Whilst indulging in my new pastime of spinning wool, I have been monitoring myself for habits that may end up limiting how long I can spin at a time - because of course I want to spin for hours, effortlessly! One habit I noticed is that I tend sub-consciously to create tension in my lower back; this gives me a nice, solid feeling of support - but is it actually going to help?
- sustaining tension there is tiring and will probably give me back ache, limiting how long I can spin (and I don't want to associate my lovely new hobby with pain!)
- creating tension in my back affects other parts of me, for instance how easily my arms and shoulders move as I handle the wool.
This is not a habit limited to new spinners; as I sit here typing this I notice I am beginning to do the same tensing up. So, how to support myself effortlessly as I sit at desk or wheel?
- visualise deep inner support to encourage using your postural muscles that are designed to do this kind of work all day without growing fatigued. Imagine a helium balloon is attached to the crown of your head and gently drawing you up so that your front and back lengthen equally (you may feel a slight tightening around your stomach). I also like to imagine an inner tube running up the centre of my body and being pumped full of air, or that my vertebrae are gently expanding up. Check your chin - is it remaining level? As your neck lengthens the vertebrae will move into a more neutral position, still keeping the curves of the spine but less exaggerated than when your chin pokes forward.
- take some time through out the day to allow your attention to travel through your body, identifying areas of tension. Allow that tension to ease away - easy breathing helps this - and explore how you can carry yourself with minimal effort instead.
- have a look at these videos by the physiotherapist and movement coach Joanne Elphinston (much shorter than the ones I make!) for tips on freeing up the back:
Thigh slides to free up the upper body, great to build into your day for instance if you are sitting down at a computer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VMdhQb1-Jk&t=83s
This one really gets the upper body moving - Joanne made this video at home during the first lockdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOd4dZRxPy8
This one explores easy posture with that inner support: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Sg6RyBN8M