What is Clinical Somatic Movement Education?
Clinical Somatic Movement Education is a mindful movement practice inspired by the work of Thomas Hanna, PhD that teaches us how to move toward greater mind-body integration, ease of movement, and both physical and emotional freedom. Somatic Movement aims to release chronic muscle contraction patterns created by past experiences which are unconsciously maintained. The brain learns to keep muscles unconsciously contracted due to repeated and reflexive responses to stress from adverse life events such as accidents, injuries, surgeries, and emotional stress. Thomas Hanna referred to this condition of chronically-tight muscles that cannot be consciously sensed as Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA).
“SMA is a state that occurs universally in the human species as the predictably conditioned result of long-term stress conditions. Constant repetition of stressful stimuli will cause loss of conscious voluntary control of significant areas of the body’s musculature, usually predominating at the center of gravity, i.e., the musculature at the juncture of pelvis and rib cage.”
– Thomas Hanna
Even innocuous repetitive activities/postures like sitting and driving can teach our brains to keep our muscles “tight” to the point the tightness becomes automatic and inaccessible to conscious control. Unconscious action-patterns can be seen as the root cause of many deficits in movement awareness, flexibility, and pains of unknown origins. Moving well improves our cognition, refining our ability to understand the world and ourselves and acquire new knowledge through thinking, experiencing, and perceiving with our senses.
Unlike many other “body-work” methods where the client is “worked-on” and is passive, here, the client actively and consciously participates in the process. There can be no other way. Unconscious postural habits and movement patterns are brought back into conscious awareness only through willful precise targeted motions. If you cannot feel how your muscles are responding – you can’t change their action. Clients are taught specific skills that improve their ability to more accurately sense their bodies and relearn muscle control by actively engaging in postures or movement patterns and consciously sensing the feedback within themselves. This allows the client to gain a greater awareness of how they can effectively turn off or release muscles. The practice utilizes hands-on techniques which offer greater biofeedback and teaches clients to engage the “pandiculation response” of the nervous system to reset resting muscle tone. All movements are specific, gentle, safe, and importantly, pain-free allowing the client to maintain complete control of the process. I collaborate with the client to create new brain pathways for sensory awareness and fluid movement.
Common Somatosensory muscle pain/dysfunction conditions are:
- Painful joints and muscles
- Neck, shoulder, back pain
- TMDJ-jaw pain
- Hip, knee, foot pain
- Repetitive use injuries
- Poor posture
- Accident trauma and Whiplash
- Post surgical restrictions in movement
- Frozen shoulder syndrome
Book a Free Consultation with Andy
If you’re interested in working with me, press the button below to schedule a free call. We will discuss your health challenges and goals to determine if Somatic Movement is appropriate and to assess how many sessions you may require to address your needs.