Eliminate Pain With Somatics

Eliminate Pain With Somatics – Thomas Hanna’s Somatic Exercises

I have recently started learning about somatic exercises and have been blown away with my results. It’s something I’d like to dive deeper into but here are my initial impressions!

Somatic Exercises Initial Impressions

I have been sort of playing around with the exercises in Somatics by Thomas Hanna for a few weeks now and have had some really impressive results. My utility company job left me with a lot of chronic pain. Pain that I have been trying to eliminate for a couple years now.

I’ve had some success with exercises and self-massage, but often the results are temporary. This makes sense because the motor patterns that cause the pain are now habit. This is the problem somatic exercises seek to address.

Somatic exercises reprogram your nervous system to work the way it’s supposed to. By regularly practicing the 8 exercises in this system you can reset your brain and return to using your muscles properly.

While I am only at the beginning stages of exploring this system, I like what I have seen so far. I’m hoping to bring more videos on this subject in the near future to make these exercises more accessible for everyone!

Ben massaging his tibialis anterior

Ease Shin Splints With Tibialis Anterior Self Massage

I had a gentleman contact me on Instagram about a way to deal with shin splints. It just wasn’t working trying to explain it over text so I decided I’d just make a video on how to ease shin splints with a tibialis anterior self-massage! This is a pretty easy muscle to find and you don’t need any tools to get the job done, although they can help.

I’ll show you how to massage your tibialis anterior with your heel and also how to use a Theracane and Knobbler to get a little extra pressure if needed.

Shin splints aren’t directly caused by trigger points, but tight muscles in the front of the lower leg pull on the muscle attachments which is what causes the familiar pain of shin splints. By getting these muscles to relax you eliminate the tension that is causing the pain.

I’ll also share a simple exercise you can use to condition your tibialis anterior and help keep the pain from coming back!

Ben demonstrating proper breathing

Proper Breathing Is Essential For Good Health

We don’t think enough about proper breathing. But we probably should think about it more. Proper breathing is essential for good health. The fact that it happens all on its own is a big part of why we don’t think about it. But improper breathing can have a major negative impact on our health.

You Can Reprogram How You Breath

All the stressors of modern life encourage chest breathing, which is stressed breathing. Diaphragmatic, that is breathing lower in the abdomen, is more natural and healthy.

Chest breathing promotes increased muscle tension, lack of concentration, higher stress hormones, and increased cardiovascular stress. That is because chest breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system, which stimulates the body.

Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It encourages lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, improved oxygenation, and lower stress hormone production.

If you’ve been a regular chest breather for a long time, as many of us have been, it has become habit. This means that it’s how your body normally breaths. This isn’t as it should be though. You normal form of breathing should be diaphragmatic.

In the video above, I’ll share a few exercises the help you differentiate chest breathing from diaphragmatic breathing. I’ll also share ways you can practice diaphragmatic so you can resume regular breathing throughout the day!

been standing up from the floor

Standing Up From The Floor – 2 More Techniques

In my previous video, Getting Up Off The Floor, I shared a few ways you can get up off the floor. This week I wanted to share a couple more. I want to share base building and the side bent sit get up. Base building is probably the easiest way to get up from the floor while the side bent sit get up is much more challenging and can be a great hip stability exercise.

Standing Up From The Floor

Base building is a great place to start when practicing get ups. It the way infants learn to get up off the ground. It starts from a prone position, laying face down. First push your chest up off the ground with your elbows.

Then you’re going to bring your knees under you one at a time. Once both knees are under you, push up into a hand knee position. Now place your toes on the ground and push your hands back toward your knees. As your hands walk backward, drive your hips up into the air.

Once your hips are high enough that your weight is centered over your feet, just stand up. You can reverse this process to go back to the floor.

The side bent sit get up is much more challenging than base building. Start in a side bent sit. Drive your hips up off the ground until they’re fully extended.

Now turn your body so it’s facing in the direction your knees are pointing. Slowly shift your weight over the knee that’s in front. This will make the back leg lighter so you can move it. Once you’ve shifted your weight enough to free your trailing leg, lift it and swing it straight forward into a split squat position.

Take your time with this transition so you can ensure good hip stability. If you rush and use momentum, you may overlook mobility issues that you don’t know you have. Move slowly and gain control over the movement.

From the split squat position, come up to standing!

ben stretching his t spine and shoulders

Thoracic Spine Mobility And Shoulder Mobility Stretch

Your shoulders and your upper back are kind of a unit. If one is tight, it will affect the other. It’s important to maintain mobility through the shoulders and t spine or it will alter the way the rest of your body works.

This simple stretch will help open your shoulders and restore mobility to your thoracic spine. You just need something to put your hands on like a chair.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind while you do this stretch, but the biggest one is to make sure you don’t let your ribs tilt up as your arms go over your head. If you do you’re just hyper extending your lower back instead of opening your shoulders.

If you’re doing this as a passive stretch, make sure you hold the stretch long enough for adaptation to happen. You need to hold the stretch for at least 90 seconds. You can also apply a little pressure with your hands to the chair, or whatever you’re using, to make the stretch even more effective.

To do this as an active stretch, apply pressure to the object with your hands at the start of the stretch and maintain that tension as you hip hinge back. Keep the tension as your arms go over your head and hold the position for a couple seconds before resetting to the starting position. Do 6-12 reps for a good active stretch set!

Ben Smith Practicing Sitting Positions

How To Make Sitting Part Of Your Movement Practice

Sitting has been called the new smoking. But the reality is that sitting isn’t actually bad for you. What is bad for you is too much sitting in the same position. So it’s really lack of movement that’s bad for you. Today I’m going to explain how you can make sitting part of your movement practice.

Sitting Can Be Beneficial

Despite the recent alarms against sitting, it can actually be beneficial. There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to make sitting a part of your movement practice.

The first is to avoid chairs. Chairs put us into a fixed position and encourage us to use the chair to support our bodies. By sitting on the floor you have many more options for sitting positions. If the floor is problematic, you can use cushions to help bolster your body. And if you have to use something like a chair, a bar stool is a much better option.

If you have a hard time getting up from the floor, check out this video on getting up from the floor I did a while back. It offers some different techniques you can practice to make sitting on the floor more manageable.

Next, you need to vary your position. Like I said above, sitting isn’t bad for you. It’s long-term non-movement or holding the same position for and extended period. The great thing about the floor is that it doesn’t restrict your position the same way a chair does. Try to change your position every few minutes. The floor is also more likely to make you want to change your position than the floor.

And last, move around while you’re sitting. Explore your range of motion from different seated positions. Rotate your torso left and right, up and down. Move your arms. How far can you reach in all directions. I have personally found this to be a great way to unlock tight hips and back.

Sitting doesn’t have to lock you into one position for hours and hours. You can make it work for you. Start thinking beyond sitting in a chair and make sitting a valuable part of your movement practice!