yoga for about 10 years when this mysterious pain and swelling occurred. That's why it was such a shocking surprise. It broke my identity as a strong and resilient human.
The swelling in my leg came after a long period of website coding. I had spent about 6 months developing a website and had spent long days in front of the screen burning my eyes out!
Of course, I was still doing lots of activitiy, but not as much as usual. When the project was finished, I was using my body in a different way than before I started.
I now know that sitting for that long was enough to change habits in my movement patterns!
I went to many different practitioners to seek help
But I only ever received temporary relief. Dry needling seemed to be the most effective for me. My physiotherapist would put needles deep into the muscles of my groin to reset the way I was holding my pelvis.
But after months and months of coming back, he eventually told me...
"If you don't want to keep coming back to see me all the time, go and do some Feldenkrais"
Curious about this, I went for a one-on-one Feldenkrais lesson. When I got there...
The practitioner did a couple of things that surprised me
First, she asked which eye I was looking out of. I had no idea. I didn't even think you could look out of eyes independently. I ain't no chameleon! She told me that I was looking out of my right eye most of the time and that it was affecting my movement.
Secondly, she gave a little push on my chest. It was very easy for her to put me off balance. This was a shock because she was almost a head shorter than me. I was clearly much stronger than her, and I was a black belt martial artist. But she could easily push me off my centre.
After that 1 lesson, the pain and swelling disappeared
I was intrigued. I had to learn this stuff. I signed up for the very next Feldenkrais training that was happening in Auckland.
Now that I've completed the professional training my balance has improved massively. More and more I'm using my skeleton in the way it was meant to be used - to bear weight and transmit force. Beforehand I was bearing much of the weight with the strength of my muscles.
No wonder I was in so much pain!
The most important part about all of this
This change in my balance hasn't occurred through being told or shown how to balance better. It has come through deep guided exploration of my self and my body.
It is something I now understand through direct experience.
Arrrrrr... I can feel it in me bones!
That's HUGE! And it's the true gift that Feldenkrais brings. Understanding and growth and change that comes through being your own guru.
Are you struggling with balance?
Perhaps you can feel clearly that you have issues with balance.
Or perhaps, like in my case, you are struggling to balance but you don't even know it. It might seem as though you can stay upright easily. You don't have falls very often, but maybe your muscles stay tight and sore all the time.
In either case, if you'd like to delve deeper, I can help. I can guide you through some movement explorations which can improve your balance.
I'm currently creating more articles, video's and lessons to explore the topic of balance further.
But in the mean time, you can come along to explore feldenkrais in my weekly classes in West Auckland. These are a great way to learn to improve your balance over time. Most of the lessons I teach will have some balance component to it.
Another option is 1-on-1 work. This is a great way to target the learning more specifically to your case. Working 1-on-1 is fun, gentle and feels good.