What does your Posture reveal about you?Heidi Hadley
Posture and pain often go hand in hand. In today’s blog we are going to consider what our posture reveals about us and how we reverse and reduce the issues we may be currently dealing with. Somatics looks at how your brain communicates to your muscles, so with this mind, I would like to discuss posture and pain from a Clinical Somatic Educator’s point of view.
What is Somatics?
Somatics involves internal awareness with movement. Somatic education and movement empowers and educates you to stop living subconsciously or on autopilot. It teaches you how to regain conscious control of your muscles, improve your range of movement and reduce pain intelligently.
You can create changes with a methodical and systematic process known as Pandiculation. When you work intelligently with your body using pandiculation, you are able to update your software within your sensory motor cortex or brain map.
Pandiculation is truly a powerful skill because it resets your central nervous system, breaking the neurofeedback loop humming along in the background. This neurofeedback loop is the continual message running from your brain down to your the spinal cord to your muscles, (telling certain muscles to stay chronically contracted) running back to your spinal cord, up to your brain (telling that area of your brain map these tight and tense muscles are the ‘new normal’).
No amount of Will Power and Breathing through a Stretch can release muscle tension created from a Neurofeedback Loop. Pandiculation is the intelligent, systematic and methodical way to break the Neurofeedback loop.
If for example you develop a slouched posture from working for many years in front of a computer or you have endured emotional trauma and stress, you will exhibit what we refer to in Somatics as the red light posture. The Red light reflex is a primitive survival action which can be seen with all vertebrate creatures experiencing fear (real or perceived) or anxiety. The reflex creates a recoil and retreat behaviour. Exhibiting a red light posture will make you appear smaller. The reason being, your ribs depress, your coccyx (tail bone) tucks up and under, your head draws forward and your chin tilts up, to look at the horizon. As a result of this, your shoulders roll forward and hip flexors become extremely tight.
Another postural reflex that can occur from subconscious reactions is what we refer to in Somatics as, the green light reflex. This can be mistaken for an excellent posture. However it is too far past neutral. The characteristics of a person with this reflex posture is often a perfectionist, always needing to be in control, wanting to fill a million things in to their day, keeping busy so as not to stop and possibly ponder on current or past events which may create an emotional release. Does this sound like you?
This ‘call to action’ or ‘go, go, go” reflex posture can begin to cause musculoskeletal issues due to the muscles along the posterior portion of the body staying chronically tight. The person is wired to react to the slightest noise, behaviour or task. In order to always be on alert, the shoulders pull back, the head is tucked in, there’s an anterior pelvic tilt, the lumbar back muscles are ‘switched on’ and ready to go. Holding this muscular pattern for too long will start to create lumbar pain, herniated discs, plantar fasciitis, sciatica and neck/shoulder pain.
The third common muscular pattern of tension to see is the Trauma postural reflex. This posture can occur from habitually carrying children on one hip for many years. It can also occur whilst a person heals from an injured lower limb. Whilst the person is healing, they subconsciously load their body weight on to their ‘good foot’ and during this stage their brain adapts to the situation, tightening the waist muscles on the affected side, to assist in the weight transfer. Long after the injury has gone, the person continues to walk around with a ‘hobble’ or funny walk. The limb may have healed, but the waist muscles are still subconsciously tight.
Impact into one side of the body can also cause the trauma postural reflex pattern to happen. In order to avoid injury to that area, the immediate response is to twist and rotate away from the incident to avoid further damage or repercussions. The signs of a trauma reflex is a side bend with a lateral (sideways) rotation of the pelvis. The head, neck, shoulders and back are all drawn together on the contracted side. It creates leg length discrepancies, an uneven gait, knee and hip problems and an acceleration of skeletal degeneration. Scoliosis is a postural health condition which in the vast majority of cases has no known cause according to health professionals. However, with the knowledge of postural reflexes and pandiculation, we have greater understanding of Scoliosis and how we can work effectively to release the pain and muscle tension associated with it.
Somatics helps to reset your software and get to the ROOT CAUSE of your issue.
Time for a Software update!
These postures don’t always appear over night. It has usually been a gradual progression. Often the postural changes may be from a past trauma. Somatics is fantastic for allowing everybody, including people who have dealt with trauma help to befriend their mind and body (soma) again. A person's nervous system is reflecting what is happening subconsciously. So with people who have suffered stress and trauma, their posture and behaviour may reveal how they are unable to process what has happened over the years. As a result, they may live in a very angry or frightened soma. They may always be on guard and have forgotten what it feels like to truly relax, sense and feel how good it is to live in a calm, centered soma. Using pandiculation and techniques to heighten their awareness to sense and feel their soma, is the first step to releasing what Professor Bessel Van Der Kolk (author of “The Body keeps the Score”) calls “the tyranny of the past.”
Somatics has proved and continues to reveal such amazing results. I am always touched to hear how clients around the world are benefitting from introducing pandiculation into their life. Clients who are enrolled within my online program regularly send me photos and show me how their posture is improving. They also send me beautiful photos of them pursuing hobbies and interests which Somatics has allowed them to continue to do or resume. Having a regular Somatic Movement practice is so important for keeping our software or brain updated. We can never remove the postural reflexes I have discussed in this article because they have been designed to act as a survival mechanism. We need them to work for small periods of time. However without pandiculation and somatic education, billions of people around the world are being held captive to these subconscious postural reflexes, don’t be one of them! Become well acquainted with your soma and start to understand how you actually sense and feel from within. By doing this, you can start working with your amazing mind and body, adopting a caring, nurturing and intelligent process called PANDICULATION.
To learn these skills in the comfort of your own home, at a time that suits you, check out The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program at www.TotalSomatics.com.
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between now and 31st August 2019.
Would you like to learn more about Somatics? Check out my FREE ebook by clicking HERE.
Heidi Hadley xx