Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stop stretching your hamstrings…it’s a waste of time

You ever seen the guy in the gym with hamstrings so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them and they’d bounce back five nickels? Does that same guy stretch his hamstrings for 10 minutes every time he goes to the gym and still sees no change in his hamstring length?


What’s better than stretching your hamstrings? Well let’s look at things in a much more panoramic perspective than the simple A to B logic of “i’m tight, therefore i stretch”.

The quality of movement that an organism (i.e.-Tight hamstring guy) will determine the resting length of a muscle. A muscle will only lengthen when it feels that it is safe to do so. In order for it to feel safe, it must not be yanked on all the time (the only instance where this is not the case is in people with sever adhesions in there muscles, which are less likely to appear in the hamstrings anyway). Stretching your hamstrings is like trying to untie a knot by pulling on it, instead of figuring out how the knot works and then gently untying it.

Some things to try first…

1) Test your hamstring flexibility first and then try a hip flexor strengthening exercise like Full situps (while on your back with your knees bent and feet anchored, place your hands behind your head with the elbows pulled back. Do a situp while keep the spine straight. On the way down, try not to round, and touch your shoulder blades to the floor first). Repeat 10 more times with as close to perfect form as possible. Afterwards, re-test your hamstring length and see if you notice a change. If you do, then congratulations, you didn’t stretch your hamstrings, you have now just taught your pelvis how to become stable and move through a full range of flexion, thus allowing the hamstrings to relax during a forward bend. This is a movement dysfunction, not a tight muscle problem.

2) The Romanian Deadlift is also a great exercise for the posterior chain muscles of the body (hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors to name a few of the important characters), and also serves as a loaded stretch. This moves the hamstrings into a lengthened position while also strengthening them at the end range of motion. When done with good form, the romanian deadlift will improve flexibility while also improving fitness–see: “two birds, one stone”. I also recommend learning proper squatting and lunging movement patterns, as these also help strengthen and support the muscles of the hips, legs and trunk, while allowing the hamstrings to lengthen in function.

3) And lastly, your postural and daily movement habits are more important to hamstring length than any amount of stretching. If you sit at a desk all day, your body will just adapt to meet the demands of the chair. However, if you make it a point of taking the stairs everyday, adopting a movement practice that moves your body under control, then you will start to see that your hamstrings can achieve length and stay that way without wasting time on stretching.

Read. Digest. Act.

Posted by The Sarcastic Strength Coach

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shoulder the Load

This is the last installment of my series on Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) and overall function/biomechanics. In my first article, I gave you an introduction to function. The second article focused on how VFFs will help those of you struggling with degenerative hip pain. And, my third article tackled how VFFs allow a more functional breathing pattern. Finally, in this last article, we’ll travel (almost) as far away as we can get from the foot and make the correlation between wearing VFFs and that on-going shoulder pain you have been dealing with.

It might sounds like a bit of a stretch that your shoes and foot position can impact your shoulder pain, especially if this is the first article of mine you are reading. If you haven’t read them, I would suggest going back and doing so. The basic premise of what I am saying is that the foot bone is connected to the leg bone—put simply, the body is a unit. By keeping that in mind, we have to know that our shoes and feet will impact our shoulder.

As a refresher from previous articles, remember that when wearing your VFFs the load joints of the body are allowed to ‘lock’ and stabilize like they are designed to. This stable chain reaction flows from the foot, up the leg, creating a more stable ankle, knee, and hip. In the last article I told you how VFFs lead to a more functional breathing pattern and increase your lung capacity. If your VFFs stabilize your hip and lumbar spine, I believe they have to be stabilizing your shoulder. Take the skeletal system out of it, and we can connect your pelvis and shoulders through two muscles: the External Oblique that is connected to, and travels ‘up’ from, the pelvis, and the muscle it digitates (connects) with, the Serratus Anterior, that travels from the lateral ribcage up to, and connecting with, the shoulder/scapula. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Diaphragm also digitates at the same point where the External Oblique and Serratus Anterior come together. If we are impacting your breathing, as previously discussed, then we have to be impacting your shoulder and its ability to function correctly. Pretty cool, huh?

Taking into consideration that the External Oblique, Serratus Anterior, and Diaphragm all come together at the same point, and we start to get a clearer picture as to how VFFs will improve your function. If the hip (specifically the pelvis and the hip flexor and external oblique that attach to it) is allowed to function better, and the diaphragm is allowed to function better, the Serratus Anterior, and therefore, the shoulder position, have to follow suit and will function better as well.

Again, put simply, your foot position and the shoes you’re wearing impact your shoulder pain. VFFs allow for a more functional body, not just a more functional foot. The functional foot mechanics simply start the chain reaction. The shoulder, and the pain you have been suffering from, have no choice but to, quite literally, straighten up. I believe there is nothing inherently wrong with your shoulder. Sure, you might have a torn rotator cuff, but the bigger concern is why you have a torn rotator cuff. I believe your condition is temporary and changeable, as long as we stay focused on that question of ‘why’ the cuff is torn. The answer to the question is simple: it’s the position of the shoulder. By wearing your VFFs and doing your personalized Egoscue E-cises your pain will be eliminated in no time. Notice I didn’t say ‘your pain will be managed’ but instead, ‘your pain will be eliminated’.

