Over the last few years, "quality of movement" has been a priority according to reputable fitness professionals throughout the country. Functional movement training, manual therapy techniques, and proper prehabilitation programs have all been beneficial modalities incorporated to decrease injury occurrence while improving performance, whether it be through athletics or everyday life. Although these practices have been helpful in both categories, I've always thought that there was a missing link between what we do in the fitness industry compared to what practitioners perform in the clinical setting. The individuals that I have worked with always felt relief from certain corrective exercises, and massage, but they would always fall back into their faulty movement pattens and postural imbalances. These always ended up becoming temporary fixes to a chronic problem and I couldn't figure out what the missing piece to the puzzle was.
After participating in the Somatic Exercise Coach Training with Laura M. Gates and Martha Peterson, I am convinced we are on the verge of bridging the gap between clinical practice and performance in the weight room through Clinical Somatics. After working with these two wonderful women, I understood the concepts of sensory motor amnesia, chronic muscular fatigue and pain, and the solutions to fixing these issues when other modalities have faltered in the past. After a weekend full of "aha" moments and light bulbs going off in my head, I put these valuable tools to the test with two of my clients that have dealt with previous hip and back pain. After just an hour of work on both individuals, their pain was relieved and dramatic restoration to their posture had taken place. It was incredible how a couple of breathing drills and gentle supine movements we learned through the Somatics Exercise workshops could deliver such powerful results.
I am convinced that Hanna Somatics will be a groundbreaking practice within the exercise field in the near future. As exposure increases, I'm willing to predict that the information Laura and Martha provide us will shoot to the top of the "food chain", in regards to muscular dysfunction and correction.
Frank Duffy, Queens, NY —
Martha’s honesty and passion in her work is palpable. I have found this work to be fantastic as a standalone treatment or as an adjunct to all forms of bodywork. I have used it in my clinical practice already and have had some great results.
Mick Betteridge —
Soft Tissue Therapist
As an Osteopath I'm always looking for effective ways of improving posture and freedom of movement. I believe that Hanna Somatics is such a method. Through simple, slow, and mindful movements Hanna Somatics allows you to improve posture, release muscle tension and gain better joint mobility as well as increased somatic awareness.
I have been practicing somatic movement for several months with good results, but having had a one to one session with Martha' s careful and precise guidance, I feel I gained an extra dimension to my overall movement quality. After just a 1-hour session my posture changed, my shoulders were more level and my gait was lighter and more fluid.
I give somatic exercises to most of my patients and I would encourage anyone interested in health to explore the potential of Hanna Somatics, either in a private session, a group workshop or through the DVDs available.
Dr. Andrea Franzi —
Osteopath, York, England
Hanna Somatics offers a scientifically sound method for the diagnosis and treatment of a whole range of complaints that frequently present as medical problems, such as fibromyalgia, pain syndromes and fatigue, but have their real origin in learned, often readily corrected postural errors.
William Hanson, MD —
Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania Medical School
I attended the London Essential Somatics workshops & found them really useful. Pandiculation is a different approach to stretching which I hadn't encountered before. It seemed counter-intuitive at first but I'm starting to get a feel for it now. During the course I was able to release some chronic spasm in my shoulder which has been causing pain intermittently for several months. My movements also generally became more free and natural. By the end I was moving better than I have in years. My shoulder, hip and knee pains were all much reduced and I felt like I was walking on air.
The best bit is that I'm now able to relax the spasms that I get from time to time by doing the somatic exercises I learned for a few minutes. Previously I would have to spend a few days doing various rehab exercises to get my mobility back & would still feel restricted. I am considering getting some more DVDs to loan out to some of my back pain patients.
John Howe, MB ChB MRCGP, England —
Family Medicine Physician
The longer you train, the harder you compete and the higher you strive...the more you need Martha Peterson. Somatics is, without question, the simplest, fastest way to "forget" injuries and overcome training errors. Injured as a Highland Games athlete, I did a lot of thing to fix my hip, and, to be honest, a lot worked. But nothing transformed me more than Martha's simple techniques. Martha is the "go to girl" for male athletes looking for the pain-free edge.
