Alison and her frozen shoulder
My work with Alison elucidates how the hand can be a conduit to other parts of the body. The freeing of the movement of the hand can enable the rest of the body to be without pain.
Alison is an academic, who sits at the computer a lot, and fits into the main demographic of people who get frozen shoulders: Women over 40.
There’s that beautiful Awareness Through Movement lesson called the Bell Hand, but in a one-on-one session I also make it available as the ‘ball hand’. At the conclusion of a range of movement strategies, the take-home exercise is quietly rolling the hand on a tennis ball, in specific ways We sneak up on the shoulder without directly working on it (at least to start with). It’s fun and not painful. If we work with pain, we’ll be telling the body that it needs to protect itself, and that just means limited action. If we work without pain, we feel free to learn to move differently.
So what did we do to get there? Unlike some other lessons where we focus more on the whole movement patterns of the person, this time we focused on the movement of the hand, and implicitly the arm, and shoulder. Any endeavours, at least in the beginning to work in the symptomatic area, were useless. This is a classic strategy of working distally and integrating to a proximal action in order to influence the self-image.
Within six sessions Alison was able to reach above her head. I must confess some of my colleagues did not believe this could be possible.
Here’s what Moshe Feldenkrais has to say on it:
Functional integration turns to the oldest element of our sensory system – touch, the feelings of pull and pressure; the warmth of the hand, its caressing stroke. The person becomes absorbed in sensing the diminishing muscular tonus, the deepening and the regularity of breathing, abdominal ease, and improved circulation in the expanding skin. The person senses his most primitive, consciously forgotten patterns and recalls the well-being of a growing child.
Alison’s take home exercise was to quietly roll the ball, enabling pronation, and supination, flexion and extension. Every joint in the hand is woken. And more. Her self is enabled.