In a previous blog post I wrote about why the study of Somatic Education should be a part of medical school curriculum. I’d like to take the discussion further.
In the 2012 Olympics many saw an interesting addition to the uniforms of athletes: colorful stripes of tape on the shoulders, backs and legs of the athletes. What were these stripes that resembled over-sized tattoos? Kinesiotape. This tape was the “therapy” of choice on the part of the supporting medical staff caring for the Olympic athletes. The goal was to ease muscle pain and improve muscle function.
Kinesiotape is elasticized tape that is thought to relief muscle pain and improve muscle function. Statistical evidence supporting the use of kineosiotape is insignificant, yet more and more professional athletes are using it. Why? Well, Power Balance bracelets were all the rage not too long ago, so perhaps this is a similar trend. This tells me that people aren’t basing their choices on science, but rather on celebrity popularity.
Kinesiotape is not a long term solution to muscle pain or muscle dysfunction.
Better movement doesn’t come from applying kinesiotape to one’s body any more than a better tennis swing will come from wearing the same tennis outfit as Serena Williams. Re-educating movement patterns improves movement. Period.
Here’s why kinesiotape doesn’t work and how you can get muscle pain relief AND improved muscle function/athletic performance:
The sensory motor system of the brain controls muscles and movement. No exception. When muscles are tight, painful, or not functioning as well as desired, improvement in the sensory motor cortex of the brain is necessary. Kinesiotape can act as slight sensory feedback to the muscles in order to give them a different sensation, yet that is not a STRONG enough level of feedback to “re-set” the cortex in order to improve muscle function.
In order to release and relax tight, painful muscles you must contract the muscles harder than their present, chronic state of contraction – and then slowly release them into a new length. This technique is called pandiculation. All vertebrate animals do this; just watch your dog or cat when they get up from rest.
Pandiculation is the brain’s natural reflex action that allows you to bring your muscles back to a state of zero resting tonus and free the muscles for “fight or flight” should that become necessary. This means that muscles that are soft and relaxed are more efficiently “recruited” for ballistic movement – the kind of action that is basic and necessary to all sports.
Nothing that anybody does to you can change what your brain and muscles are doing. You MUST do it yourself.
This means that instead of putting something ON your body in a vain attempt to change the pain, you must “re-set” the cortex of the brain with pandiculation so it stops the constant “looping” of your brain/computer. In computer-speak, it’s akin to hitting Ctr+Alt+Delete. This is what we teach you to do in Hanna Somatic (Clinical Somatic) Education. We address the full body pattern of contraction inherent occurring in the body so that the entire muscular system operates at an optimum level.
Hanna Somatic Exercises and clinical hands-on methods are simple, yet profound in their effectiveness at restoring optimum resting length and function to muscles that have become painfully tight due to accidents, injuries, surgeries, repetitive stress or over-training. A short routine of Somatic Exercises can teach those who have ‘tried everything” for pain relief to eliminate pain for the long term. Back pain, sciatica, SI joint dysfunction, chronic neck, shoulder and hip pain and chronic headaches are all conditions easily relieved with Hanna Somatic (Clinical Somatic) Education.
This method is the best kept secret in the field of healthcare, pain management and athletic performance. Athletic trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists and bodyworkers can be at the forefront of athletic training and rehabilitation should they decide to learn this method. It’s simple, scientific, easy, fun and comfortable. And it will change your life.
If you’re interested in a participating in a professional certification training in Clinical Somatic Education, or becoming a Somatic Exercise Coach, contact Martha for information.