Lesson #4: The Safer Alternative to Stretching
Move Without Pain 5-Day Course • Completion time: 15 minutes
Welcome to the fourth lesson of the Move Without Pain 5-day Course.
If you’re a fan of stretching for flexibility, today’s lesson will go against everything you’ve been taught.
So far, you’ve learned that the three stress reflexes, if habituated over time, involuntarily affect your ability to sense and control your movement.
It’s easy to think we can simply stretch away the tension caused by stress, but did you know that the act of passive, static stretching is actually considered a threat by the body?
Today, I’m going to teach you how pandiculation can actively lengthen your muscles and train your brain to keep them long and supple without setting off your body’s alarm system.
This alarm is called the Stretch Reflex and it triggers within 1–2 milliseconds of passively stretching a muscle past its regulated length.
The Stretch Reflex is a protective mechanism that originates from the spine and automatically contracts a muscle against a stretch to protect it from strain or tearing. Considering that it's a spinal reflex—hint, hint—what logical conclusion can you make based on what you’ve learned about how muscles are controlled?
Since the involvement of your brain is required to regain voluntary muscle sensation and control, the act of stretching can’t effectively reset muscle length or relieve chronic muscle pain.
Science has verified that the only the way to retrain and regain control of your muscles is by stimulating the brain to affect change in the nervous system.
Hanna Somatic Education resolves chronic muscle pain through a process of cultivating awareness of “amnesic” muscles first, then retraining the brain to retrain the muscles to release and relax back to a new length.
This is where pandiculation comes in.
The technique of pandiculation re-sets muscle length and function at the brain level through three steps:
- A voluntary contraction into already-tight muscles
- Followed by a slow lengthening like a pleasant yawn
- Then a complete relaxation
The final relaxation step is the most important because it allows your brain to recognize what “relaxed” feels like so it can integrate the improved sensation, balance and coordination into your nervous system.
In case you haven't noticed, this is what you’ve been doing in this course by performing the Soma Scan and Somatic movements followed by a rest period.
This is also exactly what you do when you wake up and yawn before getting out of bed. You’re telling your body to come out of hibernation and prepare for the day’s activities.
Could you imagine never yawning upon waking every again?
I don’t even want to imagine how stiff and cranky I would be if I couldn’t reset my entire body with a simple, satisfying yawn multiple times per day.
During today’s movement lesson, the only thing I want you to stretch is your idea of what “flexibility” really is.
Find your comfy spot now, slow your mind down and avoid distractions for the next 10 minutes.
Let’s get ready to learn The Washrag!
Begin with your Soma Scan and observe what your body is telling you today:
When you’re ready, press play and transition into The Washrag to learn how to pandiculate your muscle tension away through subtle twisting and turning:
That concludes your fourth lesson!
Here’s what you learned today:
- Stretching evokes a spinal reflex that protects your muscles from becoming damaged.
- Hanna Somatic Education teaches a technique used in no other form of Somatic Education called pandiculation.
- Pandiculation restores full muscle length by actively contracting, slowly lengthening and completely relaxing your muscles.
Dr. Thomas Hanna once stated:
If you want to untie a knot, you must look at the cord carefully then gently undo the tangle. Yanking on the cord will only make the knot tighter.
Can you honestly continue stretching now that you know about a safer, more effective way to lengthen your muscles?
Relieve Chronic Muscle Pain Now
If you've had even the tiniest breakthrough during this free course, it's time to take your home Somatics practice to the next level.
Purchase my Pain Relief Through Movement DVD and let me guide you through over 10 Somatic movements and a full hour of in-depth instruction.
Make the conscious decision to stop being in pain now.