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What Is Somatic Stretching?

If you’ve ever participated in our  classes at Urban Athlete in Philadelphia, PA, you will immediately understand somatic stretching and how it benefits the body. If you haven’t, then the concept is a bit trickier to explain, since it involves both a physical and mental process. Some people call it yoga for athletes, but it’s more than that. It’s awareness of the body, where you’re holding tension, all the muscles in the body and voluntarily learning to relax each one. It’s reconnecting your body with your mind on how the movement feels to you.

Somatic stretching is guided movement.

It’s not really the same as traditional static stretching. You do stretch, but it isn’t forced. Rather, you focus on where your muscles are now, regarding tension, and make your conscious mind more aware of how they feel in certain positions and doing certain movements. When you feel tension in your muscles, that awareness allows to release the tension and increases both flexibility and range of motion until you can slowly remove the barriers that block healthy natural movement and alignment, while returning to a more natural postural alignment for strength, weight support and the elimination of tension.

Natural reflexes can cause tension.

When you get up in the morning and stretch, it’s a reflex. Just as cats stretch before almost every move, it’s your body’s wake up motion. That’s a good natural reflex. However, if you’ve ever put your body through even minor incidences of pain, which can be as simple as shoes that are too tight to major accidents and injuries, the body redirects the muscles to protect itself, even long after the injury or situation has passed. It can be as simple as shifting your weight because of a foot blister, which creates posture difficulties a pain in other areas. It’s simply getting back in touch with the muscles and joints of the body to feel better.

You don’t have a goal that’s similar to other types of exercises.

Most exercise goals focus on how many repetitions and sets you can do, how much you can lift or how fast you can go. Somatic stretching doesn’t work that way. Instead of being focused on an outer goal that others can see, it’s focused on your inner self, how each movement feels. Unlike other types of stretches, you don’t push your body to do it, you relax your body into stretching.

  • Somatic stretching focuses on reducing the stretch reflex. It’s the body’s mechanism that protects the body from injury by contracting muscles. When the tension is unreleased, however, it leaves the body with more potential for injury.
  • Once there’s protective tension in the muscles, it sometimes doesn’t go away by itself. It requires a deep tension release or the brain tells the body to hold that tension 24/7.
  • Somatic stretching makes you more aware of your body. When you’re in touch with your muscles, you can feel the pleasure of movement more deeply and have an inner connection. That allows you to have more control moving in a safer manner.
  • Releasing the tension does more than improve flexibility. It allows you to revitalize your energy level. Muscle tension saps the body of energy. Relaxing that tension revitalizes you.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

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