What is Somatics?

As a result of injury or overuse, we tighten up our muscles. Stress has a similar effect: we tighten certain muscles so often or for such long periods that our brain -- the master-control organ of the muscular system -- learns to hold the tension indefinitely. For example, a car mechanic may develop back spasms or neck pain; a haircutter may develop wrist and hand pain; or someone with a stressful job or home life may develop headaches.

 

As we get used to this tension, we forget how to relax it. The burn of muscle fatigue and stiffness become permanent; inflammation, chronic fatigue, and joint degeneration may occur as long-term side-effects of that tension. Pain relievers only hide the continuing degeneration. Stress-related symptoms such as headaches or sciatica may occur, seemingly inexplicably.

 

Or we may have no injury; it may have healed, but painful muscular tension may interfere with movement and convince us that we still have an injury. Because tight muscles cause pain and stiffness, because your brain controls your muscles, and because somatic education teaches you how to relax them, therapy that includes somatic education has some advantages over therapy applied to muscles and joints, alone: much less pain during therapy and faster recovery. In many cases, Somatics is sufficient as a stand-alone rehabilitation method, in which case the number of sessions required depends upon the complexity of the problem. In general, however, improvement begins quickly, even with many conditions deemed "permanent and stationary."

 

If pain persists when injured tissue should already have healed, if pain mysteriously appears and disappears, or if it worsens over time or defies diagnosis by your doctor, you may have such a muscular tension problem. In that case, Somatics may be just the help you need.

 

Somatics is an approach to renewed control of the muscles through use of the voluntary motor system. It is the procedure for teaching voluntary conscious control of the neuromuscular system to persons suffering muscular disorders of an involuntary, unconscious nature. It involves simple movements done by the practitioner with the patient together; it is not massage or manipulation and can have a more profound effect than either in terms of relaxing muscles on a long term basis. It is also very relaxing and enjoyable to experience.

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© 2016 Ellen Potthoff, DC, ND