Dan John —
Strength Coach and Author of Never Let Go
After experiencing back/neck pain and tight iliotibial bands after a fall over four years ago I was left unable to run, and even walking on the treadmill was an effort. I was in agony a few weeks ago as my IT bands were so tight. Out of frustration - frustration with the chronic pain, frustration with the time (and money) spent on physiotherapists, chiropractors, musculoskeletal physicians, osteopaths - I decided to google "tight IT bands." Fortunately I came across Martha Peterson's Essential Somatics website and performed the movement for tight iliotibial bands. The result - amazing! Instant relief. I ordered the DVD's and book and have been performing the movements over the past few weeks. I am now back on the treadmill and it is so much easier to walk, I am no longer fighting my own muscles and have even been able to run - without using any pain relief medications. Thanks for providing this invaluable, life-changing information Martha.
MC, Australia —
The Pain Relief Through Movement DVD has given me a simple and enjoyable way to ensure that pain is no longer an obstacle in my training or in daily life.
Somatics has been profoundly effective in allowing me to eliminate my chronic low back pain MYSELF. This has been hugely liberating and empowering.
I can't recommend Martha's DVD and Somatics highly enough, it is a journey of self discovery that is well worth taking.
C.M., Ireland —
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! What a difference our short time together has made in my life. The 2 hands-on clinical Somatics sessions were eye-opening...and muscle-relaxing. I have gone from wondering when I could take my next round of pain medicine to thinking, "Oh, I haven't thought about my back for a couple of days."
After 10 years of low-grade, but chronic pain, MRIs, x-rays, chiropractic work, and physical therapy, I was beginning to think that I was stuck with that pain for the rest of my life (and I am only 41 years old). It was depressing! Now I can sleep through the night and go about my daily activities without back pain being the only thing on my mind. Anytime someone complains to me about their pain, I tell them about you. Your work is amazing!
E.G.- Bucks County, PA —
Being a scientist I am usually a bit more of a skeptic, but I can always be convinced by solid results and evidence. That said, after having only modest expectations before, I was totally amazed by the huge effect that the (Hanna Somatics) workshop and the private session with Martha had on my body. As I am currently very busy working at the computer for many hours a day, I arrived at the workshop feeling very tense in my neck and with a constant low-level pain in the lower back. Doing the exercises, my tension and pain slowly faded away. In combination with the personalized session, the workshop had a very rejuvenating and relaxing effect. People had told me before how practicing Hanna Somatics had “magically taken away their permanent pain” in just a few hours. I had a hard time believing that earlier, but now I do understand! Have I felt pain again since then? Yes, I have, because 14 hours per day at the desk does have an effect on the body. However, this is where the “magic” came into play once more. Doing my Somatic Exercises in between my work sessions has helped me to relieve my pain in a way that no other method of stretching or exercises has ever before. I am convinced that Somatics will become VERY popular in the future, once more people learn how powerful these techniques are. Pain and tension CAN fade away in just a few minutes. It’s amazing! Thank you!
Biochemist, Baltimore , MD
I suffered for 10 years from constant pain due to a shoulder injury and over the years I have tried chiropractors, acupuncture, neuromuscular massage, nerve stimulation and microwave therapy. Nothing worked for long. I am finally completely pain free after one visit to Martha. I sleep better and have more energy than ever, plus she is saving me a lot of money I used to spend on all the previous therapies. I can now exercise again - pain free!
The difference is unbelievable, I recommend her to anyone with chronic pain. Thank you, Martha!
Here are some of the benefits our studio got from having Martha Peterson come and conduct workshops and private sessions with our clients:
- A detailed & clear understanding of Hanna Somatics as a gentle, but highly effective method that helps with clients who are in chronic pain & are not sure about attempting any movement that they feel might aggravate the pain.
