Education is More Than 'Learning New Things'

People confuse teaching or training with education. The difference accounts for the deficiencies of public (and private) education and for the potential of somatic education.

Teaching and training involve learning new things about the world or new things to do.

Education is more fundamental than that kind of learning.  The root of the word, education, "e ducare", reveals something.  Those two words mean "to draw out".  What is being drawn out?

Etymology of the Latin word e ducare

the Latin word educare (bring up; train; educate)
derived from the Latin word educere (lead out; draw up; bring up)
derived from the Latin word ducere (to lead; to lead or draw; to lead, dim; to lead, carry; lead, command; think)
derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *deuk- (to lead)
using the Late Latin prefix e-


What is being drawn out are ones faculties.  Education is the awakening of our faculties.  By faculties, I mean basic functions.  Examples:
  • attention management
  • dedication and regulation of effort (intention) -- to act or to refrain from acting (rest)
  • the ability to listen
  • the ability to learn deliberately
  • the ability to deliver communications
  • the ability to teach
  • the ability to internalize ideas (primitively expressed as the ability to follow instructions)
  • the ability to turn ideas into functional, tangible actualities
  • discernment
Notice that these faculties exist independently of subject matter.  They are generalizable.


Education (as the awakening of ones basic faculties, not as "learning new things") makes people teachable, able to teach themselves, and able to function at any level of excellence they wish.  Without education, people are hard to teach/train, and those who receive training either (one or more):
  • don't learn well
  • can't follow instructions
  • are incapable of developing beyond their training
  • are incapable of adapting what they've learned to new situations
  • can't pass on what they've learned to others
  • can't instruct others well
  • can't tell whether an action adequately embodies an idea
  • are knowledgeable incompetents (can talk the talk, but not walk the talk)
Sound familiar?





In public education, common curricula include
  • history (faculty:  memorization)
  • math (faculty:  abstract reasoning)
  • science (faculty:  correlating ideas (theory) with actualities (observable evidence); cause-effect reasoning)
  • the arts (faculty:  the ability to turn internal perceptions into tangible actualities; aesthetic sense)
  • languages:  (faculty:  the ability to use language well; the ability to get to the heart of things and to convey intentions clearly and economically in words)
  • literature (faculty:  the ability to assume viewpoints other than ones own; listening/comprehending and speaking/writing)
  • physical education (faculty:  the ability actually to do what you intend to do or to recognize when you have not done so -- accountability -- and a better-awakened mind-body connection)
  • education in general (faculty:  developing freedom through developing responsibility for ones own faculties)
However, education, in general, has become confused with teaching/training, which is heavily memorization-intensive -- memorizing being only one faculty -- and the faculties awakened by non-memorization subjects are missed in favor of the subject matter, itself, which is only the vehicle for awaking those faculties.  It's somehow hoped that the faculty relevant to the subject matter will awaken via efforts of study, but few teachers make a direct effort to awaken the relevant faculty.

Unless educators recognize that the subjects they teach are merely vehicles for awakening a person's faculties (actually, for a person to awaken his or her own faculties, which is the only way it can be done), such people are not educators, but merely teachers.  And the inadequacy of public education can be traced to the confusion between education and teaching/training.



A person in whom the faculties named above are well-developed can more easily be taught (or self-teach) and functions better than one in whom those faculties are only rudimentarily developed.


Most basically, education involves physiological changes in the individual, as much as psychological -- inevitably so because it is via the body that (s)he carries out his or her ideas, and the skill with which (s)he does so depends upon the ability to make fine distinctions and carry out refined actions.


Most basically, the physiological changes that occur, occur at the (sensory-motor) level -- sensation and movement.  We can easily see that fact in the earliest years of school, when students are expected to develop their movement skills (P.E. and writing); just as moving ones lips when one reads indicates ("sub-vocalization") that the mental act of reading activates muscular activity, just as rapid eye movements during sleep correspond to dreaming activity, just so, all thinking involves a play of subtle modifications of muscular tensions, and the ability to think depends upon the adequate awakening and integration of those movements.

To make this point, let me illustrate in a way that you can test for yourself.  I say that you can't count to ten in your mind any faster than you can count to ten out loud.  That means thinking each number as clearly as you would say it.

Test yourself, now.   Do it.

See?

Much is made of the mind, these days, while the body is treated as if it were nothing but meat to strengthened and stretched, or enjoyed and suffered.

Big mistake.

The body is fundamental, even to abstract thought.

Most people develop only relatively crude movement skills and crude perceptual skills and are of average intelligence.  Artists develop fine movement skills and fine perceptual skills and, lo and behold, artists are generally of higher intelligence.

I'm not saying that higher intelligence leads to finer movement skills.  I'm saying the reverse:  developing finer movement skills and finer perceptual skills raises intelligence.  Well-coordinated movement supports well-organized thinking; poorly coordinated movement suggests poorly organized thinking.  And the kicker:  improving coordination (refining movement) improves thinking.

That's something for you to test.  Here's how.

