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Old 12-09-2001, 04:46 PM   #1
abarnhar
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Painful Seiza

My Seiza is incredibly painful. When I settle onto my heels, my insteps feel like they are on fire. I try to take it slowly and not push the amount of time I sit in seiza, but it has come to the point where just entering it hurts.

Are there any stretches that can help this?
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Old 12-09-2001, 05:06 PM   #2
PeterR
 
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Well seiza is the stretch itself. My advice as always, push the discomfort zone but not to the point of agony. It also helps if you have good posture throughout. Keep your back straight.

Some great comedic sketches in Japan revolve around people being forced to sit in seiza during certain cermonies. Us pretentious white guy samurai wanna-bes are not the only ones suffering.

ps. racial sterotyping given in the sense of aforementioned comedic sketch.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-09-2001, 08:35 PM   #3
jimvance
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Ikeda Sensei has a video called "Za" that covers a lot of exercises for sitting (mostly related to suwariwaza). He does some pretty amazing things with his toes.
Also try pouring a hot bath and sitting seiza in the bath. This will help loosen those stingey tendons and relax the muscles.
One other thing, though this is not really an exercise. Change your diet to decrease the amount of uric acid your body must eliminate, i.e. eat less meat. Uric acid builds in the joints and causes stiffness and pain; this is one reason most yoga people are vegetarian (not that I am, just passing along the "good" news). Hope this helps.

Jim Vance
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Old 12-09-2001, 09:35 PM   #4
darin
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It takes time. After a few months you will get used to it. I haven't done any aikido for a year so its difficult for me to sit in seiza now. Keep in mind I am also living in Japan! Actually most Japanese hate sitting in seiza. They usually sit cross legged when in izakaya or traditional restaurants. Also there is a belief here that sitting in seiza for too long causes people, especially girls, to develop fat ugly legs.

Aikido seiza isn't so bad. Try Iaido. Iai has many kneeling and half kneeling stances which you have to jump or move around quickly from. Good leg strengthening exercise though!
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Old 12-09-2001, 10:47 PM   #5
Goye
 
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Do symbol

I don't know how much have you been in aikido, but for some people is difficult to get used to every thing and to master all movements and positions (i.e. seiza). I don't know how it will be that you will feel better doing seiza. Every body is different, maybe a doctor can tell you more about what you feel when you do seiza, but you can train and train a little more every class. For me it was a little difficult to do seiza when I start in aikido but now I feel really comfortable in doing it, maybe is just that you need more time. If it pains a lot you should talk to your sensei and tell him that you need to sit cross legged when he/she is showing the technique. Be patient .

César Martínez
Satori Dojo
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Old 12-09-2001, 11:11 PM   #6
Abasan
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Although I'm young I feel the pain of seiza too particularly because of an old football (soccer to you confused americans ) injury on my right ankle.

Don't be obstute and force yourself to sit seiza when its painful. That can lead to permanent injury. As with all stretches, it takes time. For me 2-3 years has brought about some improvement but no where near the comfortable zone yet.

A good stretching exercise to do would be:
1. Stand up straight, bow down and hold your knees. Then slowly flex the knees in very minute circular fashion.

2. From the bent position above, kneel down with your heels slightly elevated. Continue for sometime.

These two exercises would probably bring some flexibility to your ankles before you try sitting Seiza.

Another thing, massaging with hot oils might be a good idea.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 12-09-2001, 11:13 PM   #7
abarnhar
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Thank you all for your input! This board community is a great resource.
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Old 12-10-2001, 03:17 AM   #8
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by jimvance
Change your diet to decrease the amount of uric acid your body must eliminate, i.e. eat less meat. Uric acid builds in the joints and causes stiffness and pain; this is one reason most yoga people are vegetarian (not that I am, just passing along the "good" news). Hope this helps.
Hi Jim

thanks for this, I wasnt aware of it. I am wondering if you know any other way of reducing this type of acid? becoming a vegitarian isnt much of an option for me as there are so many vegtables that I cant eat without getting ill.

thanks for any info

Kev
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Old 12-10-2001, 06:39 AM   #9
Edward
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I regret to tell you that, if your seiza is painful, there is not much you can do about it. Most non-Asians, and many Asians, do have this problem. I have had it since I started MA and even though I did notice a slight improvement with practice, but I can't tell you that seiza is my favorite posture.
Just don't take it too seriously.
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Old 12-10-2001, 11:34 AM   #10
Arianah
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jimvance:
Quote:
Change your diet to decrease the amount of uric acid your body must eliminate, i.e. eat less meat. Uric acid builds in the joints and causes stiffness and pain; this is one reason most yoga people are vegetarian (not that I am, just passing along the "good" news). Hope this helps.
Oh!!!! So that's it! I've been striving to discover the reason that I have been dubbed "the freak that can't be pinned." I've been a vegetarian for about eight years now . . . maybe nine. Now I can claim that the fact that nikkyo doesn't hurt is more than simply the result of a freakish deformity!

Arianah
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Old 12-10-2001, 05:23 PM   #11
jimvance
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Thumbs down Well gawww-leee!

Sarah, you could also have a very high tolerance of pain (like my wife) or be extremely flexible too. I think it's a good bet that the lack of uric acid in your joints has a lot to do with it, could be a lot of different factors working together.

Kev, as far as the uric acid idea goes, I only just read it in a yoga book, so I am pretty much in the dark. Maybe find a competent yoga instructor or a nutritionist and find out what they suggest. Glad to be of some help.

Jim Vance
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Old 12-14-2001, 02:28 AM   #12
tombrandli
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Painful Seiza

It hurts, doesn't it?
I still can't sit in seiza very long, but I am getting better at it. A technique which you might find helpful is to stretch each leg separately first, i.e. sit in seiza only on one leg with the other leg stretched out behind you. On the stretched out leg, do isometric strength exercises by pressing the top of the foot into the mat (rug, floor, etc.)which will strengthen the muscle and tendons on top of the foot and help relax the instep -- hold the isometric for about 10 seconds, repeat as many times as you feel comfortable, then change legs. Do this three or four times, take a break -- and then sit in seiza. Time yourself and see if you don't improve. Time is the key, however. Don't expect rapid improvement, but do expect improvement. I practice this technique, and it seems to work for me.
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Old 12-14-2001, 08:48 AM   #13
abarnhar
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Thank you Tom! I'll be sure to try that.
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