What is Clinical Somatic Education?
Clinical Somatic Education (also known as Hanna Somatic Education) is essentially MOVEMENT RE-EDUCATION. It is a safe, gentle and incredibly effective means of eliminating chronic muscular pain, restricted movement and poor posture. It increases joint mobility, range of motion, balance, proprioception, flexibility, co-ordination and muscular control.
What makes Clinical Somatics different from other approaches to pain resolution?
The Assessment of Full Body Patterns
Clinical Somatics addresses the body in its totality by looking at Full Body Patterns of muscular contraction. We never focus on just one area of pain as tightness in one part of the body will ALWAYS lead to a compensatory pattern of tightness elsewhere. Tightness in the center of the body translates to tightness in the periphery (hip, knee, foot, shoulder, neck).
Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA)
Sensory Motor Amnesia occurs when you LEARN to hold muscles tightly in reaction to pain, injury (such as a fall or impact), emotional stress or repetitive actions (such as using a computer). You essentially FORGET how to sense or experience the affected muscles. If you cannot sense a muscle or group of muscles you cannot relax them. These excessively tight muscles will then function improperly as YOUR BRAIN is telling them to stay CONTRACTED all the time.
Active Participation by the Client
This is the most significant difference between Clinical Somatics and other modalities. Resetting the level of tension of your muscles and eliminating SMA requires YOUR ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. It is YOUR brain that controls YOUR muscles, so no lasting change can be made without YOUR input into the improvement of YOUR sensory motor system. During each Clinical Lesson you will be guided through a series of safe simple movements, aided by your practitioner, which are designed to reset the level of tension in your muscles quickly and comfortably. This is called Assisted Pandiculation.
Assisted Pandiculation involves;
1. contracting muscles strongly enough to send a clear signal to the sensory cortex of the brain to enliven the brain-muscle connection, followed by
2. a slow, focused relaxation, guided by your practitioner, which reminds the brain how to relax and lengthen the tight muscles.
It is only through Pandiculation that clients can learn to reset muscle tension at the level of the brain and regain voluntary control of habitually tightened muscles. This technique provides immediate results in terms of pain relief, improved mobility, awareness and control of movement.
It is worth noting that although pandiculation sounds like something exotic or mysterious, it s something we are all familiar with. If you own a cat or dog you will see some expertly executed pandiculating every day. Animals will pandiculate instinctively on rising from sleep. We mistakenly think they are stretching but they are in fact pandiculating. The reason? To prepare themselves for movement!
The Educational Component
During Clinical Somatics sessions you will learn specific skills and gentle, enjoyable Somatic Self Care Exercises that will enable you to be self monitoring and self correcting in the future. After your course of Clinical Somatic Education Lessons have been completed, regular practice of these gentle Somatic Self Care Exercises will enable you to stay pain free long term whilst also improving your mobility, balance, proprioception, flexibility and co-ordination.
The Three Reflexes
The Three Reflexes are the way in which SMA shows up in the body. All humans, and indeed all vertebrates, respond to environmental or emotional stresses through three automatic brain reflexes. Essentially all the muscles contract to some degree on either the front, back or side of the body, or a combination of all three.
Thomas Hanna called these patterns of contraction Green Light Reflex (contraction of the back of body), Red Light Reflex (contraction of the front of the body) and Trauma Reflex (contraction of the muscles of either side of the body).
These patterns of contractions show up as postural distortions.
Characteristics of Red Light Reflex:
Characteristics of Green Light Reflex:
Characteristics of Trauma Reflex on Right Side:
When these patterns of contraction become habituated they can cause muscular pain that lead or contribute to many common conditions. Clinical Somatics Education is a simple, straight forward approach to releasing the these patterns of contraction. This in turn leads to a reduction or elimination of pain and improved mobility, flexibility, proprioception and balance.