Can Somatics help me out with pain?
Yes. Once you learn how to do Somatics correctly, a regular practice will go a long way towards resolving any pain and ensuring it doesn’t return in the future. And if you do happen to hurt yourself, you will know what to do.
However Somatics is not magic, there is a learning curve. You will certainly need multiple sessions. Learning takes time and repetition. If you are diligent with your practice positive results are inevitable.
How many private sessions will I need and how often will I need them?
How may sessions you need will depend on several factors.
- The severity of issues.
- How you respond to the work.
- How much you are willing to participate in the process with your home practice.
In order to learnt he basics so you can have an enjoyable and effective personal practice, plan on 3-4 sessions.
If you have a serious pain issue that you want to change, plan on at least 6 sessions.
For Optimal results, weekly sessions are recommended. If that is not possible, fortnightly sessions are still effective. When your series of sessions is completed consider attending a workshop once or twice a year, or going to a regular class.
How often do I need to practice the movements and how many of each should I do?
Somatic Movements should be practiced every day, morning and night. At the very least you should practice once daily. Remember you are learning new ways to sense and move your muscles, as such, consistent and regular practice is required. The more you practice the faster you can expect to make progress. Conversely the less you practice the less progress you will make. How many reps should you do? There are no set number of repetitions, you do as many repetitions as you feel you need. If you focus on quality over quality you will not go wrong.
What are the Benefits of Somatics?
There are many benefits to Somatics, such as;
- Less muscle pain.
- Less tension.
- Relief from the effects of stress.
- Reduced anxiety.
- Improved posture
- Freer breathing.
- Better sleep.
- Better movement quality.
- Better balance & coordination.
- Better mobility & flexibility.
- Physical independence.
- Improved resilience.
Does Somatics benefit mental health?
When the body is relaxed and comfortable the mind will inevitably feel calmer. Clients often comment on the calming effects that the practice has on the mind.
What type of neuromuscular complaints can be improved with Somatics?
Somatics is very helpful in improving or resolving many common complaints such as;
Low back pain, Neck Pain, Jaw Pain, Shoulder Pain, Hip pain, Piriformis Syndrome, Sciatica, Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow, Tension Headaches, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Achilles Tendonitis, Groin Strain, Psoas Pain, Repetitive Strain Injuries, Bursitis and more…
For these types of conditions, plan at least 6 Private Sessions.
What is the difference between Somatics, Hanna Somatics and Clinical Somatics?
Somatics is an umbrella term for a particular class of embodied movement practices such as Hanna Somatics, Feldenkreis, Alexander Technique, etc.
Hanna Somatics is a particular system of Somatic Education developed by DR. Thomas Hanna PhD. Hanna couldn’t legally trademark the term ‘Somatics’ so he had to add his name to it to differentiate it from Feldenkreis Method, Alexander Technique and other Somatic practices.
Essential Somatics is a school of Somatic Education run by Martha Peterson. Martha is herself a Certified Hanna Somatic Practitioner and teaches in the tradition of Thomas Hanna. Graduates of Martha’s Essential Somatics Trainings are called Clinical Somatic Educators.
Hanna’s work is the only method of Somatic Education that uses Pandiculation and recognises Sensory Motor Amnesia and The Three Reflexes.
How is Somatics different from other treatment options like chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, etc?
The main differences are as follows.
- Somatics is not Therapy. Somatics focuses on education of the client rather than a treatment based model. Therapy/Bodywork is done TO you, where as Somatics is done BY you, with guidance and hands on feedback from your practitioner. In Somatics, you will be an active participant in the process, learning movements that you can use at home to continue to improve. The goal is to learn enough so that you will be able to resolve any muscle pain/movement issues that you may experience yourself!
- The recognition of Sensory Motor Amnesia as the cause of many chronic muscular pain conditions. Muscles that are chronically contracted are tight, tender and painful. These contracted muscles can’t be sensed clearly, and in turn can’t be used optimally. They also cause pain, discomfort and restricted movement. The goal of Somatics is to teach clients how to take themselves from a state of Motor Sensory Amnesia to a state of Sensory Motor Awareness. This is achieved through the learning and regular practice of Somatic Movements.
How is Somatics different from Pilates or Yoga?
The primary difference between Somatics and other movement practices is the goal. The goal of Somatics is to release chronic muscle tension and improve our ability to sense and move our muscles. We work very specifically with the brain and nervous system in this regard. Whilst Yoga and Pilates are fine practices, their goals are different.
What about stretching?
Stretching does nothing to resolve Sensory Motor Amnesia. When we stretch we are at the mercy of the Stretch Reflex. The Stretch Reflex is a protective mechanism built into the spinal cord and designed to protect our muscles from injury. Because it is a spinal cord reflex, the brain is not involved. As such there is no new learning for the brain during a stretch. No learning, no lasting change. Pandiculation is faster, more effective and feels better.
Does Somatics hurt?
If your muscles are very tightly contracted then initially there maybe a little discomfort when you do the movements, but this will subside very quickly as you gently contract and then relax the muscles in question. But aside from the scenario described Somatic Movements do not cause pain and are pleasurable to practice. Remember the Somatic movements are designed to reestablish the normal movement patterns of the human body, as long as you move slowly and gently you will have no problems.
I feel discomfort/pain when I do Somatics and/or after my practice. What am I doing wrong?
If you are experiencing pain and/or discomfort after your practice there are a few potential problems.
- You are using too much effort. Somatics must be done gently. This can be a challenging concept in our ‘more is better’ culture. Slow down, see how gently you can do the do the movements. The less effort you use the more you will be able to feel, and the better your results will be.
- You are doing the movement incorrectly. This is usually the most obvious answer. Because you are learning new movements, it may take you a while to perform them correctly. This is normal. Often what we think we are doing, and what we are actually doing are very different. But if you move slowly, with care and attention to what you can feel, you will soon find your way.
- You have just released some muscles that have been contracted for a very long time. When we first release muscles that have been contracted for a very long time, it is common to experience some residual soreness. This will dissipate naturally as the muscles lengthen, normal blood flow returns and freedom of movement is restored. Within a day or two, with continued practice of the movements, you can expect to feel much better.
Should I have private sessions or come to class/workshop?
If you have a specific problem that you would like to address I recommend committing to at least 4 private sessions.
If you are just looking to improve movement or relieve general stiffness then a class/workshop is a great option.
The ideal choice though is to come for private sessions AND come to a class or workshop.
Remember you are learning, so the more opportunities you get to learn under supervision the faster you will progress!
Can I mix Somatics with other modalities?
It is not recommended to mix modalities for the duration of your private sessions. This allows you to make an honest assessment of Somatics in isolation from other methods. If you engage in two or three modalities at once it is difficult to ascertain which is conferring the most benefit and what the effects of each are.
Can I do strenuous activities or exercise right after a session?
No, strenuous activity right after a session is not recommended. Allow 24 hours so your brain can consolidate the new learning. A brisk walk is very helpful after a session as it helps to integrate the changes that occur during a session. It is common to feel tired and relaxed after a private session, so clear your schedule after your session, and maybe even have a nap.
Can all ages do Somatics?
Yes, Somatics is suitable for all ages, the movements are safe, gentle and performed slowly, making them achievable for anyone. As long as you can get up and down off the floor you can do Somatics. If you can’t get up and down off the floor, the movements can be done in bed to start with although this does make them somewhat less effective.
Do you need specific equipment to perform Somatics?
All you need to do Somatics is a quiet room with adequate floor space, a comfortable mat or rug to lay on and in open mind!
Got a question that hasn’t been covered here? Let me know, I’m happy to answer it.
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