Muscles & Posture: Flex & Rotate Method
As correctly pointed out by UU in the comments section of a previous post, the myofascial release technique I came up with is basically bullshit. It provided some sort of temporary release at best, and the post was driven by excitement and euphoria. Please delete it from your mind. I have discussed my new model of the fascia in the following post however, and how to treat it gently and let it guide you towards self-correction.
I am considering coming up with a flagging system to categorize posts according to mental state while writing, and/or the long-term efficacy of any method or idea once tested over a longer period. I would then retroactively tag posts in hindsight.
I do not believe the following method is bullshit. In fact, in terms of its simplicity and universality, I believe it may be the most useful post I have ever come up with — and it contains videos to hopefully demonstrate that usefulness.
Obviously I am very excited while writing this post — it could be a massive game-changer and really fix a lot of the problems in people’s lives. How this post is categorized in the future however will depend upon the testing you guys perform and the feedback you provide in the comments section. In other words, let’s try it out and see!
The Flex & Rotate Method
I will start off by giving you the method with minimal introduction, and then letting you figure out most of the implications and everything that then follows via actually practising it. There will then follow some explanations and descriptions of how muscles work, and other things to try with this technique going forward.
The method itself has just two simple steps, the second of which automatically follows the first. Please use this section as your main reference for the core method in this post.
- Flex and release a muscle suddenly — like you are sending it a “pulse”.
- Upon the release, notice how that muscle (and the ones connected to it) then “want” to rotate, and let them go through that motion.
Example 1: Fixing Arm Following Computer Use
- Stand up.
- Flex the fingers out suddenly, so you feel the flex all the way up into your chest.
- Immediately release, and notice how the arm wants to rotate (it might make a different path to that shown in the video below — yours will vary on a case-by-case basis and this is completely normal). Allow it to complete that rotation.
- Now repeat the method on the next muscle that intuitively feels tense, or that is intuitive due to where you want the arm to end up. When first trying this, just pick the muscles in the shoulder area as your second flex. You will develop greater intuition with practice but this will be illuminating. Allow that second rotation to complete.
- Repeat on the other arm — and indeed any other muscle groups you feel may need it. End when you are standing up straight with arms by your sides.
In the below video I perform 3 full flex and rotates (F&Rs henceforth), which are clearly visible via the “pulse” before each rotation:
Example 2: Legs
Now apply the exact same methodology to the leg:
- Stand up.
- Flex the toes out suddenly, so you feel the flex all the way up into your pelvis.
- Immediately release, and let the leg muscles complete a rotation.
- Now repeat the method until the leg rotates and ends up straight.
- Repeat on the other leg.
In the below video there are actually 5 F&Rs. The last one might not be too obvious, as I tend to get into a rhythm and have the F&Rs “merge” after a while into continuous motion — which is the eventual right-brained goal. The step-by-step motion shown in this post on the other hand is the mechanical left-brained version. (Holy crap it’s nice to have some video evidence at last that the stuff I make up actually has some basis in reality). The last F&R in this video however is still clearly visible via its preceding pulse:
Ignore the weird arm thing I did after the first one. Because I first developed this method on my arm, the F&R pattern is stored in my brain under “arm”. So, sometimes the arm fires off even when I’m targeting the leg. Sometimes, I intentionally fire off the arm in order to target a difficult muscle group I am not used to flexing! (Most muscles in the body fall under this category, if you think about it.) It is amazing how “patterns” can be mapped onto other muscles in this way — I can even use it to dilate my pupils.
Next Steps for Posture
For rapid gains in improving posture, after the legs you should immediately target the pelvis/base of spine. Feel your upper body rotate upwards and straighten after the pulse. After the pelvis, you should try the abdominal muscles.
Please note that in “core” muscles such as the pelvis and abdominals, the F&R will still generate circular motion — but the arc will be gentle, and the axis will be sagittal as shown below:
(I found this image on the web and just added the arrows. This person is actually leaning slightly backwards! You cannot draw good posture unless you have it in yourself.)
Key rule: All muscle motion is circular. Even in the most linear-seeming movement, e.g. reaching a hand out as straight as possible, the motion is still circular, just with a very shallow arc. This point is crucial to remember in the next phases: discovery and motion.
Next Phase: Discovery
After playing around with the above, you should quickly begin to realize that posture is actually a product of all muscles. Not one muscle in the entire body operates in isolation — not a single one. For example, a crooked arm will mess everything else up. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. With increasing acuity, you should be able to flex your toe and feel it in, say, your neck.
So, your next steps should be to simply play around with the F&R method for maybe an hour until you’ve “mapped” as many muscles as possible in that time.
