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Why Stretching Falls Short: Exploring the Science Behind Somatic Therapy

Ever felt muscle tension and achiness, and attempted to stretch it out, only to find it exacerbated the discomfort? You're not alone. Contrary to popular belief, stretching can sometimes worsen these symptoms—an overlooked fact that many aren't aware of.

There's neuromuscular science behind this and I just happen to love this kind of science.

Imagine attending a yoga class with the goal of enhancing flexibility and function, but instead experiencing a worsening of tension and pain. This leads to your muscles contracting even more tightly in defense, resulting in increased widespread discomfort. This situation sets the stage for the development of more painful trigger points (intensely painful referred pain patterns) and adhesions (muscle knots).

Stretching doesn't work for this. In fact, it's the built-in neuromuscular stretch reflex that is creating the protective contraction making everything feel worse. Here's why:

When you are already experiencing muscle pain and tightness, the act of stretching sends a signal to the nervous system activating the strecth reflex. In healthy muscle tissue, this reflex prevents it from being overstretched by countering the stretch with contraction to keep the muscle tendons from tearing. This entire process is dependent on the neuromuscular connection.

If you have been experiencing persistent tension or holding patterns, it is likely that there is a condition known as sensory motor amnesia present in the neuromuscular connection. This indicates that your brain and sensory receptors have lost the ability to differentiate between various muscle contraction states. Consequently, the stretch reflex, which used to be beneficial, now contributes to increased tension and discomfort in the muscle. While you may experience temporary relief, it is short-lived and ineffective in addressing the underlying issue; in fact, it may even worsen the situation. Fortunately, I have a solution that can help.

Somatic practices work with the nervous system function to create the response you need for actual pain relief, but even more than that, it breaks the cycles of pain and tension, reestablishs neuromuscular connection and resets the length of the muscle for a relaxation response instead of a reflex response, so you get relief.

When I started my journey into somatic therapy a couple of years ago, I had no idea it would completely change my outlook on massage therapy. What I found, though, has been life-changing.

If you're stuck in this chronic tension cycle of pain and tired of nothing working, book a Somatic Bodywork session with me. My clients have been experiencing immediate relief of pain, nerve impingement, chronic tension, and emotional holding patterns FROM JUST ONE SESSION! The success is rooted in the understanding of the relationship between neuromuscular connection and neuroscience, and that is my specialty.

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