Instant Relief: Resource Review

Sometimes, we get an ache or a pain that just doesn’t seem to go away … or recurs on a regular basis.  Part of it can be due to the office work.  Sitting in front of a screen doesn’t promote great habits.  Part of it can be due to how we play the piano.  Part of it might be those heels that we love (or at least I used to).  And, I think my dad may be right that the older we get the more our injuries from when we were young & invincible come back to haunt us.

This summer, I knew that I would be unable to work out for several weeks.  This may not have been a problem except after getting whiplash twice in less than 10 months my neck, shoulders & entire back seize up if I don’t get in regular stretching & exercises.  It’s been this way for years.  So, what to do?

Thankfully, I had pulled the books I bought over the year & was looking over my summer reading options.  “Instant Relief: Tell Me Where It Hurts & I’ll Tell You What to Do” by Peggy Brill stood out as a possible option for getting through my non-workout weeks.

Instant Relief: Resource Review

Why this book?

Peggy Brills, P.T. is a registered physical therapist that has a thriving practice in Manhattan, New York.  The information she gives about how are bodies are put together & what causes different aches & pains is based on science.  The exercises she describes are based on what she prescribes her patients.

I tend to be quite skeptical of claims that I can get “instant” relief from someone’s program.  And, I would still put a caveat with this book.  In fact, Peggy does as well.  The exercises are meant to be done multiple times a day over a period of time … otherwise, the aches will just come back.  That being said, the Brill Chicken exercises did actually release the tension in my neck & upper back!  Now it’s a matter of getting that into my regular routine.

With the exception of the “Brill Chicken” & “Brill Dead Chicken” (which releases the neck even more), the exercise then to be ones that can be done anywhere.  Technically you can do the “Brill Chicken” variations anywhere, but they do look pretty funny & you may prefer to do them in a more private setting.

There are 100 exercises that are either held for 10 seconds or have 10 repetitions making these easy to incorporate right at the time they are needed.  With step-by-step instructions & illustrations to guide the reader, it makes it quick & easy to get a little relief.  And, it’s only the size of a short novel (about 220 pages total)!

The hand bone’s connected to the arm bone …

I remember singing this song when I was younger & thinking how amazing it is that everything is connected with everything else in our bodies.  “Instant Relief” is divided into 11 sections starting with the head & going all the way down to the feet.  Think of it as a reference book that when you have a specific pain, you can jump to that part of the book & find an exercise to do … whether you are lying down, sitting or standing.

One of the major things I realized in reading this book is that I recognized many of the exercises.  Some were from massage or my son’s vision therapy sessions.  Many were from physiotherapy appointments for whiplash (not surprising when I though about it).  And, many others from gym class when I was younger, watching track & field runners warm up, & participating in yoga classes over the years.  Some of the exercises that stood out for various reasons were:

  • “Neck retractions with or without resistance” reminded me that I should keep up with the whiplash exercises from physio on my computer heavy days
  • Relieving carpal tunnel for those computer heavy days
  • “Birdman” … Remember pretending to be a pilot with our hands forming the goggles?  Turns out it releases tension in the elbows!
  • “Be a Genie” … recently saw this exercise being demonstrated on Facebook.  After trying it found that it did help release my mid-back which is an area that tends to ‘get stuck’ for me.
  • “Toe-lift arch builder” is one that I am working on incorporating to help me in yoga.
Pilot goggles!
The Birdman pilot goggles! (Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Where to get it

If you are interested in “Instant Relief”, there are a couple places to purchase it online.

While I have other books on how our bodies work as musicians & what movements are beneficial, I can only read through it when nothing else is going on in my life.  It brings me back to all the textbook reading I did in college.  However, this wasn’t the case with Instant Relief.  I was able to finish the book in a few hours &, to be honest, reading the whole book is not necessary to get the benefits.  You can just jump to the chapter that effects you at the time.

I hope that book turns out to be as beneficial for you as it has been for me!

Have a great weekend!

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