Our muscles are designed to shorten or contract. This happens when we receive an electrochemical signal from the CNS (Central nervous system) telling the muscle to shorten. In an efficient muscle this contraction stops when the signal stops and the muscle returns to it's resting length. Energy is required for the the shortening phase and the not the relaxing phase. Full voluntary control of the muscle is the ability to contract and then relax the muscle allowing it to return to its resting state.
What happens when we lose voluntary control over our muscles and they no longer relax?
- We are left with chronic muscular tension
- tired muscles
- hard muscles
- often quite painful muscles
- a feeling that muscles are weak and lacking movement
- diminished awareness
A chronically contracted muscle is like a motor that cannot turn off, it continues to burn energy!!
Why does this happen?
This occurs as a result of an accumulation of physiological reactions to stress and trauma resulting from incidents such as
Long hours of sitting
One sided sports
Playing musical instruments
reflexes which I will go into in a later blog known as the red light relex (startle reflex ), the green light reflex ( ready for action) and trauma reflex (a protective muscular response to injury)
How does somatic movement education work??
Somatic movement techniques release chronic muscle contraction by resetting the Sensory-Motor feed back loop, which senses and regulates muscle length. It teaches you to remember what your body has forgotten - if you can sense it , you can change it!! By becoming consciously aware that you are contracticting your muscles, instead of working in autopilot mode, you can make change.
When we repeat a movement over and over, it becomes automatic and we lose voluntary control over the muscles involved.. Over time as you habituate movement and postural patterns, your brain learns to keep certain muscles tight which causes them to remain somewhat contracted,even whilst sleeping. You then lose your ability to both control and sense that these muscles are contracted and proprioception is decreased.. This condition of the CNS in which habituation has led to chronic muscle contraction and unnatural movement patterns is known as sensory motor amnesia.
In my next blog I will talk about the technique Pandiculation which we use in Hanna Somatics to release Sensory Motor Amnesia