Easing the Spine with TLC

Easing the spine

Sometimes all our spine needs is a little TLC – it’s not that complicated.

It is not always broken, hurt or in trouble. Sometimes we just need to say ‘thank you’ to our spine for being the pillar in our mortal existence.

This morning one of my clients walked into the studio for her 8:30am session. I naturally asked her how she was doing and her reply, “My back is a bit niggly. I don’t know why. I haven’t done anything to hurt it.” I responded with, “Let’s see if it just needs some TLC”.

Turns out, it did!

It seems that we always need to fix it all because it is broken. What if the joints or muscles are actually ok, but today they are particularly tired due to your state of mind, your stress, your weekend movements or just because they can? It doesn’t always mean a nerve is pinching, a disc is bulging, a facet joint is irritated or muscles are in spasm. It just means, MOVE ME AND MOVE ME GENTLY PLEASE.  Please make the movements ooze good wholesome love, take deep breaths as you move me because this makes me feel uber amazing. Regards, your spine.

I often find that clients overthink their ‘symptoms’. And due to this the symptoms become far greater than they need to be. I find that the approach that the instructor takes when teaching this client is paramount as to how the session will run and conclude.

My approach to this particular client was one of  gentle enthusiasm, followed by information as to what I was now planning for her session (as I had to change this on the spot) and how I was hoping she would feel by the end of the session. A subtle hint of: You are in safe hands and you should feel so much better by the end of this class. 

My main objective was to encourage confidence in her movements, not fear, while educating her as to why I had chosen the specific movements or exercises for today.  I just have to add that I do know her body quite well because she has been a client of mine for 15 years. So I am aware that there is no major pathology that I need to be cautious of.

I ended up teaching her a session that encouraged good breathing, gentle mobilization in a low to increased range, activating the spinal and hip stabilizers with low load and then slightly increasing the load, leading to exercises that focus on global movers i.e. Latissimus Dorsi and ending off with hip extensor stretches and again free flowing movement of the spine and a divine rest position. View what I did in our Facebook Live Video today exactly about this.

One thing that was really important in this session was how I used my VOICE. It had a more caring approach, with a meditative tone that encouraged and inspired relaxation and subtle control. 

In fact, at one point she said “You are like a miracle worker. It is like you know exactly what my body might be feeling”.  Well to be brutally honest, I teach with exactly this in mind and I always teach all of my students to put themselves in the clients body and see it from their perspective. I am always thinking, how would my spine feel if it was ‘niggly’ and I loaded it in this manner. I am always trying to put myself in their shoes and I really believe this makes us more present and aware of their needs. It also connects us directly to the feedback that the client gives us as they move. Call it situational awareness, being present or being interested, but I do believe that really taking your clients information and working with it, within boundaries, guides us in being better teachers.

The human being is so complex with so much internal happiness, turmoil or history going on in there, that we need to be mindful of who we are teaching, how far they can push specific buttons and when we can take what they are saying to heart or take it with a pinch of salt.

At the end of the day, we are here to make them feel amazing when they leave, be it because they physically or mentally feel better. Either way, if they feel great, then our job is done in a great way. It is a win win situation. Gratitude all around!

It is not always a load of pathology going on within the body, sometimes the spine just needs a BIG THANK YOU from its owner, and who better to teach them how than us!

Move well, merge your knowledge, bring in your experience and above all, CARE!


Tanya Thompson:  CEO and Founder of Of-CourseOnline.com & Pilates Unlimited- the Art of Movement. 2 September 2019



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