Feldenkrais: Self Care for Back Pain

Deborah Bowes, DPT, GCFT

Sometimes I get pain in my back from some minor activity? What can I do to help myself feel better immediately?

Pain that is strong enough to get your attention and prevent you from enjoying your normal activities should be listened to. There are some simple measures you can take as a first step to help yourself. First of all, your overworked and injured muscles need to rest in a position of comfort. Lying in a basic position, such as on your back or side or, sometimes, your belly, use plenty of pillows, rolled towels or blankets to truly support your arms, legs, head, and spine. A friend can assist you in placing the supports in just the right place.

Once you are comfortable and able to lie there with minimum pain, let your body give its weight to the supports and begin to pay attention to your breathing. Notice the length of your inhale and exhale. Observe the rhythm of your breathing. Do this with an attitude of just discovering how you are breathing. Judgments of how you should be breathing will not help you in this situation. Become more focused on your exhalation. Continue observing your breathing as you gently try to allow your exhalation to lengthen and deepen. Do this without forcing anything, just imagining that your breathing out time is lengthening is usually enough. You will probably begin to feel a little more relaxed after several minutes of doing this kind of simple awareness exercise.

Now you are ready to try moving in small, gentle ways. At this point, it is important to only move in ways that are NOT painful. If your back is what hurts you, perhaps you could start by moving your hands or shoulders or tongue. If your neck is in pain try rolling your legs in and out, moving your eyes slowly from side to side. The point is to explore what parts of your body you can move without pain.

A few minutes of paying attention to your breath and exploring movements like this will help you feel better. This ‘first aid’ measure does not take the place of medical treatment and you should see your doctor if pain continues.