Frequently asked Questions
Never heard of Clinical Somatics before?!
No worries, I hear this a lot! I'd only heard about Clinical Somatics (Hanna Somatics) in 2012 myself and I wondered then why I had never heard of it before then?! I now feel I have found the missing link I had been searching for to rid my self of my back pain completely and help me to move better. I am so excited about teaching Clinical Somatics here at home I truly believe it is for everyone! I hope the information below is helpful, I can honestly say though you need to come to experience a class to truly feel the amazing effect it can have on your mind and body. It is possible to start feeling the effects of this wonderful work in your first session, come experience Clinical Somatics for yourself!
"The most important thing for you to remember is that Somatic Exercises change your muscular system by changing your central nervous system. If you do not remember this important fact, their effectiveness will be diminished for you."
What is Clinical Somatic Education?
Thomas Hanna coined the term Somatics in the mid-'70s his work referred to the discipline of movement education. Clinical Somatics is neuro-muscular learning/repatterning ( sensory-motor learning) to gain greater voluntary control of our muscles. By retraining the brain to let go of unnecessary tension in the muscles (Sensory Motor Amnesia) and focusing internally on the sensations of these active movements you are able to really feel the changes taking place. No-one knows better than you what it feels like to live in your body. Rather than having someone moving your body parts for you -you will actively move them yourself. When you work at the root cause of chronically contracted muscles (the brain) you are able to get relief and freedom of movement for the long term. You will have the skills from class for life!
Tight muscles develop what? What is Sensory-Motor Amnesia (SMA)?
When your muscles become so tight that no matter what you do they simply won't relax they have developed something called Sensory-Motor Amnesia. When we learn new movement patterns it happens in the motor cortex of the brain and once we habituate the movement it gets stored in our subcortex. That's great news, we don't have to learn to walk again or ride a bike every time we want to move! But this also goes for all our poor movement patterns too, for example, hours hunched over computers, daily stresses (emotional and physical), accidents, injuries and surgeries. The movements or lack of movement once learned is then stored. This can happen at ANY AGE! To undo these chronically held muscles and take back control we need to engage the motor cortex again to 'wake up' those muscles stuck on 'cruise control' in the subcortex. So, by engaging the brain you can take back control of the muscles and re-set the length and function, it's easy to do once you know-how!
How can I release this muscle tension? What is Pandiculation?
Pandiculation is what you see cats and dogs do after periods of rest. They are NOT stretching! They contract and lengthen their muscles on the front and backs of their bodies. They are 'waking up' their nervous systems ready for 'action'. Our human version of this is the full-body yawn we do in the morning, you may think you are stretching your muscles as you move your arms and legs when you yawn but next time you do it notice that you are actually fully contracting your muscles and then slowly lengthening and completely relaxing them! Feels great right?! In Clinical Somatics we use this pandiculation technique to move through 3 main reflex patterns retraining the brain to retrain our muscles to fully relax and lengthen again. When you focus completely on what you are doing you are able to free the mind of daily stresses giving you a great time out and a sense of relaxation.
Reflexes? What Reflexes?
There are 3 main reflexes our bodies take on in response to stress...
In Clinical Somatics we call them Red Light, Green Light and Trauma Reflex.
Red Light Reflex - The tightening of the muscles on the front of the body is not only the startle response to fear, anxiety and emotional upset it is today becoming more and more known as a muscular adaptation to excessive computer and mobile phone use, this slumped forward posture can lead to chronic neck, shoulder and back pain due to the rounding forward of the shoulders, the head jutting forward and compression in the chest area. It can also hinder a full breath. Shallow breathing can deprive the body of the essential oxygen it needs to function properly.
Green Light Reflex- The muscles on the back of the body contract to move us forward. When walking, running for something, standing up straight (think military posture) or sitting up 'straight' we can overly contract our back muscles and if these stresses become habituated they can help cause back, neck and shoulder pain, disc issues and sciatica pain. When suffering from these pains we can find ourselves easily suffering from depression, anxiety and sleep problems. A cycle of pain can develop.
Trauma Reflex- Is the reflex of pain avoidance, muscles on the sides of the body contract in response to accidents or injuries to further avoid pain. Also, daily stresses like holding a child on one hip or jobs where you use one side of the body more than the other can hike up and tighten muscles more on that side of the body. Sports like tennis, golf or rowing, playing an instrument like a guitar, anything where you may be rotated to one side more than the other. All of these habituated movements and postures can go on to contribute to pain and lack of movement through the body.
All of these reflexes are learned, we can make great changes with Clinical Somatic movements! Want to know what others think of this method?