The field of somatic education (here, the word, education, is used properly) develops finer movement skills and finer perceptual skills, faculties that involve changes of brain organization.  The process of somatic education develops the faculties of paying attention, listening and internalizing information, acting with intention, cause-effect reasoning, discernment, aesthetics, and memorization. 

Read the following article, "An Expanded Understanding of The Three Reflexes of Stress" (or listen to the audio), and then test my words.  Send for the somatic exercise sampler (free) and notice the changes the exercises put you through.  Since a developmental process is involved, the changes are cumulative.  Still, by doing the exercises some mornings and seeing how you function during the day, and then by not doing the exercises some mornings and seeing how you function during the day, you'll discern the effect of somatic exercises on your overall functioning.

That will be a hint about something bigger.

VIDEO: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9pxT32uh2w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bReYpZs46nc














Psoas Muscles | Core Integration | The Dolphin, Part II



https://www.youtube.com/user/Lawrence9Gold?feature=mhee

Psoas Muscles | Core Integration | Free Somatic Exercise: The Dolphin, Part I



https://www.youtube.com/user/Lawrence9Gold?feature=mhee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCmaOtKG4pg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qLcLJnJupU

The Gyroscopic Walk

The Gyroscopic Walk is a form of "super-walking" -- a high-efficiency walking pattern that gives you more walking speed at less effort and that integrates your whole-body movements so you feel more free in movement, better balanced and better put together.

The Gyroscopic Walk is very good to do after any other somatic exercise or after a clinical somatic education session, to rapidly integrate (absorb and reinforce) the improvements in physical comfort and movement.


Walking is a peerless organizer. -- Ida P. Rolf


The four people who attended my training day, "Trauma Lesson Calibration and Pandiculation Extravaganza", saw me demonstrate and then learned and practiced a walking pattern I call, The Gyroscopic Walk (which I first called, "The Magnetic Walk").  This walk integrates beautifully with Thomas Hanna's walking lesson in his "Myth of Aging" program (lesson 8, in his book, Somatics) and with my program, Superwalking.

The Gyroscopic Walk efficiently conserves and recycles the kinetic (movement) energy of walking in a way that increases walking speed with the same amount of walking effort -- or -- that reduces the effort of  walking at any speed.

They learned the basic pattern of that walk in a four-step process:
  1. See.
  2. Prepare yourself.
  3. Do.
  4. Refine.
The basic pattern of The Gyroscopic Walk involves arm movements (while walking ) of a stylized kind.  You keep the palms of your hands facing your hip joints while your arms swing forward and backward.  The motion involves a swiveling motion of your forearms.  Try it; you'll understand.



The movement of your arms swinging with your palms continuously facing your hip joints produces a sensation in the hands and arms of containing and moving a mass around a central point -- which is, of course, is what sets up a gyroscopic force. With a bicycle, the gyroscopic force of the wheels keeps us up; in walking, it keeps us balanced as we pivot around our "spinal axis". In both cases, gyroscopic force conserves and recycles kinetic energy (movement).

Now, there are three developments of the Gyroscopic Walk, maybe more, that come after this one.

NOTE:  Click here for an audio overview of, and instruction in, these and more developments.

Here's the first:
bouncing that 'ball of mass' contained in the palms of the hands forward and backward with each step

As your arms swing, you keep your palms facing your hip joints; your forearms turn forward and backward with each step. 
You contain or restrain your forward-backward arm movement (reduce the amount of swing), while maintaining your walking speed, enough that you can feel the force transmitted to your legs.  That's the experience of recycling kinetic energy. 
Your walk will spontaneously accelerate with the same amount of effort as before and you'll feel your feet anchor to the ground, better.

Another is
exploring the Gyroscopic Walk at different speeds 

There's something to be discovered, there.  I need not say more.

and a Third is
adjusting the location of twist you feel in your trunk up or down.

You do this action by feel, once you have understood and can do the basic Gyrosopic Walk.

a Fourth is
alternating Gyroscopic and ordinary walking


Do the Gyroscopic Walk only until you can feel the force transmitted to your legs, then revert to ordinary walking.  We're talking a few seconds, here.  You repeat the action many times. 
You'll feel things connect and relax in a new way, leading to smoother, more powerful walking.


And there are more -- but I think that's quite enough to chew on, for now.

Lawrence

PS:  Oh, here's an afterthought ..... just a little happenstance one.  Listen:  We can use the Gyroscopic Walk, when alternated with the Scottish Geezer's walk, to re-set our idling speed and to tune up our walking movements, whole-bodily.



Just in case you don't know what I mean by, 'idling speed':  the higher the idling speed, the higher the tension level overall in that individual -- also known as "stress level", "being somewhat wound up" -- and the ever recommended and approved of, "toned" (partially tense and ready to go).

The two walking patterns are, in a sense, opposite and complementary, so they provide contracting sensations that heighten perception.  We can use the Gyroscopic Walk, when combined with the Scottish Geezer's walk, to re-set our idling speed so that we can explore and find the "idling speed" and/or "tone" we like best.

The "tuning up your walking, whole-bodily" part is something for which you need satisfactory experience with the Gyroscopic Walk to understand this discussion.

