Stretch for Texting, Driving, Typing and Biking

By Luca Williams

Since we were kids, my brother and I have had our own private war: the computer versus the trees. Our family owned one of the first personal computers – the TRS-80 – and my brother fell in love while I proclaimed, at age eight, that computers would destroy the natural world. Now he asks me to take him for a hike in the trees and I beg him for computer help.

These days I’m thankful for my cell phone, my mini personal computer, because it is one of the few ways I can communicate with my teenager who will text me every once in a blue moon. I get so excited when he does that I text him these long rants – about the bills he has to pay and how he needs to be responsible and then, strangely, I don’t hear from him again for another month or two. I coach myself during the quiet times to quit haranguing him, but the cycle starts all over again on the next text exchange, because we all have our weaknesses and this is mine – I nag the ones I love most.

The thing is, I don’t reserve my nagging just for loved ones. I find myself nagging my clients too. I hide my nagging with a professional voice while I encourage them to take care of their bodies when they are texting, typing, driving or even riding their bikes. One of the biggest detriments to our bodies in this modern age is that we spend so much time looking down with our arms bent in front of us. The bones, muscles, connective tissue and skin on top of our shoulder blades migrate upward and forward, and our chests cave as the muscles that stretch from the front of the shoulders to the chest tighten down.

We don’t just practice this poor posture while typing, texting and driving: when we finally get on our bikes to get some exercise, our arms are out in front of us once again. Thankfully, new mountain bikes are more ergonomic with wider handlebars, but road bikes still place a great deal of strain on the shoulders, neck, arms and chest. So I have a simple mantra (or nag): Look up, look around, swing your arms and stretch your chest whenever you get off your phone, your computer or even your bike.

To check the tightness of your shoulders and neck, put your arms at your sides. Take one hand and place it on the front of the shoulder and then on that spot that gets so tight in most of us between your neck and your shoulder (Figure A). Bring your arm up as if you are driving, typing, or texting (Fig. B). Do you feel how the muscles on the front of your shoulder and between your neck and shoulder are tighter?

Figure A.
Figure B

Now, move your arm outward keeping it shoulder height (Fig. C). Feel the front of your shoulder again. Notice that your shoulder isn’t as tense as when you had your arm right in front of you. That’s why wider handlebars are better for us. The tighter the front of our shoulders get, the more our neck recedes into the chest.

Figure C.

To stretch the front of your shoulders and chest, stand in a doorframe or in the corner of a room. Place your hands and forearms on the doorframe and with elbows about shoulder height step through the door with one leg, gently stretching the front of your shoulders (Fig. D). Take a break and walk around, then step through the door with the opposite foot forward and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Now walk around and notice that your chest may feel more open and your arms may swing with more ease.

Figure D.

Take the time to do this throughout the day in between typing or texting and you can mellow or reverse the effects of this modern age of computers. 

Stretching after texting, typing, driving and mountain biking too


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Common Snowboard Injuries

As part of my weekly research for work,  I did a quick scan on the world wide web to find out the most common snowboard injuries.  I learned that broken wrists are the most common injury to snowboarders more than skiers.  Head injuries are second in line, although I wonder how many head injuries are not reported?  I end up helping many snowboarders with head injuries even ones they sustained years ago.  In fact living in a Mountain town, I work with so many head injuries that I decided to focus my Continuing education this year on head injuries by taking more Craniosacral therapy classes.  Craniosacral therapy is extremely light work, but I have found it so beneficial for my own old head and neck injuries.  I feel like the combination of Rolfing Structural Integration, Craniosacral therapy, and Feldenkrais Moving with Awareness is the best combination for healing!

Luckily spinal injuries were not high on the list of common snowboard injuries.  Back injuries were also not on the list although back ache seems to be extremely common for Snowboarders at least in my office! In fact, in order to deal with my own back and neck pain, I developed a protocol of stretches and movement awareness exercises to combat the asymmetry of snowboarding.   In my 20’s I lived in constant pain that I don’t even notice hundreds of years later in my “old” body.  So is it true when people blame their pain on “I’m getting old?”  I think it is more accurate to say “I am getting twisted!!!”  If you are twisted you can do something about it!  If you are old, well age happens to everyone and not every old person hurts all the time!

