Thinking to muscles

From the archives: originally published 10/22/04


Last week, I wrenched my back lifting an air conditioner out of the window.  It was a pinching, shooting pain when I moved in certain ways.  I finished carrying the air conditioner into the other room to tuck it away in a closet, and then I lay down on my teaching table.  I began sending my Alexander directions, and imagining the knot in my back muscle releasing and unwinding.

I thought “I know how to think to my muscles so they can lengthen, and I know I can think my way out of this.”


As I lay there, I remembered that I had a homeopathic remedy in my purse for muscle soreness, and took that. I also remembered I had some herbs from my acupuncturist called “Back Support (Acute)” and took that.

I wanted to move, even though I was sore.  I gently explored leaning forward and stretching in that direction – which was ok. I tried some spiraling yoga stretches, and my back would clench,  then release as I moved slowly into and out of the positions.  

I had about an hour before a private dance class that I take each week. I decided to take 2 ibuprofen tablets and go to class. I knew I would feel better dancing and moving than if I stayed still.

I told my teacher that I needed to modify my range of motion in some of the warm up exercises that we do to accommodate the spasm. Little by little over the course of the hour, the muscles began to release and I could move with very little discomfort. In particular, doing pirouettes (turns on relevé) felt especially good and allowed the muscles to release in a rotational movement.

By the end of the hour, I felt 90% better and within three hours, I had no more discomfort.

Throughout the process, I remained confident that I would be able to release the spasm. In retrospect, I believe my attitude kept my body from tensing in worry and anticipation that the pain was going to get worse. That allowed me to remember all the resources available to me (constructive rest, movement, remedies, etc.). In this way, my mind and my thinking facilitated my recovery.

(Originally Posted at 3/27/18)

N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists.