I recently began studying the work of Pete Egoscue on chronic pain. This is important subject matter for me and my work as a physical therapist and yoga instructor, as I am always on the lookout for new ways of addressing this age-old problem. In his book Pain Free, he reviews common symptoms of many chronic issues such as plantar faciitis, bursitis, frozen shoulder, back pain and headaches. His work emphasizes the fact that many forms of generic muscular pain are the result of repeated use on misaligned joints.
Postural alignment is critical in how our bodies function in the present moment and over time. When joints are aligned, the forces that travel through the body encounter less impedance caused by restricted joint movements, muscles and connective tissues. The tissues interact as intended. However, when chronic pain is an issue, postural correction must be addressed by loading and unloading joints and soft tissues in safe and effective ways.
According to Egoscue, his “big 3” exercises for pain relief include:
- Static Back– laying on your back with your hips and knees at 90 degrees supported by a chair or cube for 5 minutes.
- Supine Groin Progressive– laying on your back with one hip and knee supported in the 90/90 position, while the other leg is extended with foot in mid-line. This promotes elongation of the hip and groin muscles. This position is held for an extensive period up to 30 minutes.
- Airbench– stand against a wall with feet placed away from the wall. Slide down as if sitting in an invisible chair keeping the hips slightly above the knees and the ankles slightly ahead of your knees. Keep weight pressed into the heels, not the toes. Hands should be relaxed at your side while your back is flat on the wall. Hold this pose for 2 minutes.
This is just a brief highlight of the many exercises that can improve your posture, function and pain level. Remember, good posture and alignment is one secret to keeping your body injury free during repetitive activities and to finding pain relief now.
Traci Vincent, PT, RYT