Somatics may be unlike anything you’ve done before! It has its roots in Feldenkrais & The Alexander Technique, and is a common-sense safe and easy way to reverse chronic tightness and pain. The first thing to realise about your body is that muscles cannot move on their own! They need the help of the brain and central nervous system to send signals to the muscles to allow movement. The brain teaches your muscles to contract or relax, to learn a new sport or dance sequence, to play a musical instrument (amongst many other movement patterns).
When you experience pain and discomfort, it’s because the brain isn’t communicating correctly with the muscles. If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or driving or doing some other repetitive task, perhaps holding a baby on one hip, your brain teaches your muscles to adapt to the stress being put on your body.
Because you are doing this day in, day out, your brain learns to keep these muscles tight (or switched on), and “forgets” how to switch them off after you’ve moved away from your desk or repetitive task. Accumulated tension in the muscles over time makes it difficult for them to either contract effectively or relax fully. This is called Sensory Motor Amnesia.
This happens unconsciously: you might have noticed sometimes that your shoulders are hunched when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. You try to stand up straight and drop your shoulders, which works for a few minutes whilst you are aware of it! Then they resort back to being hunched as this is how your shoulders have learnt to adapt due to the hours you sit at a desk.
To teach the muscles to let go of chronic tightness and pain from habits, accidents or injuries, the changes have to be made at the brain level.
You may know that if someone has suffered a stroke, they will have to re-learn how to move again by making new connections with brain/muscle/Sensory movements. The re-set button needs to be changed in the brain to release contracted muscles, learn how to re-lengthen these muscles and then save these changes to the brain permanently. Fortunately, there is a very effective method that can help with this…
It is called Somatic Movement.
Unique to Somatic Movement is something called a Pandiculation – in fact every Somatic Movement we make involves pandiculating the muscle. It’s a way of releasing the muscles from contracture, regaining control over them and teaching them how to relax fully, thereby restoring muscle function. Here’s how:-
• We contract, or squeeze, the tight muscle further (so it’s even tighter) but without pain.
• We then relax and release the contraction very slowly, noticing any juddering or uncertainty (this is sensory motor amnesia) and try to smooth it out.
• Finally, we breathe out and relax even further.
You see animals doing this all the time: have you noticed when cats and dogs get up from resting, they immediately arch their backs, then sink their bellies down, lengthening their legs out one by one? They’re pandiculating, not stretching! They’re using nature’s re-set button, checking everything is working well so they can hunt for food or run from danger.
If you think Somatics could help you, come to one of my classes or book a one-to-one – please visit http://www.mabconsultants.co.uk/somatics/somatics-class.