PPS:  I wrote this message for Hanna somatic educator colleagues and clients with experience.

If you are not a Hanna somatic educator, these words may be "helpful":  To do the Gyroscopic walk, you must already be free and well-coordinated enough to get into a movement rhythm; stiff places and pains interfere, so get some somatic education to free yourself.







Freeing Tight Hamstrings

To free tight hamstrings, it's important to understand their four movement functions.
  1. leg extension at the hip joint
  2. leg flexion at the knee
  3. rotation of the lower leg at the knee joint
  4. stabilization of the pelvis when bending forward
To free hamstrings, we must free them (gain control of tension and relaxation) in all four movement functions.



If we do not gain (or improve) control in all four movement functions, one or more of those movement habits will dominate control of the other movement(s).

In addition, the hamstrings of one leg work alternately with those of the other -- as in walking; when the hamstrings of one leg are bending or stabilizing the knee, the hamstrings of the other leg are extending or stabilizing the other leg at the hip.   In those movements, the hamstrings coordinate with the hip flexors and psoas muscles.  (Co-contraction of hamstrings and hip flexors/psoas muscles leads to hip joint and ilio-sacral (SI) joint compression.)  So our approach (being movement-based) must take those relationships into account.  Otherwise, we never develop the feeling of free hamstrings in their familiar movements.



LEG EXTENSION AT THE HIP JOINT
That's the "leg backward" movement of walking.  The hamstrings are aided by the gluteal (butt) muscles, but only in a stabilizing capacity.  The major work is done by the hamstrings.  In this movement, the hamstrings, inner and outer, work together in tandem.

LEG FLEXION AT THE KNEE JOINT
That's the "getting ready to kick" movement and also the "pawing the ground" movement.  In these movements, the hamstrings, inner and outer, also work together in tandem (same movement).

To the anatomist and kinesiologist, it may seem incomprehensible ("paradoxical") that the hamstrings are involved in both movements -- leg forward and leg backward -- but that's how it is.   Though the hamstrings are involved in both cases, different movements cause a different feel.

LOWER LEG ROTATION AT THE KNEE
That's the turning movement used in skating and in turning a corner.  In this movement, the inner hamstrings (semi-membranosis and semi-tendinosis) relax and lengthen as the outer hamstring (biceps femoris) tighten to turn toes-out and the inner hamstrings tighten to turn toes-in as the outer hamstring relaxes and lengthens.

STABILIZATION OF THE PELVIS WHEN BENDING FORWARD
The hamstrings anchor the pelvis at the sitbones (ischial tuberosities) deep to the 'smile' creases beneath the buttocks (not the crack), so one can bend forward in a controlled way, instead of flopping forward at the hips like a marionette.  In this movement, the hamstrings coordinate with the front belly muscles (rectus abdominis).

In most people, either the rectus or hamstrings dominates the other in a chronic state of excessive tension, so freeing and coordinating the hamstrings involves coordinating and matching the efforts of the two muscle groups.  When the hamstrings dominate, we see swayback; when the rectus muscles dominate, we see flat ribs.

TRAINING HAMSTRING CONTROL
In training hamstring control, it's convenient to start with the less complicated movement, first.  That's the anchoring movement that stabilizes bowing in a standing position.  (See first video, above.)

After we cultivate control of "in tandem" hamstring movements, we cultivate control of "alternating" hamstring movements.  (See second video, above.)

By cultivating control of "in tandem" and "alternating" movements, we fulfill the requirements of functions (1.), (2.), and (4.).  The exercise linked in the paragraph above indirectly addresses function (3.) (lower leg rotation at the knee).  Other exercises that have this effect exist in the somatic exercise programs, "The Cat Stretch" and "Free Your Psoas", for which previews exist through the preceding links.

Manual manipulation vs. neuromuscular training

A basic understanding of muscle tone recognizes that the seat of control of muscles and movement is not muscles, but the brain, not "muscle memory" but "movement memory", not "posture" but habitual or learned movement patterns.

Lasting changes in muscle tone require movement training at the neurological (i.e., brain) level, something that manual manipulation of muscles accomplishes, at best, slowly, but which can be achieve quickly by somatic education, a discipline that rapidly alters habitual posture, movement, and muscle tone through an internal learning process.

More at http://somatics.com/movement.htm and http://somatics.com/stretch.htm along with clinical applications.

in reference to: What is Neuromuscular Therapy? (view on Google Sidewiki)

Trigger Point Therapy

This writing will interest you if
  • You've had unsuccessful trigger point therapy.
  • You have chronic muscle tension.
  • You have mysterious pains that defy diagnosis.
The "new and entirely different" approach I describe here can dissolve trigger points permanently in minutes, restore your comfort of movement, and make you independent of therapy and therapists.

In this piece, I'll explain what causes trigger points, discuss the common therapeutic approaches used to eradicate trigger points, and present a newly available approach to trigger points that works quickly and decisively where other methods produce slow, partial, or temporary improvements.  Then, I'll show where you can get access to the newly available approach.

