Somatic Exercise

Somatic Exercise

What is somatic exercise?

Somatic exercise may be the secret key to unlock your internal health mechanisms. A new field of medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, studies the processes through which emotions affect physiology.

Somatic exercises are movements that bring attention to the internal feelings, rather than what the external looks like.

How can emotional repression affect our health? 

Well, it all starts with emotional stimuli. Emotions are electrical, chemical, and hormonal discharges from the human nervous system. These influence, and are influenced by, the functioning of our major organs and immune defenses. Stress, in particular, works to disarm our immune systems. This is bound to have major effects – and it can even cause chronic illness.

How does it work?

Mindfulness-based approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, and psychotherapy, focus on the limbic, cortex, and brain stem network to rewire the nervous system in relation to the physical body; a top-down approach to healing. On the contrary, somatic exercise is a bottom-up approach. The primary focus is at the physical level: posture, breathing patterns, structure dysfunctions, and body sensations. Changes at the physical level ignite changes at the biological level (microbiome, metabolism, immune system) and then to the top level in the brain (belief patterns, emotions, arousal). 

Who can benefit from somatic exercise?

Anyone can benefit from somatic exercises. This may be the best approach for you if you: 

  • experience chronic pain 

  • often get sick 

  • experience digestive issues and constantly bloated

  • suffer from chronic illness

  • experience burnout

  • feel tired all the time

  • can’t seem to lose weight from your stomach no matter how much you workout

  • have a hump on the back of your neck 

  • experience stress, anxiety and depression  

  • always craving sugar

  • feeling numb/disconnected and often dissociate 

  • clench your jaw

These are signs you are living in a dorsal vagal nervous system, which means that your body systems are immobilized or “shut-down”. Treatment goals include achieving a ventral vagal nervous system, the body in a calm state, enabling social engagement via exchange of safety cues and downregulating sympathetic defense reaction. Ultimately, this bottom-up approach can restore your body’s natural adaptability in self-healing.

Read Osteopathic Treatment Approach to Psychoemotional Trauma by Means of Bifocal Integration

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Allowing the body to self-heal without medicine


The aim of a Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is to optimize the self-healing mechanisms of the body.

The frequency of treatments is based on the initial assessment and treatment. The decision on how often you will need treatment is based on allowing enough time between visits to allow your body to integrate the changes that occur from one treatment to the next.

While very often being used to treat back pain, osteopathic treatment is effective in a wide variety of health complaints. Osteopathy has been successful in treating the following:

  • Acute or Chronic Pain
  • Digestive Problems
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Respiratory Difficulties
  • Postural Problems

It can also successfully treat migraines, dysmenorrheal, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, tinnitus, vertigo, pain and diseases.

Osteopathy is an established recognized system of healthcare which relies on manual contact for assessment and treatment. It integrates the whole body, including the mind with emphasis on allowing the body’s intrinsic tendency for self-healing without pharmacological use.

Osteopathy views a person as a single unit comprised of body, mind, and spirit. In the osteopathic perspective, one needs to treat the whole person. Instead of viewing the body as a machine, osteopathy looks at pain as the result of complex interactions between physical factors as well as psychological and social factors, also referred to as the “biopsychosocial” approach. The perception of pain is not merely a response to physical injury, but is also related to the patient’s own emotional framework as well as their physical and social environments.

An Osteopathic Manual Practitioner works to build a trusting relationship with their patient to help understand if there are other non-physical factors that could be contributing to their chronic pain condition. This allows the practitioner to develop a more comprehensive pain management and reduction plan to help their patient find relief.