Somatic Movement

“Somatic” means to experience sensations and movement from a first-person perspective, or from within. Broadly, somatics includes Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, yoga, tai chi and related systems. The term was coined by Thomas Hanna (1928-1990), a philosophy professor who built upon the work of F. Matthias Alexander, Moshe Feldenkrais and others.

Hanna, however, placed more emphasis on “pandiculation,” which is what we do instinctively when we extend our arms upon awakening (often accompanied by a yawn). We are not stretching statically, but slowly contracting tight muscles within a comfortable range of movement, and then releasing them –  notice that dogs and cats do this approximately 40 times per day!

Somatic Movement education in the tradition of Thomas Hanna is a system that addresses the tendency in most of us to hold unnecessary muscle tension. We may lose the ability to consciously let go of involuntary reflexes when they are no longer needed, such as back muscles that contract when getting ready to move quickly, but don’t fully release when we are done moving. By deliberately contracting and noticing the increased tension, then slowly letting it go, we can retrain our brain and nervous system to have more awareness and more voluntary control of these movement patterns.

Clinical Somatic Movement

I specialize in relieving back pain and achieving easier movement. Clinical somatic movement involves one-on-one, hands-on sessions to obtain these results.

New clients are accepted only by referral or request. Contact me at 517-275-2388 or for an initial consultation to determine if I can support your specific goals.

  • Pain relief program, typically one and a half months – $500
  • Easier movement program, typically two months – $500
  • Single or maintenance sessions – $80

Availability: most Tuesdays and Friday afternoons.

Location: Williamston Wellness, 1235 E. Grand River, Williamston, MI 48895 (phone 517-655-4234)

What people are saying about somatic movement with Phil Howard

“I often struggle with tension in my back muscles that leads to back pain, and this helped to relieve it.”

“I felt amazing after the session.”

“…my headache went away.”

“I felt less stress in my shoulders and in my body than I ever felt before…”

“I found it very helpful, and it relieved a lot of tension in my back that I did not know that I had. I found it extremely interesting how such tiny movements for such a small period of time could effect such huge changes.”

About Phil Howard, CCSE

I am a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator (Essential Somatics) and Somatic Movement teacher. Although I tried numerous modalities to address decades of chronic back pain (and eventually sciatica and a bulging L5/S1), Somatic Movement was the only one that addressed the root of the problem – within a few months of daily practice I was pain free, and a half inch taller due to releasing tight muscles in my lower back and hips.

Frequently asked questions

What can I expect in a clinical somatic movement session?

What can I expect in a somatic movement group class or workshop?

How do I recognize habituated muscle tension (sensory motor amnesia)?

Where else can I learn somatic movement?

What conditions can somatic movement help me with?

  • back pain and sciatica
  • shoulder and neck pain
  • headaches
  • muscle spasms or cramps (e.g. back spasms, charley horse)
  • knee, foot or plantar fasciitis pain
  • temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • scoliosis

In addition, somatic movement can help improve posture and free restrictions of movement, which results in increased performance (golf, tennis, running).

Previous Online Group Movement Classes

“Move Out of Pain,” Tuesdays, September 8 to 29 2020, 11am to noon EST (via Zoom)

City of East Lansing Prime Time Seniors Program