Are you curious about complementary therapies but not sure what they are or which one might suit you?.
Browse and you can find your answers here along with some suggestions as to what condition, illness or injury each therapy may help to treat.
Acupressure (from the Latin acus "needle" + pressure) is an alternative medicine technique similar in principle to Acupuncture. It is based on the concept of life energy which flows through meridian energy channels in the body. In a treatment physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the aim of clearing blockages in these meridians. Pressure may be applied by hand, by elbow, or with various devices. Acupoints used in treatment may or may not be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating meridians to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi (chi).
There are several different instruments for applying nonspecific pressure by rubbing, rolling, or applying pressure on the reflex zones of the body. The acuball is a small ball made of rubber with protuberances that is heatable. It is used to apply pressure and relieve muscle and joint pain. The energy roller is a small cylinder with protuberances. It is held between the hands and rolled back and forth to apply acupressure. The foot roller (also "krupa chakra") is a round, cylindrical roller with protuberances. It is placed on the floor and the foot is rolled back and forth over it. The power mat (also pyramid mat) is a mat with small pyramid-shaped bumps that you walk on. The spine roller is a bumpy roller containing magnets that is rolled up and down the spine. The Teishein is one of the original nine classical acupuncture needles described in the original texts of acupuncture. Even though it is described as an acupuncture needle it did not pierce the skin. It is used to apply rapid percussion pressure to the points being treated.
Some medical studies have suggested that acupressure may be effective at helping manage nausea and vomiting, for helping lower back pain, tension headaches and stomach aches. A 2011 systematic review of acupressure's effectiveness at treating symptoms reported that 16 out of 23 studies had concluded that acupressure was effective. A 2011 Cochrane review of trials using acupuncture and acupressure to control pain in childbirth concluded that "acupuncture or acupressure may help relieve pain during labour”. A Cochrane Collaboration review found that massage provided some long-term benefit for low back pain, and said: “It seems that acupressure or pressure point massage techniques provide more relief than classic (Swedish) massage, although more research is needed to confirm this.”
Fine needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body, their sites based on a number of theories. Acupuncture is traditionally understood to be a type of ancient Chinese medicine, based on the belief that an energy, or 'life force', flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced 'chee'). Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi cannot flow freely through the body, this can cause illness; acupuncture is a way to restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.
More modern theories on acupuncture are based on the idea of needling “trigger points” in the muscles. You may be more familiar with these as “knots” or areas of muscle tension or spasm. The belief is that acupuncture stimulates nerves and muscle tissue, and that this may be responsible for the beneficial effects.
Aesthetic medicine is branch of medicine, distinct from plastic surgery, which focuses on beauty and anti-aging treatments. Overall this specialty is focused on the pathophysiology of aging skin, and adheres to scientific based procedures. Practitioners are trained in both invasive and non-invasive treatments depending on the needs of the patient. Aesthetics can help with the treatment of wrinkles and scars, ageing of the face, the hands and the low neckline, the treatment of pigment spots and thread veins and in the prevention of body ageing.
Most current non-surgical aesthetic procedures include injections of Botulinum toxin, injections of Hyaluronic Acid and other fillers, chemical peels, hair removal, laser treatments and non-surgical liposuction. When performed by a trained practitioner, these non-surgical procedures are safer than plastic surgery as they do not require general anaesthesia. They are usually quicker (can be done during lunch breaks) and are preferred by patients as they do not involve a scalpel and an operating table.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing.
The inhaled aroma from these "essential" oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. There are an enormous number of essential oils available, each with its own specific healing and wellbeing properties.Aromatherapy can be used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement, relaxation, increased concentration and better cognitive function.
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional and main health care systems. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices. The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge).
Key concepts of Ayurveda include universal interconnectedness (among people, their health, and the universe), the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (dosha), which are often compared to the biologic humors of the ancient Greek system. Using these concepts, Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualised treatments, including compounds of herbs, cleansing techniques, diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations.
The key to Ayurveda is the holistic or “whole life” approach.
Counselling is a type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment. A counsellor is trained to listen with empathy and they can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings that you have. Sometimes, the term 'counselling' is used to refer to talking therapies in general, but counselling is also a specific type of therapy in its own right. Other therapies include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and relationship therapy (which could be between members of a family, a couple or work colleagues).
The purpose of talking treatments is not usually to give advice, but to help you understand your feelings and behaviour better and, if you want to, to change your behaviour or the way you think about things. You should expect your therapist to be respectful, and to provide an environment that is confidential and free from intrusion. Sessions usually take place once a week, and making this regular commitment gives you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.
