When it come to teaching muscles to relax, there are myriad disciplines available. How do you know which one to choose?
I’ve been a massage therapist for 24 years. I still occasionally give massages, though my practice is primarily Hanna Somatics. Recently one of my massage clients told me, “I’m finally able to sit cross-legged. After 10 sessions of _______ my legs are actually beginning to relax.” 10 sessions?! Now, I’m not going to tell you which method she’s doing, because I really don’t like to disparage any one approach. However, when it comes to chronic pain or postural imbalances, Hanna Somatics is just about the most effective method available. Why? Because our expertise is in teaching you to recognize and reverse SENSORY MOTOR AMNESIA.
I use to be a frequent visitor to my favorite Rolfer. I, too, thought that relaxing muscles and “fixing” chronic pain had to take time, and that muscles take a long time to relax and change. Most Rolfers ask for a 10 session commitment. They are taught that slowly, but surely muscles will relax and structure will realign once fascia is relaxed around the muscles. Many massage therapists believe that weekly massages for long periods of time can get rid of those muscle spasms. Even more physical therapists and doctors will say that back pain requires visits three times a week for sometimes up to 4 months! Fortunately, from a Somatic Education point of view, I know they are incorrect. My clinical experience tells me otherwise.
When you understand how muscles are controlled by the brain and the nervous system and how muscles can learn to stay habitually contracted it changes the game plan. When muscles become “frozen” in sensory motor amnesia, the brain literally forgets how to relax them. The muscles must be retrained. No amount of machines, weights or massive kneading will change the state of an involuntarily tight muscle.
Through active participation and the technique of pandiculation, muscles can change their contracted state in minutes! Through daily practice your muscles can stay balanced and coordinated for the long term. Forget 10 sessions – how about only 4 or 5 – and sometimes even less. When you experience the rapid change in sensory motor control and self-awareness that you can achieve in one or two clinical sessions of Hanna Somatics, it can change your life and your perspective.
My client who has gone to 10 sessions of _____ could have achieved the same results in 3 sessions of Somatics. She could also relax her contracted shoulders which are out of balance. Once she did that she could go to _______ and get strong and conditioned more effectively.
Once muscles have been reset at the brain level, and your body and movement are balanced and symmetrical, then you can go off and enjoy all the myriad disciplines out there that are fun to do. You’ll enjoy your massage more thoroughly, you’ll get more out of your weight training, yoga, Pilates, running or whatever else you love to do.
The commitment to keeping yourself feeling good is yours. I wrote a blog post about how good health is a long term commitment. It doesn’t take long to learn to relax muscles and rid yourself of pain. It takes a life time of awareness and joyful movement, however, to keep yourself feeling good. And that, my friends, is free.