Find Your Movement/Pain Condition
Addressed Below.

Page Authority: Lawrence Gold, Hanna somatic educator | CERTIFIED 1992

A partial list of disorders that respond well to Hanna Somatic Education appears below. The descriptions indicate the rationale and approach used in addressing a disorder. You may expect these disorders to improve or resolve completely within a few sessions.

Hanna Somatic Educators do not diagnose "disease" conditions; we don't need to, and adding a fancy name (i.e., "diagnosis") doesn't substitute for getting results. Instead, we identify muscular tension patterns that correspond to pain conditions and various disorders, as below.

A Hanna Somatic Educator can usually predict, with a high degree of accuracy, the number of sessions needed to resolve a particular malady. If he or she feels you are not improving as expected (rare, in my experience), he or she may advise you to return to your physician.

This process is for you if you're ready to take on your own healing with something that actually works -- for which you're willing to invest some time in yourself.

An Efficient Way to Lasting Relief from Lingering Pain ...
new to Movement Rehabilitation

Click bulleted items below for answers to key questions about Somatics:

  • Wikipedia Entry on Somatics

  • Common, but general question categories

  • Health-Problem Solving:
    Lingering or Recurrent Pain, Injuries, Recovery

  • for Do-ers: Clients, Users of Somatic Exercise Programs, Practitioners-in-Training

  • for Certified Somatic Education Practitioners

  • for Allied Health Professionals

  • What Happens in a Clinical Somatic Education Session
  • Select (click on) an underlined item to learn how somatic education (and muscular functions) apply to it. For self-help resources, click here. To locate a practitioner, click here.


  • Adhesive Capsulitis
  • Arthritis: see Osteoarthritis
  • Back Pain
  • Balance problems
  • Bursitis - See Pain, Chronic
  • Constipation, chronic
  • Dislocations, frequent: see Hypermobility
  • Displaced Patella
  • Dizziness
  • Foot Pain/Tired Feet
  • Frequent Urination
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Hamstrings, tight
  • Headaches
    • migraines
    • tension headaches
    • sinus headaches
  • Hip Pain
  • Hypermobility
  • Groin Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Joint Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Muscle Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight and In Pain
  • Pain, Chronic
  • Pain, Migrating
  • Psoas Muscle Pain
  • Plantar Fascitis (Foot Pain)
  • Sacro-iliac pain
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Shoulders, tight/painful
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Tendinitis/Tendonitis
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
  • TMD/TMJ Syndrome
  • Uneven Leg Length
  • Whiplash


    Adhesive Capsulitis/Frozen Shoulder

    Often associated with ""frozen" joints.. May be a misdiagnosis: there may be no adhesions; instead, the musculature may be contracted, restricting movement and creating pain. This possibility is especially likely for shoulders, the loosest joints, with the greatest slack, in the body. (to article)

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    Back Pain

    Back pain is common in industrialized societies because of nervous tension associated with the "clock and deadline" way of life. The stresses of being "on the go," of producing results, meeting deadlines, multi-tasking and other demands of that way of life add to accumulated nervous tension, affect the muscles of the back of the body, and produce muscle fatigue and soreness. Then, a minor additional demand on those muscles, such as those of leaning over, is sometimes sufficient to trigger a back spasm. Disk degeneration and sciatica sometimes follow, also the result of muscle tension and spine overcompression. Somatic education brings muscle function back into the normal range. (to article)

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    Balance problems

    Tight hamstrings interfere with foot position. By turning the lower legs at the knee, they cause the feet to roll in or out, causing poor contact of the feet with the ground: unstable foundation. Unevenly tight trunk muscles induce a postural side-tilt that displaces weight to one side, leading to a state of chronic imbalance. Tight neck muscles interfere with proper head carriage and movement, distorting the sensations provided by the balance centers of the inner ear. One or more may "conspire" together to create balance problems (To article)
    See Dizziness

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    Dislocations, frequent

    Excessive tension among muscles and tendons on one side of a joint move the bone off-center in the joint, predisposing to injury or complete dislocation.

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    Displaced Patella

    Quadriceps (thigh muscles) asymmetrically tight (see Dislocations, frequent).

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    Caused by excessive neck tension and off-center head position.

    The eyes, balance centers of the inner ears, and muscles of the neck are connected via brain-level reflexes controlled at the brain stem. The muscles of the neck move the head; the balance centers of the inner ear sense head movement. The eyes move with head movement to continue tracking whatever is being looked at. The brain coordinates these movements.