I am surprised that knee injuries aren’t higher on the list for common injuries.  I have seen so many snowboarding knee injuries, maybe many of the knee and ankle injuries aren’t reported? When I think back to my younger years of snowboarding and skiing I know I didn’t go to the doctor for my head injuries or my knee injuries.  So I am not sure how accurate this consensus is?  Maybe the article should say the most reported snowboard injuries versus the most common snowboard injuries.

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Snowboarders and Sitbones

I just finished another Snowboarding article for Mount Baker Experience.  Check it out if you have back problems, leg, knee, hip or butt pain even if you aren’t a snowboarder!

By Luca Williams

fell in love one cold, Wisconsin winter day on my first snowboarding date with Justin Kyle Evans. Justin had me stand in front of him and suddenly he pushed me forward to determine which foot I caught my balance with, and therefore if I was goofy- or regular-footed. Then he adjusted his 161 Burton snowboard bindings to fit my old Wisconsin farm boots. I twisted my knee and I fell on my tailbone constantly, but riding his board was so exhilarating that I fell head over heels in love … with snowboarding.

I couldn’t wait every week to strap on a board and carve. It was the best: a feeling of freedom that I will always cherish and it left me wanting more. So I found myself traveling across the country to get a job at the Mt. Baker Ski Area, where I could ride every day.

Wisconsin’s ice did not prepare me for the deep, heavy snow that Mt. Baker is known for. Talk about a Zen meditation – you have to be totally in the moment at Baker to balance and transition from deep snow to hard pack to groomers or you will fall flat on your face! Every day I practiced my turns, which meant that I also practiced digging myself out of deep snow as I fell again and again.

After that first season, I took stock of the condition of my 22-year-young body and noticed I wasn’t as flexible as I used to be, especially in my knees and back. I couldn’t figure out why I was in such pain and why I felt so crooked. I started to really observe my snowboard buddies: the difference between their front leg versus their back leg, the way they twisted their neck, knees and pelvis to make turns.

Snowboarding is an awesome sport that builds balance, athleticism and attention to the present. The problem is, snowboarding does not transfer well to daily activities like walking, sitting and standing. Snowboarders tend to get stronger in asymmetrical ways. So how can we counterbalance our love for the sport? By paying attention to our sit bones (the bones we feel when we sit on a wood or metal chair) and by making minor shifts in the way we twist and turn on our sit bones, we can neutralize the asymmetry so the ibuprofen bottle doesn’t become our best friend.

Right knee forward, torso turning left (below). Photos by Luca Williams

The Awareness Exercise
Do this complete movement on one side, notice the changes and then try the exercise on the other side. If you are goofy, move the right knee forward first. If you are regular, adapt the instructions and move your left knee forward first. This is not an exercise in the typical sense. You are sensing, observing and making gentle adjustments rather than exercising to get stronger.

1. Get a wood or metal chair. Sit with your feet flat on the floor about the width of your pelvis. Feel your sit bones. Do you feel one sit bone on the chair more than the other? Turn your upper body right and left 10 times. Do you twist right or left better? When you twist right, which sit bone do you feel more? How about when you twist left?

2. Rest your hands on your knees. Allow your right knee to move forward and observe what happens to your shoulders, head and eyes as your right knee moves forward. Do you notice that as your right knee moves forward your trunk moves left? Now exaggerate this motion. Really turn your trunk left while your right knee moves forward and repeat 10 times. Then come to center and rest.

Right knee forward, torso turning right.

3. Now as you move your right knee forward, turn your trunk and head to the right. Is this movement more awkward? As your right knee comes back to neutral, bring your upper body back to neutral. Repeat 10 times, then rest.

4. Now twist right and left as you did in the beginning of the exercise and notice your sit bones. Observe how well you twist to the right and to the left compared to the beginning of the exercise.

Next time you snowboard, really notice the twists and turns of your sit bones as you skate, as you sit on the lift with the board hanging off one foot, and as you make heel-side and toe-side turns. By making small adjustments to the way we move we can become more flexible and balanced without hours of stretching.   


