Don’t just Stretch!…. Pandiculate.
Pandiculate for Pain and Performance.
The Pandiculation Principle
Pandiculation is a waking up and resetting of the nervous system. It is very intentional and intensional. In some ways it looks like a stretch. The difference is in the intention and application. Instead of going to an end range and then trying to stretch, force or push your tissues to a new length, first, you actually activate the muscles and then you slowly lengthen them. Staying in your comfort, you slowly shorten and tighten the area you are working with and then you slowly control those muscles to lengthen, coming to their fullest comfortable length. You do this in coordination with your breathing. You repeat this 4-6 times and then completely relax and let go.
The term Pandiculation comes out of the world of biology. Every animal does it upon waking.
The dictionary definition:
The act of stretching oneself
Animals will naturally extend, lengthen and stretch upon waking, before sleeping and going from rest to activity. It is a whole body action which is generally performed with a yawn or a large breath. There are variances in exact execution but generally it will involve a shortening before lengthening, closing of the eyes and joint extension.
This action has been found to help an animal reduce stiffness and tension, help balance and wake up the brain, and bring the animal back to state of homeostasis and balance while preparing them for moving and taking action.
It is noticeably absent in states of illness and increases again as the animal progresses to a state of health. Youth and health are associated with increased frequency and fullness of pandiculation.
In SOMA Somatics we use the principal of pandiculation and apply it to our human body. To learn from what has worked for the animals since the beginning of time and to to use what is naturally hardwired into all of our nervous systems. We use pandiculation in its biological sense and we take the principles and apply it to clinical or “hands on” methods to quickly help ourselves and our clients release the tension and patterns of holding.
So instead of just working with a muscle you work with the control centre. Pandiculation accesses and utilizes the core level of control of our nervous and muscular systems. It unites our body and brain in a way that the animals have been using for eons. It brings us instantly into the present moment. It is a preparation of action. It helps create a relaxed readiness. Like a lion or cat in the wait. It helps us find a state of calm, fully awake, fully sensing, attentive and ready for action.
Doing anything and everything involves tightening. It is a necessary, natural and needed part of living life. The hazards and risks start when the tightening isn’t letting go. When the tightening becomes tension. When the tension becomes a holding pattern. When the tension gets learned. When it gets permanent. When it becomes the default pattern. In the practice of pandiculation we use the tension. We combine intention, tension, movement and release to help wake up the sleepy, stuck and sticky parts of the neuromuscular system. We go through an Intensional Release, to get them back under our conscious control. To get them back to a state of balance and neutral.
The tightness that becomes tension is called Sensory Motor Amnesia. It is a forgetting of the nervous system of how to let go and relax. It becomes a chronic tension. This is like having the brakes stuck on in your car. One big difference is your would notice right away in your car, you would feel the pull, the dragging, the engine working harder and the lack of power. The big difference is, in humans it usually happens slowly and we adapt and get used to it. So this can happen for a quite a long time until something forces us to notice. Maybe it’s an injury or pain that seems to come out of nowhere, or you go to do something that used to be routine or easy and now you can’t do it. You don’t have the flexibility, strength or endurance you used to have. Oh of course, ‘you’re not getting any younger” is the thought that goes through your head, or your friends or doctor tells you.
This forgetting of the nervous system, this chronic tension, sets ourselves up for imbalances, dysfunction, compensation patterns and restrictions in everything we do. The uncounscious compensation patterns get learned well and forgotten about. We have all heard of “Muscle Memory”. Well this is what is happening the muscles will remember the shortness, restriction, joint compression and just get used to it. We aren’t taught to pay attention to our body, to how we react to life and our lives are very busy focusing on everything happening around us, not tuning in to what’s going on in our living body. We all get into these compensation patterns and movement restriction patterns. The key is to tune in so you notice it quicker and can do something about it. That is where pandiculation comes in. It is the only way to get rid of the sensory motor amnesia or chronic tension. Precisely because it isn’t working with the downstream parts like the muscles but because it works with the control centre, where the unconscious learning and adapting take place.
Waking up to the tension. Waking up through tension. In > out > relax. Sometimes it is a full movement, shortening and lengthening and other times it is part of a movement, sometimes there isn’t very much visible movement at all. This is when you are doing a very focused and precision contraction and controlled letting go. In SOMA Somatics we have taken the powerful principle of pandiculating or pandiculation and incorporated it, to create different tools and ways to help ourselves, our clients and our loved ones. Teaching people how to take off the brakes and getting back to comfort, health and happiness.
Pictures: Pandiculating can be done in any position. The quickest and most effective ways are usually done lying down, but we can’t always lie down in the heat of the action. Many people spend hours sitting all day. The movements in the pictures demonstrate in the seated position, going into a full shortening of the front and flexors of the body and then going into full opening and extension of the body. This is showing the fullest parts of the movements. It is good to start small and then allow the movement to get larger. Using your breath with each movement.