    When the head is off-center, the brain senses the situation and attempts to maintain head-balance by means of muscular actions (corrective movements). When neck tension is excessive, however, the brain's corrective response is also excessive, which causes above-normal movements of the eyes, which creates excessive feedback to the brainstem (the sensations of movement). (Have you ever experienced the sensations of movement while watching a film?) The combination of incorrect sensory feedback, motor over-correction, excessive eye movement and feedback to the brainstem creates a spinning sensation.

    These sensations commonly abate immediately as neck tension relaxes and head movement and position normalizes.

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    Foot Pain/Tired Feet

    Related to swayback (tight back muscles). A too-forward posture overburdens the front of the feet and calves. Tight foot muscles get tired and sore. The soft-tissue of the feet gets stretched and irritated. The key is to relax the muscles of the back (to end swayback).
    article: "What Your Can Do about Your Own Back Pain"
    somatic exercise for calves: The Athletes' Prayer for Loose Calves

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    Frequent Urination

    Sometimes called "weak kidneys" or "overactive bladder." Tight abdominal muscles and floor of the pelvis reduce room for the bladder to expand, causing pressure to build up before the bladder is full. Sensors in the urethra report the pressure as fullness. Also, the sphincter muscles of the urethra become conditioned to a heightened state of tension by the frequent pressure, interfering with the ability to void the bladder. The involved muscular tensions must be normalized for normal filling and voiding to occur.

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    Hamstrings, Tight

    Causes what is sometimes called, "a pulled hamstring" (actually, there are three). Inability to relax hamstrings to extend to their full length: a conditioning problem signifying incomplete control (ability to relax and to freely use) that muscle group. The need to stretch hamstrings hamstrings always in partial contraction. The pain of hamstring pulls and their tendency to occur can be ended or reduced by somatic education. (to article)

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    Tension: habituated tension of the suboccipital neck muscles, which pull upon the connective tissue that enwraps the skull.

    Migraine: vascular. Chronic contraction of the deep neck musculature along the sides and around the atlas (C1) may involve interference with the blood-pressure sensors in blood in the neck vessels. In any case, headaches end as the tension level of these muscles normalizes. The same deep neck musculature pulls the upper vertebrae against the base of the cranium causing additional mechanical pain.

    Sinus: sinuses drain through the lining of the throat. Then throat muscles are tight, draining is blocked by the tension of the lining. As those muscles relax, draining has been observed to start immediately. (to article).

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    Overcompression by tight muscles. Often, pain is misdiagnosed as coming from the joint, when it comes from the muscles that surround the joint. However, long-term overcompression of the joint by tight muscles leads to cartilage breakdown (thinning and loss). Bone-on-bone contact in the joint results, leading to joint-replacement surgery and to possible subsequent leg length difference and sciatica (see sciatica. The problem is a long-term consequence of tight waist muscles that prevent proper pelvic movement, leading to overworked (and overcontracted) joint muscles. (to article)

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    Groin Pain

    Three main possible causes:
    1. tight thigh adductor muscles (inner thigh)
    2. tight psoas muscles (inner groin)
    3. twisted sacrum/sacroiliac muscle strain

    (to more information)

    Program for this condition: Click here!


    Overstimulated nervous system -- from chronic overwork, chronically excited disposition, anxiety, or other conditions -- prevent the natural drift into sleep. Somatic education can dispel or "down-regulate" that overstimulation. (to article)

    Program for this condition: Click here!

    Joint Pain

    Overcompression by tight muscles. One must develop natural control of the muscles that cross the troublesome joint. Look also for unbalanced weight-bearing due to postural distortions, which places excessive burden on the troublesome joint(s). (to article)

    Help with this condition: Click here!

    NOTE: If joint damage has occurred, muscles may contract to brace the unstable joint and not respond well to somatic education. That may be a job for a surgeon.

