These things are so underrated

Over the past week these two things saved me. I had a sciatic nerve thing going on for a day or so.  I've been feeling a bit flat. I've been putting in long hours for uni. There is nothing complicated about what I did, the beauty is how simple they are. It's always the simple things that work.

  1. Standing slightly pigeon-toed.
    Let me explain this one by telling you about the opposite way to stand. Imagine a pregnant woman, complete with a beautifully enormous baby belly. There is a significant amount of weight pulling forward and down. To take some of the load, women tend to adopt a wide stance with their toes out (opposite to pigeon-toed). This throws the hips forward so the hips become like ledges, holding most of their belly weight. The hips are over-burdened and the low back is pulled forward and in, creating significant compression. This happens not only with pregnant women but body types that carry more abdominal weight. It happens to us when we get tired and lazy and forget about how we stand and hold ourselves.The opposite is pigeon-toed, turning the toes slightly in. The degree is only slight, you don't want to see a pigeon-toed stance, you only want to feel it. When you adopt this stance, the abdominal weight draws in toward the spine and importantly, the low back adjusts back and out, creating a triangle of space around the lumbar, sacrum and sacro-illiac joint. Ideally we want to be standing like this all the time.
  2. Constructive rest position.
    This is so simple it doesn't even seem like a thing to do. An actual healing thing to do. An amazingly restful thing to do.
    That's it. Lying on your back with your knees bent. Here's a run-down of what's happening...
    This position is all about the psoas muscle. This muscle is buried deep in the body, you can't touch or see it. It's a deep core muscle and structurally connects the top half of the body with the bottom half. One of its main jobs is to stabilise the lumbar spine. When the psoas muscle is tight, it pulls the lumbar spine creating an over-arch (hyper-lordosis). Pain can show up in the glutes, hip, groin, low back, sciatic nerve and S.I joint.  The other thing it does is communicate directly to the nervous system. This is because the muscle is located so deep within the body. When the psoas is tight, it will automatically send the nervous system into the "fight/flight" response. This is why the posture feels so restful, it lengthens and releases the psoas, dropping us into the parasympathetic "rest/digest" system.
    What does the damage. Sitting, running, kicking (martial arts, football, soccer), hockey and cycling are all movements that tighten the psoas.
    How. Have the feet hip distance and slightly pigeon-toed. Most people need to stack a block or firm cushion under their head so neck remains parallel to the ground. Hands can rest on the belly, ribcage or alongside the body. You don't need to do anything once you've set yourself up, our changed relationship with gravity does the work in releasing the psoas muscle. Stay as long as you like but try to aim for at least five minutes.