What is Clinical Somatics?

An online search defines Clinical Somatics as “neuromuscular reeducation, to help people get rid of pain.” Let’s dive a little deeper…

Everything your body does is controlled by your brain and nervous system.

Everything your body does is controlled by your brain and nervous system. More specifically, your somatic nervous system (SNS) controls your conscious movements and what you feel as you make them. And it’s the SNS that is at the heart of Clinical Somatic Education.

Something as simple as standing upright is learned.

 No one taught you how to stand upright. Rather you educated yourself by doing and sensing.

When you learn to stand, walk, swing a golf club, knit, etc., neural pathways form between the brain and body to make those actions happen. Think back to learning to ride a bike. There were so many processes involved. And with repeated practice, you eventually were able to ride your bike, like magic! And as the saying goes, “You never forget how to ride a bike.” That motor pattern is engrained in the nervous system. It works this way with any new movement pattern.

In the same way you can learn useful patterns, you can also learn faulty ones.  

So what does all this have to do with getting rid of pain? In the same way you can learn useful patterns, you can also learn faulty ones. Ones that can put stress on your body and cause you pain. Prolonged sitting, slumping toward electronic devices, contracting parts of your body in response to injury, even repeatedly hefting a backpack over one shoulder are just some examples. Stress and mood also create tension patterns in our bodies. As you habituate these patterns, your brain learns to keep the muscles that are involved chronically contracted.

Loss of voluntary control of your body and muscles  = Sensory Motor Amnesia   

In Clinical Somatics (also called Hanna or Essential Somatics), we call this lost of voluntary control of muscles sensory motor amnesia (SMA). Somatic Educators don’t attempt to “fix” bodies. Instead of using force or manipulation, which is actually fighting against the brain and nervous system, Somatic Educators help humans re-claim their innate ability to sense and learn from themselves. Somatic Education incorporates simple, safe, enjoyable movements called pandiculations.

What is a pandiculation?

A pandiculation is not a stretch or a strengthening exercise. Pandiculations are special movements done with awareness and control. 

The 3 stages of a pandiculation are:

  1. contracting areas of your body, without over effort
  2. slowly releasing the tighten muscles, with awareness, allowing muscles time to lengthen beyond their previous length, without stretching or reaching
  3. coming to complete rest and giving the brain a period to sense and integrate differences 
When your pet gets up from sleeping and looks like it’s stretching, it’s actually pandiculating. Pandiculations are instinctive, and all healthy vertebrates—animals, babies, young children— pandiculate 30 to 40 times a day. Westernized adults, though… not so much. But, when practiced regularly by humans, pandiculations can “overwrite” faulty patterns. The result is freer mobility and ease in one’s body. Decrepitude is often attributed to age, but in reality is just about how the brain and body are currently functioning. 

In this 24/7 world of external stimuli, we will all experience stress, and pain from time to time. But, how we sense and react to both can be brought back under our voluntary control through Somatic Education. The brain is “plastic” meaning it can learn new ways of being, at any age. When practiced regularly, Somatic Education can help reestablished movement patterns of freedom and ease, making chronic pain a thing of the past.


If you are new to Somatics, I hope this helps clarify things a bit. 

If you are a lover of Somatics, and seek a clear way of explaining it to others, please share this post with them. You could even share it on your favorite social media platform. Use this link: http://www.takeitoutsidefitness.com/2019/12/what-is-clinical-somatics.html

My mission is to make Somatics accessible and understandable for the world. To help get this information to the masses will take time, but if it resonates with you, I'd love your help spreading the word. We are in a world of hurt these days, and I truly believe Somatics is a huge part of the solution. 

Thanks for reading!



Ready to change your brain to change your body and life? 

I offer a variety of ways to learn Somatics.  

I work with clients around the world via online sessions 

Please visit ThinkSomatics.com for all the details.


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