Understanding the Reflexes Through Self Assessment
Information is only good if it can be used.
The fact that all therapeutic modalities are not trained in Somatics and Neuromuscular Re-education means that you might get an assessment that you don't know what to do with.
Perhaps you have heard, you have one leg shorter than the other?
Or, your pelvis is anteriorly rotated to the right or your left shoulder blade wings out?
Sounds like a foreign language, right? Or you have been told that you are leaning to one side.
Information is only good if it’s useful and without an understanding of the “why” your body is stuck and out of alignment, and “what” to do to correct it, you may feel frustrated and without options.
We hear you.
Did you know that your nervous system and brain are paying attention all the time, responding to stress, threats, trauma, and repetitive movements in order to keep you safe?
This is the brain's way of learning.
And did you know that you have the capability to release, rest and rebalance yourself. Absolutely you do.
Habituated Reflex Patterns
Over time, the brain's learning/avoidance process means that our muscles get stuck "habituated" into Reflex patterns in the body.
And the more we get stuck, and the longer we are there, the more normal functioning is interrupted. This is what leads to compensations, sleepy/weak muscles, fatigue, wear and tear on joints, tension, poor sleep, digestive problems, busy mind AND even pain.
The way we change these habituated reflexes is to wake up the part of brain in control of these patterns and re-educate them to release.
This seems so much more intelligent than trying to build muscle to brace the other side of the body to try to draw alignment back, or to use forceful manipulative techniques to try to get the body to let go.
So, you have some stuff going on in your body, right?
Education is key to change, so lets continue your learning.
Take a few minutes to do a Reflex Self Assessment
Start by standing facing a mirror. What do you notice?
Please check the ones that apply:
Reflex Self Assessment Part 1:
Rounded upper back?
Feet turn inward?
Pelvis tilted back?
Head shifted forward?
Reflex Self Assessment Part 2:
Pronounced arch in lower back?
Shoulders drawn back?
Does your belly stick out?
Feet turn out?
Weight on front outer feet?
Reflex Self Assessment Part 3:
One shoulder lower or higher?
Are your hips uneven?
Do you lean to one side?
Do you feel twisted or rotated to one side?
More weight on one foot than the other?
One leg typically sitting shorter than the other?
Do you have Scoliosis or a C curve in your spine
Self Assessment Tally:
Add up the number of times you checked under each category above. It is typical to have more than one Reflex and sometimes all three Reflexes in whole or part showing up in your body at the same time. Below you will find more explanation of each reflex so you can understand more fully how your posture and ability to move are being affected by habituation and your brain’s way of learning.
Broadening Your Understanding
Red Light Reflex (Part 1 Self Assessment)
This reflex is the deepest innate protection mechanism to freeze, to ensure survival and protect our vital organs and life. It presents as contraction of our flexor muscles, our front body, or front line muscles.
The Red Light reflex is so primitive of a reflex that it occurs in all mammals in response to actual or perceived threat to survival. Red Light Reflex kicks in within milliseconds of a threatening or startling event occurring around us.
In today’s society it presents in response to high levels of stress and load and is exacerbated by repetitive and poor movement habits such as texting and too much time at the computer. There is actually a clinical term called Text Head Forward Syndrome to explain this reflex and its predominance in the Millennials generation (birth years approx. 1981-1996).
Red Light Reflex manifests symptomatically in many ways affecting posture, limiting diaphragmatic breathing, causing painful shortened psoas muscles, causing sluggish digestion, TMJ and jaw tension, pelvic floor pain, knee pain, anxiety, overwhelm and more. Reach out to us if you have questions about this Reflex Pattern.
Green Light Reflex (Part 2 Self Assessment)
This is the innate reflex of “get ready and let’s go”. This reflex prepares us for movement and action and gets us ready to achieve our goals.
This reflex becomes habituated from the constant and relentless need to keep going in our busy and hectic lives. This reflex also shows up from repetitive linear sports such as running.
It presents as a chronic contraction of the extensor muscles of the body (back line muscles). Sometimes our personalities lead to green light reflex patterns, with the need to do more, achieve more, particularly when we avoid tiredness and keep going. Our underlying belief systems can play a role here too, ones like "I am not good enough." Reach out to us if you have questions about this Reflex Pattern.
The most common symptoms of Green Light Reflex are:
low back pain
pain between the shoulder blades
chronically tight glutes, hamstrings and calves
restlessness and inability to get quiet
never feeling settled
Trauma Reflex (Part 3 Self Assessment)
This innate reflex displays to avoid danger, to get out of the way of harm. This reflex presents as one-sidedness or an asymmetry in the body.
This reflex presents as an unconscious contraction of the side waist and side body muscles and contralateral muscles of the body. We can experience this after an injury such as a sprained ankle, knee surgery or a fall off a mountain bike where we load into the opposite and our muscles get sort and tight.
Life experiences and emotional traumas also present in the physical body in this way. Scoliosis is a common Trauma Pattern usually diagnosed in pre-teens signalled by trauma or stress leading to muscular imbalances in the paraspinal muscles. Also we may me told how we have one leg shorter when we lie supine on our backs, or one shoulder lower than the other as we stand in front of a mirror.
Rarely is the cause a true leg length discrepancy that is causing the shortening, rather a neuromuscular cause. This is corrected with the somatic technique of pandiculation after the culprit muscles are taught to lengthen out of their holding pattern.
Common Trauma Pattern Symptoms include:
Hip sitting higher or lower than another
One shoulder higher or lower than another
A rotated pelvis or shoulder girdle
One sided body pain
Wear and tear on joints on one side of the body.
The Culprit: Sensory Motor Amnesia
Now that you have an understanding of the underlying reflex patterns that are contributing to your pain, can you understand how and why your symptoms might be as they are?
It is because your muscles are staying chronically contracted in this state known as Sensory Motor Amnesia.
The Solution: Pandiculation
The best part about gaining this new information is that our brain's can relearn how to regain back control over our muscles and movement patterns.
Our nervous systems are so incredibly intelligent and once you learn how to PANDICULATE your muscles you can permanently lengthen and release these stuck reflex patterns. You have the power to...
restore natural upright posture,
lessen scoliotic imbalances,
releasing stuck breathing patterns,
regaining full range of motion,
alleviating clicking popping and grinding in shoulders,
hips and knees
notice your being calmer, and
rest fully in the authenticity of yourself.
Now doesn't that sound empowering?
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