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  • What is clinical somatic education?
    Clinical Somatic education (also known as Hanna Somatic Education) is re-education of the habituated patterns of movement in the body through the central nervous system. It is safe, gentle and effective. It can eliminate chronic muscular pain, restricted movement and poor posture. Somatic education teaches our brains how to voluntarily release and relax our muscles to their full resting length.
  • What conditions does Clinical Somatics help relieve?
    Many conditions that cause chronic pain are thought to be structural problems, often, this is not the case. These conditions can be the symptom of functional neuromuscular problems that result in chronically tight muscles. This state called Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) ) occurs as a response to stress (both physical and emotional), accidents, injuries, surgeries, improper biomechanics and repetitive actions. Chronic Back Pain Neck & Shoulder Pain Sciatica Hip Joint Pain Frozen Shoulder Tension Headaches Herniated Disks Leg Length Discrepancy Piriformis Syndrome Whiplash Scoliosis Knee & Foot Pain Plantarfasciitis The issues listed above are generally the result of excessive muscle tightness and poor muscular control, when you are taught how to release and relax the affected musculature, the conditions will resolve. By committing to a daily practice of Somatics exercises and RELEARNING muscular control you can ensure that you will not reinstate the muscular tightness that led to your condition initially. Permanent pain relief through Somatics is both possible and expected.
  • What is Sensory Motor Amnesia ?
    Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) develops when your muscles become 'stuck' in a contraction or we lose our ability to SENSE and MOVE our muscles at will. We forget how to voluntarily release and relax the muscles out to their full length. These 'stuck' muscles pull us out of shape creating postural distortions. These postural distortions make it more difficult to move well by reducing our range of motion and can eventually cause chronic muscle pain (back, hip, neck, shoulder, knee, ankle pain etc.) without apparent cause. SMA can develop in the following ways:- Physical and/or emotional stress Trauma caused by injuries, surgeries, falls, impacts Repetitive action such as working at computers, driving, playing a musical instrument Lack of movement (sedentary lifestyle)
  • What is Pandiculation?
    Thomas Hanna, the founder of Clinical Somatic Education, studied neurophysiology and the effects of the pandicular response. In the 1970s and 80s, he developed a systematic way to use our natural pandicular response and make it even more effective—by slowing down the contraction and release, and by doing the movement voluntarily rather than relying on it to kick in as an automatic reaction. The technique of voluntary pandiculation that Hanna developed is a highly specialized type of eccentric contraction (the action of muscles that are engaged while they lengthen under load). Picture what your biceps are doing as you lower a dumbbell, for example. The muscles are slowly lengthening, but are still engaged as long as you hold the weight. A voluntary pandiculation is performed very slowly and consciously so that the nervous system is able to sense and integrate the biofeedback that the movement provides. The opposing muscles should not engage during the pandiculation. And the resistance must be applied so that the actively lengthening muscles are fully engaged throughout the range of motion. In the self-care exercises that Hanna developed, gravity provides the only resistance. This means you have to be in specific positions relative to gravity in order to pandiculate muscle groups correctly. Hanna found that his groundbreaking technique of voluntary pandiculation quickly reduced muscle tension. And since it reduced muscle tension through learning rather than manipulation or stretching, the effects were long-lasting. He used pandiculation to help people relieve chronic pain conditions and postural issues, like back pain, joint pain, disc problems, scoliosis, rounded posture, functional leg length discrepancy, and more.
  • What can I expect during a clinical somatic session?
    The difference between Clinical Somatics and other modalities such as physiotherapy, chiropractors, massage therapy etc. is that your active participation is required! It is your brain that controls your muscles, so no lasting change can be made without your input into the improvement of your sensory motor system. This is proprioception and while you will be guided through your clinical lesson by your practitioner, it is vital that you remain engaged and focussed on the process. You become more aware of what you can sense, or what you can feel and therefore progress to what you can change! Through assisted pandiculation you can learn to reset muscle tension at the level of the brain and regain voluntary control of habitually tightened muscles. This provides immediate results in terms of pain relief, improved mobility, awareness and control of movement. You will learn simple effective movements to do at home in order to maintain the neuromuscular changes achieved in your session.
  • Why hasn't my Doctor told me about Somatics?
    Hanna Somatic Education is new to Australia with the first clinical trainings being conducted in Melbourne in 2016 from Essential Somatics, USA. With the exception of physiatrists and many sports medicine specialists, most doctors are not trained to work with muscle dysfunction, posture, and movement. Most doctors are trained to work with pathologies, prevent diseases, help keep us healthy, and perform surgery. The good news is that more and more doctors are learning about Hanna Somatic Education in an effort to provide their patients with the most effective and sensible approach to long-term muscle pain relief. They are finding that it is a safe and effective method to solving common problems related to muscle pain, posture, inflexibility, and recurring injury.
  • Which exercises should I do?  For how long and how often?
    You should do the exercises given in your clinical session. If you have not yet been to a Somatic exercise class or had a lesson with one of our certified practitioners then there are many helpful Somatic Exercises you can do. Ideally, we suggest using the resources produced by Martha Petersen at Essential Somatics, namely the Pain Relief Through Movement DVD and/or the book, "Move Without Pain" as a guide. Most muscle pain conditions are the result of a full body pattern of Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA); therefore it is crucial to begin with movements that address the muscles of the front, back and sides of the body before focusing on a specific area. Sample routines are found in "Move Without Pain" and our DVDs. Remember that Clinical Somatics is education - not an exercise routine! Take things slowly and give yourself time to sense each movement before moving on to new ones. Only do as much as is comfortable. A simple guideline is to learn 2-3 movements and do only those movements for 4-5 days before adding more movements to your practice. Your brain needs time to habituate the changes you make. Visit to purchase these helpful resources or sign up for an on-line lesson with Martha!
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