TRIGGER POINTS EXPLAINED
Trigger points are pressure points in muscles that are very tight and sufficiently sore to to trigger tension and pain in other muscles linked to them in patterns of coordination.  That's what makes them "trigger" points.  "Patterns of coordination" means complex movements (e.g., walking) that involve multiple muscles.  Simple enough?

The term, "trigger point", was coined by Dr. Janet Travell (physician to President John F. Kennedy, who had chronic back pain from an injury sustained during wartime on the boat, PT-109).  Dr. Travell did a masterful job of mapping out the relation of these points to pain felt at distant points in the body.  However, only in the past twenty years has a clinical approach been available that equalled Dr. Travells insights, and that approach has yet to become mainstream.

TECHNIQUES FOR ERADICATING TRIGGER POINTS
The common techniques for eradicating trigger points are based upon a mechanical view of the body and of muscles.  Muscles with trigger points are considered by therapists to be "stuck" and certain common therapeutic techniques used are said to "break" trigger points, generally by working on the muscles or trigger points, themselves.

This approach to trigger points fails to apply the basic facts of muscular control --  that the center of control of muscle tension (tone) is the brain (not muscles, themselves) -- and that muscle tone is learned and alterable by experience, and that once learned, becomes so automatic that it may seem to be permanently set.  However, it's understandable since, until relatively recently, no effective way existed to apply neurophysiological knowledge about muscular function to a therapeutic approach, and all that was available were more primitive approaches based upon massage techniques and drug therapy.

Common therapeutic approaches to trigger points operate as if the source of muscular tension is the muscle, itself; therapeutic approaches based on this view produce poor and unreliable therapeutic outcomes that lead to the need for repeated therapeutic interventions.

Here's the correct understanding of trigger points:  they are pressure points in habitually tight muscles -- caused to be tight by brain-conditioning (generally from injury or stress).  Trigger points are caused by brain conditioning, not by muscles, themselves.  So, muscles are not "stuck", but responding actively and in the moment to what the brain is telling them to do;  trigger points do not exist as a result of mechanical stuckness of muscles; they exist as habitual states of muscular overactivity.

A therapeutic approach based upon this understanding acts not upon the muscles, themselves, but upon the brain-level conditioning that causes chronic muscle tension and trigger points.  Such an approach produces decisively reliable results that typically do not require repeating.

Let's review the common therapeutic approaches to trigger points.

Therapeutic attempts to eradicate trigger points take two approaches:

  1. mechanical pressure
  2. injections of salt water (saline solution)
MECHANICAL PRESSURE
Therapists using the "mechanically stuck" model attempt to get trigger points to release by applying manual pressure to trigger points.  The idea is to deprive "triggered" muscles of blood flow, and by so doing, to get the muscles to a state of fatigue, so they let go and lose their trigger points.

Such an approach produces a temporary disappearance of a trigger point.  The trigger point re-appears soon thereafter (much as with ordinary massage) because no change of brain level conditioning has occurred.  (The one advantage of "trigger point therapy" over massage is the recognition of the relation between trigger points and pain at a distance from them.)

SALINE (SALT) SOLUTION INJECTIONS
Injections of this type produce heightened sensation in the involved muscles, which sends a signal to the brain that the muscle is more contracted than it really is.  The brain, which regulates muscle tension "by feel" (sensation), allows muscle tension to decrease to the level or intensity of sensation to which the brain has become accustomed.  At this lower level of tension, trigger points disappear.

For obvious reasons, the results of this approach are also temporary.

Both methods (manual pressure and injections) treat the muscle as the problem and the trigger point as the target of therapy; both overlook the fact that, since the basic function of muscles is to produce movement, a change of how the brain regulates movement is necessary to change how the brain regulates muscle tension.

The answer to trigger points may be an unexpected one, but it's obvious from a moment of consideration:  movement education.  Movement education teaches regulation of muscle tone (tension) and of coordination.

However, most methods of movement education are primitive and inadequate to decrease the conditioned level of muscle tone.  A more sophisticated approach is needed.

That's where somatic education comes in.

WHAT'S "SOMATIC"?  WHY "EDUCATION"?
The term, "somatic", derived from the Greek word, "soma" -- meaning "living body" -- means having to do with the living body, as experienced and controlled from within -- your experience of yourself, as you are to yourself.

"Education" means, "the process of developing our faculties or abilities".

So, "somatic education" means the process of developing our faculties as a living, self-aware embodied person.

Its special meaning, in the context of the discipline of clinical somatic education, has to do with gaining control of our own living processes, those otherwise treated with medicine or therapy.

The meaning of "somatic education" is different from a doctor or therapist "working upon" another or administering some treatment such as a drug, electrical stimulation, or injection, which are the methods of medicine and therapy.

Where trigger points are concerned, somatic education brings about improved self-control or self-regulation of our muscular system and movements.  The practical outcome is alleviation of condition muscular contractions that create trigger points to begin with, through gaining better control of our faculties of strength and movement.

THE TECHNIQUE
We learn control of muscles and movement, starting with learning to crawl and creep, stand and walk. 

