Injuries and trauma reflex
Injuries can cause trauma reflex, and trauma reflex can cause injuries. How is that possible?
An impact or a fall can cause injuries. When we expect a punch, we turn away instinctively, which usually leads to a blow from the side. Then the muscles on one side of the body around the impact area reflexively contract to create a shield against impact. If the effect is strong enough, or if it creates a big enough "shock", this contraction or muscle strain becomes a habit. The brain behaves as if an impact or an injury were still happening. When a pattern of muscle contraction becomes a habit, these muscles develop the sensory-motor amnesia. We forget how to feel and move these muscles properly. So, in the case of a severe impact or a nasty fall, we inadvertently acquire the habit of trauma reflex. The muscles on one side of the waist remain contracted. These contracted muscles in the waist pull the hip toward the ribs and the ribs toward the pelvis and usually involves spinal rotation too. See the photos below:
Left: Trauma reflex on the right side of the body
Right: Without trauma reflex
We can observe several things on the left photo:
- a person tilts to the right due to the incorrect curvature of the spine;
- the chest and the hip on the right side are closer together;
- a person tilts his head to align his eyes with the horizon;
· asymmetrically aligned shoulders and palms;
- the larger angle between a thigh bone (femur) and a knee due to the tilted hips.
These examples of the altered posture are all caused by the trauma reflex and can be barely perceptible or expressive. When these distortions become a habit, we are no longer in equilibrium, just like the person in the left picture. Even though cuts and abrasions have healed and the bruises have faded, the nervous system persists with the patterns created when the body reacted to the injury and because of the damage. One side of the body remains tense, thereby spoiling the symmetry and making the motor system less efficient. If we get trapped in the trauma reflex, we are likely to experience further damage as balance and symmetry are no longer what they were that causes muscle tension on one side of the body, which becomes a habit. At the same time, it causes the muscles to stretch on the other side, where we then usually feel pain, although the cause is on the opposite side.
A steady step (walking pattern) depends on maintaining the ability of the central nervous system to fully coordinate the contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the centre of the body to allow it to rotate the spine and pelvis freely. If you cannot fully extend one side of the waist and properly shorten the other side and let your spine to rotate freely around its axis, your step will not be steady or balanced. You will walk with more weight on one side, leading to pain in your back, hip, knee and ankle on one side as this side of your body will be more strained than the other. We can easily see this by looking at the photos above and imagining these same asymmetries in motion. These also cause more wear on the joints of the affected site, which can eventually lead to structural changes in the joints. Trauma reflex is also the cause of many alleged discrepancies regarding leg length. A shortened side of the waist can cause a false "short" leg.
If the trauma reflex is accompanied by the green light reflex (which often happens), people have problems such as sciatica and heel spurs (plantar fasciitis - inflammation of the tendon of the foot arch) that are caused by strained muscles on one side of the body that becomes a habit, and because of the tension on the back of the body, which also becomes a habit.
Trauma reflex can also develop in more innocent ways. For example, when we are hunched and tilting on one side while sitting at a desk and working with a computer mouse for hours. Or when we hold a baby on the same waist often and for too long. The result will be the same: the loss of the ability to lengthen the muscles in the abdomen on one side of the body, hence surprising us with unexplained pain on one side of the body. If this reflex is not corrected, it can lead to a vicious cycle of injury and pain.
Few examples of the development of the trauma reflex:
· the injured leg does not touch the ground to protect it from transferring the weight when using crutches or twisting the ankle;
- falling down the stairs;
- slipping on a curb or ice;
- repetitive activities that burden only one side of the body and are often present in certain professions or sports;
- sitting on one side of the hip out of habit (for example, if you always sit on the same spot on your couch).
Now, you are already more familiar with the trauma reflex. Fortunately, there is a way to change it. The AEQ Method® individual therapies, AEQ movements and home-based AEQ exercises are the best way and the least painful way to do this. The AEQ method® teaches us how to regain control of the affected muscles, thereby affecting the brain to send more correct commands, so that the muscles reinstate their correct resting length. They will become softer and relaxed when appropriate, with a steady step and a balanced body capable of even (proportional) movement.