Talking treatments can help with difficult experiences or feelings you’ve been going through such as the breakdown of a relationship, a bereavement, low self-esteem, anger, fear, sadness or guilt. They can also help with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Talking treatments can also help you cope or come to terms with the symptoms and mental distress of an ongoing physical problem, illness or disability.
Craniosacral therapy (CST), or cranial-sacral therapy, is a form of gentle, hands-on bodywork focused primarily on the concept of "primary respiration" and regulating the flow of fluid in the nervous system by applying light touches to a patient's skull, face, spine and pelvis. Craniosacral therapy was developed by John Upledger in the 1970s, and is loosely based on cranial osteopathy.
Practitioners of craniosacral therapy assert that there are small, rhythmic motions of the cranial bones attributed to cerebrospinal fluid pressure or arterial pressure. The premise of CST is that palpation of the cranium can be used to detect this rhythmic movement of the cranial bones and selective pressures may be used to manipulate the cranial bones to achieve a therapeutic result.
Every day your body endures stresses and strains that it must work to compensate for. Unfortunately these changes often cause body tissues to tighten and distort the craniosacral system. These distortions can then cause tension to form around the brain and spinal cord resulting in restrictions. This can create a barrier to the healthy performance of the central nervous system, and potentially every other system it interacts with.
The touch of the therapist is extremely soft; generally no greater than 5 grams, to release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. The therapist lightly palpates the patient's body, and focuses intently on the communicated movements. A practitioner's feeling of being in tune with a patient is described as entrainment. Patients often report feelings of deep relaxation during and after the treatment session, and may feel light-headed.
CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.
What conditions can Craniosacral Therapy address?
Migraines and Headaches;
Chronic Neck and Back Pain;
Stress and Tension-Related Disorders;
Infant and Childhood Disorders;
Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries;
Central Nervous System Disorders;
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder;
Dramatherapy (drama therapy) is the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote good mental health and wellbeing. Dramatherapy is used in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, mental health centres, prisons and the workplace. It is an expressive or creative art therapy, exists in many forms and can be applicable to individuals, couples, families, and groups.
The modern use of dramatic process and theatre as a therapeutic intervention began with Dr Jacob L. Moreno's development of Psychodrama. The field has expanded to allow many forms of theatrical interventions as therapy including role-play, theatre games, group-dynamic games, mime, puppetry, and other improvisational techniques.
Often Dramatherapy is used to help in the following ways: • Solve a problem; • Achieve a catharsis; • Delve into truths about self; • Understand the meaning of personally resonant images; • Explore and transcend unhealthy personal patterns of behaviour and interpersonal interaction.
The theoretical foundation of drama therapy lies in drama, theatre, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, play, as well as interactive and creative processes. In his book "Drama as Therapy: Theory, Practice and Research," Phil Jones describes the emergence of the intentional use of drama as therapy as three-fold. First a long history of drama as a healing force with ancient roots in the healing rituals and dramas of various societies. The connection between drama and the psychological healing of society, though not of the individual, was first formally acknowledged by Aristotle, who was the originator of the term 'catharsis'.
Secondly, in the early twentieth century, hospital theatre and the work of Moreno, Evreinov, and Iljine, marked a new attitude towards the relationship between therapy and theatre that provided a foundation for the emergence of Dramatherapy later in the century. Finally, influenced by experimental approaches to theatre, the advent and popularization of improvisational theatre, group dynamics, role playing and psychology in the 1960s, Dramatherapy emerged as a creative arts therapy in the 1970s.
Today, Dramatherapy is practiced around the world and there are presently academic training programs in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Israel and the United States.
Energy medicine, energy therapy, energy healing, or spiritual healing hold the belief that a healer can channel healing energy into the person seeking help by different methods: hands-on, hands-off, and distant (or absent) where the patient and healer are in different locations. There are various schools of energy healing. It is known as biofield energy healing, spiritual healing, contact healing, distant healing, therapeutic touch, Reiki and Qigong. Spiritual healing is largely non-denominational: practitioners do not see traditional religious faith as a prerequisite for effecting a cure. Faith healing, by contrast, takes place within a religious context.
Energy healing is one of the most profound and fundamental alternative therapies in the field of alternative medicine and holistic health. Energy healing employs spiritual healing methods which expand the awareness of the energy healer and uses energy, colour and light healing techniques to crystallise healing in the patient's energy field (aura and chakra system)—helping the patient break free from afflictions and limitations of body, mind and spirit. It may provide enhanced quality of life for the patient and facilitate spiritual growth. Energy healing is often a powerful spiritual path for the practitioner as well.
