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IS YOUR GO GO GO LIFESTYLE CAUSING YOUR PAIN? - Understanding the Somatic Green Light Reflex

When we are born, our bodies lack the ability to crawl or sit up by ourselves. However, as we grow, our muscles develop, enabling us to perform these movements. One key muscular response that plays a crucial role in our development is the Green Light Reflex, also known as the action response. In this blog, we will delve into the details of this reflex, its impact on our posture, and the physical conditions associated with it.

Woman Running with an arched back
The purpose of the Green Light Reflex is to contract the major muscles in the back of our body to enable us to move forward. This reflex is responsible for extending the spine, pulling the shoulders back, arching the lower back, pulling the head back slightly, and tightening the glutes, hamstrings, and calves to straighten and rotate the legs outward. It is a positive reflex that allows us to learn how to roll, crawl, walk, run, and explore the world.

During the first few months of life, our extensor muscles, responsible for lifting our heads, arching our lower backs, and promoting movement, are still developing. Around three months of age, we gain the ability to lift our heads off the ground while lying on our stomachs. As we grow older, the extensor muscles in our neck and back become activated, allowing us to crawl, sit up, and eventually stand and walk.

As we develop and use our extensor muscles regularly, the cervical and lumbar curves in our spine, known as lordotic curves, begin to form. These curves, which are the opposite of the kyphotic curves found in the thoracic and sacral portions of our spine, are essential for shock absorption. Without these natural curves, compressive forces would cause immense damage and pain as our vertebrae stack up in a straight line.

Even after we learn how to stand, walk, and run, our extensor muscles automatically contract when we want to get up and go, as part of the action response. This contraction involves arching our backs, lifting our heads, pulling our shoulders back, and sticking out our chests. It serves as a physical and psychological preparation for action, triggered not only by instinct and mobility desires but also by eustress or positive stress.

Man in the somatic green light reflex or landeau response
When the Green Light Reflex is activated too frequently or excessively, it can become habituated. This means that the brain becomes adept at performing this action repeatedly, leading to a constant low level of muscle contraction in the back of the body. This involuntary action can result in fatigue and pain in the lower back, neck, and hips.

The Green Light Reflex Posture: The full expression of the Green Light Reflex or action response can include various bodily adjustments, such as:

  • Tipping the head upward and pulling it back

  • Pulling the shoulders back and down, with the chest prominently forward

  • Laterally rotating the arms outward

  • Arching the lower back and tilting the pelvis forward

  • Laterally rotating the hips outward

  • Locking the knees

  • Pointing the feet outward and pronating them

Anatomy of the Green Light Reflex: Multiple muscles contribute to the Green Light Reflex action response, including the upper trapezius, levator scapula, middle trapezius, rhomboids, deltoid (posterior fibers), infraspinatus, teres minor, lower trapezius, extensor groups, quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, iliopsoas, gluteus maximus and medius, lateral hip rotators, quadriceps femoris group, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius and soleus.

Woman Standing Straight
Contrary to common belief, habituation of the Green Light Reflex is not related to aging. It is a neurological event that stems from how we respond to different stresses in our lives. It is a functional problem that can be resolved by regaining control over the neurological event in the brain.

Green Light posture can lead to various issues, including back, shoulder, and neck pain, headaches, disc problems, hyperlordosis, sciatica, piriformis syndrome, sacroiliac joint problems, Achilles tendinitis, tight hamstrings and calves, bunion formation, and plantar fasciitis.

Understanding the Green Light Reflex helps us comprehend the impact of our bodies' natural responses to prepare for action. Recognizing this reflex and its influence on our posture and physical well-being allows us to address any associated conditions effectively. By maintaining awareness and seeking appropriate care, we can promote optimal muscular functioning and overall health.


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