Sotai therapy or Sotai Ho (Ho means technique in Japanese) amazes many people when they see it because of its results and because it is the opposite of the "No pain, no gain" philosophy.
Most people find impossible to believe that an exercise with both feet (Sotai 1) can alleviate a backache (and sometimes even make it go away completely) or that you can treat a sprained ankle by doing exercises with the other foot.
However, Sotai therapy (sotai ho) is not magic, it has a perfectly logical physiological explanation.
The easiest way to explain it is with an example. Let's say that somebody comes with backache. We try exercise 2 (see pictures on the right) and bending the legs to the right hurts because one or more lower back muscles are contracted.
Now, because of a principle called reciprocal innervation or inhibition, if one muscle is contracted (tight), another one (usually the antagonist) is overstretched (lax).
Traditionally, what most therapies try to do, is relax the contracted muscle by massaging or stretching it, which produces pain.
Sotai is based on the stretch reflex, autogenic inhibition process and reciprocal innervation or inhibition. In a sotai exercise, autogenic inhibition is usually at work.
By going in the "no pain" direction it is further contracting the contracted muscle (and stretching the overstretched muscle).
Because the movement is taken to its limit, or further range of movement, the contracted muscle is further contracted (away from pain since the muscle has contracted to avoid pain in the first place), the golgi tendon organ will detect this contraction, and through the process of autogenic inhibition the muscle will relax, which was our original intention.
The difference of course is that we have achieved our aim without causing pain.
At the same time, both the stretch reflex and the reciprocal innervation are at work. The same exercise is working on the antagonistic muscle, which is being stretched, again to its furthest limit. Because of the stretch reflex, this muscle ends up more contracted than before.
Due to the principle of reciprocal innervation, if this muscle contracts, its antagonistic, the original "hurt" muscle relaxes.
So again we have obtained the relaxation we were after without pain.
This is of course, an oversimplification in explaining the effects of sotai.
Sotai Ho, being a holistic therapy, believes that whatever you do to one part of the body affects the whole body, so you can treat any type of pain doing exercises in muscles that are not apparently related to this pain.
The real purpose of Sotai is to find balance in the body. The balance of articulations and muscles produces a better posture and makes pain disappear.
To know more about the history of sotai/sotai ho click here.
To download the basic sotai exercises on PDF click here.
Come and find out more about sotai, (sotai ho) at our regular free talk/practical demonstrations.
Basic position before starting exercise 2
Bending the knees as much as one can to the side that doesn't hurt before relaxing suddenly on that position as done in sotai (sotai ho).
One should rest for about
10 - 15 seconds before doint it again.
Repeat three times before checking if the range of movement to the "hurting" side has increased.
Click on the word video to see this exercise on a video.