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    Knee Pain

    Short or overcontracted hamstrings contribute to knee pain by preventing the knee from straightening under the load of walking. Such overcontraction also predisposes to knee injuries by pulling on the meniscus of the knee or by causing grinding of the patella (kneecap) against the joint. (to article)

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    Muscle Pain

    Chronic muscle pain nearly always comes from being too tight. If it persists past any reasonable healing period, it's not from an injury; it's from muscle fatigue. You can recondition your muscular control to able to relax, again. With relaxation, muscles get refreshed and comfortable, again. (to article)

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    Overweight and In Pain

    The pain of overcontracted muscles makes people not want to exercise. Also, fat deposits often mask (and result from) chronic muscular contraction beneath the fat layer. Muscular contraction blocks circulation, allowing metabolic wastes, water (osmotically attracted), and fat to accumulate over long periods. Sporadic dieting and exercising are insufficient. By relaxing the musculature, comfort improves and exercise feels possible, again. As circulation improves, fat deposits tend to lessen by themselves, over time. Long-term dietary changes may be necessary.

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    Catch-all term for joint pain and inflammation. Often results from joint overcompression and disintegration due to muscles in contraction. If cartilage remains, may often be alleviated through somatic education -- first, by removing the pain of overcompression, then by natural healing of cartilage to occur. (to article)

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    Pain, Chronic

    A high percentage of chronic pain comes from muscular soreness due to over-fatigue. Chronically tight muscles develop a chronic "burn," experienced as body aches or mysterious pains. Muscles anywhere in the body may be involved. Tendons may also be overstretched (tendinitis) and bursae entrapped under tight tendons (bursitis)(to article)

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    Pain, Migrating

    Sometimes experienced by people receiving massage therapy, stretching, or chiropractic adjustments. Muscular tensions in areas not addressed by the therapy may increase and become painful. Forced relaxation (stretching) or postural shifts without a corresponding gain of muscular control sometimes trigger postural reflexes or protective muscular contractions.
    (to article)

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    Psoas Muscle Pain

    Sometimes called "weak" psoas muscles (usually wrongly), this kind of pain originates from muscle fatigue of overcontracted psoas muscles, which run from the inner groin to the lumbar spine. Usually causing a top-forward pelvic tilt (excessive lumbar lordosis or curve) and a deep fold at the groin, tight psoas muscles cause low back fatigue, chronic constipation (explained in the entry linked, below) pelvic and "stomach" pain. Somatic training is usually sufficient to free contracted psoas muscles and to restore healthy function.

    POSSIBLE MISDIAGNOSIS People sometimes misdiagnose S-I joint dysfunction as psoas muscle pain because symptoms of both may appear at the groin -- but psoas muscle contraction is a secondary effect of S-I joint dysfunction, not the primary cause of the pain. Attempts to relieve tight psoas without correcting S-I joint dysfunction may lead to rebound intensification of pain in the pelvis.

    Pain in the region of the S-I joints may also result from excessive tension of the muscles of the low back, which are connected to soft-tissue in the sacro-iliac area. Such tension, in combination with buttock tension, can cause pain that mimics sacro-iliac pain.

    (to article)

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    Sacro-iliac Pain

    The result of displacement of that joint from its well-seated position, typically by injury (a blow, hard fall, or repetitive twist-and-lift actions). Muscular contractions/excessive muscular tension of the muscles of the buttock responsible for leg rotation (toe-out or in) and uneven pulls by waist muscles, change the angle of the pelvis and forces going through the S-I joints, and so maintain the dysfunctional condition.

    Relieved by first relieving the sacrum of compression forces that keep one sacroiliac joint jammed, then by normalizing muscle/movement memory related to the pelvis and pelvic structure, changing weight-bearing and tension patterns, which causes the sacrum to migrate back to its well-seated position and healthy movement patterns.

    article and self-relief regimen

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    Typically caused by a combination of side tilt and swayback, induced by states of tension in the musculature. The misalignment entraps the nerve at its points of exit from the spinal column.

    The sciatic nerve sometimes passes through the body of the piriformis muscle in the buttock and may get entrapped there, if the muscle gets chronically contracted.

    to article: How to End Your Own Sciatica Pain in 1 - 3 Weeks

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    related article with appropriate exercise


    Distortion of spinal curves and rotation of ribs by muscular tensions or bone deformity.

    Most commonly caused by muscular tensions following injury to the side of the trunk or to leg or hip ("functional scoliosis"). If injured during growth period, may lead to uneven bone growth and create permanent distortions of posture and movement. Bone deformity may result from genetic cause ("idiopathic scoliosis").

    For scoliosis of muscular origin ("functional scoliosis") correction or complete improvement possible with somatic education. For scoliosis from bone deformity, improvements of movement and comfort are possible, but the scoliosis will remain.

