How To Save Money, Time and Agony When It Come To Muscular Pain

It is an understatement to say that most people in the industrialized world live a stressful life. One article states, “Low-back pain continues to impose a huge burden on industrialized societies, in terms of symptoms, medical costs, productivity, and work absence. Annual costs related to back pain in the United States alone may run as high as $100 billion per year.”

By the time most people come to see me they’ve spent a minimum of $1000 in their attempt to cure their pain. Medical co-pays, personal trainers, months of physical therapy, special exercise equipment, pillows and gadgets can add up.  There are myriad treatments that attempt to “fix” back pain, and many clients who come for Hanna Somatics have already spent weeks and often years doing them in their search for relief from muscle pain and tension: massage therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, physical therapy, laser therapy, acupuncture, MRIs, Xrays, medication, and a host of others.

Why don’t these therapies work to relieve muscle pain for the long term? Because the doctors and therapists who perform them approach approach the problem as a medical pathology. Muscle pain and dysfunction isn’t a medical problem – it’s a functional problem. There is no doubt that poor muscle function can cause structural damage over the long term.  An uneven gait or limp can cause hip damage. It’s preventing that problem in the first place that is of paramount importance.

The only effective approach to sciatica, piriformis syndrome, low back pain, poor posture, scoliosis, shoulder and hip pain, herniated disks, decreased flexibility, and joint pain is, in most cases, to IMPROVE THE FUNCTION OF THE SENSORY MOTOR SYSTEM so that the entire musculoskeletal system functions optimally. This is a functional approach to a functional problem that the medical profession considers a medical problem. Therein lies the disconnect: most doctors don’t know how to effectively address muscle and joint pain and postural problems.

Muscles move bones and the brain controls the muscles. If muscles are pressing on bones and nerves, causing tingling and pain (“entrapment”), there is a reason for it: there is something that you, the person in pain, is doing to cause the muscles to contract. Any reflexive response to stress, whether it be contracting the back muscles, twisting to the side to avoid an injury (or carry a toddler on the hip for hours at a time) or slumping forward over a computer terminal, will become habituated in the muscles. That means your muscles will become “frozen” and “stuck.” Tight muscles cause pain. Relaxed muscles relieve pain and allow our bones and structure to become balanced again. No doctor or therapy can fix your crooked posture, tight buttock or rounded shoulders. Only you can.

Check out classes at Essential Somatics to begin to learn how to reverse chronic pain and dysfunction for good!

Relieving the Pain of Scoliosis and Pregnancy

Anne called me, having heard that I teach people to rid themselves of chronic pain.

“No one will touch me, and I’m wondering if you can help me.” She explained that she was seven months pregnant with her second child, had scoliosis and was suffering from severe pain in her left hip, groin and ribs. When I asked her why no one would work with her, she said that everyone said they didn’t know what was wrong, and it might be dangerous. Instinctively she knew that tight muscles were causing pain. She was correct.

One look at Anne told me that years of compensating due to accidents was at the root of her muscular pain. This proved to be correct. I knew that if I could teach her to feel her waist muscles  again and begin to move her hips, she’d feel much better.  Anne’s left side was much tighter than her right side, (as in the photo on the right) and her left hip was drawn upward. Her right ribs twisted back and downward, and her weight was pitched more onto her right foot.  She showed a typical “trauma reflex” – a reflexive muscular holding pattern that occurs in response to an accident or injury. This is also the pattern of holding that creates scoliosis: a trauma at an early age (she’d been in a leg cast for months at age 9) can cause you to have to compensate until the injury heals. This leaves the waist muscles tighter on one side than the other and causes the ribcage to twist in compensation.  The muscles, which attach to the spine, then pull the spine out of alignment during the growth spurt that occurs during adolescence.

After three  sessions of learning to relax the muscles on the left side of her body – the waist, shoulder and rib muscles – including the muscles of her legs –  she stood up, able to breathe deeply for the first time in months. Under her shirt, her back looked similar to the photo on the right. The hips were hiked up and the ribcage twisted.

The nagging pain in her groin was greatly diminished. Methodically contracting, releasing and relaxing muscles to make them longer than before was easy. Anne and I worked together over the course of two months, re-programming her movement and muscle control.  She wanted to make sure that when the new baby arrived she could deal with lifting, holding, and nursing.

Anne is doing really well; her baby is now two years old, the pain she arrived in my office with is gone. She continues to do her Somatic Exercises whenever she gets a chance.