- A confidence that comes from knowing that habitual ways of holding & moving the body can be corrected - through keen awareness & somatic movement practise.
- A mind-body practise that fits in so well with what we are already practising & teaching: Yoga & Pilates. We're able to integrate the two very easily now, both on the mat & with private clients!
Thank you, Martha!
Nita Futnani —
Leap Wellness PIlates Studio, Chennai, India
I had chronic muscle spasms in my neck, shoulder, back and rotator cuff muscles, which caused bad headaches and prevented me from working (I had to go on medical disability leave of absence). This problem also prevented me from doing many things in my home life such as driving, cooking, cleaning, food shopping and playing with my kids. I tried muscle relaxants and various medications, trigger point injections, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and physical therapy. None provided any long term relief. While searching the internet using the phrase “muscle spasm,” I found Martha’s website describing Hanna Somatics. Her description matched my problem so exactly that I decided to check it out immediately, being driven from my home in New York. I had trouble doing some of the Somatic Exercises properly in the beginning without straining my neck. However, after 4 visits to Martha and daily practice of the Somatic exercises every morning and evening, I felt dramatically better. I continued to visit Martha for a few more weeks to make further progress. I gradually came to realize that although I felt pain in my neck and right shoulder, this was due to tightness in my entire body, including my hips, lower back and waist. Once I loosened up these muscles, the pain in my neck and shoulder dissipated gradually. Martha is an excellent and very patient Somatics practitioner. I enjoyed visiting her each week. I have since gone back to work! I will continue to do the Somatics exercises to prevent any problems in the future.
Network Solution Consultant, IBM Global Services
As an athlete, I like to play hard and I have a high pain tolerance, thus I have a lifetime of compensations and scar tissue that suddenly pulled my body to a screeching halt in middle age. I've been doing your 25 minute Somatic Exercise practice most days for the last month and it's made a HUGE difference (last week I even facilitated a session as an exercise option for the kids at the summer leadership camp I teach at ... they loved it). I'm looser than I can remember being in years...
Teacher, Everett, WA
I am a professional gardener, doing over 35 hours a week of physical labor. My heatlh is my livelihood. When my right hip began hurting about 6 years ago, the orthopedic surgeon said that I was headed for a hip replacement. A friend whose chornic joint pain had been relieved by Hanna Somatic Education suggested I try it. Not only did Hanna Somatics resolve my hip pain issue, but my posture and body awareness have improved so much that I now feel completely comfortable in my body, instead of bound up as I used to feel. I can also sense when repetitive activities like shoveling have re-triggered old patterns, and I am able to self-correct. Every once in a while I need to see my Somatics practitioner for a tune-up, especially if I am stressed or have been working at the computer too long.
If you are a gardener, or have a very physical job or avocation, then I cannot recommend this method of pain relief and body awareness training enough. Where I live I know electricians, carpenters and other gardeners for whom Hanna Somatic Education has been of great benefit.
Gardener, Whidbey Island, WA
For my job as a professional flutist, I spend many hours sitting in rehearsals and driving from gig to gig. I was having a lot of discomfort in my lower back and my arms when I played. To be completely honest, I was a bit skeptical of Somatics at first. How could a few simple exercises alleviate my lower back and arm problems? Now, there is not a day that goes by without me doing my somatic exercises...thank you Martha!
Flutist, South Orange, NJ
I've had hip and low back problems for the last 10 years. I've been doing your Somatics DVD for a week and am getting great results!
G.P., California —
Thanks for teaching me Somatics. I have been pretty good about performing the daily routine in the morning and I am feeling very limber. My hip pain is at bay. Amazing. I never believed it would really help, but it has, enormously. And I really enjoy doing the work.
Printer - New York City
When I began somatic exercises I could not walk 100 yards without pain. After a quarter mile I was limping badly. This had been building for many years, as I’d had leg and hip pain on and off for over 15 years. It had recently taken a turn for the worse and two months of physical therapy had done nothing to improve the situation.
