Monday, June 29, 2015

Human reflexes are natural, but...

. . . not if you get stuck in them.

I keep referring to reflexes and how Hanna Somatics Education helps you break out of the chronically tight muscle patterns that you can get stuck in, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to explain them a bit more.

Human reflexes are perfectly natural reactions to stimuli, stressors and daily activities. You put your finger in the palm of a baby and she grips it. That's a natural reflex. You shine a light in your eye and your pupil constricts. That's a natural reflex too.

As far as fuller movement patterns,  here are three perfectly natural reflex patterns humans do with their bodies in response to daily activities. They are the: 

green light reflex
green light reflex- or sometimes called military posture, where one stands with an arch in the lower back and chest lifted. This posture is a reflex to get-er-done, go-go-go demands in life. 
Green light posture can often be considered "perfect" posture. But in the above photo the person is a little too arched in the lower back and is leaning forward a bit.

    red light reflex
red light reflex-- or sometimes called startle reflex, where one stands with rounded shoulders, head forward. A reflex in response to stress, fright, anxiety or depression. I also attribute it to lifestyle habits these days, like excessive driving, sitting, computer and device time.
In the above photo notice the tightness in the back of the neck, forward rounding of the shoulders and how the arms and hands are out in front of the legs.

trauma reflex
trauma reflex-- where the body bends to the side in response to injury, surgery or sometimes abuse. (Imagine a sprained ankle. You will tilt your body away from the injured ankle to take weight off of it. Eventually you walk on it again, but you may very likely still have a bit of a tilt to your torso.)
In the above photo notice the different heights of the shoulders, placement of the arms, more flexion of the right elbow, the staggered feet, and how the right shoulder is back and down a bit.

FYI, I see the trauma reflex in just about every person I work with.
(In fact the red and green light peeps above are also in the trauma pattern.)

Like I said, these are natural responses to daily demands. But if and when we do them repeatedly or don't fully relax out of them, that they become habitual patterns. Your brain has gone offline and these reflexes have become involuntary, which then can create misalignments, tight muscles, and pain in a variety of places in the body. Just think about what most of us do day in and day out; We sit at desks with our posture either slumping or arching and our chins jutting forward. 

Thanks to the folks who let me use their photos! I appreciate them willing to share so you can learn more about your body and how it works. No one is perfect in their posture or perfectly symmetrical. The point is, if we get stuck in patterns of tightness it can create problems of pain and dysfunction. Learning how to regain control of your muscles with Hanna Somatic Education can help!

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