Herbal medicine refers to the use of a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine but is becoming more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show the value of herbal medicine in the treating and prevention of disease. Almost one quarter of current pharmaceutical drugs are derived from herbal preparations.
Herbal medicine is used to treat many conditions, such as asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and some of the symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy. For example, one study found that 90% of arthritic patients use alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which involves treating the individual with highly diluted substances, given mainly in tablet form, with the aim of triggering the body’s natural system of healing. Based on their specific symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate medicine to each patient.
Homeopathy is based on the principle that you can treat ‘like with like’, that is, a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms. For example, drinking too much coffee can cause sleeplessness and agitation, so according to this principle, when made into a homeopathic medicine, it could be used to treat people with these symptoms. This concept is sometimes used in conventional medicine, for example, the stimulant Ritalin is used to treat patients with ADHD, or small doses of allergens such as pollen are sometimes used to de-sensitise allergic patients. However, one major difference with homeopathic medicines is that substances are used in a careful process of ultra-high dilutions and vigorous shaking, which makes them non-toxic.
A hypnotic trance is being neither awake nor asleep, it can feel like those few lovely seconds when we are 'falling asleep' at night but extended to 30-50-60 minutes! All hypnotic states are characterised by tremendously pleasant relaxation - an altered state of consciousness, not a loss of consciousness, which individuals allow themselves to enter. It is a natural, effective and safe way of making contact with the inner mind - the subconscious - which is a source of many of our problems as well as a tremendous reservoir of our answers.
Hypnotic abilities do vary from person to person and the hypnotic state can even improve with practice. Hypnosis can take as long as 20 minutes to induce or the client may be hypnotised almost the moment the eyes are closed. It has nothing whatever to do with intelligence. A gentle curiosity and a comfort with and trust in the therapist are really all that's needed.
During hypnotherapy the person is still in touch with their surroundings and can hear the clock ticking for example. Hypnotherapy does not involve losing control and the therapist cannot control a person’s mind, nor can they make someone do anything against their belief system.
Hypnosis is very effective for relaxation, self-confidence and low mood, as well as for conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Many people have found success in weight loss and giving up smoking after using hypnotherapy.
Indian head massage is based on the ayurvedic system of healing to release the stress that has accumulated in the tissues, muscles and joints of the head, face, neck and shoulders. The client, fully clothed, sits in a massage chair for the treatment. The therapist uses a range of different movements including deep kneading and compression movements over the neck, shoulder and scalp areas. In addition, the therapist will also gently massage pressure points on the face. The session usually lasts from twenty to forty-five minutes, and most therapists like their clients to sit quietly for ten or twenty minutes once the massage has been completed.
Indian head massage is especially good for relieving stress, tension, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, migraine and sinusitis. Clients report that the experience is deeply calming and relaxing, leaving them feeling energised and revitalised and better able to concentrate. Treatment also helps increase joint mobility and flexibility in the neck and shoulders, improves blood circulation and lymphatic flow, frees knots of muscular tension, relaxes connective tissue, and aids in the elimination of accumulated toxins and waste products. It is particularly good for reducing the effects of stress and tension.
Following a treatment some people experience tiredness, dizziness, an increased desire to urinate (as the body eliminates toxins and waste materials) or aching muscles. All of these side effects usually last for no more than a few hours, after which a client generally experience increased energy and alertness. Indian head massage should be avoided if you have had recent surgery, or a head or neck injury; a history of thrombosis or embolism; spondylitis or spondylosis.
All massage therapies consist primarily of hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, specifically, the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints for the purpose of optimizing health.
Massage treatments have a therapeutic effect on the body and optimize health and well-being by acting on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems. Physical function can be developed, maintained and improved; and physical dysfunction and pain and the effects of stress can be relieved or prevented through the use of Massage Therapies.
Massage Therapies include simple massage, reflexology, shiatsu massage, hot stones and many other specific techniques of body/tissue manipulation.
The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, allowing yourself to access a sense of tranquillity and peace no matter what's going on around you. The rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have. When the mind becomes free from agitation, is calm and serene and at peace, meditation happens.
The benefits of meditation are many; it is an essential practice for mental hygiene. A calm mind, good concentration, clarity of perception, improvement in communication, blossoming of skills and talents, an unshakeable inner strength, healing, the ability to connect to an inner source of energy, relaxation and rejuvenation are all natural results of meditating regularly.
Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine employs a wide array of natural treatments, including homeopathy, herbalism and acupuncture, as well as diet and lifestyle counselling. Naturopaths favour a holistic approach and the philosophy is based on a belief in “vitalism” and self-healing. The term "naturopathy" was created from Latin and Greek roots for birth and suffering to suggest "natural healing" and some see the ancient Greek "Father of Medicine" Hippocrates, as the first advocate of naturopathic medicine. Modern naturopathy grew out of the Natural Cure movement of Europe. The term was coined in 1895 by John Scheel.
