Somatics for Athletes

I received an email from a client who's a big baseball fan:

"By the sounds of it, I think John Maine, pitcher for the Mets, has Sensory Motor Amnesia... they fired a lot of their medical staff last year since, so many of their star players were injured all the time."

I read a New York Post article about the Mets and realized why my client might just be correct. Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

"Maine insists he is fine physically but has no explanation for his struggles."

"Maine's off-balance throw skipped past Fernando Tatis at first base..."

Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) refers to the state of habitually tight muscles that have lost their ability to relax and coordinate properly. This occurs in response to accidents, injuries, surgeries, over training, and other stresses. In athletics, "movement memory" (sometimes called "muscle memory") is the foundation of consistent high performance. Through years of careful repetition and training, elite athletes learn to hit a 90 mph fast ball, kick a 35-yard field goal, or execute an intricate gymnastics routine. This means that an athlete can repeat an action consistently and reliably.

But what happens when an athlete gets injured, or suffers from repetitive stress? Injury causes reflexive muscular tightening and muscular compensation. One's movement is no longer fluid, and controlled and muscles don't respond quickly and efficiently. This can result in an eventual loss of athletic form, throwing off balance, coordination and reliability. A martial artist I know described moving with SMA as like  "trying to drive your car at 60 mph with the parking brake on."

A case of SMA could signal the end of a career for a professional athlete. John Maine's pitches become "off-balanced" and miss their mark, and despite no apparent physical "problem," he just can't play the way he used to. He's struggling. Jose Reyes of the Mets has been suffering from repeated hamstring injuries and no one can seem to help him either. An injured hamstring requires that the athlete recruit other muscles to help out. This throws balance and form off and the athlete works harder than necessary, which in turn can result in yet another similar injury.

Hanna Somatics could give the Mets some excellent day-to-day strategies to get back in the game and stay on top despite the accidents, injuries and stresses of their rigorous athletic training.