The Power of Somatics- Who has it helped?
During my 7 years of practising Somatics, teaching classes and doing clinical work, people have to come to me with many different issues of varying degrees of severity. It never ceases to amaze just what Somatics can help with and how it can really change the lives of people who access it. So I thought I would share a range of unusual to common scenarios that have passed through my clinic….one may be just like you or you may have a unique muscular/pain/movement issue all of your own that your still looking for help with.
I had a lady who once shook so violently when she tried to move and breathe, even gently. It was PTSD and some deep trauma, which movement alone will not heal, but consistent and gentle movement did help to dramatically reduce the amount shaking she experienced and allowed her to feel herself again. Or at least begin to. It also helped her create a space which was ‘safe’ for her nervous system so that her own brain did not cause her to shake with such extremity and allowed her to begin to feel relaxed again and back in control of herself.
Another lady had experienced some birthing trauma several decades ago which had left her very tight and restricted within her hip area. It made walking uncomfortable and being intimate was difficult. She felt stressed most of the time, as the thought of having to do anything which entailed general movement ( which is most things) filled her with dread. Over several sessions, Somatics allowed her to begin to sense the muscles around the pelvis and abdomen and again, in a safe way, a way that did not hurt her or cause distress.
This gave her the opportunity to release tension, and the stress she felt and lengthen out all of her muscles that were gripped so tight, it was holding the pelvis hostage, making everyday movements that we take for granted, possible again. She may have been the first lady to enter my clinic with this issue but she has most definitely not been the last, hip issues and birthing trauma related tension are more common then we think and should be talked about a lot more.
The ‘never had this before’
More recently, a gentleman attended as a result of losing partial control over the left side of his face due to Bell’s palsy, a common side effect of the virus. As this client was a musician, more particularly a trumpet player, this caused chaos for him and his love of playing this instrument. The problem, was that the control around the left side of his mouth meant that when creating the typical ‘squeezing’ of the lips to create a seal round the mouth piece of the trumpet, his muscles were not strong enough or responsive enough to control. This led to air escaping and his trumpet playing sounding ‘wrong’ and below his high standards of performing. His left eye would also ache and drop when he was tired.
Somatic exploration of the muscles in the face, surrounding the eye area, cheeks, mouth and jaw allowed him to re-connect with them and gain back the control he used to have so easily. His ability to play the trumpet as he used to, improved and gave hope when all felt lost.
The stiff neck
Many of these have passed through the clinic.. and often there is tension in the jaw as well but this particular client could barely drop his chin down or lift his head up. He had had 13 car accidents over the years and could not separate his head, neck and shoulders out in movement very well. It all moved together like a block. He had quite substantial hip pain but baring in mind, the top of his spine couldn’t move independently of his head or shoulders, its not surprising his hips were painful when they are directly connected at either end of the spine. After releasing tension in the jaw and neck, though to the chest and abdomen, he was able to regain a whole load of movement that had been missing for some time. This was achieved through clinical work and a specific workshop that I was running at the time.
At the end of the workshop he went to watch some live sport and notice that his glasses were making his eyesight worse and he could see better without them. This was pretty amazing as it gave some insight as to how his neck and shoulder immobility could have been affecting his eyesight. ( this is not something that happens every session!). When you think of how the muscles of the eye connect to the neck, it raised the question of how, perhaps, he had a very limited range of movement within the eyes themselves, leading to a subtle change in the sight.. I don't know for definite but it was quite spectaular for him... and me to witness. The hip pain eased and he could drop his chin to his chest for the first time in a long time.
The bad back
I think this has to be the winner of the most common category. From upper back pain, shoulder blade pain, lower back and sciatica, back pain is one of the main reason people are on my Somatics table.
Many varying reasons bring people to me, ranging from running or another form of exercise caused the pain, the way they sit at their desk has caused it, carrying kids round, breastfeeding, being up a ladder most days, being on their feet nursing or doing some other profession.. you name it, it has consequently led to some backache.
But on each occassion, after teaching how to release back muscles and abdominal muscles and working with reflex that presented itself, backache becomes a thing of the past. It is especially important to maintain a home practise to ensure that tension does not creep back in to the back muscles.
Clinical sessions are the perfect place to unpick these movement patterns and begin to feel better and move without being scared of your back ’going’ .
This is list is not exhaustive, but it always fascinates me how magic and powerful somatics is. None of these clients needed excessive appointments, be prescribed a ton of meds or had to sit on a wait list for years. Once they had the knowledge and understanding about how to re-learn to move and relax tension in their musculoskeletal system, they were able to use their toolbox of movements to ensure these aches and pains stayed away.
The ability to have the self empowerment and self awareness to change how you feel within your own body is so powerful and liberating and a main factor as to why I love Somatics so much.