Why do Somatics?
Since my last blog there has been an awful lot going on between having a baby, starting a somatics clinic of a Tuesday and some more regular classes in Liverpool I have somewhat neglected my blogging.
I recently finished my fourth training module in York. Whilst there we were practising and honing our clinical skills and a big question that came from us all was WHY do we do certain things within our training? And it occurred to me that this is probably the question most people will think about Somatics, especially if you have never tried it or even heard of it before.
Therefore, I thought I would explain in my own humble way, why I think somatics is important.
When we wake up in the morning, we all have our very own habit or ritual of what we do. It might be to make a coffee, have breakfast and cup of tea in front of the TV. It could be to go for a run, cycle to work or get the kids ready for school and make a ton of sandwichs for all the members of your household. Whatever the ritual is, we all have one and because of this we all have a pattern of movement that is specific and unique to us. This pattern of movement will use a selection of muscles required to pick up the knife to spread butter, cut the sandwich filling and pack it in to a lunchbox, or to pull on your trainers and engage the correct muscles to allow the body to run, or perhaps to wrestle the school uniform on to your little one.
Over time, these select muscles are so used to doing this job that our brains think they need these muscles to keep performing long after their job has actually finished. They then stay active and we forget to switch them off so the brain will begin to lose sensation of them as they continue to work because it cannot feel the difference between rest and activity anymore, mainly because there is not an lot of rest going on for that poor muscle.
Our brains will then begin to lose the ability to control this muscle or muscles and entail the help of surrounding muscles to do its job in compensation, which will make the action less efficient and over time start to tire out this new muscle pattern.
This is known as sensory motor amnesia. SMA. It basically means the brain has forgotten how to use a muscle. The muscle is tired and the brain is not using it efficiently and so it has gone on strike, To let you know it is happening it becomes painful, it may feel tight and might start to make the body itself appear different.
If this is left, over time the muscles ache more, they feel tighter and become stiffer because the elasticity reduces and the pain might get worse or it might begin to spread to other muscles as they start to become overworked.
Eventually, this can make you feel older, weary and just as tired as your poor muscles.
It is no wonder though, because in order for your brain to keep these muscles active the brain has to stay on go constantly. It doesn’t switch off, not even in your sleep so your quality of rest becomes compromised and you may feel like you have barely had any sleep at all.
In order to reverse this, we need to stop and begin to notice what are bodies are telling us. ‘My shoulder hurts’, so what are you doing all day that makes it painful and when do you rest it? The brain needs to be involved in the whole process (as it is essentially what works our whole body and every system within it, right?) by teaching it how to relax and start to use our muscular system more efficiently. Cue, somatics!
This is why it is so important.
It teaches us how to move properly, more efficiently and more easily.
As a nation we think nothing of investing hundreds of pounds (or more) and hours of time in to our appearance for the benefit of our peers but we think twice before spending time and money on the one thing we live in, our body, our shell.
Without muscles we could not have strength to move. Therefore, without healthy muscles, what is our quality of life?
Somatics and the importance of keeping mobile and pain free can be so liberating to a person of any age or description and it is so simple it just requires an investment of time in to yourself. Literally 15 minutes a day can change the way you move from one activity to another. It can give you that extra surge of energy to jump out of bed in the morning instead of crawling out after snoozing 10 times. It can help open the chest muscles allowing you to simply breath more easily, more freely… think more clearly.
Somatics has many wonderful benefits but bringing awareness back to yourself and improving that awareness and quality of life is, for me, the reason why.