Lesson #3: The Hidden Effects of Trauma

Move Without Pain 5-Day Course  •  Completion time: 15 minutes


Welcome to the third lesson of the Move Without Pain 5-day Course.

If you were skeptical about Hanna Somatic Education when you started this course, my guess is that you’re probably starting to realize how necessary it is to learn how to reverse chronic muscle pain. 

You may also be wondering: Why hasn’t my doctor ever mentioned Somatics?

That’s a great question that I’ll answer in just a minute.

Yesterday, you learned about The Dark Vice and how, if left unchecked, it can lead to the classic senile posture often associated with old age. 

Today, I’m going to teach you about the last stress reflex known as the Trauma Reflex. The Trauma Reflex occurs involuntarily in response to accidents, injuries and the need to avoid further pain by compensating for those events. 

This reflex involves the muscles of the trunk, which hike the hip on one side and twist the spine slightly when contracted.  

Here are a few ways the Trauma Reflex occurs:

  • Limping on one side in response to a twisted ankle on the other side
  • Holding a young child on your hip repetitively
  • Suffering from appendicitis
  • Falling suddenly on your tailbone

The Trauma Reflex presents as side bending and/or twisting in the pelvis, trunk, shoulder and head. To visualize this, imagine yourself walking like a car with one flat tire. Its postural compensation may be slight or very noticeable, but its effects can be damaging. 

Trauma Reflex

Trauma Reflex

Although the reflex begins with trauma, the affected muscles learn to remain contracted because that’s what they're taught by the brain and nervous system.

Since the brain controls the muscles, it must be involved in training them to relax, release and remember how to move again. 

Now, back to your original question about why most medical doctors don’t tell you this. 

With the exception of physiatrists and many sports medicine specialists, most medical doctors aren’t trained to work with muscle dysfunction, postural imbalances, and movement. They’re trained to handle medical emergencies, understand pathologies, perform surgery and prevent diseases. 

The good news is that more and more doctors are learning about Somatic Education in an effort to provide their patients with the most effective and sensible approach to long-term pain relief.

They are finding that it is a safe and effective method to solving common problems related to muscle pain, posture, inflexibility, and recurring injury. 

I hate to sound like a broken record, but Hanna Somatic Education is the missing link to addressing chronic muscle pain by reversing Sensory Motor Amnesia at its root cause: the brain.

Just as the brain can teach us to ride a bike, throw a ball or eat with a spoon, it also teaches us to negatively adapt to stress by altering our posture, gait, or movement. 

For now, let’s give your brain a break from the facts and let your body enjoy some movement. 

You know the drill by now...

 … get comfy
… get cozy
… get away from distractions 

For the next 10 minutes, remember to take things slowly and only go as far as your body wants.

Begin by framing your mindset with the Soma Scan:


Once again, hold onto your observations from the Soma Scan as you learn the Somatic movement called The Side Bend

Remember, accidents or injuries that invoke the Trauma Reflex can make you lose control of your waist muscles. The Side Bend will teach you how to lengthen your waist muscles.

Press play and feel your waist let go for improved balance and a smoother gait:


That concludes your third lesson! 

Here’s what you learned today: 

  • Hanna Somatic Education is part of an effective and sensible approach to long-term pain relief.
  • Clinical Somatic Education is neuromuscular movement re-education that teaches you how to regain voluntary control of muscles that have become involuntarily and chronically contracted due to adaptation to accidents, injuries, surgeries, major illnesses or on-going/repetitive emotional or physical stress.
  • The Trauma Reflex shows up as side-bending and rotations in the pelvis, trunk, shoulder and head.

When Sensory Motor Amnesia prevents you from releasing and relaxing muscles, it’s because your brain has become habituated to stress or trauma. 

Never underestimate your  brain’s ability to improve your overall health through movement. Somatic movements, specifically, performed as a series of very gentle, easy self-care exercises can improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility. 

Having experienced the lengthening effects of The Side Bend, take care to notice when and why your waist muscles become short and tight throughout your day. Remember that your brain’s sense of “balanced and neutral” will change, until you create a new, more efficient “normal.”

I’ll see you tomorrow when we will discuss how pandiculation makes the magic of pain relief possible through Hanna Somatic Education.

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