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Somatics

Somatic Therapy

"Individuals who practice somatic techniques at home will augment the effects of conventional chiropractictreatment, body work and nutritional therapy, reduce the amount of treatment that they need, and in some cases eliminate it altogether." - John Hill, D.C.


      The main motivation that brings people into a Chiropractic clinic is pain. Pain can originate from a variety of sources but one of the most common ones is the pain caused by muscle spasm and chronic tension. When the spinal vertebra and other skeletal components become misaligned, the associated support muscles contract to compensate for the misalignment. This leads to chronic muscle tension. If you then compound the imbalance by playing "weekend warrior" and stress the chronically tense muscles, they can become acutely inflamed and quite painful.

      When Chiropractic manipulation is used to align the spine and other skeletal structures (knees, elbows, etc.) the muscles are then able to relax and the pain and inflammation dissipates. But this does not always happen to a satisfactory degree. The muscles, or more correctly, the brain, tends to remember patterns that are set into motion and attempts to maintain them. If you probe deep into your muscles and feel tight, tender ropy bands, you are feeling the consequences of muscle memory.

      Another phenomenon frequently encountered is muscle amnesia. When an injury occurs, the natural tendency is to "favor" or restrict the use of the injured body part. This prevents aggravation of the injury and allows the injured part to heal. The problem is that the body (i.e. the muscles, or the brain that controls the muscles) remembers the restricted activity pattern even after the healing has occurred. The consequences of this is weakness in specific muscles. The individual is usually completely unconscious of this but spends his or her whole life compensating for it.

      When specific muscles exhibit this type of intrinsic weakness, the skeletal structures are not supported adequately or symmetrically. The human body develops distortion patterns in the muscle support structures that hold the spine and skeleton upright. This occurs when the muscles on one side develop a weakness or chronic tension relative to the other side. This inequality of support in the muscles results from learned habits. These habits result from retained patterns of emotional stress, trauma, and habit. This then becomes a contributing cause of spinal and skeletal misalignment. It also explains why chiropractic adjustments which correct the misalignments "don't hold".

      The study of this phenomenon is called Somatics. Somatic therapy includes specific exercises designed to retrain the neural connections between the brain and muscles to reintegrate all the muscles into a whole functioning unit with the rest of the body. Somatic therapy is a series of hands-on, neuromuscular reeducation techniques adapted from a number of sources. It is based on and inspired by the growing body of research and information in the field of somatic education, or sensory-motor learning, pioneered by such individuals as F.M. Alexander, Mosche Feldenkrais, and Thomas Hanna.

      Fortunately, these unconscious memories which lead to bodily dysfunction and pain are easily and efficiently retrained and corrected. A kinesiological examination reveals inequalities in muscle strength and a combination of reflex techniques, somatic therapy and rehabilitation exercises, retrain the muscles to function equally and symmetrically. The result is that the patient experiences greater spinal stability , greater strength and muscle tone, more energy, and less stiffness and pain.

      Chiropractic adjustments and somatic exercises are highly synergistic. Somatic therapy is frequently necessary to achieve optimum therapeutic results or even satisfactory results in many cases. Individuals who practice somatic techniques at home will augment the effects of chiropractic and other treatment, reduce the amount of treatment that they need, and in some cases eliminate it altogether. You can get more specific and in depth help from doctors trained in somatic technique and kinesiology, if you need it.

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