Luca Williams is a Certified Rolfer in Glacier, WA. She helps snowboarders, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts to get aligned and out of pain. Website: blog:

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Tree Pose for Snowboarders

Here is my latest article for the Mount Baker Experience.  Ski Season is over this weekend but the back pain doesn’t end if you don’t do something about it!

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German documentary on Back Pain & Help with Rolfing Structural Integration

One of my favorite Rolfers Robert Schleip is in this German documentary on back pain.  This is long so I didn’t add it to my site.  I just gave you the you the link in case you are interested!


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The Importance of Rest

The importance of rest

 By Luca Williams

I grew up near the jungles of Panama, and one of my favorite memories is waking up before my family and listening to the jungle come alive. The monkeys, birds and insects all whispered, hummed, screamed and howled as I absorbed the life around me. I didn’t have to go far to have an adventure, I just had to pay attention.

As I have grown older and life has gotten busier I often forget to make time to just sit and listen to the sounds of the world. Yet paying attention to my surroundings helps me get connected and feel part of a bigger picture. What’s even more difficult than paying attention to my environment is taking time to pay attention to myself.

Most of us spend our days running from one project to another – working, taking care of kids, driving, exercising, adventuring or planning our next adventure. By the time we hit the bed we haven’t even thought about or listened to the whispers of our own bodies – until we have pain or discomfort that screams and howls in a way we can’t ignore. Taking time to rest just isn’t on the to-do list.


I have found that each of us has our own inner jungle that we can listen to and notice, but we have to take the time for it. The best part about resting is, we give ourselves a chance to reconnect to our true dreams and aspirations. We give ourselves an opportunity to reset ourselves instead of being swayed by the demands and desires of our bosses, co-workers, family and friends. Resting gives us a chance to just be.

So how often do you check in with yourself and ask, “How am I doing? How do I feel? Do I like being this busy? Do I want more out of life? Or is everything just perfect except this nagging neck or back pain?”

As a body worker I love stretching, moving and dancing when I have a discomfort that I am trying to work out. When things go really wrong in my body or my life I go back to the basics and my absolute favorite resting position. The position allows me to give in to gravity. This one posture allows my nervous, muscular and skeletal systems to rest.

At the same time, the rest position allows me to listen to the whispers, the hums, the screams and the howls that I have been ignoring. As I lay in the rest position, something else happens; all the pieces of me – the mother, the body worker, the friend, the wife – dissolve and I feel childlike again. I am left with a sense of wonder. Here is the place where I can enter an adventure into my own being.

Rest position

1. Put a pillow under your knees with your feet flat on the bed or floor. Or bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor without the pillow. Hold your upper body up with your elbows.

2. Lower yourself slowly, vertebra by vertebra, imagining that each vertebra has space from the one below. You can use your elbows to help elongate your spine.

3. Place a pillow or towel under your head if need be. Optimally, you want your face to be parallel to the floor.

4. Check that you have a small gap between your lower back and the bed or floor. If this gap is too large or nonexistant then you are not resting but creating more tension by overarching your spine or over-tucking your pelvis. The key is to relax.

5. Place your hands on your chest or belly to remind yourself to rest downwards toward the center of the earth, giving in to gravity. You can either leave your hands on your belly or place them palms up by your sides.

6. Allow yourself to exhale, releasing any extra tension or stress that you have built up through the day.

7. If you find yourself obsessing about the day, or a situation, or a pain that you may have, wiggle your toes and fingers and take a deep breath exhaling the thought away. Breathe and repeat.

The rest pose can be used anytime to help you reset or fall asleep. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with yourself and elongate your spine at the same time. You may find yourself zoning out into a beautiful space where you can experience an adventure into the jungle of your own being.

Luca Williams is a certified rolfer in Glacier.  She helps snowboarders, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts get aligned and out of pain. Website: Blog:



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Rolfing Video

This is a great video explaining how Rolfing works.  It includes a short segment on a session.  My son kept saying “He sounds just like you mom.  You say all the same things he says.”

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