The techniques of somatic education make use of this natural process of learning and to it, add techniques powerful enough to override and replace conditioning that keeps muscles tight and creates trigger points.   The process occurs far more quickly than the natural learning processes of movement -- and than the therapeutic approaches commonly applied to trigger points.

One of the major techniques involves an action pattern similar to yawning, but applied to varieties of movement and coordination.  In the clinical techniques, a lasting shift of muscular control and relaxation of muscular tensions occurs in less than one minute, for any movement pattern addressed.  A few repetitions over a period of minutes can restore highly contracted muscles to comfortable, natural rest, comfort, and full strength without the usual methods of manual manipulation, injections, stretching or strengthening -- and the changes are durable and long lasting.

Examples of the clinical techniques can be found on YouTube.com, channel "Lawrence9Gold"; a specific example, used to alleviate back pain, can be seen here.

GET A HANDLE on what's behind trigger points here
WIPE OUT YOUR OWN TRIGGER POINTS with somatic exercises: programs
good starting program here.

From here, nothing remains to be said, except, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

True and False Teachings about Good Posture

While "good posture" is considered a sign of good movement health, there are true and false teachings about how to achieve it.

The popular view of good posture is that it is something you have to maintain; it's a "good" holding pattern.  The concepts, "neutral spine position" and "alignment", fall into this category.  "Shoulders back, chest up, stomach in" are typical instructions for maintaining good posture.

The popular view and the typical instructions I have described constitutes a false teaching about good posture -- and by false, I mean detrimental.

Here's why:  It adds strain to an already strained muscular system and unnaturally restrains movement.

The common teaching about good posture assumes that good posture is not the natural or free condition and that one must therefore do something to maintain it. This view may seem reasonable and inevitable; "If you don't do something to maintain good posture, you're left with the poor posture you had, already."

But an unrecognized truth underlies this assumption:  Most people are beset by habitual muscular tension patterns that drag them down from good posture, tension patterns of which they are unaware because they are so used to them, tension patterns formed at the time of injuries or of emotional stress (i.e., nervous tension).

In actuality, good posture is the easiest condition to maintain -- if you are free of habitual tension patterns.  If not, then you must do something to counteract those tension patterns, to restore good posture.  That's the condition most people are in.

This assertion may be hard to accept until you have experienced the reality of what happens when you get free of your habitual tension state.

Massage and bodywork typically seek to alleviate habitual tension, but with rare exception, they do not alter a person's postural set because to do so would require a second step:  to develop better coordination.

Coordination is the basis of good movement, good posture, good alignment.

Posture, viewed another way, results from moving into a certain shape and holding it.  It's a function of movement.

Most movements are developed by learning.  So is posture.

The difference is that injuries and stress change movement patterns in lasting ways that are commonly beyond the ability of people to change; these movement patterns persist on automatic.  That's why teachings about posture recommend counter-actions to those movement patterns.

So, what's the answer?  Are we forever destined to poor and worsening posture as we grow older?

The answer is, no.  But what is needed is a way to undo habitual muscular tensions formed by injuries and stress, not to counteract them (either through "good posture" disciplines or through strengthening of muscles).

Such a way exists.  The discipline of clinical somatic education teaches and employs exactly such a way.

All animals with a backbone do a certain action instinctually upon arising from rest, as they become active.  This action, commonly mistaken for stretching, involves a strong muscular contraction followed by a leisurely relaxation; different animals have different patterns, but all do it in some form.  This action pattern called, "pandiculation", refreshes the brain's body image and purges accumulated tension. Birds do it by shrugging their wings back, reaching their legs back, one at a time, and then flapping their wings; cats and dogs do it by first bowing, arching their back, and then shaking.  Humans do it in the natural "yawn and morning stretch" (different in performance from the calf or hamstring stretches athletes do).

Clinical somatic education uses techniques that activate this genetically-present action behavior methodically and in a magnified way to free people from the grip of tension patterns formed by injury and stress.  In the case of clinical somatic education, we apply the contraction/relaxation behavior to places where the person holds tension; with injuries and stress, these tensions always exist in patterns, so it's not a matter of "releasing muscles", but of releasing entire patterns of tension.  The result is a lasting release of muscular tension.  Then, we teach movement patterns that link muscle groups together in certain inherently well-organized patterns of coordination, to replace less well-organized pathological patterns.  It's a lower-effort, easier, more efficient condition of living.

No longer is the person dragged down from good posture by habitual muscular tension.  (S)he is free to stand and move at her or his full stature and in the easy balance that free and well-coordinated movement permits.

The results of pandiculation distinguish the good posture of freedom from tension from the 'good posture' maintained by pitting one muscle group (used to maintain good posture) from other muscle groups (held tight by the lingering effects of injury and stress).

Easy balance is the natural state, whether at rest or in movement.  Good posture isn't something you maintain; it's nearly effortless, the product of good balance and good coordination.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read a research article on pandiculation.

To see and hear how we apply pandiculation to back trouble, view Back Exercises for Lower Back Pain.  See other examples of pandiculation instruction in the somatic exercises shown on YouTube channel "Lawrence9Gold".

