Musculoskeletal Pain


// Explained



+ Back, neck and shoulder pain

+ Anxiety and Depression

+ Fatigue

+ TMJ disorder

+ Asthma




+ Restore proper tone

+ Relax contracted muscles

+ Decrease aches and pains


// My Personal Story

When I was in my early twenties, about to graduate from massage school, I started to develop persistent pain in my back, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Going to work each day was stressful as I wasn’t sure if I would be able to comfortably massage my clients. Nagging discomfort made it hard to enjoy myself when not working because even though my ID said I was young, I felt like I was old and decrepit.  I tried all varieties of treatments to get through my day and continue my massage job at a day spa. I had my classmates in massage school work on me, started seeing a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, even a homeopathic practitioner. I tried tiger balm, arnica, salt baths, icy-hot, cupping, yoga, and all sorts of self-massage tools. Some of these things provided temporary relief and others made it worse.

Nothing really made the pain go away.

Then someone turned me onto the somatics book, by Thomas Hanna. What I learned was that most of the musculo-skeletal pain we experience results from chronic, unconscious muscle tension and a lack of control over our muscles. Hanna explained that our natural reactions to different stressors in life can accumulate and maintain.  This results in stiffening joints, pulls our posture out of balance and the fatigue of muscles that never rest creates chronic pain.

For most of us the slow accumulation of stress and tension doesn’t start affecting us negatively until we reach our 30’s and 40’s. This phenomenon is so common that when it starts to happen, it is often associated with the normal process of aging. In particular, neck pain and back pain are two of the most common factors of missed work and doctor visits. But as I experienced, and as so many others experience, the usual treatments for muscle pain don’t provide lasting relief.

“As I became more relaxed and integrated, everything just started feeling and working better.”

Why is somatics different?

To start, the main difference is somatics recognizes that chronic musculoskeletal pain is not simply an aging problem but comes from accumulated tension and is a function of the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord control how much tension a muscle maintains and so to reduce tension and reduce pain, the best and simplest way is to engage the brain in adaptation (learning). With greater control comes the ability to fully contract and fully release a muscle when needed. So, instead of muscles remaining contracted all day until they are fatigued and sore, muscles are regularly getting the opportunity to relax to full length and rest. 

I started practicing somatic movements and in a few days began noticing a lessening of my symptoms. As I continued working at relaxing and integrating all the parts of my body, the pain continued to decrease until I no longer worried about how many massages I could handle or what I did during my free time. I began to explore using my body in ways that previously seemed impossible; running long distances, rock climbing, and tumbling. More surprisingly, the asthma, digestive issues, and anxiety that I had experienced since an adolescent began to ease until they too were not issues. I had never connected those problems with my physical body, but I as became more relaxed and integrated, everything just started feeling and working better.

I still get massages because they feel great, go to chiropractors when a joint gets out of whack, and see acupuncturists for lasting illnesses, but for muscle tension and musculo-skeletal pain, I have found no better method than Hanna Somatics for resolving it and keeping it at bay.