Wednesday, September 14, 2011
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN LOUPOS
Welcome John Loupos to this special online interview. John is the author of The Sustainable You-Somatic and the Myth of Aging. John was my special guest on my show on September 13th and he wanted to share his interview with everyone. Please join in the discussion and ask the author questions. Somatics is really quite exciting and interesting. His interview was informative and enlightening. I am your host Fran Lewis: reviewer, interviewer, educator and Talk Show Host of Book Discussion on Blog Talk Radio.
Interview questions for John Loupos
Author of: The Sustainable You - Somatics and the Myth of Aging
Give a brief summary of your book.
The Sustainable You - Somatics and the Myth of Aging is a book about Hanna Somatic Education, a unique health and wellness modality that works wonders resolving chronic and acute pain, as well as stiffness and inflexibility. Somatics is based entirely on mainstream neurophysiology. Where other approaches deal with chronological aging or cellular aging, Somatics is about ‘functional aging’- how you live in your body. The premise of Somatics is that much of the physical decline normally associated with the aging is, in fact, avoidable. The Sustainable You... lays a foundation for readers who want to maintain or regain bodies that are smart, flexible and pain-free.
What is somatics?
Strictly defined, the word ‘somatic’ is a generic term simply meaning that something is ‘of the body’
What is Hanna Somatics?
Hanna Somatics, or HSE, is a neuromuscular educational modality developed by the late Dr. Thomas Hanna. HS is designed to recalibrate errant motor programs in the brain to relieve conditions of pain and stiffness in the body and restore voluntary control.
Why did you decide to write this book and share your program with readers?
I’d already written several books about Tai Chi, which I’ve taught since the 70’s. I’ve been very enthusiastic about Somatics since my first exposure in 2003. While I was still in my professional Somatics training program I realized there was only one book that had been written on the subject, Dr. Hanna’s original book, Somatics. I felt it was time for another addition to the field so others could learn about this amazing health and wellness method.
What type of questions should someone seeking your help ask before agreeing to this program?
Pretty much the same kinds of skeptical questions they should asking of any provider in whom they’re planning to entrust their health and wellness. How can Somatics help them? What are its limits? How can patients participate in the process?
Tell everyone how you became and got interested in this area.
About a year prior to my introduction to Somatics I’d incurred an overuse injury to my left shoulde. The injury left my shoulder partially frozen and quite discomfiting. After a year of trying a number of other modalities to no avail I heard about Somatics. I had to drive 2 1/2 hrs to my appointment,.. but that first appointment was all it took to completely mend my shoulder. I recognized a good thing when I saw it and immediately applied for professional training.
How do you determine who qualifies for your program?
Somatic educators offer individual sessions. A typical course requires a mere 3-5 sessions. On occasion I’ve discharged clients after a single session. Somatics can be appropriate for anyone with a pulse and fully functioning mental faculties. Pretty much everybody suffers from some degree or other from what we call sensorimotor amnesia, or SMA for short. Chances are your doctor has never heard of SMA, though sensorimotor amnesia as a physiological phenomenon makes perfect medical sense. Somatics is the only modality I’m aware of that addresses the debilitating effects of SMA as it does. Even aside from SMA, Somatics can be used preventively to keep your body free and flexible. Therefore, pretty much anyone can derive benefit from Somatics.
Explain the initial phone call... what do you ask and how do you assess the person over the phone?
During an initial phone chat I just need the basics... what’s prompting someone’s call and when would they like to come in for an appointment. Unless there are extenuating circumstances the rest can wait until we’re face-to-face.
How does this work for muscle aches?
Many acute muscle aches are self-resolving and require no intervention. But if an ache is recurrent, constant, or chronic the likelihood is that Somatics can make a difference.
How can it help someone with scoliosis?
Scoliosis, especially in its early stages, is often due to chronically tight muscles exerting undo lateral force on the spinal vertebrae. The muscles can pull the vertebrae quite out of alignment, causing blatant C or S shaped curves. Addressing scoliosis entails using the same principles as working with any other chronically tight muscle.
