Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do you remember feeling good in your body?

As some of you may remember, I was hit by a car on my bike two years ago. It's been a frustrating two years to say the least. But the silver lining to all this is that I've learned sooooo much about the body, the brain and recovery.

So much so that I don't know quite where to start. But bear with me. Because if you want to learn how to move more efficiently, with more fluidity and less pain, you'll want to read on...

move with ease... 
I guess I'll start with Somatics. Somatics, in a nutshell, is an educational process of retraining your muscles to release chronic tightness, relearn proper alignment, so you reverse pain. Passive therapies --massage, chiropractic treatments, etc-- can help reduce pain, but between treatments our bodies can return to the habitual tightness that may have be released on the treatment table. That's why I love corrective exercise/somatic methods. Yes, you actually have to open your mind, become aware, and be loyal to your practice, but I believe that helping yourself heal and reduce pain is very powerful.

Two parts of the brain that control muscles are called the cortex and the sub cortex. The cortex part of your brain helps you learn things, from walking to shifting gears on a standard transmission car. Over time those activities become rote and we don't consciously think about how to do them. I mean, when was the last time you consciously thought about how to tie your shoes or brush your teeth? Your brain is on autopilot. The subcortex has taken over. The brain still has to send signals to your muscles to perform but you don't have to consciously tell your body what to do.

So how to does this relate to aches and pains? Let's say you sprain your ankle. Poor thing! But you get by, do the RICE thing, until one day it feels better and you're back in action. Well during recovery your cortex was learning how to avoid the pain of walking with a sprained ankle. You inevitably walked funky for a while and created some altered movement patterns to your regular walking gait. So even though you may have "recovered" your body has learned a new way to walk. It may not be that significant and you probably won't even be aware of it because your subcortex is now in control. But now, instead of functioning properly certain muscles in your body have tightened and won't relax. Thomas Hanna called it Sensory Motor Amnesia.

So whether you've sprained an ankle, sit at a desk all day, or even, some say, have idiopathic scoliosis, your muscles have learned to stay tight and contracted. With somatic education you retrain your brain and nervous system to relax muscles so you move with ease. Your brain has learned to keep muscles contracted, then the brain must be involved in teaching the muscles to relax, release and move efficiently again. Some of the big names in somatic education are Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Hanna Somatics, and to some extent, Egoscue and even Pilates.

Personally I take every opportunity to further my education studying corrective exercise methods. Among my CECs I've studied Linda Christy Weiler's amazing somatic program, Proactive Postural Restructuring. I've taken courses from Anthony Carey, including Foundations for Function: Movement By Design, which might not be classified as Somatics, but I've experienced Egoscue and find the two have similar moves.

OK, well like I said, I've been soaking in as much information  on pain release methods as my brain will absorb. I'll share more here, in upcoming workshops, classes and private training. I'm so looking forward to it! Hope you are too...



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