When it comes to chronic pain relief using Posture Alignment Therapy, Pete Egoscue's message is simple.
You are the expert.
In the midst of prepping for this blog, I came across a fitting quote to introduce us to the topic.
"There will be a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others.
When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else.
Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it.”
- Judith McNaught (Remember When)
So what does listening to your instincts and ignoring everything else have to do with achieving a pain free life and living?
Well, actually - EVERYTHING!
When practicing posture alignment, I love to say, "it's so simple it's profound". In fact, if you were to look at relieving pain from a traditional approach, it seems so simple that many people just write it off without really investigating.
I hear that all the time here at my studio.
We look at resolving chronic pain from a completely different perspective. One that seems outright illogical compared to the traditional approach. One where we are fond of saying "the site of the pain is rarely the source of the problem".
The traditional Western paradigm of health care is primarily a symptom focused approach. Attempting to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain in isolation from the rest of the body rarely works as a successful long-term solution.
Let's use the example of of chronic foot pain (but you could easily swap it with low back pain, knee pain, neck pain, etc.)
If you were to come in with foot pain, the traditional model administers tests to evaluate for tissue/joint/nerve trauma in the isolated area, the foot.
You might be asked what's wrong, what you did (accident/injury) or what you're currently doing (exercise/activity). A perfectly logical solution sequence.
Two possible outcomes occur:
- Damage is noted: If muscle strain, tissue damage, cartilage, ligament or bone degradation is detected then a symptomatic treatment plan is set into motion (rest, shoe inserts, cortisone shots, PT, pain medications, surgery, etc) to help repair the damaged area.
- No Damage: Sometimes, the diagnostic tools come up with nothing... the pain you are feeling in the area has not resulted in a visible way. You have pain and mobility problems and think your just plain crazy.
So here's the problem with both outcomes: neither identifies, addresses or corrects the ROOT CAUSE or ORIGIN of WHY the pain and/or damage occurred in the first place. It's completely overlooked.
In my opinion, the major reason why Postural Therapy is so highly successful at helping our client's resolve chronic pain is because what we do falls into a NEW PARADIGM.
My job is to help YOU CONNECT to YOUR INTERNAL BODY WISDOM. Sometimes that means you have to trust your insticts and ignore the chatter from the experts.
We believe that you know more about your body than anyone else on the planet. When you come in I'm going to ask you to go a bit deeper. I'll find out what everyone else thinks about your foot pain, but then I'm going to stop and ask - "is that what you think is wrong"?
Usually the silence is golden.
I'm here to not only give you a voice, but to truly listen to what you have to say about you.
Then I simply help link what you think is wrong with what your body is showing us from a postural perspective relative to "blue-print" design. And because, the Postural Therapy paradigm treats the underlying compensations and dysfucntions that are present throughout the body. one in which we empower you, the client by acknowledge that you know the most about your body.
"Effective therapies treat the body as a whole".
~ Pete Egoscue
Through the application of simple corrective exercises in combination with personal responsiblity by helping you change your thoughts, actions and habits as they relate to your body, we empower you to take charge of your own health care. Instead of treating a symptom which can often return or change into other multiple issues over time, you are solving the root cause of the issue and giving your body the correct stimulus and demand it needs.
So, to my intent of this piece. Over the weekend I received a message from a person looking to address pain. She was familiar with postural therapy, and had practicied it for a period of time in the past until pain crept back into her life.
To set this up properly, let me give the background email I recieved (reprinted with permission).
Deb - I just want to share this story about a recent incident I had. Last week I had horrible foot pain in my right foot, the pain was so bad I thought I broke my foot somehow. I had no option, (I really did have other options, the Pain Free book) but to go get an x-ray done of my foot to see if anything was broken. Well, nothing was broken, they said I have two bone spurs on the bottom of my foot, the start of a bunion and arthritis. The doctor mentioned that I need to do less of a Zumba workout and to change up my workout routine.
I was telling someone at work about my foot issues and they also said that I work out too much. I totally disagree. Your body is made to move, your feet are made to be used, right? I guess it really hit a nerve with me. Anyway, I think I just need a better pair of shoes and I’m going to read up on my feet issues in the book Pain Free.
So, what do you think she and I chatted about? We discussed:
- how the body works as a unit and must be treated as such.
- educated how the foot has more to do with the position of her body than the condition
I did the listenting and then affirmed her deep internal instincts after linking posture to pain.
This friend of mine wanted to trust her body wisdom. I provided the empowered through a root cause approach.
The result? She re-affirmed her certainty that deep down she really knew what to do to correct the situation.
Recently, in an online interview, Pete Egoscue, (founder of The Egoscue Method) was asked
"How do you communicate these concepts [help people discover causes as opposed to symptoms] to people"?
to which Pete replied:
The message is timeless; we didn’t invent it. We go to expectations: We say, “There’s a process here. It’s a pain, no-pain process. Let’s get your mind off your pain and onto your life.” All of our patients are referrals. They expect coming in the door that we’re going to get them out of pain. We allow them an atmosphere and a process where they become confident enough in their outlook, speech, mannerisms and posture so they know they have the wisdom, tools, energy and time to correct the cause of the malady.
Step by step, pessimism is replaced by optimism, immediacy is replaced by long-term, struggling is replaced by striving, faltering is replaced by steadfastness, guilt is replaced by responsibility, drained is replaced by nurturing and exhausted is replaced by enlightenment.
The message is very simple, very powerful: You know and you always did. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t. You will know if you can quiet your mind. Bring yourself to the present. You are the expert. You always were, you always will be.
What's the moral of this blog? We'll I'll let the email I received this morning sum it all up:
Deb - Thank you very much for the information.
I did the three exercises that were in the hip chapter, I will continue to do them to realign my hips and reduce my foot pain. I appreciate all the information that you have given me and I will continue to use the Pain Free book religiously. My problem is that I listen to too many people with different views on working out and pain that I need to just listen to what’s inside me. It’s hard for me to find a happy medium and I find myself compromising what I really believe just to find out that I was right the whole time.
I will be sure to keep you updated on my progress. Talk to you soon.
The message is simple. When it comes to addressing chronic musculoskeletal pain, YOU ARE THE EXPERT!
Please reach out if you have questions/concersn. We're in this together and I am here to help.