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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