You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain, and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now, here’s your host, Susi Hately.
Welcome, and welcome back to From Pain to Possibility, a podcast that helps you reduce and eradicate pain for yourself and your clients. I'm your host Susie Haley, and I'm so happy that you're here because today I am continuing my conversation on the psoas, and this is my final episode of this particular mini-series.
I began the series with the seven R's and how they support the psoas. In the last episode, I shared a short breathing exercise to help you settle in and connect to your whole torso and really, overall system, to allow your psoas, whether it feels tight or tense, or drained and lifeless, to settle and refresh.
This week, I want to re-emphasize key points that I shared all the way through, that are important at whatever stage you are in, in the healing process. More than anything, the fundamental message I want to bring across in this episode, is that change is possible and that it can't be forced.
All of the progress I have seen with my clients has arisen when someone has become really quiet. They've been able to tune inward. Have been able to grow their awareness, and experience a deeper somatic state, or sense, of their body; how their ribs and pelvis have connected. How their breath does or doesn't move. Where they inadvertently add more tension than needed into the mix.
As I shared on each episode over the past several, it isn't so much what we are doing but how we are doing it. This isn't about doing a bunch of exercises on a to-do list, each targeting a specific muscle group. Likewise, just because an exercise or movement pattern, as described, is supposed to be affecting a certain muscle doesn't mean that it actually is.
Because time and time again, I see exercises that are explained as being terrific for the psoas, or for that matter any other muscle group, but how someone is actually doing the movement… with held breath, held jaw, hypertonic pelvic floor, or using other body parts that aren't needed… the impact of that exercise is simply not going to be there.
So, if there's anything I would love to leave you with, to close out this psoas series, is three key points that I’ve found super helpful and very effective for people in their recovery from psoas-related issues. Number one, move in a range that does not increase pain. Two, don't force. Three, breathe easily.
Let's look at number one: Move in a range that doesn't increase pain. This is your chance to discard the ‘no pain-no gain’ philosophy. It's also your chance to let go of the ‘stretching should hurt to work’ philosophy. Neither phrase serves you if you want to get rid of pain and improve your strength, ease and flexibility.
When you move in pain or stretch until it hurts you're sending signals to your brain and neurological system that this is an acceptable way to move. The brain then maintains the pattern of pain. For you to get out of pain, you need to begin to move without pain, or at least with less pain. Even if it's only a couple of centimeters or inches of movement.
This is particularly important if you experience pain all day, every day. And/or have no sense of what pain-free movement actually is. Consider the pot of chili analogy. I love sharing this analogy. If you're cooking a pot of chili and you add too much chili pepper, you will have a very peppery chili.
To reduce the pepper taste, you don't add more pepper. You add more, let's say, tomatoes. With more tomatoes, the peppery taste will be weakened or will be diluted. The same principle applies to pain. Adding more pain does not reduce pain. To reduce pain, you need to add more ease and more softness.
Point two: Don't force. So, this really follows the first. In the world of fitness and athletics, there is an assumption that we should ‘go hard or go home’. There's a certain place for this, yes, for sure. You're in competition and the clock is winding down. The finish line is just ahead. And you are a goal down with a minute to play.
Then yes, go for it. You're holding off your opponent, you're passing the person in front of you, you're digging in deep. Of course, that's when you go hard. This is totally different than when you're improving your functional ability. When you're trying to help yourself get out of pain. If you want to gain strength and stability and perform better with less pain/no pain, less strain/more ease, you don't have to go hard.
The people who consistently let go of the notion of going harder have always improved faster, become stronger, and more stable, than those who don't. It's a classic case of the turtle winning every single time. So, if you are someone who has a tendency to be a “forcer”, because I know there are a few of you listening to this podcast who are that, self-described forcers, here's something to try.
Try channeling your intensity and your ability to do what it takes, and focus on keeping your breath smooth, jaw relaxed, and face soft. Allow yourself to release any unnecessary or extra tension in your body. And if you notice, you're holding your breath, clenching your jaw, scrunching up your face, or holding extra tension anywhere in your body while you're moving, know that these are signs that you're moving too far or too fast.
So, stop for a moment, feel yourself easily breathing, and consciously release that unneeded tension. And then, from that easy breathing begin to move again. Right? You just channel the intensity of being a forcer into this idea of only utilizing that which you need to use, and nothing more. Easy, easy, easy. Because as Bruce Lee says, “With less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”
And then, of course, breathe easily. By Becoming aware of your breath and allowing it to be natural, soft and effortless, you will consistently develop more ease. Ease enables your body to recuperate and settle. And in this state, you're going to achieve optimal gains, both in strength and range of motion and in suppleness of tissue.
So, notice, before you get into whatever your rehabilitative exercises are, or training, whatever it is that you're doing, tune into your breath and allow it to be easy. Noticing the inhale. Noticing the exhale. Waves coming in, and waves going out. And as you do your exercises, as you lift your weight, again, whether you're in the early phases of rehabilitation or you're in the more complex phases of training, the same applies.
Allow your breath to be easy, even when you are at effort. Yes, there's effortfulness to your breath. But can it be an easiness in the effortlessness? Can you do your activity with 15% less effort and still have the same result? Soft, natural, normal breath in a range that does not increase pain, where you are forcing less and incorporating more ease.
If these concepts resonate, you would like to learn more from me, and if you'd like help applying these concepts, I am running Power of Pure Movement: Your Grounded and Light Psoas on July 11th, 1-3 pm Mountain Time; a 2-hour program. I would love to teach you. You can read more at learn.functionalsynergy.com/psoas. See you next time.