As we grow older, we tend to experience frequent pains or aches. Like when we pull a muscle doing a squat, or feeling frequent discomfort in the rotator cuff, joints, and lower back throughout the day.
If you’re only in your early 20s (or maybe even younger!) you might even wonder what’s wrong with you. But truthfully, it doesn’t just have to do with age. Statistics say that nearly 50 million Americans which make up about 38 percent of the population in the United States, have chronic or severe pain. Another shocking fact is that 38 percent of people in the US have taken a painkiller in 2015. That’s 1 in 3! people! Pretty sad when you think about it.
With that said, most of us could relate to severe pains especially among us athletes, powerlifters, and people always on the go. Fortunately, there’s a way to manage the pains you might be experiencing, and you can do it without the drugs, surgery or medication. Just dedicate 4 minutes of your time and practice “The Egoscue Method” to achieve better posture to alleviate the pain.
Having a proper posture and body alignment prevents us from experiencing injuries and other chronic pains. When our body is aligned properly, our spine will be unstressed, letting our muscles work the way they are supposed to. When it’s not, they will compress on one another, creating stresses all along the body, which could cause imbalances anywhere.
Pete Egoscue, a Vietnamese veteran, suffered from hip, back and leg injuries for a long time until he discovered a unique form of exercise that resolved his chronic pain. Because of this, the exercises were then named after him and was called the “The Egoscue Method”, which addresses pain through proper body alignment and breathing. It boasts a 94 percent success rate and even inspired a best selling book called Pain Free Living, which you can buy on Amazon.
What exactly is this Egoscue Method?
It’s a postural therapy designed to eliminate chronic pain without the need for drugs or surgery. It focuses on a series of gentle stretches and exercises which corrects that misalignments of the musculoskeletal system of the body. The core belief of this method is that all the pains we experience are mainly due to the misalignment in our body losing its proper posture. Once gravity then comes into play, then problems will begin to arise.
This therapy has also been used for back pain relief and considered to be a natural remedy for pain in the joints and bones.
If you like what you have read so far, here are some of the fundamentals in the Egoscue Method and how it can help you control your pain particularly the ones you experience on a daily basis…
Assessing your postural Alignment
In conducting a proper alignment that is pain free, look at the position of your head with regards to your hips first. If your head is too far forward, your spine becomes stressed. Correcting this however isn’t as simple as pulling your neck back according to Bradley. What you can do instead is to focus on your pelvis which is the center of gravity. He explained, “Once the pelvis is repositioned and the person becomes hip-driven, the head will position itself automatically.”
It may sound easy but it is far more complicated than that. Bradly teaches us a simple exercise to make sure that our body aligns correctly.
We first pigeon-toe our feet or point our toes inwards so that they touch together. Next, we then tighten up our thigh muscles which will give us the feeling of sticking out our bums. Maintain this for one minute with your shoulders relaxed then have someone take a photo of you in your current position. Doing this will help you observe how your head position would be in line with your ankles.
Resolving your painful, shallow breathing
Problem: Have you ever noticed that when you breathe, your diaphragm sits at the base of your rib cage? Do you feel that your breath might actually be stuck there? Well, there is a nerve that runs to the diaphragm which helps you located on your neck. When your head is far forward than it should normally be, this creates a kink in the spinal cord which interrupts the brain’s message to breathe hence the feeling of your breath getting stuck. It will then result to shallow and often painful breathing in a north-south motion rather than it expanding in an east-west motion. Our diaphragm is meant to expand out, not upwards otherwise it won’t fully “empty” your lungs. Once this happens, you will be putting extreme stress on the other parts of your body particularly the neck and the chest leading to more pains.
Solution: To get your breathing back to normal, again, find the body on its natural alignment by putting your hands around your waist and by inhaling and exhaling deeply. Doing this should expand the diaphragm outward upon exhaling instead of having your shoulders-up, shoulders-down motion. In yoga, these are called belly breaths where you let your belly expand with each breathing. You can repeat it and practice it a few times to observe how it feels.
To get your breathing back on track and help your body find its natural alignment, put your hands around your waistline and take a deep breath in and out. Your diaphragm should expand outward (east-west) when you breathe in, instead of upward in a shoulders-up, shoulders-down motion, notes Bradley. If you practice yoga, think of these as belly breaths — letting your belly expand with each breath. Practice a few times and see how it feels.
Getting rid of pain while sitting
Problem: This one is something that I also need. There will be days where long hours of sitting would be inevitable like when you are travelling or sitting inside an office the whole day. We can use this method to relieve the discomforts that we experience during these times.
Solution: The key here is to flatten out the lumbar spine. Achieve this by rolling up a small pillow or jacket and place it behind the base of your seat. Once you do this, push yourself towards the back pressing your tailbone against the roll. This will then force your upper back into properly aligning with the seat. This will relieve the stress because you will be honing the natural curvature of your back.
Using postural Alignment to increase energy
Problem: This also comes in handy especially when we get burned out and need to refuel with energy. We can do this by improving our lymphatic flow. Keep in mind that our body pumps upward, which means that if you are out of your proper alignment, there will be inevitable build up in the lymph system from the hips down. Especially around the pelvic girdle and hip joints because of the fluids trapped at the cellular level.
Solution: To prevent this, stack the joints properly on your toes, ankles, knees and hips. Do this by putting your hands behind your head with your elbows being extended back and your shoulders pulled down. Observe how when you take a step, your entire foot strikes the floor. This is a key signal to inform you that from head to toe, you are holding a posture which allows the lymph fluids to flow. Until your body will hold a good posture on its own. You’d be surprised of the relief that you would feel after trying these exercises!