Sometimes Eric and I spend our sessions in the massage room. I lie on my back and he circles the table, moving each of my body parts into its correct position. He does this over and over again – jostling, rotating and pressing me into proper alignment.
The sessions are relaxing, but I don’t just lie there: I’m an active participant, paying close attention to where he shifts my body. He’s constantly correcting the rise of my shoulder, the tuck of my chin, the tilt of my hips. My job is to learn to assume these positions myself.
I focus on the position he leaves me in as he moves onto another part of my body. When he reaches my spastic arm or leg, my torso often contorts: on the healthy side, my ribs bulge, my back arches. This compensation for my affected limbs is particularly noticeable on the table where I feel the absence of the supportive pressure beneath my back.
These same types of contortions occur when I’m upright and trying to use my affected leg. But they are more controllable on the table where maintaining balance is not a factor. If I can gently reassert the proper spine position while Eric works, my spastic muscles respond favorably, elongating as he pulls and shifts them to release the trapped energy that makes them stiff.
This illuminates two of the important principles that Eric has taught me:
1) The connectedness of the body – how the parts affect each other.
2) The necessity of re-coordination in stroke survivors to remind all of the muscles how they are supposed to work together.
More on these as we continue to examine Eric’s techniques.