Understanding the Reflexes Through Self Assessment

Monday, January 13, 2020

Information is only good if it can be used. The fact that all therapeutic modalities are not trained in Somatics and Neuromuscular Re-education means that you might get an assessment that you know little what to do about it.

Perhaps you have heard, you have one leg shorter than the other. Or, your pelvis is anteriorly rotated to the right and your left shoulder is posteriorly rotated and your left shoulder blade wings out.

Sounds like a foreign language, right?

Or you have been told that you are leaning to one side.

Information is only good if it’s useful and without an understanding of the “why” your body is stuck and out of alignment, and “what” to do to correct it, you may feel frustrated and without options.

We hear you.


The key point to understand is that the nervous system/brain is paying attention all the time. And it is responding to stress, threats, trauma, and repetitive movements in order to keep you safe.

Habituated Reflex Patterns 

Over time, however, this learning/avoidance process means that our muscles get stuck (habituated) into Reflex patterns in the body. And the more we get stuck, and the longer we are there, the more normal functioning is interrupted. This is what leads to compensations, sleepy/weak muscles, fatigue, wear and tear on joints, tension AND pain.


And the only way to change these habituated reflexes is to wake up the part of brain in control of these patterns and re-educate them to release.

This seems so much more intelligent than trying to build muscle to brace the other side of the body to try to draw alignment back, or to use forceful manipulative techniques to try to get the body to let go.

So, you have some stuff going on in your body, right? Education is key to change, so have some with this.


Take a few minutes to do a Reflex Self Assessment

Start by standing facing a mirror. What do you notice?


Please check the ones that apply:

Reflex Self Assessment Part 1:

  Rounded shoulders?

  Raised shoulders?

  Depressed chest?

  Rounded upper back?

  Feet turn inward?

  Pelvis tilted back?

  Head shifted forward?


Reflex Self Assessment Part 2:

  Pronounced arch in lower back?

  Chest lifted?

  Shoulders drawn back?

  Does your belly stick out?

  Knees locked?

  Feet turn out?

  Weight on front outer feet?


Reflex Self Assessment Part 3:

  • One shoulder lower or higher?
  • Are your hips uneven?  
  • Do you lean to one side?
  • Do you feel twisted or rotated to one side?
  • More weight on one foot than the other?
  • One leg typically sitting shorter than the other?
  • Do you have Scoliosis or a C curve in your spine?


Self Assessment Summary:

Add up the number of boxes (  ) you checked under each category above. It is typical to have more than one Reflex and sometimes all three Reflexes in whole or part showing up in your body at the same time. Below you will find more explanation of each reflex so you can understand more fully how your posture and ability to move are being affected by habituation and your brain’s way of learning. 

Broadening Your Understanding of the Reflexes


Red Light Reflex (Part 1 Self Assessment)


This reflex is the deepest innate protection mechanism to freeze, to ensure survival and protect our vital organs and life. It presents as contraction of our flexor muscles, our front body, or front line muscles.

The Red Light reflex is so primitive of a reflex that it occurs in all mammals in response to actual or perceived threat to survival. Red Light Reflex kicks in within milliseconds of a threatening or startling event occurring around us.  

In today’s society it presents in response to high levels of stress and load and is exacerbated by repetitive and poor movement habits such as texting and too much time at the computer. There is actually a clinical term called Text Head Forward Syndrome to explain this reflex and its predominance in the Millennials generation (birth years approx. 1981-1996).





Green Light Reflex (Part 2 Self Assessment)


This is the innate reflex of “get ready and let’s go”. This reflex prepares us for movement and action and gets us ready to achieve our goals.

This reflex becomes habituated from the constant and relentless need to keep going in our busy and hectic lives. This reflex also shows up from repetitive linear sports such as running.

It presents as a contraction of the extensor muscles of the body (back line muscles).














Trauma Reflex (Part 3 Self Assessment)


This innate reflex displays to avoid danger, to get out of the way of harm. This reflex presents as one-sidedness or an asymmetry in the body.

Common presentations are one hip sitting higher or lower than the other, one shoulder higher or lower than the other, a lean to one side, a limp or a rotated pelvis or shoulder girdle.

This reflex presents as unconscious contraction of the side waist and side body muscles.







The Culprit: Sensory Motor Amnesia

Now that you have an understanding of the underlying reflex patterns that are contributing to your pain, can you understand how and why your body is in pain?

It is because your muscles are staying chronically contracted in this state known as Sensory Motor Amnesia.


Interested to learn more? Here are some options for you…


  1. Sign up for The Method 101 Online Learning Course. Just $47. 

    Invest in your health and healing and immediately feel better in your body, sleep better and reduce pain. This course is perfect for anyone experiencing stress, fatigue, pain and looking for easy and effective tools to restore balance in life.

  1. Learn more about resetting your nervous system and Reflex patterns by heading to the Learn section of our website.

  1. Subscribe to our weekly Blog to learn more about SomaYoga & Somatics and our Methods to help you and your clients get out of pain.

  1. Get Moving BetterPurchase one of our videos and learn to get quiet, release tension and get back to feeling your best.


Pandiculation, Reflexes, Sensory Motor Amnesia, Somatic Education, Somatics, Video, Pain