Today I wanted to talk about how Semi Supine or Constructive Rest can be used to help your back pain, neck pain or whatever else you are going through. To make it really simple you just lie down with some books behind your head and your legs bent. But there is a bit more to it than that so I'd just like to make a few points...
1. Find a carpeted floor with some space to lie down on.
If you do this on a bed or sofa it's just too soft and your back doesn't have the support it needs to feel where it needs to go. It just all sinks in and you'll end up hunched and it won't really help anything. Similarly if you choose a hard surface, like a kitchen floor, most people know that it will jar your back and be painful. Not what we're after at all. We need softness with firmness so your back can get that spring from it. You need something like a carpeted floor I use a leather couch but a carpeted floor is just as good so use that to start off with.
2. When you get your stack of books to put behind your head you want as many thin books as you possibly can.
It allows you to make micro adjustments to the height of your head more easily. If you find that your head is tipping back then you need more books, you don't have enough. Your head can also tip too far forwards (squashing the throat a bit) so you need to use less books. If your not sure then you need to err on the side of more! You'll work this out more as you go along.
3. Move slowly to get there and the books don't touch the head.
When you go to lie down you want to move carefully slowly and gently to get there. When you go to lie down you want to get the books in contact with back of your head, the knobbly bit at the back of the head, your skull basically. You don't want your neck in contact with the books so you can release properly.
4. Literally do nothing.
This is the hardest part! No scratching, no itching, no fidgeting about. Don't look for the perfect position because if your fidgeting about trying to get things into the right place then you will be getting in the way of undoing your bad habits. If you can just lie there and literally do nothing with your body, then you'll be doing it a great service. You'll start the unwinding process in the body.
If you really need something to focus on because the mind can go off into the future, interactions you've had in the day all kinds of stuff. When you notice this acknowledge this and come back to your breathing or literally do nothing. It's really hard to do, so you have to make a conscious effort tell yourself to stop or leave yourself alone and not help out by fidgeting about. You've got to calm yourself down and give yourself permission to stop.
5. Warning! When you try semi supine for the first time you can experience a bit of pain.
Especially if you have a lot of pain. There can be quite a lot of unraveling going on. You might find it's quite painful. So there are 2 types of pain. The first type you know that it'll go away after a while. You know that if you sit through it or keep lying through it, you'll be ok. The second type (that I have definitely experienced) you know it will just get more and more painful. And it's really not good you being there. You need to just get up and walk it off. When you start to experience that don't stick it out or tough it, out just get up and walk it off.
6. The best time to do semi supine is... when you have time to do it!
The best time is when you wake up because your spine is fresh. It will give you a huge lift to the start of your day. If you do it in the evening it will calm things down, take your blood pressure down, heart beat down and allow you to sleep deeper. It's really worth doing first thing in the morning or before you go to bed for 20 mins.
7. The biggest mistakes when people start doing semi supine is they leave their legs stretched out.
That's full supine. That's really, really bad for your back to be in full supine! You need to have the legs bent and fairly close to your hips. Not as close as they can go, but close. This can happen because they associate semi supine so heavily with sleep they do the same thing. Don't do it with your legs straight!
This is something that is normally taught one to one in alexander technique lessons. So you might find your struggling or you might find it easy. If you want to find out what this is like I offer free tasters so you can experience. Some things I've found can only be conveyed through touch in the alexander technique.
A lot is lost in communication when you just read or watch this so it really does help to get the experience. But some people can't come to see me and it is useful to have this as a reference point. If you think I have left anything out please let me know in the comments section below. Please share this with anyone that you think would benefit from it.