What is Clinical Somatic Education?


The traditional way of thinking is….‘I have a tight muscle in my neck.’

The somatic way of thinking is….. ‘I actually have a muscle that is being tightened in my neck, by me, by my self….by my brain.’

Clinical Somatic Education is based on neuroscience........and uses the motor cortex of your brain to help you release pain and tension in your muscles and joints.

Habituated muscular contractions and inefficient movement patterns tend to develop over your lifetime in response to everyday stress, injuries, repetitive movements, or emotional situations and typically result in tight, painful muscles. These muscles can remain tight and painful 24/7, even when you are completely at rest, having a detrimental impact on how you function; limiting how you sit, walk, stand, run, etc. This state of dysfunction is known as Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA): a term used to describe faulty connections between your brain and your muscles. Your muscles are basically stuck on ‘cruise control’ (constantly tight / painful) and the switch to relax them, is malfunctioning.

Clinical Somatic Education (CSE) is a form of neuromuscular (brain-body) movement re-education that addresses and reverses Sensory Motor Amnesia. The “habit” of stiffness & pain can be unlearned through active movement. Somatics focuses on teaching you how to release your chronic muscle tension and pain to restore natural movement patterns that are more coordinated, balanced and efficient.

Somatics was developed by Thomas Hanna in the 1970's. After studying neurology at the University of Miami Medical School, he spent many years studying movement with Moshe Feldenkrais (the Feldenkrais Method) before he went on to develop his own unique method of movement reeducation known as Hanna Somatic Education, also known as Clinical Somatic Education (CSE).

What are some examples of Sensory Motor Amnesia?

Habituated- Involuntary- Patterns

  • breath holding or chest breathing
  • clenching your jaw
  • one shoulder raised (carrying a purse on one shoulder)
  • chronic neck or back pain
  • standing with weight primarily on one leg / hip
  • shoulder and hip pain
  • tension headaches
  • uneven leg length
  • a head forward position
  • repetitive use / strain injuries

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’