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Elaine's Pain Management Blog

Monday, October 13, 2008

Elaine Petrone Method: "How Long Should I Stay On The Ball?"

Spending time on the balls. A common question has been how long do you stay
on the ball. I suggest in the book that you stay on a short time in the
beginning (1-3 minutes),come off immediately if you have pain, and you do
NOT have to place the ball directly on the area that hurts in order to get

Although I mention in the Miracle Ball Method Book that I spent hours on the
balls it was part of my learning experience as I was developing the method.
The ball only works when you are getting a response. If you feel nothing
that is a different kind of response. There are only 2 responses you feel
reactions or you feel nothing. If you do not feel anything that lets you
know that your body is reacting by resisting letting go.

No reaction is a very big clue to how you may be holding your breath and
your muscles. Our objective is not to stay on the balls as long as we can.
It doesn't say that anywhere. More is not better. We are not trying to
achieve anything. We are experiencing the feeling or lack of feeling in the
body. This is done thru observing. That feeling is what leads us to make the
next choice. It is not necessary to stay on the balls for a long time. Much
of your changes will be inspired after you remove the ball. Does your body
rests on the floor differently? Were you responsive in some way? I ask you to
sense any change in your breathing; did you feel other parts of your body
become involved? Encourage yourself but do not wallpaper over wallpaper. DO
not do more of the same that you have done your whole life. If your objective
is to control all reactions in your life then you will probably be
controlling these reactions as well.

We are not machines and yet many of us live lives that are very
mechanistic.We wake up, rush in our usual ways, go to the usual places and
move in the usual ways. Some of us have more hectic lives than others, but
even a very easy life can have challenges if we have had an illness or
injury of some kind. Psychological stresses, behavioral issues, emotional
problems. Many people as a result make up their responses. For example
people will imagine they are very relaxed and are happy with that,or they
will leave the ball there for a long time and "think" they are letting go.
That is why I made the directions as simply as I could and will continue to
try to do that.

In the need to be good at something we reach into our bag of tricks and make
up a response. You will know if you did that because your body will not
respond positively.
Every day life can make having a responsive body a little more challenging
than most people might believe. We think we need to do something. Even those
that meditate and do yoga seem to have to make it a success story. More is
better, work harder and you will get more. This is not the way your body

In this method we are not trying to relax. I am setting up a set of
directions that will help you to feel your body. In that sometimes what we
feel can be misleading and then we get angry that our body has failed us. I
wish I could say it is that black and white, you follow the directions and
you will relax and feel better. That is superficial . Our bodies are much
more complicated. They require us to investigate and be truly honest with
what we find. Did we hold our breath while on the ball? DO we tend to "try"
to relax and "think" we are in a state of peace and joy. These have never
been my directions. You see when we feel, even if the felings are not
pleasant, it is in that moment that our body improves. It is in that moment that our
bodies unwind and evolve.

What does your body feel like really? Not where you "think"it should be or
how you"make it relax".What does it really feel like and that takes some
stripping away of preconceived notions about this process and good and bad.
It means we must be open on a physical as well a psychological level. You
may have one response today and a totally different response tomorrow until
you start to learn from your body. Your physical feeling will lead you
totally and honestly to another place if you are open. If you judge quickly
your responses, if you try to change the directions and work a little harder
for a particular result, you may find your body resists more and you will
feel it. Your body can only speak to you with pain and with pleasure. That
is it. It cannot send you an e-mail or a text. Pain is probably our biggest
teacher. Whoever changed their life when things were goind well? I always
tell my students pain can be a blessing in disguise. Just listen and learn.
Don't try to relax,don't make the work something it is not. You are not a
machine. You are flesh and blood with all kinds of ways to resist and
respond. Be open and you will change for the better.


I "bumped" into your method while researching what exercises I could do with fairly chronic back pain. My story is long, but suffice is to say I'm excited by what I've read and clear indicators I can see to benefit in a very short period of time.

While I have 2 distinct back issues, the one I am unsure of ball positioning with is the upper back. I carry a great deal of stress across my shoulder blades (feels like a band tightened up smack in the middle of them). Your book is very clear and demonstrates moves to alleviate some lower back tension (thank you!), but what placement would you recommend for upper back tension. The "place it hurts" is between my shoulder blades, however I recognize that it is likely a culmination of tightened muscles everywhere.

Thanks so much.
My apologies. I requested some information regarding back pain between shoulders. In my excitement I did not read the entire book and somehow did not see it. Perfect. Thanks
Hi Elaine,

I picked up a set of balls with the little book at a Barnes & Noble store. I was an amateur dancer for 13 years from 2nd grade to college. I also had a period of chronic pain as an adult that was so debilitating, there were days I couldn't stand up to go to the bathroom. I could not take shirts off over my head. I couldn't steer the steering wheel of my car or raise my arms to shampoo my hair. It resolved itself miraculously with no explanation after 4 months, but I still have very tight muscles that cause all kinds of problems unless I am constantly on the massage therapist's table.

When I read your story on the box, I really put stock in it because I related to the dancing and the chronic pain, and I could tell you were really sincere about your journey.

I want to report that even though I haven't had time yet to read through the whole book, I chose the back on ball & hips on two balls to focus on. The incredibly tight muscles over my hips and glutes are loosening, relieving stiffness there. My swayed lower back is straightening out. The ligaments connecting my hips and thighs are stretching.

I didn't know how tight those ligaments were - they were pulling me forward into a hunched-over posture. I was clumping like an old woman. Now when I use the balls, I walk like I've *never* walked in my life! I feel like my body is floating over two legs that are moving effortlessly. No clumping. I also have one leg shorter than the other by almost 1/2 inch, so I am often really aware of how I'm walking (my shoe lift doesn't do a complete job).

I don't have any questions as of yet, just wanted to say THANKS!

Jen in Modesto, CA
Dear Jen:

I want to say "thanks"to you for taking the time,reading the book and being open minded to the potential your body has to improve. I hear what you are saying. You will continue to get benefit. Keep growing in the work. Your observations are what lead you. Its not so much what you do but what you notice. You get better and better at noticing details,ways you prevent change,how to encourage breathing, etc.There are so many nuances to how your body rests on the floor or stands with 2 feet on the ground.

As you observe your body,you can more easily respond because more of your body will integrate. Lets put it this way, if there is one person moving a piano it can be alot of effort but with 5 people it is pretty easy. The more parts of your body you feel the more parts of your body that help you move. Movement gets easier and easier and ...Dont for get your breathing.

Keep in touch.

Elaine, I wanted to thank you so much for this blog entry. I find I am somewhat disconnected from my body. I tend toward taking the stoic approach to pain or make up reasons like ageing, etc for the pains. I'm not try to be good at the method but if something doesn't work for me I usually think, well they didn't have my condition in mind when they wrote this. Some of your comments were a wake-up for me "Our bodies are much more complicated. They require us to investigate and be truly honest with what we find." Especially "Your body can only speak to you with pain and with pleasure. That is it. It cannot send you an e-mail or a text." I thought "duh...of course". It's really not about the balls alleviating the pain... it's about paying attention. I'm learning...Thank you JH in Colo
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