Read articles on movement health conditions, such as sciatica, stress conditions, such as headaches, and on postural distortions, such as unequal leg length, at Somatics on the Web

Core Exercises -- What is Core?

A common misconception exists about core exercises or core workouts -- even, or particularly, among some athletic trainers.  The misunderstanding of which I speak is, "What is 'core'?"

Commonly the muscles of the abdominal wall are considered, "core".  This is incorrect.  Those muscles are surface, the way the skin of an apple is surface to the apple core.

The core muscles are the deepest muscles; they lie closest to the bone (or body center) and exert the greatest control of balance and coordination.  Among them, the psoas muscles, the quadratus lumborum, the diaphragm, in the the trunk, and the scalene muscles of the neck and the muscles of swallowing in the throat, as examples -- all of which affect spinal alignment, and thereby, balance.  Strength is not their primary contribution, and so the notion of "core strengthening" is inherently misguided.

What is sought through core strengthening is usually stability, but stability doesn't come from strength; it comes from balance.

Balance is a consequence of close coordination between opposing muscles and between muscles and their synergists (helpers).

When a person gets musclebound, as often happens in physical conditioning programs and in cases of injury, close coordination gets distorted, as one muscle or muscle group overpowers another.

Easy balance is impossible when one is in that condition; the person is inherently unstable and muscle tone must shift throughout the body to compensate for those imbalanced in a less-easy stability.

More than that, a person cannot strengthen what they cannot feel, and one can't feel the core if one muscle group overpowers the other.  The core can be sensed only when muscles are closely coordinated in a condition of easy, dynamic balance.

Even if core strengthening exercises give equal attention to strengthening all muscles in the (supposed) core group, they don't necessarily give attention to both freeing musclebound muscles and developing balanced (i.e., equal) control/coordination of all of those muscles.

More than that, if muscles of the peripheries of the body, e.g., legs, arms, neck, are musclebound or poorly coordinated, they cause unbalancing pulls from the peripheries of the body to the core.  They cause instability that cannot be corrected by core strengthening; they can be corrected only by restoring suppleness and balance among opposing muscles and among muscular synergists (mutual helpers).

So, approaches at core conditioning must have the following two elements present:
  • alleviating musclebound conditioning
  • developing balanced coordination
That said, I'd like to point you to an example of a core conditioning program that does just that: called, "The Five-Pointed Star", one of a number of programs people use to alleviate pain, to recover from injury, and to cultivate balance and suppleness.

Another program that has garnered special interest concerns the psoas muscles, Free Your Psoas, also has that effect.  Recognizing that the peripheries affect the core, this program presents a whole-body approach to freeing and integrating the psoas muscles.

Articles on psoas muscle functioning can be found at Somatics on the Web (somatics.com).  Other core-workout programs can be found there, as well.

RELEVANT ENTRIES:

Psoas Muscles | Core Integration | Free Somatic Exercise: The Dolphin, Part I

Psoas Muscles | Core Integration | The Dolphin, Part II

Freeing Tight Psoas Muscles | The Well-Tempered Psoas | The Inner Psoas

As it happens, it isn’t exactly rocket science to understand why the psoas muscles get tight. The answer is, "insults and injuries". When we get uptight, we get tight. (For the clinicians out there, their tension is part of a larger pattern of psychomotor/ neuromuscular tension activated by stress and maintained as an activated memory pattern, and that kind of tension involves the body-core.) When we get injured, we tighten up in Trauma Reflex (cringe response).

            Insults and injuries form memory patterns.  We never completely forget.  Insults and injuries that occurred when we were not up to the demand of an experience leave their mark in memory. Immaturity may lead to painful experiences. And the memory of those experiences is not just "inner" and "emotional", different from the body, but present as the felt state of the body:  patterns of tension and other stress-induced changes resident in memory and activated -- the physical sensations of the memory, carried all the way through to the core and experienced to a greater or lesser degree as physical changes.

            For that reason, single-muscle releases miss a lot of the tension pattern of which tight psoas muscles are a part.


            There’s more.

            In "An Essential Understanding of the Psoas Muscles", I use the term, “open core”.  I refer to a person’s “full stature”.  I talk about the nervous system’s centralized role in regulating muscular tension in arising from rest to sitting, standing, and walking; for each of those movements, a corresponding state of mind exists.  I’ll go into that shortly; as you’ll see, it’s pretty obvious, when pointed out.

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Free Your Psoas self-correction program


MEMORY

       Chronically tight psoas muscles indicate the existence of stuck movement-memory patterns. To free tight psoas muscles, we must release the trigger of the tension -- whether the memory of activity (movement), of a sensation (injury), or of emotional stress.  Then, we must integrate the movements of our psoas muscles into larger, healthy postural and movement patterns, such as those of sitting or walking.

          "Release" doesn't necessarily mean catharsis. It means getting unstuck. Catharsis is the explosive uncorking of pent-up emotion when we release resistance to doing so suddenly.  Better, to regulate the resistance and the emotion, together, and do the releasing gracefully and essentially comfortably.

           Memories are congealed patterns of experience. The more we return to them, the more ingrained they get.  Then, they show up as habitual patterns of tension.

