My client came limping into the room. Their foot wasn’t landing completely on the floor. I asked what had happened to their foot. They had broken a bone in the foot 6 months previously but they were still compensating for the injury.
Compensation is when your body thinks that there is still an injury, and your body modifies the movement out of habit of expecting the injured area to hurt. You may not even realise that you are doing it.
There are lots of different ways to compensate. In this case, she was putting more weight on her other foot to protect the injured foot. I have seen other people pull their bodies upwards so that they don’t put weight down on their feet.
It is a way of not feeling the pain.
However, when the injury is 6 months in the past, there may be no more pain there (or at least there shouldn’t be) but the body has created a habit of movement. So now we need to address the habit.
How to address a habit of compensation
To address compensation, we first need to build up trust in the tissue. What you need to remember is that this foot is expecting “something”, maybe pain, maybe something else, so it is acting as if there is pain, even if there isn’t. The natural response is to withdraw from touch or connection rather than to engage with the ground below. So, what we are working with is not just muscles and joints, but balancing the nervous system and your body’s relationship to movement.
Each person will be different in how to approach this. However, there are a couple key things that remain similar.
- Build Trust. The initial touch needs to first be respectful. Molding to the tissue discovers what is there, rather than trying to change anything, and third, through that process, consent and trust are created, (at the body’s Pace)
- Discover what is actually felt in the tissue. When an area is compensating or expecting pain, or numbness, or something else that often overrides what is actually felt. The pain may have long stopped or be nonexistent. So what is actually felt now. It may be quite different to what you think you will feel.
- Provide an environment for change. The body is incredibly intelligent. Given the opportunity, the body can overcome a pattern of compensation, or accommodation and move with a sense of support, trust and fluidity that comes from within.
- Explore new patterns of movement, and allow the unfamiliar to become familiar. This is key to a Body Harmony session. Often your body will make adjustments, unwind, “refresh” and feel new sensations when you are on the table. Some of those sensations will be unfamiliar. When something feels unfamiliar there may be a tendency to want to go back to something that you know. Shake off the feeling, go to what you know. However, this in many ways is the most important part of the session.
The most important part of the session, movement after the session
This is the moment when true change can be experienced. You may notice it as you come to a sitting position, or to stand, and your feet feel like they are touching the ground differently. Or you may feel it as you walk. There may be new qualities to your walk.
This is the moment when you are rewiring your brain. You are discovering new ways to move, stand or be. You may not be able to put everything into words immediately. Sometimes you may feel there is something different but not quite sure what until you notice a few days or a week later that you respond to a situation differently.
Treat this time after the session with curiosity and wonder. Notice what feels different. Treat it like a game of what is New. This newness has the potential to show you new possibilities, now or in the coming days or weeks. Sometimes you may feel there is something different but not quite sure what until you notice a few days or a week later that you respond to a situation differently.
Learn the Art of Discovery. Discover new ways to move. When you are moving more fluidly, life also moves more fluidly.
To immerse yourself in this process, no matter the type of change you want, physical, emotional or situational, join us for Bodywork for Change – Creating Grace and Flow. http://bodyharmony.net.au/body-harmony-one-day-workshop/