I have been researching the world of Somatics and I got my hands on a copy of Martha Peterson's DVD 'Essential Somatics.' The basic premise of Somatics is lifted from Martha's website directly:
Sensory Motor Amnesia is the condition of chronically tight muscles that develops due to accidents, injuries, surgeries, and on-going stress. These muscles have learned to stay so contracted, that no matter what you do - stretching, massaging, or drugging the muscles - they won't relax for the long term. Muscles that have learned to stay contracted must learn to relax. HSE goes to the root of the problem: your brain and nervous system, and its control of muscles and movement. Your brain has simply forgotten how to relax these muscles, so you must retrain the brain to retrain your muscles in order to reverse pain and regain mobility.
While most pain relief methods focus on the one specific area of pain (e.g. the neck, hip, shoulder), Hanna Somatics understands that pain in one part of the body is part of a larger pattern of muscular dysfunction:
So, I got Martha's DVD and I definitely learned a lot from it. You know something is good when it leads to you buying the source work ' Somatics' by Thomas Hanna. Martha's DVD was easy to follow and had solid, basic instructions. The premise is simple: learn to release chronically tight muscles and activate muscles that have forgotten how to work. The movements themselves are very basic and one of the keys is to avoid straining, pushing or pulling of any kind. Martha is effectively trying to get you to re-educate certain parts of your body and that is really what Somatics is all about. i had spent a good time reading her site that is linked above, and also her blog. I quickly realised that some of the exercises I was reading about I was doing plain wrong. the DVD massively helps clear up any gray areas and is a necessity in my view. The blog helps deepen your understanding of the ideas, but the DVD gives you the visual and aural cues needed.
Here is an example:
Can Somatics help a weightliter or strength athlete? Yes it can. When you learn more about why your body moves in a certain way and how to identify and correct faulty movement patterns, you should be able to do the following:
1 Improve your positioning and therefore your power. Learning greater proprioception is vital to any athlete.
2. Improve your flexibility and joint mobility
3. Learn to release chronically tight muscles which will aid recovery and also help avoid overuse injuries.
4. The more your body relaxes, the more your mind will relax and this should improve your sleep and therefore recovery.
These are just some of the benefits that I have gotten from Somatics and I know there are lifters out there who can also benefit in the same way. The practice is simple: do ten minutes every day and your body will learn. If you have the discipline for ten minutes a day, then I think purchasing this DVD will help you. Martha is also bringing out a DVD specifically on releasing the Hips and lower body; I will also review this when it comes out; one thing I know for sure is that weightlifters get tight hips and this is my Achilles' Heel so bring this one on! Dan John has also reviewed this product and is actually using Martha's advice to help recover from a hip operation. Dan John is a strength training legend, so if he likes it and you don't, you should be embarressed. Here is a link to his review.
I am currently organising a private Somatics session with an instructor in Dublin and I feel that this will help. Any product that inspires you to get the source material, get a DVD and organise an actual session with an Irish instructor is definitely one to check out for yourself. Here is a link to Matha's site where you can buy the DVD.