“Mapping” just means you flex a muscle and allow it to form a rotation with its surrounding parts. Your right brain will rediscover the muscle group at this point and begin to use it more properly soon after, overriding the bad patterns worn in over years by the left brain’s habits. However, feel free to make notes when you discover interesting rotations, even if that consists of just saying it to yourself in your head. Also, practise the new patterns consciously (left brain) during things like computer use. Throwing both brains at this will only make the transformation swifter.
There are two strategies you can take during the “discovery” phase: systematic and intuitive.
Strategy 1: Systematic Discovery
In the systematic strategy, you simply F&R every muscle in the body you are capable of perceiving at this point (in time you will discovery many more). To do this, I recommend doing the whole thing while stood up, and starting centrally with the pelvis, glutes and abs. Next I recommend the arms — e.g. “What does flexing my wrist do?”). Now go back to the centre (your pelvis region) and work upwards one muscle at a time (e.g. “1 inch above pelvis”, “2 inches above pelvis” and so forth) all the way up to the neck. You can even try finding muscles in the head, and see what F&R on those does, which is interesting. Then go back to the centre and work downwards to the toes. Remember, when I say “working up” or “working down”, I mean flexing every muscle you find on your way up or down the body. This takes some time but is worth doing, and is the entire point of discovery.
Systematic is a left-brain strategy.
Top tip: If struggling to flex a specific muscle which you know is there but cannot “find” in your mind, simply touch it with the opposite hand. This appears to tell the right brain which muscle you want, which it finds it on its map, passes to the left brain, and now you can flex it. Don’t think too much: just do. That’s what the right brain is all about — instinct and “letting things happen”.
Strategy 2: Intuitive Discovery
In intuitive discovery, you select the muscles to F&R based on “sensing” which one is most tense and going straight for that. Then you move to the next one that flags itself up.
For this method, I recommend you do not think too much while doing it. This is all about learning to trust your body and intuition. This is also a direct way to train long-term ability to access the right brain — this fact alone meaning that this is one of the most important guides I will ever give you.
One way you can start off the intuitive method is by “scanning” your body with your mind, looking for the most tension — in which muscles may feel like they are “clumped”. In computer users, this will tend to be the forearm. I sometimes receive this sort of input as “dark spots” in my body. The right brain combines visual and kinaesthetic (feeling/movement) impressions to create its map, which is why I sometimes perceive the body as being made of “light spots” (OK) and “dark spots” (Alert) when working through it intuitively. The intuitive method is all about letting go and learning to perceive and trust this map, and have it guide your rotations. Seeing the map may be very subtle at first, since you are probably used to compulsively thinking in words and logical steps in the left brain. Oh well, this is all good right-brain training for you. The intuitive method is how you will discover the majority of “hidden muscles” (muscles you haven’t used properly in a very long time due to bad habit, so which have largely “fallen off the map” in your everyday use and conscious access to them).
The intuitive method is interesting because it will have me darting all over the place fixing muscles in what looks like a random order to an outsider. For example, after computer use, the order the intuitive method will have me address my muscles could be:
right arm — left neck (then immediately incorporating left arm) — central neck and spine — pelvis — thighs — rest of legs — check rest of body and fix accordingly
Again, this is all based on where the “dark spots” or tangible areas of tension are.
In reality, I will use a combination of both strategies. My primary strategy is intuitive, but I will also use a little systematic around each muscle group that intuitive tells me to look at.
Complex Chains of Correction
In the arm video above, I only have to use a chain of 3 F&Rs to get a good, comfortable correction for the shoulder. However if you have very rounded shoulders like I used to, you should not be surprised if you find yourself having to do 15, 20, 100 or even more F&Rs to correct it to “natural” status. In reality, if things are this bad, corrections will not all be done on the arm sequentially, but will be required to move to other areas of the body intermittently while mainly cycling within the arm muscles (and remember that most of the muscles in the upper body are dedicated to moving the arms, so this includes what you think of as your “chest”, “back” etc.). This darting around the body is because, in really bad habits like hardcore computer use or housework occurring over many years, errors get laid on top of each other (hence how you can end up with a hunchbacked mess of a person). A correction chain in such a case may look something like this:
shoulder — elbow — lower back — neck — pelvis — thighs — shoulder — elbow — elbow — elbow — chest — chest — shoulder — shoulder — elbow — shoulder — elbow — shoulder — elbow…
(These muscle indications are intentionally vague, as are muscles themselves, being able to “bleed” into one another and have a neck become an arm and so forth.)
