Last week we were talking about Sensory Motor Amnesia – the situation where your brain is holding tension in your muscles that you’re not aware of. As a result, you’ve forgotten (amnesia) how to sense (sensory) and therefore move (motor) freely.

Sensory Motor Amnesia shows up in predictable full body reflex patterns: we contract the back to move us forward, tighten inward through the front of our body in protection or fear, or contract the sides of the body to avoid danger or pain, or to compensate because of pain.

Thomas Hanna named these reflexes:

  • Green Light Reflex (contract the back)
  • Red Light Reflex (contract the front)
  • Trauma Reflex (contract the sides)

These reflexes are useful and necessary; we just don’t want to get stuck in them and lose the ability to find our sense of balance and freedom. Yet when we do – whether it be in response to injuries, trauma, the rigors of sports training, or psychological stress – our brain loses the ability to fully and voluntarily control our muscles and movement. This includes both contracting and fully releasing the muscles.

The feedback loop between the brain and muscles goes into what can be described as”cruise control” or “auto-pilot,” and makes it difficult to control these muscles freely, both in the contraction and the relaxation phase.

This is where pain can take root: joints can become impinged, arthritis can develop, and our structure/posture can change. This loss of control and physical freedom can change who we are and what we feel we’re capable of.

The good news is that we can learn, through re-educating our nervous system, to restore our ability to self-sense, self-correct, and self-actualize and move the way we used to.