Frequently Asked Questions
Can learning Somatics help me get out of pain?
If your pain is caused by chronic muscular tension, yes. Once you learn how to do Somatic Movements correctly, a regular practice will go a long way towards resolving any muscular pain you may be experiencing, and ensuring it doesn’t return in the future. And if you do happen to hurt yourself, you will know what to do.
However Somatics is not magic, there is a learning curve. If you have a long standing complaint you will certainly need multiple lessons. Learning takes time and repetition. If you are diligent with your practice, and committed to learning, positive results are inevitable.
How many Private Sessions will I need and how often will I need them?
How many sessions you will need depends on several factors:
- The severity of the issues.
- How you respond to the work.
- And most importantly, how much you are willing to participate in the process with your home practice.
If you have a chronic muscular pain that you would like to address I recommend committing to at least 3 private sessions. Progress can then be reviewed at this point although most clients report substantial improvements from the first session.
For optimal results, weekly session are recommended. If that is not possible, less frequent sessions can still be effective.
You will be expected to practice the movements daily in between your weekly private sessions
When your series of private sessions is completed consider attending a workshop once or twice a year, or signing up to a regular class. There is always more to learn.
How often do I need to practice the Somatic movements and how many of each should I do?
Somatic Movements should ideally be practiced daily, morning and night. At the very least you should strive to practice once daily. Remember you are learning new ways to sense and move your muscles, as such, consistent and regular practice is required.
The more you practice the faster you can expect to progress. Conversely the less you practice the less progress you will make.
How many repetitions should you do? There are no set numbers of repetitions, you do as many repetitions as you feel you need. If you focus on quality over quantity you will not go wrong.
What are the Benefits of learning Somatics?
There are many benefits, such as;
- Less muscle pain
- Less tension
- Relief from the physical effects of stress
- Reduce anxiety
- Improved posture
- Freer breathing
- Deeper more restful sleep
- Better movement quality
- Better balance & coordination
- Better mobility & flexibility
- Physical independence
Does learning Somatics benefit mental health?
When the body is relaxed and comfortable the mind will inevitably feel calmer too. Clients often comment on the calming effects that the practice has on the mind. You can think of Somatics as a form of moving meditation.
What type of neuromuscular complaints can be improved by learning and practicing Somatics?
Somatics is very effective in improving or resolving many common complaints, such as;
Low back pain, Mid back pain, Upper back pain, Neck pain, Jaw Pain, Shoulder pain, Hip Pain, Piriformis syndrome, Sciatica, Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow, Tension Headaches, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Achilles Tendonitis, Groin Strains, Psoas Pain, Repetitive Strain Injuries, Bursitis, and more…
For resolution of these types of conditions plan on at least 6 Private Sessions
What's the difference between Somatics, Hanna Somatics, Clinical Somatics and Essential Somatics?
“Somatics” is an umbrella term for a particular class of embodied movement practices such as Hanna Somatics, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique etc.
Hanna Somatics is a particular system of Somatic Education developed by Dr. Thomas Hanna PhD. Hanna couldn’t legally trademark the term ‘Somatics’ so he had to add his name to it to differentiate it from Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique, and other Somatic practices.
Essential Somatics is a school of Somatic Education run by Martha Peterson. Martha is herself a Certified Hanna Somatic Practitioner. and teaches in the tradition of Thomas Hanna. Graduates of Martha’s Essential Somatics Trainings are called Clinical Somatic Educators. Hanna’s work is the only method of Somatic Education that uses Pandiculation, and recognises Sensory Motor Amnesia and The Three Reflexes.
How is Somatics different from other modalities such as, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, physiotherapy etc?
The main differences are as follows.
- Somatics is not a Therapy (hence the name Learn Somatics). Somatics focuses on client education rather than a treatment based model. Therapy/bodywork is done TO you, where as Somatics is done BY you, with guidance, and hands on feedback from your practitioner. You are an active participant in the process, learning Somatic movements that you can use at home (or anywhere) to continue to improve indefinitely. The goal is to learn enough so that you will be able to resolve any muscle pain/movements issues that you may experience, yourself.
