The Bodywork Perspective — Body Tension

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Muscular Tension

Mus­cu­lar Rigid­i­ty in Var­i­ous Parts of the Body
crowd viewLots of peo­ple to look at!

We’ve cov­ered most of the parts and areas of the body now, but let’s talk mus­cu­lar rigidity.

One way to become famil­iar with ten­sion and rigid­i­ty in the body is notice mus­cu­lar ten­sion in every per­son you look at.

There are sev­er­al ways to get good at read­ing bodies. 

One is through a teach­ing device like this site. 

Anoth­er is by ask­ing friends if they’d mind if you looked at how they car­ry themselves. 

A third way is to go where peo­ple are and look at how they walk and stand.

Obvious areas to look at are the jaw, the shoulders and neck, and the pelvis, legs and feet.

tight jawBit­ing off words
The jaw is pret­ty easy to check out. Just watch the per­son talk. Notice how much “mobil­i­ty” there is to the jaw. 

Are they able to open their mouth flex­i­bly? Or do they seem to be talk­ing through “pursed lips?”

The less mobility, the less the person is willing to share of themselves.

Shoul­ders, neck
tight shouldersNo judge­ment here…
The shoul­ders and the neck should be loose, neu­tral and relaxed. Have a look. 

Are the mus­cles seized? Does the head seem restrict­ed, turn­ing with a small range of motion? Are the shoul­ders locked? Are they up, or for­ward or back, nev­er chang­ing position?

These are rigidities, and are about protection of the self, about responsibility (over or under responsible) and blockages due to the person’s unwillingness to be open and revealing.

tight pelvisCom­fort­able…
Watch the per­son walk. The pelvis should actu­al­ly move.

Many peo­ple have almost no pelvic motion, hav­ing learned to con­tain them­selves — their pas­sions, their drive.

tight buttTight much??

Many peo­ple are “tight assed”; the mus­cles of their butts are squeezed. If you try that — clench­ing your butt cheeks togeth­er, and then walk, you’ll get a feel­ing of how restrict­ed this is.

Oth­ers walk very loose­ly in their pelvis — there is an incred­i­ble amount of hip and pelvis swing. But from the waist up, there is almost no move­ment. Their arms actu­al­ly swing from a rigid upper body.

When there is pelvic freedom, the person walks comfortably in his or her pelvis — there is a fair amount of hip and pelvis mobility. 

The legs should be com­fort­ably relaxed. The mus­cles should yield to the touch or squeeze. The mus­cles should not be like rigid cables.

The knees should ALWAYS be slight­ly flexed — nev­er locked. Walk­ing should be grace­ful and flu­id, not constrained.

The front mus­cles on the thighs are often clenched in an effort to lock up the pelvis. 

Suffice it to say that the thighs have to relax in order for the pelvis to move freely.

feetClutched toes…
Last­ly, the feet. Hard to see in shoes, but there should be a com­fort­able arch to the feet.

Too high, and the foot looks like a claw, dig­ging in to keep the per­son from fly­ing away.

Flat-foot­ed peo­ple plod. They are so anchored to the ground they could­n’t fly if they want­ed to.

The neutral foot makes firm contact with the ground, without seeming to sink in.

Exam­ple of Foot and Pelvis Rigidity

I met a woman at The Haven. We were at a dance, and she was notic­ing that the peo­ple in my group had a lot of pelvic move­ment. She lament­ed that she could­n’t move her pelvis at all.

A cou­ple of us took her pelvis on as a project — one woman got behind her and tried to help her move her pelvis. Oth­ers tried explain­ing the con­cept to her.

I asked if I could put my two cents in. She agreed. We went onto the dance floor. I not­ed that she was tall and thin, and was wear­ing shoes with incred­i­bly high heels.

on toes

She was perched up on her toes, bare­ly con­nect­ed to the ground. She was danc­ing from the waist up — lots of shoul­der and arm move­ment, and no move­ment from the waist down.

I said that, in order to move her pelvis, she’d have to get ground­ed. I sug­gest­ed she take off her shoes, and dance again. She did. No change.

I looked at her feet. She had shift­ed her weight for­ward and was up on her toes, still ready to take off.

I bent down and pressed her feet to the floor. I then stood and sug­gest­ed she look me in the eyes as opposed to look­ing at the ceil­ing, and feel the music.

I got the DJ to put Alan­nah Myles’ “Black Vel­vet” on. 

As long as she kept her heels on the ground, her weight bal­anced, her knees flexed and her eyes focussed on a per­son, her pelvis worked just fine. Her danc­ing became pow­er­ful and sensual. 

She left the dance 20 min­utes lat­er, car­ry­ing her shoes.

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