Naturopathic practitioners can be divided into three categories: traditional naturopaths; naturopathic physicians; and other health care providers that provide naturopathic services.
Naturopathic physicians employ the principles of naturopathy within the context of conventional medical practices to combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopaths help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopaths role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.
Naturopathy can help with many medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care. Among the most common ailments to be treated are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
• The Healing Power of Nature (Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognises an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopaths act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
• Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The naturopath seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
• First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopaths follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
o Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimise the risk of harmful side effects;
o Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms;
o Acknowledge, respect and work with individuals’ self-healing process.• Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopaths educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognise and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
• Treat the Whole Person: Naturopaths treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors.
• Prevention: Naturopaths emphasise the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates
The selection of foods and their preparation to create a healthy and controlled diet. By practicing a healthy diet and losing weight, many common health issues can be prevented or even reversed. Health professionals who specialise in nutrition, meal planning and preparation are trained to provide safe, evidence-based dietary advice and management to individuals in health and disease. This may include patients with chronic disease to embrace possible prevention or remediation by addressing nutritional deficiencies before resorting to drugs.
Trained health professionals are best able to advise on correct nutrition, calorie control and food types to achieve effective, safe and long-term weight loss with the enhancement of health and wellbeing as a result.
Osteopathy (from Greek ὀστέον, "bone" and -πάθεια, "disease of") is based on the principle that the wellbeing of an individual depends on their bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue functioning smoothly together. Osteopaths believe their treatments allow the body to heal itself. They use a range of techniques; primarily consisting of moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints. A cornerstone belief in all complementary therapies is that balance is the key to health and in osteopathy this is particularly true for physical balance and posture.
Most people who see an osteopath do so for help with back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain or other problems related to muscles and joints. Some osteopaths can also help treat a wide range of health conditions including asthma, digestive problems and period pain, which again represent an imbalance in the body and physiology.
There is good evidence that osteopathy is effective for the treatment of persistent lower back pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it as a treatment for this condition. There is also evidence to suggest it may be effective for some types of neck, shoulder or lower limb pain and recovery after hip or knee operations.
Osteopathy is an excellent but gentle physical therapy that will realign the body and can have extensive beneficial effects for your whole wellbeing.
A Personal Trainer is a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction, motivating clients by setting goals and helping them to achieve those goals and more. Trainers also measure their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments before and after an exercise program to measure improvements in physical fitness. They may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellbeing including general health and nutrition guidelines. When you work with a Personal Trainer, you benefit from a personal fitness training program that’s custom-built with your goals in mind.
Personal Trainers typically become trainers out of a passion for being healthy, fit and active. It's a job that starts out with heart, motivation, a love for all things fitness, and an ability to inspire others to get and stay fit and healthy.
A trainer’s scope of practice should look like this:
1. Knowledge of human anatomy and the concepts of functional exercise, basic nutrition and basic exercise science;
2. An ability to design individual and group exercise programs tailored to the needs and attainable goals of specific clients;
3. An ability to conduct and understand the need and importance of screening and client assessment, initially and progressively;
4. An ability to execute individual fitness program design in a safe and effective way;
5. A desire to help clients reach their health and fitness goals through appropriate cardiovascular, flexibility and resistance exercise;
6. An ability to motivate others to improve their overall fitness and health;
7. A dedication to maintaining personal integrity and their own health and fitness.
A good personal trainer delivers safe, effective, fun and interesting workouts (in that order) to all fitness-training clients.
Reflexology, or zone therapy, involves the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques. It is based on a system of zones and ‘reflex’ areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work affects a physical change to the body. The feet are the primary area of therapy and the most well-known, and reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.
How does it work?
Reflexologists believe that the blockage of an energy field, invisible life force, or Qi, can prevent healing and that reflexology can relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the ‘reflex’ areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands and body parts. For example:
• the tips of the toes reflect the head; • the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot; • the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot; • low back and intestines are towards the heel.
Dr William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced the concept of "zone therapy" in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed this zone theory in the 1930's into what is now known as reflexology.
Another theory is that the pressure received in the feet may send signals that balance the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce stress and pain.
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. A reiki practitioner transfers universal energy (i.e., reiki) in the form of qi (Japanese: ki) through the palms to allow for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.
A reiki treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.
A relaxation technique (also known as relaxation training) is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of anxiety, stress or anger. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart rates, among other health benefits.
