Friday, March 29, 2019

Why stretching doesn't work

Before I found the secret of somatics, I use to stretch religiously. I'm actually quite flexible, but no matter how much I stretched, I didn't feel my muscles relax. Now I know why!

It was a paradigm shift from the beliefs I had developed from years of dancing ballet and working as a personal trainer. Stretching was what I did, because I believed it was good for me.

When I got hit by a car and couldn't move my head or walk without pain in my feet, the stretching --and "core" work -- weren't doing jack for me. Actually I was getting worse. 

Then one day I found a book on somatics. At first, I flipped through the book and thought--without actually reading the directions--"oh this looks like some of my pilates moves." Again, I believed what I already knew as gospel and the photos of the book were reenforcing my beliefs.

Then I read the book. I did the moves with awareness and got instant relief in my left hip psoas area. Volia! I was turned on to pandiculations. The movements of somatics that get muscles to actually relax without stretching! This video explains pandiculations.


I went on to study and become a clinical somatic educator. I learned about the stretch reflex, how the brain is controlling what the muscles are doing, and a whole lot more.

Why stretching doesn’t work and the Stretch Reflex

Reflexes are naturally occurring events within your body to protect you from danger, to keep you safe and alive. If you touch a hot stove your hand is pulled quickly away from the surface before you even know what you've done. That is a reflex.

When you force a muscle to lengthen beyond its normal length, the neurons in your muscles get a message from your spinal cord to contract to keep the muscles from being torn from your bones. You don't want that, right!? ;-) When you stretch, it triggers the stretch reflex. Your nervous system is protecting you from injury by triggering the stretch reflex.

You may feel you are getting more limber when you stretch but what's really happening is ligaments and tendons are being lengthened. Which results is less stable joints. And these tissues don't rebound like muscles. A slack tendon or ligament is not a good thing.

One of the key differences between stretching and somatics, is somatics is re-education. How you move is learned. Forcing muscles to change doesn't work because it doesn't address the feedback loop between your brain and the nerve receptors in your muscles. Pandiculations do.

If you want to get rid of pain, and function better so you can maintain quality of life, give pandiculations a try. You can learn more from my website and youtube channel. I work with clients online and in person, so your relief is just a click away

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