Hanna Somatics Is Simple, Sensible Science

In my last post I wrote about Dead Butt Syndrome (DBS), a new condition thatdoctors are diagnosing runners with. DBS is another name for Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA). It develops due to a Trauma Reflex. The compensatory muscle dysfunction that results from a Trauma Reflex shows up as an inability to control the gluteals.

As someone who works daily with people in pain, I am concerned about the need for more investigation on scientifically-based methods that yield quantitative results for runners - and others - who suffer from "mysterious" muscle pain that falls under a variety of names: Dead Butt Syndrome, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, piriformis syndrome, low back back, joint pain, and frozen shoulder to name a few.  I'm not saying that there aren't skilled, caring physical therapists and doctors out there helping people with the above mentioned conditions. There are; I know some of them. Too few, however, understand that many of these conditions aren't medical in nature, but are functional; if one improves sensory motor function, the structure/posture will improve. One of the best methods for saving people healthcare dollars in the long run is  to improve muscle function and full body awareness.

Please note: If any of the above named conditions isn't relieved at the level of the sensory motor system a true, structural, medical problem could develop. Long term functional problems can yield real structural damage. Walk around out of balance for 30 years with a pelvis that is slightly twisted, and you risk creating structural wear and tear in one hip socket or knee that can only be fixed though surgery.

It's somewhat shocking when professional athletes sign on to wearing titanium bracelets that promise to improve athletic performance. Or that a company such as Power Balance, the maker of a bracelet that would improve muscle balance, would market something that has no basis in science. Power Balance has had to retract their assertion that their bracelets improve the wearer's balance, yet these kinds of quick fix "gizmos" are still a draw for thousands of people.

The power of placebos has been well documented, and placebos definitely have their place.

But clients often come to me after having spent hundreds, and often thousands of dollars on treatments that haven't worked. Most of these treatments are not what I would call snake oil. Many, however, like painkillers, yield short term, temporary benefits. These clients are frustrated, intelligent people who know they aren't getting the answers they're entitled to.

Long term change occurs best when muscles are reeducated, as is done in elite sports training. Gadgets and manipulation can never take the place of brain to muscle sensory motor retraining.

Don't get me wrong; I've been a massage therapist for 23 years and know full well that relaxing, passive bodywork therapies can help to relieve one's stress level. However, to get to the root of one's muscular dysfunction you must engage the brain and the body through movement reeducation. If muscles have learned to stay tight, then they must learn to relax. This is a process of education that gives the student back his physical freedom.