Somatic Movement, Computers & the Red Light Reflex

Today we spend much of our work or personal time in front of computers.  While this is often considered normal in the frantic pace of contemporary life, working on computers can be a great source of muscular tension and stress in the body.  Long hours in front of the computer can result in the emergence of the red light reflex.  Somatic movement can correct this reflex, align the body and make it more functional while creating greater health in the muscles.

The Red Light Reflex is also known as the startle response.  It is the muscular reflex that our body moves into when it is startled. Constant sitting at a computer can cause a person to begin displaying this same reflex.  It results in:

  • a rounded pelvis
  • hunched shoulders
  • compressed chest cavity
  • tight hips and legs
  • tight back
  • hyper extended neck
  • shallow breathing

Over time, all these symptoms can contribute to a significant amount of pain and stress in the body and spine.

If these symptoms are not corrected, we forget how to release the stress we hold in our muscles and restore the body back to a stress-free and comfortable state.  Somatic movement relaxes muscles, reduces muscular pain and soothes the nervous system.  The movement also teaches the muscles how to be relaxed in the body and this muscle re-education can reverse the red light reflex.

All the exercises are done slowly, actively and without force.  By moving slowly, a student can feel how a muscle contracts and relaxes, as well as recognizing other muscles that also contract to assist that specific muscle.

Because Somatic movement is slow and deliberate, it is healing and restorative.  With these exercises, people develop a greater awareness of how their muscles function as well as a deeper feeling of relaxation and comfort.  As a person develops greater sensory awareness, she/he can use that awareness to sense when the body is out of alignment and correct it.  This is of great value when sitting in front of a computer on a daily basis.

Sitting and computer work can be an adaptive or maladaptive process.  We learn to be in our body through experience and a Somatic practice can teach anyone to be functionally healthier and more alive.  This is the value of a Somatic practice.