Awareness Through Movement
Repetitive Stress Injury
This page discusses the use of the Awareness Though Movement (ATM) audiotapes available on this website to avoid or reduce the severity of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI), and the relevance of the articles and books available here to RSI.
RSI results from a confluence of external and internal sources of stress. By external sources, I mean things the world does to you, such as externally imposed workloads, poor equipment or workstation design, etc. Internal sources, on the other hand, include those things that you do to yourself, and it is these sources of stress that the Feldenkrais Method can help you to reduce.
There are three principle internal sources of stress:
- Excess effort -- you work harder than you need to at what you do.
- Poor body organization -- you organize your actions in ways that put unnecessary stress on yourself.
- Lack of self-awareness -- you don't take in the information necessary to function in a healthier, more efficient way.
I'll discuss these in more detail in my upcoming articles on Low-Stress Computing, which should begin to become available some time this fall.
Awareness Through Movement is a process of self-exploration using gentle movement and directed attention. You are led through a sequence of gentle movements which allow you to let go of unconscious tension and stress, become more aware of alternatives available to you, and discover more fluid and efficient ways of moving.
Awareness Through Movement audiotapes
The Awareness Through Movement audiotapes available on this site were recorded during live classes and workshops. They were not intended to deal with RSI, per se, but were part of ongoing classes in self-awareness and movement. Nonetheless, they can be potentially useful for people experiencing the effects of RSI. The descriptions below should help you decide which tapes might be of value to you. These are followed by a brief discussion of the relevance of some of the articles available here for downloading.
RSI often manifests itself as tension and pain in the hands and wrists. This is due in large part to excessive tension in the hands and arms, and to a fragmentation of movement while typing (trying to type in just the hands, while holding the torso, shoulders, and arms rigid). Tape 623 (Reaching with the Whole Body & Connecting the Fingers to the Spine) contains two lessons which relax and integrate the arms and hands, and is probably most relevant single tape available here for someone suffering from RSI.
As you type your arms should be supported by relaxed shoulders and a relaxed torso, itself supported by a relaxed spine. Excessive tension and rigidity in your spine and upper torso restricts the flow of movement as you work, imposing mechanical strains that lead to RSI. Tapes 617 (Softening the Ribcage & Breathing throughout the Chest) and 619 (Spinal Flexion & Spinal Extension) put you more in touch with how you use your torso, and in the process help you reduce that rigidity.
When you feel grounded and supported by the surface beneath you, your upper body can relax and center itself over the base that your lower body provides. When you don't feel supported from below, you tense your upper body in an attempt to make up for that lack of support. Tape 614 (Supine Pelvic Clock & Freeing the Hips and Pelvis) can increase your awareness of your pelvis, and of the skeletal path of support from your pelvis up your spine to your head.
Excessive tension in the mouth and jaw both results from and produces tension throughout the spine and upper torso. If you experience your jaw as tense and rigid, you may find Tape 613 (Softening the Mouth & Movements of the Jaw) useful.
The lessons on Tape 610 (Sensing the Head in Space & Varying the alignment of the Torso) both deal primarily with increased self-awareness. Sensing the Head in Space gives you a heightened awareness of the balance, position, and movement of your head in space, while Varying the align=ment of the Torso allows you to experience the often significant changes in subjective experience brought about by small changes in the organization of your torso.
The lessons on Tape 611 (Feeling your Cerebral Spinal Pulse & Making Waves) are intended to take you within yourself and provide a deeply centering and integrative experience.
Articles & Books
My article "An overview of the Feldenkrais Method" explains the philosophy behind the Method, its history, and tells you when you should consider it and how to get the most from your Feldenkrais experience.
Earlier, I mentioned the importance of a sense of connection with the supporting surface beneath you. My article "Connecting with the Earth") explores the physiological and psychological dimensions of being grounded, and should give you a better sense of some of the issues involved.
"T'ai Chi and the Feldenkrais Method" discusses the parallels between these two approaches to greater self-awareness and more fluid movement. The article includes a discussion of the importance of slowness and repetition in learning to move and act in a different way.
Emotional stress and physical stress are not different, but are only different sides of the same coin. "Emotional stress and body organization" discusses the relationship between them. A longer and more thorough article "Somatic dimensions of emotional healing," is available as a free download, and may be purchased in hard copy for $3.)
"The Process of Functional Integration" describes what happens in an individual Functional Integration session, and explains the effectiveness of the technique in terms of learning resulting from the feedback provided by the practitioner to the client.
The introduction to low-stress computing is a free download of the introductory chapter and table of contents from the preliminary version of my book Low-Stress Computing: Using awareness to avoid RSI. The introduction lays out the basic conceptual framework on which Low-Stress Computing is based and outlines the content of the remainder of the book. The preliminary version of the book may be purchased for $11.95.
My book, The Reality Illusion: How you make the world you experience, deals with the nature of perception and the mechanisms we use to create and maintain the collective illusion we call reality. Strictly speaking, it doesn't address the problem of RSI, though it does discuss the some of the mechanisms by which we make the unconscious choices that ultimate lead to trauma and pain in many forms.