Sotai ho | Hashimoto
Dr. Hashimoto held that Sotai was not just a system of exercises or a method of therapy, but that it was part of a deeper broader principle that embraced all of life. Health is the natural result of right living, and its improvement and maintenance is the responsibility of each individual. Most human beings go through life without much awareness of the essential processes of life until there is some dysfunction or disease. The essential functions – 1) breathing, 2) eating/drinking, 3) moving, and 4) thinking – are interrelated and help keep our body in balance or otherwise cause imbalance and disease.
1) begin small and barely perceptible but …
2) gradually increase to …
3) eventually produce pain, physical distortion, and organic disease.
People in this modern age need to re-connect with the natural principles of life, (the interrelationship of breath, ingestion, movement, and thought) that is a unique combination for each person.
Sotai is intended as a system to help re-establish a natural and effortless relationship with our environment and engender balance, health, and wellbeing.
Sotai sees stiffness or pain as a sort of stop light: if a movement hurts, the patient should stop doing it. The claim is that Sotai(-hō) helps to determine which movements are harmful and which are helpful (therapeutic).
Sotai or Sotai-hō (操体法 Sōtai-hō?)
- A Japanese form of muscular or movement therapy invented by Keizo Hashimoto (1897–1993), a Japanese medical doctor from Sendai. The term So-tai (操体) is actually the opposite of the Japanese word for exercise: Tai-so (体操). Dr. Hashimoto conceived Sotai as an antidote to the forceful and regimented exercises of Japan, that anyone could practice easily to restore balance and health.
- Is different from regular exercise because it distinguishes between balanced movements that are natural and beneficial and those that are unnatural and cause strains and physical distortions. The aim of Sotai is to help the body restore and maintain its natural balance.
- Works with the basic structure of the human body and its natural capacity to move and maintain balance.
- A systematic method for introducing easeful movements from the extremities to the spine to facilitate a functional balance.
- Is intended to be a method of neuromuscular reeducation and unwinding muscular holding patterns.
- Balances the nervous and muscular systems. Its central principle is backtracking movement or “reverse-motion” treatment. The idea is that structural distortions can be returned to a more normal condition by moving the body in the comfortable direction. Using the effects of an isometric contraction followed by a sudden relaxation (post-isometric relaxation) can normalise the strained condition.
[According to neurophysiological knowledge, a contracted myofibril will lose its holding pattern during the post-isometric phase of movement.]
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The two main principles behind Sotai are:
1) Follow the line of least resistance. Check for a painful movement of the muscle in one direction then …
2) you should do the exercise in the other direction, away from discomfort, pain or stiffness.
These stretches in only one direction (i.e. only to the right, or only to the left), the direction in which the movement doesn’t hurt, or feels the most comfortable, lead to principle #2: NO PAIN.
Following these two principles gives us the most important characteristic of Sotai: we can alleviate, reduce or make disappear muscular pains with exercises that are not painful at all.