by Miles Chai, Massage Therapist & Dancer

Much of our chronic bodily aches and pains can be thought of as originating from habit. Moving repetitively in the same manner not only results in our joints being worn constantly in the same way but also reduces our awareness of the alternative options available.

Our habitual ways of moving form over long periods of time, and are profoundly influenced by our past experiences, traumas and injuries, patterns of thinking, as well as our beliefs about ourselves and the nature of the world.

Gradually, we can begin to lose the ability to sense and move large portions of our bodies- a phenomenon coined “sensory-motor amnesia” by Thomas Hanna, author of the book “Somatics”.

Overcoming chronic pain can be a complex multi-dimensional problem, but one potential way to help yourself is to have a daily movement practice in which you gently challenge yourself to move in ways that are unfamiliar and non-habitual.

Diversity and variety are inherently nourishing.

Accompanying this article is a short movement sequence that you can practice daily, perhaps either in the morning as a way to prepare for the day, or before bed as a way to wind down.

This basic sequence includes forms that have their roots in eastern martial arts and is primarily aimed toward maintaining the health of your spine by mapping out its primary movements.

If you are one of many suffering from lower back pain, or simply wish to nourish your body, feel free to incorporate these movements into your daily routine, starting slowly within a comfortable range. Even doing a few minutes a day will make a big difference over time.

There are many approaches to bodywork out there that encourage forcefulness and effort, especially in our culture. The aim of this practice is to move with as little effort as possible, paying attention to how you are moving, rather than how much. With consistent practice, your body will open up, allowing for greater range in its own time.

This sequence is just a starting point and should be expanded upon with more variations.

If you need additional support, I am available for massage treatments at the clinic, where I use touch to help you develop more body awareness, reduce stress, and promote greater ease of movement. I’ll also be happy to offer you ideas to further develop your own movement practice.