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    Shoulders, frozen/tight/painful

    A common accompaniment of back pain from stress and nervous tension, shoulder muscle pain may also result from the shock of an injury that prompts one to tighten up/reflexively guard the injury (e.g., a fall or broken bone). "Frozen Shoulder" is commonly misdiagnosed as resulting from adhesions, whereas it usually results from highly contracted muscles immobilizing arm movement at the joint. "Frozen Shoulder" commonly "unfreezes" as soon as muscular suppleness is restored (by means of somatic education), without need for addressing "adhesions".

    (to article)

    Shoulder joint pain occurs in three varieties:

  • nerve pain
  • joint pain
  • bursitis

    Nerve Pain

    Compression of the nerve to the shoulder by muscles in the neck creates sensation as if the shoulder were injured. The solution is to free the neck muscles and so to discompress the nerve by that means, rather than surgically.

    Joint Pain

    The shoulder joint is designed to permit arm side-lift to 90 degrees (parallel to the ground). Further lifting requires the scapula (shoulder blade) to lift along with the arm. If muscles underneath the shoulder are tight, they prevent scapular movement, causing the humerus (upper arm bone) to jam into the joint, causing pain and cartilage damage (over time). The solution is to free the movement of the involved muscles (latissimus dorsi, pectoralis, serratus anterior).


    A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions a tendon. At the shoulder, if the muscles are tight, their tendons are taut and compress the bursa, causing bursitis. The solution is to free the movements of the related muscles. (Click BACK button to return to list.)
    (to article)
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  • Spinal Stenosis

    Narrowing of the spinal canal, through which the spinal cord passes, commonly diagnosed as the cause of pain. Sometimes misdiagnosed, particularly when pain comes and goes. Pain that comes and goes does not come from a narrowing of the spinal canal, which remains constant in size even as the pain varies. It comes from changes of muscular tension along the spine, which may create temporary nerve entrapment or muscular pain. Such pain may also result from hip joint dysfunction, which can be corrected by means of somatic education, provided the cartilage of the joint is sufficiently intact.
    Help with this condition: Click here!

    Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

    Impingement of the brachial nerve plexus resulting from spasticity of muscles of the neck (scalenes) may create the feeling of one or both arms being "on fire". Can often be corrected by freeing the neck musculature of excessive muscular tension.

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    Tendons are straps or bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone. As such, tendons are passive and do not get tight by themselves; they get tight when attached muscles tighten and shorten. Tendinitis (or tendonitis) occurs when a muscle stays tight for long periods, as happens when protective reflexes get activated by injury. Strain on the tendon and friction of the tendon on surrounding tissue irritate the tendon and lead to inflammation and pain: tendonitis.

    The necessary solution is to recapture control of the involved muscles from the involuntary reflexes (via somatic education). Without that step, anti-inflammatory drugs (such as cortizone) provide only temporary and symptomatic relief, while the injurious condition continues.

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    TMJ/TMD Syndrome

    Related to tight jaw and neck muscles. The sub-occipital muscles may be involved, as they contract when the mouth is opened fully as one reaches forward in biting. Frequently accompanied by headaches.

    Can be relieved by releasing the movements of the cranium and neck from the jawbone in all directions of movement.

    More severe cases may involve the deep muscles of the throat (longus colli and capitus) associated with the larynx, the musculature associated with the tongue, and the entire rib cage. (to article)

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    Uneven Leg Length

    Sometimes bona fide; often misdiagnosed (even when measured). Often results from leg retraction and compression of soft hip joint tissue by tight muscles at the hip joint; sometimes results from hip joint degeneration over the long term (loss of cartilage) from the same condition. (to article)

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    Whiplash, Neck Pain

    Persistent pain and dizziness result from involuntary muscular contraction of neck muscles and from interference with postural maintenance of upright head position. Acute (intense, short-term) symptoms may indicate soft-tissue damage (see dizziness). (to article)

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    You are invited to view sample pages from

    The Magic of Somatics
    Vanish Old Pains, Experience Free and Easy Movement and Feel Better Than You Have in Years

    Get Free from That Back Pain
    Nine Movements to Recondition Your Back for Any Activity

    The Guidebook of Somatic Transformational Exercises
    for professionals

    The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
    Santa Fe, NM

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