We’ve all done it. When our myofascial release session is over, we bounce up off the treatment table and rush out the door to the next thing on our to-do list, whether we have to get back to work or run another errand or meet a friend for lunch. Before we know it, the ease and fluidity in our body has vanished, and we’re starting to lock down or tighten up. We wonder what happened as we slip back to our old postural patterns, complete with distortion and dysfunction. So how can we help ourselves maintain the benefits of our treatment?
Believe it or not, ‘maintenance’ starts before we even get up off the table. It starts by being mindful and observing what has changed and how the body feels different. Think back to your last session: how did you begin to move? What were you aware of in that movement? As you began to get dressed, what felt different in your body? As you walked out of the treatment room, how did your steps feel? How did you feel as you went down the stairs? Later that day?
In my last article, I suggested that focusing on setting goals or intentions before your session can help you get more out of your treatment. That same focus and attention after your session can be equally important. By ‘tuning in’ to our bodies after our treatment session, we can recognize both large and small changes. Feeling these changes with mindful attention helps us notice when we start to drift out of ease, when our bodies start to tighten up or lock down.
At your next session, try the following sequence to help you notice what has changed in your body after your session. This will also help you start connecting and integrating the changes:
- Before your session, take a moment to scan your body and notice how it feels on the table. Where do you feel your body in contact with the table? Notice areas that feel pulled out of alignment.
- Immediately after your session, take a minute or two on the table to rescan the body. What feels different from when you initially laid down? Acknowledge and feel the changes, subtle as they may be.
- Transition slowly. If you’re lying on your back, slowly turn to one side and then gradually push your body up to a sitting position (this allows your equilibrium to rebalance more readily, reducing the likelihood of positional ‘headrush’). If you’re lying on your belly, gently lift your hips back to rest over your heels, lengthening the lower back before you turn to sit upright. How does this first movement feel?
- When you stand, take a moment just to stand. Feel your relationship to the ground as you become fully upright in gravity. How do your feet feel on the floor? Your legs? Your hips? Your head? Do you feel taller? Is your weight evenly distributed?
- Take your first steps slowly. Do your legs swing evenly? Do you feel that your strides are the same length? Is there more ease in your movement?
- Don’t forget to check in with yourself emotionally. Do you feel calmer, more centered or grounded
- Ask yourself, “is there anything that still feels ‘unfinished’?” Feel the question in your body: what you notice here can be a starting point for your self-treatment at home or for your next session. Share what you notice with your therapist – this is important information for them, too
Allowing yourself the time to really feel the changes your body has made is the first step in maintaining them. By focusing on the change that we have experienced, we will more easily recognize when we slip out of the new, more neutral patterns and back into a our old dysfunctional patterns.