Somatics, Differentiation, and Kettlebell Training

Improving range of motion is easy with "differentiation."

A UK kettlebell instructor who incorporates Hanna Somatics in his training, sent me a link to a hip mobility exercise video clip from "Kettlebells From the Ground Up." It demonstrates a simple hip mobility exercise that can help to improve one's Turkish Get-Up.

My client knew I would appreciate the teaching in this video. The technique shown in this video, which enabled the athlete to improve his range of motion is called "movement differentiation." This technique was popularized by Moshe Feldenkrais and is widely used by Hanna Somatic Educators as well.

Differentiation = improved sensory motor control

Differentiation of movement elicits almost instantaneous  improved coordination and range of movement to the muscles. You "disrupt the circuits" in your brain by separating the larger movement into smaller movements that, seemingly, have nothing to do with one another: moving the ankle by itself, then the hip by itself, the back to the ankle. The ankle, knee and hip are related, yet most of us forget that the more aware you brain is of the body as a whole, the easier it is to perform any given movement. The biggest benefit is increased sensory awareness and motor control.

When you give feedback and new stimulation to the brain by focusing conscious, voluntary attention on these areas through movement, the outcome is instanteous improvement - not with force, but with intelligent sensory appreciation of what you're doing. Just like "updating the software" on your computer, the motor output in your brain is "updated" so it can run more smoothly. Muscle length and function improve as well, without forceful stretching.

The seated twist (at right, and on my Pain Relief Through Movement DVD) is a perfect example of a Somatic Exercise that elicits extraordinary instant improvement in one's ability to release tight neck and shoulders through differentiation.

Try this Somatic Exercise for hip mobility in the Turkish Get-Up.

The Hip Lift and Reach Somatic Exercise is similar to the movement pattern you want to execute smoothly in the Turkish Get-Up. It targets all the muscles that attach into the pelvis and hip joint - the waist, back and abdominals - for freer hip movement.

Here's another simple differentiation you can add to the video link from Kettlebells from the Ground Up:

  • Inhale and gently arch the lower back as you outwardly rotate the leg and outwardly rotate the arm/shoulder. Allow the shoulder to press down into the mat as you rotate the arm. This brings in gentle movement of the back muscles.
  • Exhale and relax the back slowly as you bring the leg and the shoulder back to neutral.
  • Repeat 3-4 times slowly.
  • Repeat the entire sequence, and add the head turning slowly toward the arm/shoulder as it rotates outward.
  • Test out your range of motion, by first lowering your leg to the ground, then bringing it up as high as is comfortable.

Notice the changes in your hip and shoulder coordination. Let me  know how it goes!

Visit the Essential Somatics® store to purchase my pain relief instructional DVDs.