Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2011

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body awareness BY BARB FRYE SITTING Sitting with your pelvis, legs, and feet aligned reduces your muscular effort and allows your body to move in a more dynamic way. Sitting, like standing, is a basic functional posture of manual therapy. In fact, sitting has become the posture of choice for many massage and bodywork therapists. Increasing your body awareness when sitting will ensure a comfortable, yet effective, sitting posture. These are some basic principles to keep in mind when sitting: • Sitting on the ischial tuberosities distributes the body's weight optimally throughout the pelvic region. • Aligning the ankles underneath the knees increases balance, comfort, and stability. • Balancing the head over the spine promotes neutral alignment of the thoracic cage, unrestricted breathing, and effective use of the arms. Consider these principles during the following self-observation exercise. SELF-OBSERVATION Action. Sit on a supportive surface. Place your legs comfortably apart with your ankles underneath your knees. Sit with your spine in a neutral position, meaning not flexed forward or extended backward. Now, begin to tilt your pelvis a little bit forward and backward. Ask. Can you feel your ischial tuberosities moving on the surface of your chair or stool? Action. Place your hand underneath your pelvis while continuing to move. This will help you feel the structure of the tuberosities. Once you have a clear tactile sense, take your hand away and continue to roll your pelvis back and forth until you feel yourself sitting on your ischial tuberosities. Be sure to distribute your weight equally between both ischial bones. Now that you have a sense of what it is like to rest your weight on your ischial bones, take a minute and find the neutral position of your pelvis. In this position, allow the muscles of your abdomen and back to relax, and truly let your ischial bones carry your weight. This is a position we will refer to often in this lesson, so become familiar with it before you go on. Rest. Action. Sit again, as before, with your pelvis in a neutral position and on your ischial tuberosities. Spread your legs comfortably apart with your ankles underneath your knees. Slowly begin to round or slouch your body, bringing your head, neck, shoulders, and back into flexion (Image 1). Feel. Notice how this flexed position influences the position of the ischial tuberosities. Ask. How does flexing your upper body change the contact between the ischial tuberosities and your sitting surface? Feel. Notice how your body responds to this position. Ask. How does your low back feel in this position? What part of your pelvis is your weight resting on? How does this position influence the balance of your head over your spine? Do you sit in this posture when working? 106 massage & bodywork july/august 2011

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