Seiho in the time of Covid

If you read my previous post on Juho, you’ll know that some things in Shorinji Kempo require a little bit of… adjustment, in these non-touchy-feely pandemic times.

Seiho is another one of those things.

Seiho is the system of pressure point massage, joint manipulation, and other healing techniques which is taught as part of Shorinji Kempo. This obviously requires a little bit of physical contact!

Shoulder seiho is always popular with people who work in offices!

Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to yourself, using various props, to at least approximate the feeling.

(Here’s the obvious disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or other medical professional. If you have actual injuries, seiho will not help you – go see someone who can treat you properly!)

For this lesson, you will need:

  • A massage ball (or tennis ball, or lacrosse ball, or similar)
  • A stick (a broom handle is about the right thickness)

First, do some exercise. This will work better if you’re nice and warmed up to start with.

Have you done that?

Good, ok – now we can get to the fun part. Take your ball and sit on it.

Specifically, I want you to put it under one of your buttocks. Say you’ve gone for the right side first. Supporting your weight with your hands, put your right ankle on top of your left knee – you should now have three support legs. You can use these to control the pressure on the ball.

Now roll it around until you find a spot that feels tight, and just sit there for a bit. You can wiggle and bounce slowly if it feels good to you. What you’re doing here is putting pressure on a “knot” in your muscles, to work it out and relax everything.

Don’t worry if this is a little bit painful (although obviously use your common sense on the level of pain that is “good”!). It will get better the more your muscles relax. Generally, the harder your ball, the more pressure you’ll get and the more painful it will be to start with. If you’re really tight, start off with a softer ball.

Spend a few minutes here, really take your time and roll out all those muscles.

Now switch sides and repeat.

You can use this principle for almost any muscle in your body, so if you’ve got one that is tight or achey, go ahead and play around.

Everybody happy?

Excellent. Let’s move on to the stick. This one, I have to admit I stole learned from youtube – Tom Merrick of Bodyweight Warrior to be precise. But it’s a good one, so I want to share! He explains it very well, so if you’re confused by my description go watch his video.

For this one, we’re working on the calf muscles. These get tight in a lot of people, so it’s a good one to know.

Basically, kneel down with the stick behind the back of your knees. You’ll be working the stick slowly down towards your ankles, working the muscle as you go.

The first time I did this, I couldn’t kneel down properly because it hurt so much! Just put on as much pressure as you can take, and it will improve with time.

There are many more things you can do for “self-seiho”. Don’t be afraid to search youtube for good ideas or to experiment.

Keep active!

Published by Nicola Higgins

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something* martial artist, Girlguiding Brownie and Ranger Leader, and actuary. She somehow also finds time to read, fuss her cat, and occasionally spends time with her husband. [* please note that "ten or more" is still something.]

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