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What is pandiculation and why is it better than stretching?

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

That early morning urge to move and revitalize your body when you wake up in the morning is called pandiculation. It is linked to restoring your body’s homeostasis through motion. Whilst awakening the sensory pathway of your nervous system. Helping to

  • Restore suppleness to your entire fascial fabric.

  • Breathe better without having to learn breathing exercises.

  • Tone the Vagus nerve.

  • Restore your sensory awareness.

  • Hydrate stiff areas.

  • Release the psoas.

  • Ease back pain.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Reduce anxiety.

Often described as the stretch and yawn response. The movement is nothing like the stretch. Stretching is associated with lengthening. Like pulling an elastic band. To increase the flexibility at a joint. Pull too much and you lose the integrity and stability of the body. When you stretch, the stretch reflex arc of the brain pulls you back. It is an automatic response from your brain to maintain integrity.

This is why stretching feels difficult if you are like me. Someone born with more fibroblast cells that make us stiff. It’s not good news either if you are naturally flexible. Especially if you already have joint laxity. Stretching can deform your ligaments, resulting in injury, lack of integrity, and instability.

Stretching happens from the outside in isolating a particular area. Pandiculation begins with the urge to move from within. Accompanied by an in-breath, and a balloon-like sensation of expansion from within. Followed by an unwinding motion as the breath is held in suspension until it reaches capacity and a spontaneous sigh emerges. The sound of a sigh is very much part of the pandiculation. I call it a whole body yawn. The whole body is involved, not a specific area. You may notice dogs, cats, and newborn babies have this spontaneous ability. It’s a reset blueprint for most mammals. We may lose this spontaneous urge to reset, due to trauma, chronic stress, lack of movement, and disruption to the sensory nervous system.

Pandicular type sensations happen intuitively when you move. Whether you are reaching for a coffee mug on a top shelf or squatting to pick up something off the ground. There is an accompanying in-breath and expanding sensation as your body intuitively self-stabilizes. Counter-intuitive to engaging the core on an out-breath to self stabilize right?

Fascia Tuning Therapy can help you reconnect with your sensory wisdom as you move to nature’s design.

Fascia and pandiculation

Fascia is known as the fabric that gives your body its form. Otherwise known as the connective tissue. Yet it so much more. It the largest sensory organ of your body. A sixth. More sensitive than your eyeball and definitely more sensitive than muscle fibers. The living fibers and gel that make up the fascial matrix are like the strings of a musical instrument. Vibrating with health and vitality in resonance. Feeling stiff and inflamed under strain. Every living cell begins life within this fabric and is shaped into muscles, nerves, organs, blood vessels lymph, and bone. It is the fabric that provides the living environment for every biological system. This is why the vibrancy of this tissue is so crucial for your wellbeing.

When you pandiculate, you are nourishing every living cell in your body. It amazes me how this intuitive motion can restore suppleness whilst returning your nervous system to a harmonious rhythm. Even if it is for a moment. Your nervous system influences every biological function in your body.

Making Fascia Tuning a regular practice can help regulate your nervous system.

How does it work?

Luis Bertolucci, a manual therapist studying the physiology of pandiculation describes it as “Nature’s way of maintaining the functional integrity of the myofascial system.”

Luis Bertolucci uses the word stretch to describe pandiculation, fascia anatomist John Sharkey prefers expansion. So, do I. It’s how I describe its emergence. An expansion. It speaks to the auxetic or shock-absorbing property of fascia.

Look up auxetic materials and you will notice how these lightweight fabrics are used in running shoes and other sportswear. Offering resilience, cushioning, shock-absorbancy, longevity, and efficiency. Used in packaging too. The same is true of our own fascial fabric. . When we enhance its auxetic property, we become supple and resilient to strain.

Auxetic means “increase in size” when pulled. Unlike a stretch which elongates. The secret is to move the entire fascial fabric intuitively. From the inside out. The way nature intended. Making movement efficient and effortless. It's why feel-good, gentle movements can make us strong and resilient.

Best of all are studies showing how pandiculation triggers the release of Oxytocin, the nurturing hormone. Oxytocin is linked to vagal tone. Reducing anxiety, the inflammatory response, and chronic pain.

In Summary

  • Pandiculation is a shape-changing motion that emerges from the inside out. Integrating breath, movement, fascia reshaping, and sensory wisdom. The motion shifts emotion. Harmonizing and revitalizing body and mind.

  • You can never injure yourself or go beyond your range with pandiculation.

  • Pandiculation restores the shock absorbing and gliding quality of your fascia whilst nourishing your whole body.

  • Pandiculation restores the visco-elastic property of fascia. Building resiliency.

How often do you pandiculate?

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I am curious about what the brain's involvement is in the stretch reflex. My understanding is that the stretch reflex is between the periphery to the cord and back out. Would you explain the brain's involvement in this other than setting the gamma system?

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