- The recognition of Sensory Motor Amnesia as a cause of many chronic muscular pain conditions. Muscles that are chronically contracted are tense, tight, tender and painful. These contracted muscles can’t be sensed clearly by the brain/central nervous system, and so in turn, can’t be used optimally. They also cause pain, discomfort and restricted movement. The goal of Clinical Somatics is to teach clients how to take themselves from a state of Sensory Motor Amnesia to a state of Sensory Motor Awareness. This can only be done through self directed and initiated movement. This is achieved through the learning of, and regular practice of, Somatic Movements.
- The recognition of Three Stress Reflexes, common to all humans. How they are triggered, the problems they can cause, and how to resolve them…
How is Somatics different from Pilates and/or Yoga?
The primary difference between Somatics and other movement practices is the goal. The goal of Somatics is to increase Sensory Motor Awareness, release chronic muscle tension and improve our ability to sense and move our muscles. We work very specifically with the brain and nervous system in this regard. Whilst Yoga and Pilates are fine practices their goals are different. A regular Somatics practice makes an excellent adjunct to Yoga or Pilates.
What about stretching?
Stretching does nothing to resolve Sensory Motor Amnesia. When we stretch we are at the mercy of the Stretch Reflex. The Stretch Reflex is a protective automatic response mechanism built into the spinal cord. It is designed to protect our muscles from injury. Because it is a spinal cord reflex, there is no new learning for the brain during a stretch. No learning, no lasting change.
Pandiculation engages the brain, is faster, more effective and feels better.
Does Somatics hurt?
If your muscles are very tightly contracted then initially there maybe a little discomfort when you do the movements, but this will subside very quickly as you gently contract and then relax the muscles in question. But aside from the scenario described Somatic Movements do not cause pain and are pleasurable to practice. Somatic movements are designed to reestablish the normal movement patterns of the human body, as long as you move slowly and gently you will have no problems.
I feel discomfort/pain when I do Somatics and/or after my practice. What am I doing wrong?
If you are experiencing pain and/or discomfort after your practice there are a few potential problems.
You are using too much effort. Somatics must be done gently. This can be a challenging concept in our ‘more is better’, ‘harder, faster’ culture. Slow down, see how gently you can do the movements. The less effort you use the more you will be able to feel, and the better your results will be.
You are doing the movement incorrectly. This is usually the most obvious answer. Because you are learning new movements, it may take you a while to perform them correctly. This is normal. Often what we think we are doing, and what we are actually doing are very different. But if you move slowly, with care and attention to what you can feel, you will soon find your way.
- You have just released some muscles that have been contracted for a very long time. When we first release muscles that have been contracted for a very long time, it is common to experience some residual soreness. This will dissipate naturally as the muscles lengthen, normal blood flow returns and freedom of movement is restored. Within a day or two, with continued practice of the movements, you can expect to feel much better.
Should I have private sessions or come to class/workshop?
If you have a chronic muscular pain that you would like to address I recommend committing to at least 3 private sessions.
If you are just looking to improve movement or relieve general stiffness then a class/workshop, online or in person, is a great option.
The ideal choice though is to come for private sessions AND take a regular class.
Remember you are learning, so the more opportunities you get to learn under supervision the faster you will progress!
Can I mix Somatics with other modalities?
It is not recommended to mix modalities for the duration of your private sessions. This allows you to make an honest assessment of Somatics in isolation from other methods. If you engage in two or three modalities at once it is difficult to ascertain which is conferring the most benefit and what the effects of each are. Commit to the process and evaluate it when you have finished.
Can I do strenuous activities or exercise right after a session?
No, strenuous activity right after a session is not recommended. Allow 24 hours so your brain can consolidate the new learning. A brisk walk however is very helpful after a session as it helps to integrate the changes that occur during a session. It is common to feel tired and relaxed after a private session or class, so clear your schedule after your session, and maybe even have a nap if possible.
Can all ages do Somatics?
Yes, Somatics is suitable for all ages, the movements are safe, gentle and performed slowly, making them achievable for anyone. As long as you can get up and down off the floor you can do Somatics. If you can’t get up and down off the floor, the movements can be done in bed to start with although this does make them somewhat less effective. There are also seated version of the most fundamental movements.