Intelligent use of the back and belly muscles is crucial to everything we do as humans.

Often we are stuck in a pattern of shortened, contracted muscles along the spine. Then, we bend down to pick something up and suddenly there’s a huge spasm and we “throw our back out.”

That one moment of yanking on short muscles is the consequence of months, sometimes years, of contraction. The muscles just give up, screaming, “No more!”, and we’re on the floor, writhing in pain for the next three days.

These lessons are the best things going for back pain. They will save you from throwing your back out as well as help you walk, sit, run, and enjoy life.

Do these in order the first time through.

 I love these lessons. I do them all the time, repeating the process to learn where I am in this moment, and to let go of tension in the back over and over again. Afterwards, I stand up taller, walk easier, and feel less strain in sitting. Find out what’s true for you.

Once you detect the unnecessary efforting you’re doing throughout your musculoskeletal system, the spine moves freely, easily, with joy. Upright never felt so good!

A continuation of folding with more variations. Discover more precision in how to press, yield, round, and lengthen. The back just spreads on the floor, “like a cookie in the oven,” as one of my clients says.

Bring the elbows to the knees, knees to elbows as you fold the ribs many ways. This lesson starts to roll up the spine. Amazing shifts happen as you feel what it means to let go and truly rest on the floor. The variations are different than in the previous lessons—it’s worth doing them all.

This lesson asks you to press the back into the floor from many angles, similar to others in this series, but starting to engage more precision across the back.

Revisit some basic flexion, which means LENGTHENING the back muscles. You’ll feel flatter, wider, and take a breath of relief as both the back and front let go of chronic holding.

One of the first activities we do as babies is flex and begin to organize the trunk to move the limbs. The older we get, the more the trunk stiffens and we get good at directing our limbs. As a flexible spine is crucial to rolling, you want to create some flexibility here.

My back always feels flatter, wider, and relieved after this clear, simple lesson.

Here we are, starting to roll back just a tiny bit.

The reason Feldenkrais worked for me when I first started was that it was so gradual. The movements were so subtle and slow that I could actually do them. If I had launched into rolling, or something I was unprepared to do, I’d feel I failed.

This process helped me feel confident, capable, and amazed at my own ability if I just took the time to refine my sensing, creating not perfection, but options.

You might say Feldenkrais is about doubting the default and looking for a better way, over and over again.

Rolling backwards with hands and arms in many positions. This lesson grows into more dynamic movement by the end. Use this lesson to feel more precision in balancing the spine and legs.

TIP: If you feel the abdomen working hard, round your shoulders and move them toward your legs. It’s the r-o-u-n-d-i-n-g that helps you counterbalance, not the “umphing” of the muscles!

More variations on angles for rounding. This lesson adds some new constraints, like the elbow between the knees. Just go through the movements without “trying” to improve, and your back will improve anyway!

I just did this lesson myself, and the reference movement of coming up to sit was so much easier, although I didn’t know I was getting better at it!

Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.
— Adam Grant, Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World

In these pages, I learned that great creators don’t necessarily have the deepest expertise, but rather seek out the broadest perspectives.
— Adam Grant, Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World