Completing Recovery
from an Injury

by Lawrence Gold Credentials | Publications | Personal Page

Hanna somatic sducator
certified 1992
by The Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training

Muscle/movement memory is the essential key to 100% faster rehabilitation -- and what makes recovery from injury and rehabilitation take so long, when not handled. Learn how to change your own muscle/movement memory and get your life back, sooner.

Y ou may know of an individual who has been injured and who has never completely recovered from the injury. He or she may not know why (s)he has never completely recovered. Here's why and how:

This person you know may be a professional athlete you may have read about (e.g., Andre Agassi) or a member of your team or a friend. His performance may have suffered or his athletic future may be uncertain. If it's someone you know personally, you may notice that he may not move as well as he once did or he frequently gets re-injured or wears that "athletic badge of courage", a brace or ace bandage. He may not complain of pain but the way he moves makes you feel that he may never be the same. You may be such an individual.

Can an injured person ever get to the point of complete recovery from injury, to the point where he can move as well as he did before he was injured -- and without fear of re-injury? How about better than before injury?

If muscle, ligament and bone are intact, no brain damage was involved, but movement patterns have changed, then the answer is virtually always, "Yes."

This situation is much more common than people know, so often are "ligament injuries" incorrectly diagnosed (because if "it's hard to correct or unstable, it must be a ligament injury"), so often is a torn tendon or muscle blamed, so often does therapy seem to take "forever" (for reasons I will discuss, below).

This page contains information about the weak link in therapy -- both conventional and alternative therapy -- "muscle/movement memory". To understand muscle/movement memory, let's look at what happens at the moment of injury, at therapy, and at the recovery process. Then, let's see how that weak link can be strengthened for much faster recovery.

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The Common Therapeutic Reasoning

  • TISSUE DAMAGE

    Bones get broken, ligaments get sprained, tendons and muscles get torn, skin gets cut, etc. The usual stuff of injuries, these are all forms of tissue damage.

    Tissue damage heals. So, reason compels us to this recognition: If the person doesn't recover completely from their injury, it's not because of broken bone, sprained ligament, strained tendon, or torn muscle. It's something else.

    Why do some injuries become chronic injuries?

  • ADHESIONS

    One commonly advanced explanation is "adhesions", or "scar tissue adhesions".

    Adhesions are the body's way of bandaging itself. They occur when, during healing, layers of connective tissue become "glued" to one another. This actually happens. That gluing restricts movement -- especially desirable during healing, but becomes completely unnecessary and detrimental once tissue has healed.

    Adhesions can easily be freed by massage, and those who have received physical therapy after an injury often receive massage, especially athletes. Why, then, do the effects of injury linger?

It can't be tissue damage or adhesions. It has to be something else.

The Weak Link: The Trauma Reflex and Muscle/Movement Memory

Everybody has experienced the Trauma Reflex. It happens when you twist your ankle during a game and limp to the sidelines. It happens when you burn yourself pulling something out of the oven and almost drop what you were holding. It's what happens in a motor vehicle accident when you get rear-ended and your neck gets stiff. It's "pull away, hold tight, and protect."

Trauma Reflex is the universal protective reflex; people cringe reflexively during injury and protectively guard the injured part after injury and during healing. That reflex is called "Trauma Reflex"; it's an instinctive, self-protective mechanism with survival and healing value -- that can persist long after healing and cause problems as bad as -- or worse -- than the original injury.

Trauma Reflex commonly persists long past the time of injury, sometimes for decades. Worker's Comp doctors and therapists confuse the lingering pain of trauma reflex with malingering. What they're seeing is not malingering, but the residue of an injury that has altered muscle/movement memory, so strengthening and stretching are inadequate to return muscular behavior and movement to normal. Trauma Reflex persists, making it appear as if the person is still injured or as if the event of injury happened just a moment ago.

Trauma Reflex alters muscle/movement memory, which controls muscles and causes chronic muscle tension that the person cannot control. The applicable term is, "sensory-motor amnesia" (S-MA) -- the loss of the memory of pre-injury movement, replaced by altered patterns of sensation and movement -- and chronic pain. Do you recognize it in yourself?

When Trauma Reflex becomes S-MA, it prevents a person from moving freely; the tight muscles hurt. It prevents full recovery from injury and may predispose a person to further soft-tissue injuries. More than that, S-MA causes the affected muscles to tighten first and to relax last in times of stress, so muscles get tighter and tighter. Pain may appear decades after the original injury.

Although each injury has its own unique pattern, all injuries have Trauma Reflex in common, and what Trauma Reflex involves is a large-scale pulling in and twisting away from the direction of injury or pain. More than the injured part is involved; you know this if you've ever noticed how, if you twist your ankle, your entire walking pattern changes. It's a pulling in to the body-core, a shrinking in, that involves the muscles of the waist, as well as anything else affected.


Getting Free from Lingering Cringe-Response
(Trauma Reflex Muscle/Movement Memory)

Trauma Reflex makes an impression on muscle/movement memory that commonly causes lasting changes in movement and muscular tension.

For that reason, addressing those changes of muscle/movement memory would sensibly be part of every therapeutic intervention intended to complete your recovery from injury. If therapy leaves the effects of Trauma Reflex intact, as standard therapeutic modalities do -- ice, heat, strengthening, stretching, electrical stimulation (TENS, microcurrent), manipulation, adjustments, massage, iontophoresis (ultrasound), laser treatment, and other common modalities, including massage and most bodywork -- people are left in an incomplete state of recovery.

You can't get free from from Trauma Reflex by stretching, tissue manipulation, by drugs or by surgery because Trauma Reflex doesn't persist in the tissue; it persists in muscle/movement memory, and you can't change muscle/movement memory very well by stretching or manipulation, and not at all by drugs or surgery. You have to change muscle/movement memory by movement training. This process of addressing muscle/movement memory is the weak link in therapy.

What does clinical somatic education look like? Click for video: clinical techniques and somatic therapeutic exercises.

RESULTS

Get informed about somatic education:

  • The Difference of Somatic Education.
  • Clinical Somatic Education: A New Discipline in the Field of Health Care
  • You are invited to preview . . .
    The Magic of Somatics
    a Resource to Vanish Old Pains, Gain Free and Easy Movement and Look and Feel Better Than You Have in Years
    Free Yourself from Back Pain
    Nine Movements to Recondition Your Back for When Therapy Hasn't Worked
    The Guidebook of Somatic Transformational Exercises
    for professionals

    Other Self-Relief Resources


    The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
    Santa Fe, NM

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