What is Clinical Somatic Education?

Clinical Somatic Education is based on neuro-science........and uses your brain to help you release pain and tension in your muscles and joints.

Clinical Somatics is a practical approach to relieving muscle pain. Your body is designed to move easily. Pain and tension such as low back pain or neck and shoulder tension develop as a result of injuries, accidents, repetitive motions, emotional stress or whatever else has happened in your life. The method of Somatic Education is based upon movement explorations and relaxation exercises in addition to hands-on clinical techniques. The goal is to release tension, regain control over muscles that seem to have a mind of their own, and awaken a new awareness about your body. As you retrain your brain to send different messages to your muscles, you will be able to address the root cause of your pain or discomfort.

Let's talk technicalities

When you have tight muscles that you are unable to relax, your ability to sense and control your muscles is less than optimal. This is known as Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA). Somatics focuses on teaching you how to pandiculate your muscles to release your chronic muscle tension and pain. A pandiculation is an active movement that gives your brain lots of feedback about your muscles and resets the length and tension of the muscles, at the level of the nervous system.

Clinical Somatic Education (CSE) is 'hands-on neuroplasticity'. (Click on the link for more information.)

Stress Reflex Patterns

Our patterns of tension often develop within the following patterns.

Back of the body

  • low back pain
  • foot pain - plantar fasciitis
  • tight hamstrings and calves
  • neck pain
  • tension or migraine headaches
  • piriformis syndrome
  • sciatica

Front of the body

  • shallow breathing
  • head forward position
  • neck pain
  • rounded shoulders
  • hip & knee pain
  • digestive issues
  • jaw pain / TMJ
  • tight hip flexors / psoas
  • numbness in the hands

Sides of the body

  • one shoulder raised or forward (carrying a purse on one shoulder)
  • standing with weight primarily on one leg (carrying a baby on one hip)
  • sciatica
  • low back pain on one side
  • uneven leg length
  • scoliosis

How do muscles become tight in the first place?

“ Muscles never move unless directed to do so by the brain. The brain controls the entire muscular system. The only thing that can really change a muscle's tone is engaging one's brain through movement.”

Martha Peterson –CHSE / author of ‘Move without Pain’

How is Clinical Somatics different from other methods of pain relief?

  • Clinical Somatics goes to the root of your muscle pain: your brain and the way in which it senses and controls muscles. You learn to retrain your brain - the command center of your muscles in order to release and relax them for improved muscle function, control and long-term pain relief.

  • Somatics teaches you to eliminate Sensory Motor Amensia (SMA), the condition of tight, “frozen” muscles that develops in response to stress: accidents, injuries, surgery and emotional and psychological stress. SMA also results in shallow breathing, anxiety, low energy, and lack of mental focus as we lose our ability to voluntarily sense ourselves internally and thus control our muscles and movement.

  • Somatics teaches you to release full body patterns of muscular tightness that compromises your ability to move efficiently and easily. These patterns present themselves as back pain, neck/shoulder pain, TMJ, sciatica, scoliosis, leg length discrepancy and other common muscle pain conditions.

  • Somatics is EDUCATION: chronically tight muscles have learned to stay tight due to reflexive responses to stress sent from the brain. Teaching muscles to relax requires education to improve brain control of both sensation and movement.

  • Clinical Somatics confers LIFE - LONG SKILLS for the rest of your life so that you can reverse muscle pain should it come back due to stress or injury.

  • Somatics teaches STRESS RESILIENCE. The more aware you are of how you respond to daily stresses the better able you are to self-correct and improve. More self-awareness means more ability to adapt and improve.

  • Somatics is ACTIVE: because your brain controls your muscles, and muscles only learn through movement, you are the only one who can change how you feel and what your muscles are doing.

Written with permission from Martha Peterson / Essential Somatics