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What is Hanna Somatics and How Does it Work?

Updated on January 24, 2017

Would you like to feel more flexibility in your movement? Would you also like to get rid of aches and pains caused by persistently tight muscles and grinding joints? If you have visited a doctor or other type of practitioner to find relief from muscle irritation, you might well have been handed a few basic muscle exercise and stretching sheets and been sent on your way. Then, after doing these exercises and stretches, you may also have been frustrated at the lack of progress or relief from your condition or symptoms. If you are feeling this way, then Hanna Somatics may well offer an alternative muscle memory program that could provide the relief from muscle pain and muscle tightness that you are so desperately seeking. So, what is Hanna Somatics and how does it work? This is what we'll be discussing in this post.

What is Hanna Somatics?

Hanna Somatic Education or ‘Hanna Somatics’ is an alternative form of neuro-muscular mind and body training which is designed to re-educate the muscle memory and get directly to the root cause of chronic muscular pain. Targeting the brain and specifically the way it senses and organizes the movement of muscles, Hanna Somatics aims to help you regain muscle awareness, muscle sensation and the motor control of muscles through memory. The theory is that when we are born we have an almost perfect form of muscle movement and sensory awareness. As we grow older, however, we develop bad habits when it comes to muscle movement. These bad habits gradually tighten up certain muscles or muscle groups and this then exacerbates the problem, leading to muscle pain, tightness and injury.

Hanna Somatic Education is marketed as a safe and common sense approach to reversing chronic muscle pain. The creators of the program say that Hanna Somatics is the only source of pain relief that specifically targets Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA), a condition where muscles have in effect ‘learned’ to stay tight due to constant stress from problems such as accidents, a recent or historical injury, repetitive strain, or even from persistent emotional stress. Some examples of this could be repetitive strain injury where you may participate in a sport or some other activity which requires you to unnaturally use a specific muscle or muscle group more often than is natural or ordinary. You could also experience this condition by simply sitting in an office, arching your neck and back and staring at a computer screen all day long, again causing the muscles to tighten and then stay that way. This can result in common muscle irritations such as chronic back pain, chronic neck and shoulder pain, hip pain, limited muscular or skeletal mobility, irritating joint pain, poor posture, shallow or labored breathing, and an uneven leg length. Hanna Somatic Education is marketed as a method of helping to relieve the pain and irritation that can result from the persistence of such conditions.

Hanna Somatic Exercises

Many of the exercises that are set out as part of the Hanna Somatics program are gentle exercises, which are designed to reprogram muscle memory rather than to simply stretch out the muscle. Hanna Somatic theory states that rather than loosening a muscle or muscle group, conventional stretching methods actually encourage a muscle to tighten up just after stretching in response to the trauma of the stretch. Hanna Somatic stretching methods are much more gentle and gradual, encouraging the muscles to loosen without traumatising the muscles fibres, which in theory might cause them to then tighten up again.

Many of the exercises are focused on counteracting the strains placed upon the muscles of the body in day-to-day life through common exertions such as walking and working, especially where poor muscle balance has encouraged certain muscle groups to overpower one-another.

Does Hanna Somatics Work?

As a part of writing this post, I felt it only right to try some of the exercises set out by the Hanna Somatics program myself, to see if they actually worked and I have to say I was quite impressed, especially when it comes to muscle flexibility and relaxation. The gentle stretching exercises that Hanna Somatics sets out really do seem to give a lasting relaxation to muscles, and I did feel as though my muscle balance and muscle memory were being restored. Whether these initial feelings are more of a placebo effect rather than a genuine relaxation remains to be seen, but I’ll certainly keep you updated. As far as I see things now, though, if you are suffering from muscle tightness, fatigue or imbalance, then I would definitely recommend giving Hanna Somatics a go. The exercises are not risky in any way and the book which shows you how to do them is not too expensive either.

As an end note, I should also mention that I have not written this hub to promote or advocate the Hanna Somatics program and I am also not an expert in the program. This article is simply here to give a basic overview of what Hanna Somatics is and also to give my brief opinion on the program.

Have you tried Hanna Somatics? If so, what did you think of the program?


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