After two months of somatic exercises, however, I am walking without much pain or discomfort at all. While there are still some areas of imperfection, it is clear to me that Hanna Somatics has been instrumental in getting me back on my feet, enabling me to begin an exercise program.
When I began the somatic exercise program my hips were out of alignment, with one hip hiked up 3/4" above the other. This hike in one hip was accompanied by a twist in my spine and a slight tilt when I stood upright. Now the hips are much more in line with each other, the twist has been eliminated and I stand more upright.
Oddly enough, I’d had numerous episodes of vertigo over the last several years, but since I now stand more upright, the vertigo episodes have not returned.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I walked into your office in pain, limping, and thinking I needed an MRI! I walked out with hips, arms, shoulders moving and feeling great – and have remained so with daily somatics practice, including stopping frequently to do your “Standing Somatics” reaching exercise — that gets rid of any beginning kinks! This weekend I took a long trail-clearing hike, up hill, rough terrain, picking up limbs, etc, whereas the weekend before I could barely walk up a slight incline. I went for a great horseback ride yesterday and felt great afterwards.
And it’s all so simple. We just need periodic reminders so we don’t slip back into old habits…like the green light “arching” posture. I’ve become aware this week of how doing that even so slightly throws my hips out of kilter.
Anyway, many thanks again. We’re off tomorrow on a car trip from the farm across the Canadian Waterfront Trail with hiking/biking excursions that I’ll now be able to do!
Organic farmer, West Orange, NJ
I have suffered from lower back pain for over thirty years. I've been to doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists all who offered temporary relief. Then I met Martha and Somatics. For the very first time I began to understand what my problem was and how to provide relief from within. For the first time in 30 years I am mostly pain free and more importantly I have confidence that I will remain that way.
Recording Executive, Union, NJ
Thank you so much for our [online Skype] session. No one has gone through the exercises with me like that.I found it very useful and am positive I will see improvements. Even though you were not in the room with me, I can honestly say that I have learnt more in that single session than in all the other sessions I've had (with other practitioners). Your style is excellent.
Architect, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Hanna Somatics is both transformative, and restorative. In a very short period of time, Somatics has dramatically improved the quality of my life. It has given me improved flexibility and range of motion, which has had a number of benefits: a higher quality of life and sense of well being (I am pain-free after struggling for years with bad posture and related stiffness in my back, neck and shoulders from desk work), improved athletic performance and shorter recovery time after strenuous exercise (I barely need to stretch anymore if I do my somatic exercises regularly – truly amazing!), and lastly, a rapid and complete recovery from hernia surgery. Imagine starting and ending each day feeling like you've just had a fantastic massage! 20 minutes of somatic exercises a day can do this for you. Suffice it to say that I'm telling everyone I know about Martha and how she can help them improve the quality of their life. She is a gifted practitioner and teacher who can help people understand how to alleviate chronically contracted muscles that cause them pain. It's as simple as that.
Marketing Executive, Maplewood, NJ
I’m a hiker. A month ago my left hip began to ache and I found myself hobbling, while experiencing excruciating pain. I tried everything from chiropractic to getting the hip X-rayed. The orthopedist said I had arthritis, and concluded with “at your age there’s been a lot of wear and tear…” – the usual. In desperation I went to Martha, who had helped a friend of mine. She had me move my muscles certain ways to increase my awareness of how I was tightening my muscles unconsciously. She used gentle pressure to increase my awareness and taught me how to release the muscles in my hip that were causing me pain. After two sessions and a regimen of easy exercises twice a day, I am now comfortably climbing again. Martha, you are a miracle worker. Thanks!
Writer, Maplewood, NJ
Somatics fast-forwarded my yoga practice! The light bulb finally went off regarding the use of the breath to create change. Martha Peterson communicates the essence of Thomas Hanna's Clinical Somatic approach with patience, humor and professionalism. She makes the complex seem simple. Do yourself a favor…..see her!
Theater producer, West Orange, NJ