When I was a little girl, my father, a small man, would brag about his strength. “Hit me, here!” he’d pound his belly, which felt hard as a rock to me. Like most Westerners, I learned to define strength with a “hard core,” abs of steel, a six pack.
This same core strength is the suggested solution for the 80% of Americans suffering from back pain. According to popular therapies, the way to fight back pain is tight control of the muscles in the center.
But what if this control is at the price of freedom and flexibility? And is fighting the answer? Bruce Lee, arguably the greatest martial artist of our time said, “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
A recent study at Saybrook University compared a core strengthening program with Feldenkrais. The Feldenkrais protocol, according to Dr. Timothy Sobie, “demonstrated greater effectiveness across all relevant outcome measures for:
1) decreasing pain,
2) decreasing perceived disability,
3) increasing function,
4) increasing endurance”
A true warrior or leader has a different kind of strength, one that uses the power of the core to realize both stability and mobility. At the Amherst training, Feldenkrais said, “I’m teaching you to be strong.” He meant the ability to do what you want. It is difficult to do what you want if you have or fear back pain.
Your power is in your center. Don’t tighten it – liberate it!