How can it help someone with general muscle aches and pains?
Somatics is a very effective method for addressing all the body’s muscles. In fact, there is a whole body of Somatics learning media (mostly CDs, some DVDs) that target specific or general body areas for generalized relief.
How does this help someone with Fibromyalgia?
The pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia are often very amenable to the Somatics approach. Somatics uses very simple, non-jarring, non-invasive moves and maneuvers to refamiliarize the brain with (otherwise voluntary) places in the body that may been relegated to reflex status. In teaching these muscles to stand down and relax voluntary control can be restored, and with it a resolve or reduction in symptoms.
Give everyone a brief history of Hanna Somatics
Hanna Somatics is a relatively new discipline that’s been around since its founder, Dr Thomas Hanna, developed it some 30 years ago. Hanna was a philosopher with a penchant for living in his body in the best and freest way. More details can be found at the websites for the AHSE or for the Novato Institute where practitioners are trained and certified.
Explain why the word flexibility is vital to this program and comes into play
For many people flexibility means freedom. ‘Freedom’ is actually the more operative word. Freedom means you have choices, in order to comport yourself electively. Pain and stiffness are antithetical to freedom because they limit one’s choices. When you have freedom you have flexibility.
Give us an example of how this program helped three of your trainers
Each of my trainers came to somatics as a result of longstanding chronic pain issues. In fact, that’s true of just about every Somatics educator I know. Dedicated readers can refer to my book for examples.
How can children benefit from this?
Given that the effects of what I call the Archeology of Insults (meaning the commulative effects of a lifetime of living, in incrementally eroding the brain’s ability to voluntarily sense and precisely control the various muscles in the body), it makes sense to prevent problems rather than fix them. Where better to start with prevention than with the bodies and minds of youngsters. Kids bodies usually respond even more quickly to Somatics than adults.
Can you tell everyone or explain one simple movement
HS practitioners nearly always start from the core, even in cases of distal complaints. The most fundamental core movement is called the Arch & Flatten, and simply involves a variation on pelvic tilting. Remember, though, that Somatics movement patterns entail more than just the mechanics of a movement. It is the movement combined with the brain’s focused attention that produces changes in the neural circuitry.
Why is this safe and noninvasive?
Because Somatics is an educational, interoceptive (meaning self-sensing) approach, clients are always in charge of themselves. The Somatics approach discourages movements that are fast, jarring, or in any way premised on inadvertent momentum. Because the movements are practiced slowly and mindfully, clients, even those in various stages of convalescence, can always adjust what they’re doing to stay within their own limits of comfort and safety.
What are the long term benefits?
Do you remember the old saying that practice makes perfect? That’s generally true, except when it come to people’s bodies. You’d think that the more practice someone has living in their body the better they’d get at it. But that’s not the case for most people as they grow older. Somatics can help you get better as you get older. ‘Neuromuscular intelligence’ and ‘proprioceptive literacy’ are fancy terms that basically mean you can achieve a smarter and more cooperative body. A smarter body can keep you pain-free and freer in how you choose to live, no matter how old you are.
What does the person need to make a commitment to doing these exercises at home?
Regular, preferably daily practice continually reinforces the reprogramming of unhealthy motor programs. Home practice helps to keep your body smart. This works because of long term synaptic potentiation, a perfect example of practice making perfect.
What happens if they do not follow up?
Hopefully people’s bodies can get to a place where they can stay properly organized. Discontinuing the exercises prematurely can deprive the brain of the necessary reminders to keep the body flexible and pain-free. Just like brushing your teeth, this is an area where clients need to assume their fair share of the responsibility for their own health and wellness.
Tell everyone about your successes?
The easiest way to learn about other people’s success stories is to visit my website (www.painandmobility.com) and go to Testimonials. Readers can also Google Somatics to read about other practitioners’ success stories.
