The Power of Pandiculation

In todays’ blog we are going to look at why the three step process used within Somatics known as pandiculation helps to release chronically tight muscles which reduces pain, allows you to move freely and improves your posture.


Pandiculation is such a funky word and It rolls off the tongue! Pandiculation is the 3 step process used within somatics to release chronically tight muscles to allow for free movement, improved posture and a reduction in pain. Let me explain what pandiculation is.

Pandiculation is the name given to an action pattern that occurs generally throughout the vertebrate kingdom. We could learn a thing or two from our pet dogs and cats! They pandiculate throughout the day, every day, they don’t stretch which is a common misconception. Pandiculation prepares animals for normal sensing and moving, readying their voluntary cortex for efficient functioning. Unfortunately over the years, humans have educated pandiculation out of their system and allowed the cultural pressures and norms to mould our movement, or lack of it. This is something I will allude to later!

Pandiculation includes a contraction of muscles, a slow release and complete relaxation or rest. Pandiculation targets areas of your brain which communicates to certain body regions and muscles. This area of the brain is known as the sensory motor cortex or ‘brain map.’ Pandiculation is the sensory motor action used by animals to arouse the brain map or voluntary cortex by making a strong voluntary muscle contraction in order to feedback an equally strong sensory stimulation to the motor neurons. It is a way of “waking up” the sensory motor cortex or brain map, breaking habitual muscle contraction, tension and tightness caused by poor posture, incorrect biomechanics plus other behaviours and actions.

By teaching clients how to pandiculate with their own body using movement, immediately they feel empowered and educated, understanding why they have had recurring issues and then learning skills to prevent this happening again. It takes away the feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to take control of their own health and wellbeing.

The effects created from the pandicular response are amazing. I have seen clients that have been in pain and chronically tight for decades. They see me for a clinical appointment or attend a class in person or online and are amazed by the quick response. They have noticed that muscle tension and pain reduce and after pandiculation their muscles stay relaxed for some time. However they must maintain a somatic awareness and lifestyle with regular practise of pandiculation to keep their 'software' or brain to body communication up to date. Once again think about cats and dogs, they pandiculate often to keep their body agile and efficient for movement. In order to move freely and with reduced pain, we need to incorporate pandiculation into our day! Clients are always amazed how quickly they can see and feel changes. The reason for this is because we are using the brain, rather than focusing purely on the muscles. Once they know how to pandiculate, they become creative with their body movements throughout their day, finding ways to release muscle tension by applying the principles of Somatics into their daily activities.

The reason Pandiculation creates immediate results is because we are accessing the sensory motor portion of your brain which is the boss over your muscle length, tone and coordination. If we target the epicentre of the sensory motor experience for muscles, then the peripheral musculature has no option but to reduce its level of subcortical or unconscious (habitual) contraction. Remember the brain coordinates muscles. Without the brain, muscles are basically lumps of meat! Muscles are supplied with sensory and motor nerves which inform them of the level of tension and relaxation to create within muscle fibres. Muscles are at the mercy of the brain. Whatever the brain says to the muscles, goes. So to make lasting changes, we have to go straight to the top, so to speak and change the way the brain is communicating to the muscles. We need to update the ‘software’ so the muscles can move more efficiently and with less ‘glitches.’

The Power of Your Mind

Within The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online program, there is a whole section on mindset and mindfulness. Without these skills, you only receive part of the benefits of somatic movement and pandiculation. As I mentioned at the start, humans have had pandiculation educated out of them over the years from social and cultural teachings and attitudes. This has created vast numbers of people with pain, poor posture, limited mobility and living with high levels of stress and tension. Somatics allows people to start thinking about how they can regain control of their physical, emotional and mental health in a practical manner which still works in harmony with your daily activities. However The Total Somatics Approach allows you to become creative with how you can look for opportunities to apply what you are taught within the program to reduce pain, improve posture, increase mobility and develop mindfulness.

Dr Sarah Edelman states in her book, Change Your Thinking, “When we are in an anxious state, our mind is focused on threat. We pay attention to feared possibilities, overestimate the likelihood of worst case scenarios and predict catastrophic consequences. As our perceptions are biased towards threat, our appraisals of danger are unreliable.”

So when we develop The Total Somatics Approach with our Somatic Movement practise, we allow our stress centres to quieten down as we access the prefrontal cortex to help with focus, awareness, concentration, decision making, emotional intelligence, rationalise and respond rather than react to people, expressions, scenarios and everyday life. When we start using this area of our brain, our focus turns from anxiety, helplessness, loss of control, unaware of why this is happening and fear to ‘let’s see what I can do with the principles and skills taught within The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness to take back control of my health and wellbeing.”

In a previous blog I discussed Neurotags and the fear of pain. It can paralyse people with fear and stop them moving freely. They become anxious about moving and triggering pain. However movement is natural and inactivity is not in our DNA. Often the perceived or imagined pain with a certain movement can be greater than actually moving. So these fear based beliefs reinforce inaccurate information to the person, causing them to create ‘safety strategies’ which creates further issues with their movement and actually intensifies their pain. With The Total Somatics Approach to Health and Wellness Online Program, I will educate and empower you with skills and knowledge so you feel safe to move, knowing what you are doing is natural and how you’re suppose to move. That is why the mindset and mindfulness sections are so powerful. I am here to support you. So if you are on my program, please keep in touch with me via email, zoom or skype.

Would you like to reduce pain, move freely, improve posture and develop mindfulness? With the ever increasing sedentary lifestyles and careers, let’s buck the trend and start moving our mind and body towards a healthier future.

Take care,
Heidi Hadley xx

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