           A person stuck in a habit pattern is enclosed in the habit and to that degree, closed to new experience. There’s no space. All there is, is the repetitive replay of memory. Noise. The closed (or hard-) core condition.

           However, a deliberate, new action can modify a habit – but only if that new action first softens up the habit.

           The key to softening up a habit is to recover the experience of creating it, to begin with.  That means that a person deliberately does what ordinarily “happens by itself” until (s)he can feel that (s)he is doing it, rather than that it happening to her/him. It has to do with recreating the habit pattern, deliberately. The saying is, "Whatever you are doing wrong, do it more, and then less.  That action melts the mold of a habit so that it can be remolded.

            In that state of “melt”, the person no longer feels identical to (or trapped in and by) that habit; (s)he has transcended it. That transcendence provides the space for the emergence of The New (in whatever form).

            We deliberately to do the movement actions of the tight psoas pattern (which involves many muscles and movement elements), add energy to them.  When we do that, we feel those muscles "give in" and relax, as we relax.  Step-by-step instruction in a program such as Free Your Psoas, guides you through the larger tension/movement patterns.

BACK TO THE PSOAS

            The modes of psoas function – rest/repose to sitting, to standing, to walking, correspond to states of the psyche.  As I said, it’s pretty obvious.

    * REST/REPOSE:  no intention, no readiness, no engagement with experience
Although sleep may seem the very definition of rest, sleep is no necessarily restful.  Ask anyone with insomnia.  Dream sleep involves emotional, mental, and subtle physical activity (e.g., REM -- Rapid Eye Movement sleep).  Deep, dreamless sleep is as close as most of us come, and generally, tense people stay tense even during sleep.  Waking repose is generally not full rest.
    * SITTING:  coming to some higher degree of activity; mental and emotional engagement

    * STANDING:  coming to a still higher level of activity; active mental, emotional and physical engagement

    * WALKING etc.:  coming to a still higher level of activity and engagement


            Any “hold” at any of these levels is a limit on the responsiveness of the psoas/iliopsoas muscles, generally at some level of contraction that you can't relax by ordinary means.

  • If the psoas muscles are simply non-functional, they express a pattern of immaturity in which the person is either passive, relatively receptive like a child, without initiative, or without the capacity to formulate a deliberate intention and more concerned with outer appearances than with true intentions.  It's an arrested (ar-"rested") state of development.

  • If the psoas muscles are equally tight, left and right, but very short, they express the stuck pattern of sitting and the mood of sitting -- limited action and actually a restraint upon taking a stand (standing up) and taking moving action.  It's an arrested state of starting things.

  • If the psoas muscles are equally tight, but free enough to permit standing up without pain, they express a pattern of high arousal, but without action (repressed action).  In this state, the spinal muscles, which get tighter as arousal level increases, arch the spine backward; the psoas muscles pull the top of the pelvis and lumbar spine forward, and the person exists in a state of co-contraction, which involves low grade low back pain from back muscle fatigue.

  • If the psoas muscles are asymmetrically tight, they usually express a stuck pattern of action, as if stopped mid-step in a standing position.  It's an arrested state of follow-through and often the state of a prior leg or foot injury that triggered a cringe response and changed the walking pattern.  Alternately, there may have been a hard fall or other pelvic injury that knocked the sacrum (central pelvic bone, in back) off center and triggered a psoas muscle response.

  • All cases of chronically tight psoas muscles express an inability to come to complete rest, as one would expect after completing some activity.

Physical and/or emotional trauma can create a memory impression sufficiently fixated to create chronic muscular tensions of this type. So can voluntary actions repetitively done or done for a longer period of time at a high level of intensity. These memory impressions function as if the situation is still happening in present time – with the attendant emotional flavor and arousal state.

As I said in the other article, as a generality, people never experience deep rest; they/we are stuck at some level of activity, some level of tension, stuck in some pattern of memory, of arousal, of reactivity, of resistance to outer things and to things inside ourselves.

As the psoas muscles are involved in every state of arousal from rest to full activity, a person stuck at some state of activity has psoas muscles (and actually, the entire musculature, to some degree) stuck at some level of activity. This statement is, of course, an oversimplification, but as a generalization, it holds good.

To the degree that we are stuck in a memory at the physical level (memory of repetitive action, memory of injury), at the emotional level (memory of experience, memory of insult), or at the mental level (memory of worldview, memory of limitation), we are stuck in a closed/hard-core condition, unavailable to new information, new experience, change.

In general, we are held in a pattern and prevented from coming to our full stature, our best balance, our self-assurance, our freedom.

That means that psoas muscles don’t lengthen freely when coming from sitting to standing. We never get completely out of the crouch; we never elongate fully unless we apply extra effort (generally as an automatic action). We never come to our full stature.

And we are always held in a pattern. It’s just that the pattern may be long-term dysfunctional or short-term functional.