Breathing is the most essential function to human life. Like many other functions, proper breathing hinges on healthy intelligent muscles. Tightness in your back, your side, or in the muscles of your abdomen will affect your breathing. Muscular tightness can cause or reinforce a whole array of other health problems including; cardiovascular issues, stress, headaches, poor digestion, insomnia, cramps, sexual interest or performance, eliminative functions and more.
Explain a typical exercise
The specifics of any exercise are best learned from qualified teachers, books or other learning media. What I can say here is that all Somatics exercises are characterized by an approach to working with the body that is slow, mindful, deliberate and attentive. The idea is to recruit the attention of the cortical brain to reprogram your neural circuitry for better muscular control and differentiation.
Can everyone do somatics without the proper training? Before doing any program what would you suggest that people learn first? Which exercises in your book can anyone try?
The answer is in the question. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. So, of course proper training is essential for good results. That said, Somatics is easy to learn with the right guidance.You can easily learn from Somatics from a qualified educator. Lacking access to an educator, you can make perfectly acceptable progress using the available books and electronic media.
What are some the best ways to rid yourself of leg pain?
‘Leg pain’ as such is a symptom. Somatics doesn’t treat individual symptoms as separate from the person feeling that pain. There are many kinds of leg pain, some of which may be due to actual medical issues, or even emergencies. Therefore it’s best to consider someone’s leg pain as one part of an overall picture of that person in planning a course of sessions. But, for run of the mill leg pain due to SMA in the leg, or elsewhere in the body, Somatics can be thought of as a modality of first recourse.
What are the most common reasons people come to see you and why?
Pain, pain, pain. Most everybody who contacts me has some sort of pain. Most people who arrive at my doorstep have tried everything else and are at their wit’s end.
How effective is the program if someone does not do their part at home? What happens in the long run and how long does someone have to adhere to the program? Is this for life ?
If something doesn’t do their part the laws of cause and effect may prevail. In cases of acute and fairly simple issues that resolve quickly it is possible that a few weeks of home exercise practice may prove sufficient to the task. More generally, our collective recommendation as Somatic Educators is that clients make their Somatics practice part of their daily routine, like brushing your teeth. “Is this for life?” It’s for a better life. Besides, these exercises are fun, not like chores.
What type of programs do you offer to patients and how does your program differ from the original Hanna Somatics or is it the same?
At my clinic I see clients individually, and I also offer group classes both on site and off. I was trained by teachers who participated in Dr. Hanna’s first and only practitioner training program. I also attend the annual AHSE convention where practitioners meet to keep abreast of new developments and reinforce old learnings. We make every effort to carry on the work and tradition of Dr. Hanna. He was a real visionary.
What else would you like to add?... and tell everyone where they can learn more about your program. Give everyone your contact information and your websites to learn more about Somatics and where to get this great book.
My book, as well as other Somatics resources can be found at either of my websites. Listeners can visit www.painandmobility.com to order their copy. This will link you to my main products store at www.jfkungfu.com where a wider selection of Somatics (& other) resources can be found. If you’re looking for a practitioner in your area you can visit the website for the AHSE, at www.hannasomatics.com.
What is next for you in the field of writing? Would you ever write a book that just has simple exercises for everyone to safely at home?
Gee, that’s hard to say. I have so many irons in the fire as it is. I always need to take a well-deserved break after writing a book. Plus, I hoping that some of my colleagues will be stepping up in the future with books of their own about Somatics. We’ll see what the future holds when it gets here.
What message do you want everyone to get from listening today to this interview and from reading your book?
I’d like listeners to take home the message that Somatics can help them avoid the Myth of Aging... that how our bodies age is much more within our realm of voluntary control than conventional wisdom would have us believe. All they need to do is take that first step to begin changing how they feel. My book, The Sustainable You is an excellent first step in the right direction. Again, to order please visit my website at www.painandmobility.com. Thank you.