Giving Pain the Red Light

Are you experiencing pain and would like to find out how you can be in control of getting rid of it? If this sounds like you, then read on to learn more.

In Somatic Movement, where we do specific exercises to reconnect the brain with the muscles to let go of tightness in the body, we refer to common ways that people hold themselves (their posture) as ‘reflexes’. We’re starting with the ‘Red Light Reflex’, and as you read more, it may strike a chord with you or you may have an ‘aha!’ moment.

Pain is simply a message telling you something is wrong, whether that’s from something physical or emotional! Yes, you read that right, we can experience a “pain in the neck” when someone is literally being a “pain in the neck”. Our bodies do respond to emotional trauma and life experiences and can show up in our shoulders (taking on burdens), lower back (breaking your back to support yourself or others) etc. Of course, physical pain can also come about from accidents, injuries and habits too.

Red Light reflexThe Red Light Reflex pattern in Thomas Hannah Somatics is known as the startle response, a natural instinctive protective response to fear. This is seen in all animals with a spine. The muscles at the front of the body tighten, the shoulders round, the head juts forward, the chest is depressed and the abdominal muscles tighten. When we are repeatedly exposed to periods of anxiety, distress, fearful situations (real or imagined!), and negativity, this posture/Reflex will become more dominant and habitual, setting up a pattern of pain as the body tries to adapt to the strain.

Of course it isn’t just emotional trauma, habits such as sitting at a desk, driving long hours and doing anything that means we’re in a ‘slumping position’ over an extended period of time will promote this Reflex posture. Accidents and injuries that may have healed now can also bring about this Reflex posture as your body has had to learn to adapt by using other muscles not originally intended for the job. These have now forgotten how to work properly (sensory motor amnesia) and are causing you pain and discomfort.

The result of being in a Red Light Reflex can cause a number of symptoms, including chronic neck and jaw pain, teeth grinding, upper back pain, a ‘widow’s hump’, breathing difficulties, headaches and digestive problems. As the front of the body is being compressed, this creates difficulties in breathing and lack of oxygen getting to the brain, muscles and digestive system.

In the long-term, this can have a knock-on effect, making it difficult to do everyday tasks and have an enjoyable social life. This can then lead to further anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, fatigue, relationship challenges and loss of hobbies etc.

The good news is that Somatics can put you in control of getting your brain to teach your muscles how to let go of chronic tension and pain and start to live again and not simply exist! We run two classes a week, or you can book a one-to-one with me.

Look out for our next blog on the Green Light Reflex.