Don’t actually follow the above chain — it’s just an example I made up on the spot. Instead, use the intuitive strategy to figure out the order to do the corrections in. Please note that, for me, after some experience there began to be a strong element of the muscles “showing me what to do”. I believe this is because the “form” of the muscles — kind of their “original template” — is preserved in the fascia, the layer of connective tissue. I think it is this layer that becomes sort of twisted and laid over itself in multiple passes during very non-natural activities like extensive computer use. However this layer (in my admittedly keyboard-jockeying opinion as far as this point is concerned) is also your salvation, directing you through the correct rotations, however many there are. Intuitive rotations are simply the fascia trying to unwind itself.
Restoring, for example, an arm to its original form, had rather spectacular results for the rest of my body — e.g. it made my legs suddenly looser and easier to correct, and correcting those then made everything else easier to correct. This is why I strongly believe in this fascia layer’s desire to retain “original form”, and that it can get kind of wound up and tight at one end of your body and this pulls on everything else, eventuating in that “crumpled” hunchback appearance.
Finally on the point of requiring long corrective chains: Don’t stress about it! You likely won’t make things worse by doing such rotations and, so long as you follow your intuition, the corrections are likely to be accumulative. Give it time, and just work through it daily. This has been one of the most useful things I’ve ever done, and this is also the best method I have ever encountered for this type of work. I believe one could potentially correct even years of abuse in just a few hours, or maybe a few days. I need your testing and feedback to help me see if that’s the case.
In such cases requiring complex correction chains, one thing that may help you with some of it is to use symmetrical movements — e.g. doing the exact same corrections in the left arm simultaneous with the right, like you have a mirror going down your central axis. The body likes symmetry and you will probably get a nice feeling going inside you while doing this. For complex chains, symmetry helps in cases such as: both shoulders need to lift up to allow pelvis to rotate up, just as an example. In this case one side weighing down might not allow the lower corrections to play out. Do not worry too much about this — the body is extremely self-corrective once you get it started, and intuition is a way of life once it is allowed free form. Have faith.
Practise While Lying Down
If you are really tight, a great tip is to start off this whole thing lying down, before you even attempt it in any other position. Lying flat on a bed means that muscles in the upper body that are usually pulled very tight — due to, for example, leaning forward to use a computer — are now nice and soft, and far easier to correct.
Next Phase: Motion
With standing and sitting mastered, the next stage is to begin to apply muscles’ rotating nature to movement itself, e.g. walking, sitting down and standing up. This is too complex to cover in depth here and, like the rest of the guide, 99% of this is figured out by experimenting and building your own map of how your body is meant to work.
However, to get you started in your experimentation, I will describe how I applied the F&R principle to walking. Take a step forward with your left leg and put your foot down. Now, send a pulse to the back of your left thigh. Notice how the entire left leg begins to rotate, into the pelvis and higher if you let it, and this automatically begins to pull the right leg forward to take your next step. As you push off the left leg, pulse its ankle and watch how it “wants” to rotate (I had really stiff ankles which weren’t rotating properly, giving me a rather stiff and “mechanical” gait). By linking up chains in such fashion, you can have this motion become fluid (no longer requiring conscious pulses/F&R), and you can restore natural motion via this work.
Here are some more examples of applying this to motion. When going to sit down, as your ass approaches the chair, pulse the pelvis and feel it tilt into a supportive position, while your upper body rotates forward and then back and you sit down, settling into the pelvis in sturdy fashion (your back will not naturally want to fall backwards into the chair when done like this, as the spine can support itself in the completely upright position when placed naturally in this manner). When going to stand up, as you push off the ground pulse your knees and watch your pelvis “release” and your upper body arise, maintaining that straight spine all by itself as you move upwards.
Another example: When going to reach for something, pulse your upper arm and watch as the forearm rotates towards the object seemingly by itself.
The fact that I needed to relearn such “simple” things as standing up correctly shows just how left-brain-dependent doing things like using computers can make you over the years. It wears you into very linear habits. The left brain will try to move the body in straight lines, but it does not move well in this fashion. The right brain is all about circular motion, and correcting the way the body moves literally puts the right brain back in charge. You would not believe how many of my verbal thoughts, stresses and annoyances simply disappeared once all this muscle ache and tension and unnatural movement was taken away. In fact, by monitoring the muscles and having them move fluidly and be almost constantly in a relaxed state using this and similar principles I have developed, I was able to get very high gains in my meditation and emotional control. That is quite an advanced subject however which I won’t go into now. The very, very short of it is that muscle tension patterns have a 1:1 correlation with verbal thoughts, and that removing one removes the other (and that they actually are the same thing, when examined very honestly using meditative technique).
Did the F&R method work for you?
I need to know whether you were able to learn anything or had any breakthroughs from practising this guide. Let me know in the comments section.