I was telling my friend yesterday about this excellent tip to exercise muscle without actually moving it. She had a knee replacement a couple of days ago and she was telling me that she couldn’t move her knee yet to do the physiotherapy exercises. The amount of pain she was in meant that she was way beyond being able to move anything.
So I told her about this baby step that she could do to get progress – to exercise without pain.
40% of your muscle activates if you just move that limb / use that muscle in your imagination – if you just visualize the movement.
Slowly and deliberately and with inner awareness is the key to getting the muscle to activate gently and to increase the healing opportunities from that movement – it’s the same Inner Awareness that you are in when you do that First Key to Happiness with Your Horse. If you haven’t had those free lessons yet, there’s a link to get them at the bottom of the page.
That’s a very big deal hidden in that sentence. There are enormous opportunities for healing being created, when we visualize a very slow movement, with a gentle awareness of our body.
Have a feel of it for yourself. Right now… If you’re sitting in a chair – stretch one leg out just a bit. Now just imagine that you were bringing the leg back towards the chair by dragging the heel across the floor.
This is not an isometric exercise, you are not tightening the muscle on purpose, this is different – you are just visualizing pulling the foot across the floor back towards your body.
Can you feel it? Can you feel that faint engagement of the muscle?
Now do it really, REALLY slowly, even though it’s only your imagination, do it 100 times slower than a snail. Well… maybe not QUITE that slow, but you get the idea. 🙂 Do it so slowly that you could take two or three long relaxed breaths to do this imaginary exercise.
Can you feel the change when you do it incredibly slowly like that? Can you feel the difference in the quality of the movement? Can you feel the difference on the relaxation of the rest of your body?
Play with it. Explore it . Do tiny little “pretend” movements to bring your leg closer to the chair and then stop and allow the leg to go back again and then do another little tiny “pretend” movement.
Notice what’s happening to the rest of your body while you’re doing these tiny little “pretend” movements. Notice what’s happening to your breathing, notice what’s happening to your shoulders. Can you do this “pretend” movement so gently that your shoulders stay relaxed and you are still breathing easily? Can you do this imaginary exercise with soft, smiling eyes?
Have you found the place where your body starts to tingle?
After my friend with the knee replacement, I was doing a healing session with Lauren’s horse Bob, who had fallen and broken Lauren’s leg (photo above), tearing all the ligaments around her knee at the same time.
Coincidentally in her own healing session earlier in the week, I had been showing her exactly the same exercise in the same way. She found the place of not trying too hard, where her leg was tingling – which is a very healing energy! And reported that every time she visualizes the exercise before she physically does the exercise, then she achieved a better range of movement with little to no pain.
I’m not surprised at this validation – like Moshe Feldenkrais (a very famous and brilliant body worker who developed the Feldenkrais method) I have long known that there were very powerful healing opportunities in visualized, slow movement with a deep awareness of how our body is feeling – in fact it’s one of the secrets to the success of our on line riding lessons!
Bob released his stress and tension too, his spine started aligning in front of our eyes and as you can see, they just oozed happiness and relaxation with each other.