Injuries can cause Trauma Reflex and Trauma Reflex can cause injuries. How?
Injuries can occur as a result of an impact or fall. When we anticipate an impact, we instinctively turn away from it which generally results in a side on impact. Then, the muscles on the side of the body around the site of impact reflexively contract to protect you from said impact. If this impact is hard enough or ceates enough of a ‘shock’, this muscular contraction or tigthening can become habituated. Our brain behaves as if the impact or injury is still happening. When a pattern of muscular contraction becomes habituated you develop Sensory Motor Amnesia in regards to the muscles involved. You forget how to sense them and move them. So in the case of a hard impact or nasty fall, you inadvertently develop a habituated Trauma Reflex. Your waist muscles on one side becoming stuck in contraction. These tight waist muscles draw the hip up towards the ribs and the ribs down towards the hip, shortening your waist. There is also generally some rotation of the spine involved. The figures below illustrate this;
Some points to notice, in the figure on the right.
- The curving of the spine making it shorter on the right side
- The drawing together of the rib cage and hip on the right side
- The compensatory tilting of the head in an attempt to bring the eyes level with the horizon
- The asymmetrical level of the shoulders, and in turn the hands
- The increased angle of the thigh bone in relation to the knee as a result of the tilted hips
These are examples of the kinds of postural distortions that a Trauma Reflex causes. The maybe subtle or pronounced depending on the case. When these distortions become habituated, you are no longer in balance like the figure on the left. Even though the cuts, scrapes and bruises from your impact may have healed, your nervous system is still in injury mode. Holding one side of your body tight. If you get stuck in a Trauma Reflex you are likely to incur further injuries because your balance and symmetry have been compromised. This is due to the habituated muscular tightness in the muscles on one side of the body.
If we look from above we can see the spinal rotation that usually accompanies Trauma Reflex more clearly;
Some points to notice, in the figure on the right.
- The rotation of the right shoulder backwards and the corresponding forward rotation of the left shoulder
- The compensatory rotation of the pelvis (the blue box) in opposition to the shoulders
- The asymmetrical positioning of the feet
- The compensatory rotation of the head in relation to the shoulders
Smooth gait (walking pattern) is dependant on the ability of the centre of the body to be relaxed, and able to rotate freely. If you cannot fully lengthen one side of your waist and allow your spine to rotate freely along its axis, your gait will not be smooth or balanced. You will walk with more weight on one side, this can lead to one sided back, hip, knee and ankle pain as one side of your body must work harder than the other. This is easy to visualise when you look at the figures above and imagine those same asymmetries in motion. These asymmetries also lead to increased ‘wear and tear’ in the joints of the affected side which over time can lead to structural problems within the joints themselves. Trauma Reflexes are also the cause of many alleged leg length discrepancies. The short side waist creating a false ‘short’ leg.
When Trauma Reflex is accompanied by Green Light Reflex (which occurs often), we begin to see complaints like Sciatica, and Plantarfasciitis developing due to th habituated muscular tightness on one side plus habituated tightness in the back of the body.
Trauma Reflex can also develop in more innocuous ways. For example slouching to one side as we sit at a desk and use a computer mouse for hours at work. Or holding a baby on one hip for long periods repeatedly. The end result will be the same, the loss of the ability to lengthen the waist muscles on one side of the body and, over time, mysterious one sided pains in the body.
So in this way, an injury can lead to Trauma Reflex and a Trauma Reflex can lead to further injuries. If not addressed it can become a vicious cycle of injuries and pain.
Some more examples of how Trauma Reflex can develop include;
- Drawing an injured leg off the ground to protect it from weight bearing, people do this when they use crutches or sprain an ankle
- Falling down stairs
- Slipping off a kerb or on ice
- Performing one sided activites repeatedly, these can be, and often are occupational or sporting
- Sitting into one side of your hip, out of habit. If you always sit in the same corner of your couch for example
You get the picture. Fortunately, it is quite simple to eliminate a Trauma Reflex with Somatics, either via Clinical Hands On Sessions or Somatics Self Care Exercises. Somatics teaches you how to pandiculate the affected muscles, restoring the brain’s control of those muscles and simultaneously lengthening them back to their correct resting length. The end result is softer, more relaxed muscles a smooth gait and a body that is in balance and capable of equal right/left movement in all directions.