If it’s long-term dysfunctional, we are responding out of habit, maintaining our pattern with a sense of friction against some outer experience or in a state of conflict with our inner experience or preference, in a kind of chronic state of emergency.   If it’s a short-term functional pattern, it's emerging and changing in the moment, playing out freely as a stream of experiences:  sensations, emotions, ideas arising without an effort to prevent or force them, a creative stream of new emergence by which we may bring something new (not memory-based or conforming to an existing memory mold).

Creating something tangible in that stream of creative emergence involves a state of alignment in which, if we “take our hands off the steering wheel,” things continue to go along with a kind of momentum. It's called being "in the groove", "getting your groove on", "in the zone".  The flow flows without much fuss. Open core, free sleeve. Resilient, responsive psoas muscles.

IN THE ABSTRACT

In the abstract, an awakening or filling out of somatic awareness involves recognizing when we are fixated in stress-patterns (memories) and progressively melting the mold of memory.  The mold of memory keeps us in patterns of tension, formed some time ago.  To melt the mold of memory permits us to continue to dissolve, and evolve, to reshape all the way through to the core.

With each increment of “melt”; we elongate into looser movement and a more comfortable balance.  By melting, we surrender both to staying the same and changing. We let ourselves stay the same, and also let ourselves change

Without that “melt”, attempts to free the psoas muscles and the core are limited to the degree to which we have already outgrown our earlier memory patterns and can release them.  In other words, a limited amount.

And, in any case, the limitations of our present existence are the present temporary limit to which we can be free in mind and in the musculature.

AND CONCRETELY

Somatic education is a good place to start.  Develop greater mastery of your attention.  Learn to feel and, through your attention combined with movement and memory exercises, to melt the ways in which you, like jello, are set.

Put yourself together, better.  Streamline your abilities by developing a bodily sense of organization that affects everything you do, from how you pay attention to how you understand how things function, to how you upgrade your abilities.  Know distinctly the difference between not getting results and getting results and whether the result closely met your intention..

And, of course, there's reverse the cumulative effects of stress-memories that make you age faster, and recapture some of your lost youth (or masterful athletic expertise, if you're an injured athlete).




EMERGENCY BACK SELF-CARE | FIRST AID FOR BACK PAIN | SOMATICS.COM

If you have back pain, then the first thing to consider is that you don't "have" back pain; back pain "has you" in its grip. That way of describing it would seem to be more true to your experience, wouldn't it? This video, below, shows how you can get control of the back pain that has you in its grip and then get rid of it, while recovering the comfortable and secure use of your back.

Although some people believe that standard procedures are "time-tested" and inherently more reliable, in this case, the opposite is true. Faster, more complete, and longer-lasting relief can be obtained with a less invasive, "high-touch" procedure that hits "the mark" than by standard procedures that miss "the mark". What is "the mark"? What to do, right now

This video shows what you can do to relieve your own back pain and restore freedom of movement. The procedure has helped thousands of people who have already had back surgery or other invasive procedures.



For a clear understanding of a new, more effective approach to back pain than stretching, strengthening, adjustments or massage, please see this page.

For chronic back pain, please see this page, which also contrasts conventional back pain methods (including spinal decompression devices) with an entirely new, more effective approach.














TMJ Syndrome/TMD/Bruxism Treatments

This entry is for you if you have bruxism, orofacial pain, earaches, TMJ headaches, or clench your teeth at night.

TMJ Syndrome | Clinical Somatic Education session

Oscar W. in Session for TMJ Dysfunction

Once again, I am drawn to address common practices used to alleviate common health conditions.  In this case, it's TMJ Dysfunction (or "TMD" or "TMJ Syndrome"), a condition that people commonly expect to take months or years to clear up, but which can be cleared up in weeks by oneself or faster with clinical somatic education sessions.




The Root of TMJ Dysfunction

Common dental practices overlook the root of the condition:  neuro-muscular conditioning caused by trauma (injury, previous dental work) or long-term emotional stress (particularly, anger).  "Neuro-muscular" means, muscles controlled by the brain. Another name for "neuro-muscular" is "muscle/movement memory" -- the state of tension we return to, automatically.

Even "neuromuscular dentistry" approaches the situation indirectly, by changing such things as a person's bite pattern, rather than changing muscular tension habits; the "neuromuscular" part exists in their minds, but not in their way of approaching the situation.

An article posted here gives the details.

Here are topics that give reasoning and details.
The common therapeutic means for addressing the condition address symptoms, rather than causes.

As a clinical somatic education practitioner, I've developed an effective and reliable self-relief program, which addresses exactly the underlying cause of TMJ Syndrome:  the reflexive muscular action in the muscles of biting a chewing that causes the complex array of symptoms associated with TMJ Syndrome.

INTRODUCTION TO THIS TMJ SELF-RELIEF PROGRAM




long version
TMJ Dysfunction (TMD) Corrected in Eighteen Minutes
with Hanna Somatic Education


MORE:
Free Preview of Self-Relief Program -- 5 Well-designed Somatic Exercises That You Can Use to Make Your Jaws Feel Better and Make Your Bite Better -- in about 2 Weeks

Instructions in Somatic Exercises to Free Your Own Jaws
Common Causes of TMJ Syndrome/TMD/Bruxism