Sometimes people ask me “Why do you spend so much time working on the feet, legs and hips when it’s my low back that hurts?” Well, this Internal-External Rotation pose is a good illustration as to why I do this. Alot of low back pain stems from issues in the hips. Thus, by working on the lower body, we can give relief from most low back pain. This indirect work causes less discomfort during the massage and allows for a great deal more general relaxation. It’s a win-win!
To really understand this concept, there are a couple things to notice:
When you are the giver here, observe how your partner’s knees and hips move as you internally and externally rotate the legs. Do the knees move separately? Can you see movement in the hips? Is there movement in the low back? All of this gives you clues as to where the restrictions may lie. Work out these restrictions and you will have a very happy partner on your hands!
When you are the receiver, notice how the sensations move through your body. Your partner is only touching your feet, but what do you feel in your legs, low back, maybe even your shoulders? As you relax into the rhythm and release more tension, notice how the sensations change. Have your partner do this move at the beginning and at the end of your massage so you can really notice the difference.
So, just this one pose. And I am willing to bet that your low back feels a whole lot nicer and you have a better idea what restrictions and imbalances are contributing to that low back pain. No pain, lotta gain!
How to create internal-external rotation at the feet:
- Place your partner’s feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
- Place your hands on the arches of their feet.
- Rock your body from side to side to easily roll one foot at a time outward.
- Move your hands to the outside edge of the feet.
- Rock your body from side to side to easily roll one foot at a time inward.
*Note: It is gentler on the body to perform just one movement at a time. I like to start with external rotation, one foot at a time; then move to internal rotation, one foot at a time.
Benefits: Releases the inside line of the leg, ankles and knees. Stretches the low back, outer hips and ankles. Improves mobility and rotation in the hips and ankles. Eases low back pain.
Cautions: Internal-external rotation of the hips from the feet creates some torque in the ankles and knees, that is part of the point, but that is not good for all – start with gentle pressure, go deeper only if it feels good to your partner.
This movement is nice for the feet, but is also great for the hips and low back, too. To get the benefit of this movement for your hips and low back on your own, lie on your back and alternate between internally and externally rotating your legs in the hip sockets to mimic the motion your partner created for you during your massage. Take it slow and easy and notice the sensations in your low back. Ah, so good!
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