Hellerwork Theme Month: Control & Surrender

April 18, 2011

::With an Exercise for Low Back Pain, See Below::


Control…and surrender. Here a good friend enjoys the exhilaration of a plunge into an icy mountain lake. You can’t see it in this photo, but at the far end of this lake there is a giant cliff of snow at the lake’s edge!

These two words tend to either elicit laughs or sighs. Both of them tend to be “loaded” words, calling for self-judgment such as, “I’m such a control freak.” or, “Surrender is giving in.” First, it’s important to realize that both control and surrender are healthy elements of being human. For example, in driving a car, we need to maintain control of our own vehicle and surrender to the flow of traffic. Failing to do both would result in a car crash or reckless driving. Where do you enjoy healthy control and surrender in your life?

What does any of this have to do with your body? Every physical action is a continuum of control and surrender.  An example has to do with pain. When you have a sore, achey, burning and even possibly stabbing pain in your back or neck, what is likely happening is those particular muscles are working too hard. They are controlling too much or moving beyond their present capabilities. Muscles that are in pain in the low back need to be balanced by especially the abdominal muscles. When the abdominal muscles start having more control of their own, those low back muscles can surrender…they can relax and the pain subsides. This is just one (very common) example of how different groups of muscles complement each other.

Exercise for Low Back Pain*

   Step 1:

Lie on your back on the floor with your hips and knees bent, with your feet about hip width apart.

Remember to breathe.

Place your hand under your low back to feel if there is a slight space between your back and the floor.

Now, gently press your low back into the floor and hold for a few seconds.

Relax your back and let it return to whatever position it naturally wants to do.

Now, gently lift just your low back away from the floor (do this by rocking the top of your pelvis toward your feet) momentarily.

Relax back to a natural position.

Repeat this press/lift of your low back a couple more times before moving on to the next step.

   Step 2:

Now you should have a slight space between your low back and the floor. Test with your fingers if you’re not sure. If you don’t have a slight space between the floor and your low back (lumbar spine), keep repeating Step 1 daily until you do before continuing on.

Keeping the slight space in your low back, place the tips of your fingers in your belly button.  Press your fingertips down towards the floor, making sure your low back doesn’t collapse into the floor. Stop if you have any abdominal pain and seek medical help if the abdominal pain doesn’t go away in a few minutes. Keep your belly as relaxed as possible without letting your low back collapse. Now, engage your deeper abdominal muscles by trying to pull your the area between your belly button and your groin away from your fingertips. You should feel a sort of flattening of your whole belly. Again, be sure your low back doesn’t collapse as you do this. You also don’t need to be an Incredible Hulk about it, gentle engagement is plenty. On the other hand, if you don’t feel anything helpful going on in your back, you may be doing it a bit too gently.

Relax everything and repeat the above paragraph a couple more times. Now, turn onto your side and use your arms to press yourself back up and stand up. How does your back feel now?


*Disclaimer:  While these exercises are both gentle and effective, please take full charge of your own health and seek the advice of a health professional before trying this or any other exercise program. This is to rule out the possibility of something much more serious than muscle and soft tissue imbalance.


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