Many people suffer with tight muscles and this can cause long term pain. The usual approach to finding relief is physical therapy, medication, stretching and massage. These methods can help but often symptoms return over a short period of time and you become trapped in a cycle of pain which can be debilitating and depressing. However, there is an alternative way to relax the tension in your body that you may not have heard of. It is called "Somatics" (founded by Thomas Hannah) and once you understand the science behind it, you will be intrigued to find out more and perhaps give it a try. Somatics works on the understanding that the only way to relax tight muscles is by getting the brain to let them go! It's common knowledge that your brain contracts your muscles and relaxes your muscles when you perform any movement. Therefore it makes sense to say, that a tight muscle needs the brain to send the command to relax.
How can your brain fail to recognise that the muscle has not been released? Well, when you repeat a movement time and time again the brain eventually does that movement in auto-pilot without you really having to concentrate. Think back to when you were learning to ride a bike for the first time. To begin with you really needed to be aware of all your movements to stay balanced, steer and look where you were going. Over time, you perfect this and eventually you could ride a bike with very little concentration as your brain had learned how to do it. This learned behaviour can happen if you repeat any movement over a period of time. If you sit at a computer all day with your upper back rounded, chest muscles tight and head thrust forward this becomes a habit. You go home in the car, sitting in the same rounded position and even once you're home you might sit and watch the TV still in that same rounded position. Repeat that for days, weeks, months, years and your brain will consider this position as "normal". Even when you think you are standing up straight your brain will hold onto tension in the muscles which have been shortened all day and your posture will look stooped or rounded and this could give you chronic pain. If you massage out those muscles or stretch them they soon revert back to the posture that your brain considers to be "normal" and you will be back to square one. Your brain can no longer let those muscles relax, they are no longer under voluntary control.
In Somatics this is called SMA (Sensory Motor Amnesia) and this is the reason other methods of pain relief only provide a temporary solution. The brain needs to get these muscles back under voluntary control and this can only be done through Somatic movements called "Pandiculations".
Pandiculations are mindful, gentle and less is definitely more. During these movements you work slowly so that your brain is aware of all the internal sensations in your body. Only by slowing down and moving gently can you discover and release the tensions within your body. The movements can be tailored to your specific requirements and with practice you can replace bad habits and pain, with better posture and relaxed muscles for a permanent fix to chronic pain.
Somatics can help you and if you would like to know more, contact Jill Currie.