Relaxation techniques are a great way to help with stress management. Relaxation isn't just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems, such as cancer and pain. Relaxation techniques are easy to learn, pose little risk, and can be done just about anywhere.
When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks or the demands of an illness, relaxation techniques may take a back seat in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation. Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
• Slowing your heart rate;
• Lowering blood pressure;
• Slowing your breathing rate;
• Reducing activity of stress hormones;
• Increasing blood flow to major muscles;
• Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain;
• Improving concentration and mood;
• Lowering fatigue;
• Reducing anger and frustration;
• Boosting confidence to handle problems.
Somatics is neuro-muscular learning or re-patterning (sensory-motor learning) to gain greater voluntary control of the muscles. Habits, stress and tension create tight and chronically contracted muscles that cause pain, poor posture, poor movements and restriction of normal movements. Trying to push restricted muscles through a normal range of movement can then result in injury and greater muscle contraction, so continuing the cycle.
Somatics works at the root cause of chronically contracted muscles (the brain) to gain relief and freedom of movement. By retraining the brain to let go of unnecessary tension in the muscles and focusing internally on the sensations of healthy active movements, the changes taking place in the body will be fully appreciated. Somatics is not a passive process – the body is encouraged and taught to actively move itself.
What is Sensory- Motor Amnesia (SMA)?
When muscles become so tight that they simply won't relax they have developed Sensory-Motor Amnesia. Learning new movement patterns happens in the motor cortex of the brain and once habituated the movement gets stored in the sub cortex.
This means not having to relearn movements such as walking or riding a bike every time, but this also goes for poor movement patterns too, for example hours hunched over computers, daily stresses (emotional and physical), accidents, injuries and surgeries. The movement or lack of movement once learned is then stored. This can happen at ANY AGE! To undo these chronically held muscles and take back control the brain motor cortex is engaged again to 'wake up' those muscles stuck on 'cruise control' in the sub cortex. Muscle length and function are reset easily with huge benefits.
What is Pandiculation?
Pandiculation is what cats and dogs do after periods of rest. They contract and lengthen their muscles on the front and backs of their bodies. They are 'waking up' their nervous systems ready for 'action'. The human version of this is the full body yawn in the morning, which is not just stretching muscles but fully contracting the muscles and then slowly lengthening and completely relaxing them. Somatics uses this pandiculation technique to move through 3 main reflex patterns retraining the brain to retrain muscles to fully relax and lengthen again.
What are the 3 main reflexes?
Red Light Reflex - The tightening of the muscles on the front of the body is not only the startle response to fear, anxiety and emotional upset it is today becoming more and more known as a muscular adaptation to excessive computer and mobile phone use. This slumped forward posture can lead to chronic neck, shoulder and upper back pain due to the rounding forward of the shoulders, the head jutting forward and compression in the chest area. It can also hinder a full breath. Shallow breathing can deprive the body of the essential oxygen it needs to function properly.
Green Light Reflex - The muscles on the back of the body contract to move us forward. When walking, running, standing up straight (think military posture) or sitting up 'straight' can overly contract back muscles and if these stresses become habituated they can cause back, neck and shoulder pain, disc issues and sciatica pain. These pains are often associated with depression, anxiety and sleep problems, aggravating the cycle of pain.
Trauma Reflex – This is the reflex of pain avoidance, muscles on the sides of the body contract in response to accidents or injuries to further avoid pain. Also daily stresses like holding a child on one hip or jobs where you use one side of the body more than the other can hike up and tighten muscles more on that side of the body. Sports like tennis, golf or rowing, playing an instrument such as a guitar, anything causing rotation to one side more than the other. All of these habituated movements and postures can go on to contribute to pain and lack of movement through the body.
All of these reflexes are learned and so can be UN-learned through Somatic movement!
Tai chi, also called Tai Chi Chuan, combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements. Originally developed as a martial art in 13th-century China, Tai Chi is today practised around the world as a health-promoting exercise. There are different styles, such as Yang, Chen and Wu depending on the speed of the movements and the way the body holds the postures. Tai Chi is characterised by its slow, graceful, continuous movements that are gentle on the joints and muscles. Done correctly, you'll find that the Tai Chi poses flow smoothly from one into another. Many movements are completed with bent knees in a squat-like position.
While there's scope for more rigorous studies on the health benefits, studies have shown that Tai Chi can help to reduce stress, improve balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs. There is also some evidence that Tai Chi can improve mobility in the ankles, hips and knees in those with arthritis.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing. The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago, and has been adapted in many ways from more gentle styles (hatha yoga) to more intense styles (power yoga and Bikram yoga).
Many scientific trials have been published on yoga; most studies suggest that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There is some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.