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As we get older, many of us get up in the morning with aches and pains, feeling a little tight, feeling like we just can’t get moving. Even worse, we might have back pain that is severe enough to be disabling.
In this blog we will look at “Touching the Earth” as a great Qigong movement for relieving back pain by stretching the line that Thomas Myers calls “The Superficial Back Line” or SBL. Thomas Myers,* the world’s leading expert on the body’s fascial system, recommends Tai Chi as a great way to increase the body’s resilience by systematically stretching the fascia from many different directions and angles.
The SBL line, as depicted above runs from the toes, underneath the foot, up the calves and hamstrings and over the top of the head to the brows. Forward bends help stretch this line.
“Touching the Earth” is probably my favorite movement and one of the most healing in my catalog. We do it regularly in my classes, and I personally do many variations of it on a daily basis to keep my body feeling good. The move begins in an upright position, and the body folds at the hips, maintaining a straight back until ultimately folding over toward the earth.
Myers recommends that bends be done with the knees straight for the fullest fascial stretch, but I always teach this movement with slightly bent knees. Almost all of the people in my classes are seniors, and few are able to lock out the knees. When doing this move in a standing position, I encourage students to extend the hips upward toward the sky at the bottom of the movement in order to get more of a stretch down the hamstrings and calves and into the foot. The return to standing employs a curved back stretch that feels wonderful and relaxes the entire body.
This and many other movements are in my DVD, "New Creation Tai Chi-Qigong for All Abilities," available on Amazon.
Here are some more benefits of "Touching the Earth:"
Opens space between vertebra for better neural transmission.
Inversion improves circulation to body's organs.
Cleanses the lymph system.
Relaxes the entire body.
Stimulates endorphins and healing hormones, produces a sense of well being.
Look for more Tai Chi movements that work the fascial web in future posts.
Have a great day!
Copyright by Anna York, 2016
Thomas Myers, Anatomy Trains, Elsevier, New York, 2014.
Thomas Myers, “Staying Fit All Life Long: 10 Tips for Fascial Fitness.”
The tips for fascial fitness that I use in these blogs are based on Myers’s “Staying Fit All Life Long.”
Most of Myers’s exercise examples in Anatomy Trains are drawn from yoga asanas, so my Tai Chi examples are drawn from my own experience and application to his principles of fascial movement. Therefore, interpretations of effectiveness according to his principles are purely my own and are intended to spark dialogue rather than to serve as authoritative statements.