If you want to get a head start on your overall function and biomechanics you can CLICK HERE to download four e-cises that will help you start living life PAIN FREE! We have received an amazing response to this series, and I encourage you to keep the comments and questions coming! Several of you have chosen to do webcam therapy with us here at the clinic and you are seeing great results. Egoscue will help you reach your goals. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 615.771.8556. Keep moving….barefoot!

Breathe Easy

This is Part 3 of a 4-Part Series on how function and biomechanics relate to wearing your Vibram FiveFingers.


Don’t sit down! And if you are already sitting, get up! Walk to your bathroom, close the door, and stand facing the mirror in as little clothing as possible. Now take a deep breath. Good. Again. Excellent. Now, one more time, and pay attention to what your shoulders are doing. Are they rising up toward the ceiling? Are your shoulders rounding forward as your ribcage elevates? My guess is that they most likely are. And, if this is the case, I can assume your breathing is very much compromised.

“But it’s just my breathing” you might be thinking. Yes, I understand this is an “unconscious” motion…you don’t have to think about or remind yourself to breathe, but the fact that you take 12-15 breaths per minute, for a total of about 20,000 breaths per day, makes breathing extremely important, to say the least.

The vast majority of us walking around are only using a fraction of our total lung capacity, and to put it bluntly, the more oxygen we’re missing out on, the faster we are dying. Think back to the exercise from above. Remember, your shoulders were moving up and down. In the ideal breathing pattern, your chest and shoulder level should remain unchanged during the breath. The movement should not be elevation (North-South), but rather your chest and ribs should expand East-West as your lungs fill. If your shoulders rise up and hinge forward with your breath, you are not using the correct motor pattern, which will lead to tension throughout your body.

In East-West breathing the lower rib cage and lower back expand horizontally upon taking a breath. The diaphragm contracts and descends into the abdominal area of the body, allowing for a deeper breath that fills the lower lobes of your lungs with needed oxygen. To quickly test this movement on yourself, place your thumbs on the kidney area of your lower back and your index fingers on your side abdominal muscles, just below your lowest rib. As you breathe in your fingers and thumbs should feel as if they are being pushed outward. If they are being drawn in (your chest is moving North-South), you are not stabilizing your torso due to postural compensations. This movement must be addressed.

But this is an article about Vibram FiveFingers (VFF), right? RIGHT! So, why am I talking about breathing? Because I believe wearing your VFFs will help you breath better! Wait…what?

In the last article, I talked about the ‘locking’ mechanism of the metatarsals that takes place right after the heel hits the ground. When wearing the VFFs, the foot spreads and the metatarsals spread creating a more stable foot. This stabilizing ‘domino effect’ happens all the way up the leg, from the ankle to the knee and finally to the hip…but it doesn’t stop there. Because the body is a unit, it can’t stop there.

If we continue following the chain up the body, we know that as we impact the hip, we are impacting the spinal column. Both the primary hip flexor (iliopsoas) and the primary breathing muscle (diaphragm) attach to your lumbar spine. If you are making your hip more functional by wearing your VFFs, you have to be placing a new stimulus on the lumbar spine and diaphragm, thus creating a more functional, efficient breathing pattern because of where the muscles attach to the lumbar spine. The combination of your Egoscue menu, in conjunction with allowing the body to move like it is designed to, will increase your diaphragm function, allow you to use more of your total lung capacity, and up your energy level.

If you want to get a head start on your overall function and biomechanics you can CLICK HERE to download four e-cises that will help you start living life PAIN FREE! Stay tuned for our fourth and final installment on Vibrams and function coming next week!


The premise of The Egoscue Method is postural therapy: realigning the body to its original design blueprint through proper functional muscle engagement and without the use of drugs, surgery or manipulation. John Elder is the Clinic Director and Owner of the Franklin, Tennessee location. John found the Method at the age of 16 after suffering for two years with a bulging disc in his lower back. He has lived the last 16 years pain free and the last 5 years as an Egoscue Therapist sharing his story of hope with others throughout the south. Contact John today by emailing or by calling the Nashville Clinic at 615.771.8556.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hip Shoes

by John Elder (Egoscue Nashville)

This will also be posted at in the near future, but I wanted to give you all a sneak peak! This is part 2 of a 4-part series:


Today we begin our journey onward and upward with the second installment of my guest blog spot with Daniel and Over the next few weeks, we will work our way up the body, talking about your breathing in addition to that rotator cuff pain you’re having at Mile 4 of your run, but this week we’ll take on something that sits a little closer to your feet.

As a reminder from last week’s article, I gave an introduction to The Egoscue Method and described to you how we look at the body and what the designed alignment of the body should be. I also told you that Egoscue believes that the vast majority of musculoskeletal pain, be it that never-ending headache, plantar fasciitis, or anything in between, is due to misalignment of the skeletal system.

We believe that you are designed to move! There is no such thing as a bad motion, and pain is simply your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right. When we address your pain and when talking about overall function and biomechanics we have to keep in mind the kid’s song that states, “The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone.” You can’t forget that the body is a unit, and as we address the cause of your pain we need to stay focused on the big picture.

This week I want to tackle your hip pain. I’m sure some of you reading this article are dealing with a degenerative hip and have been told that you’re headed for a hip replacement. And, you very well might be. Whether you have been told that you need one or not isn’t really what you should be concerned about. The bigger question at play here is the one focused on “why” you have the pain. Yes, surgery can instantly take pain away but the true cause, or the mechanism of pathological movement, has not been addressed. That is where YOU come in. Let me ask you this question and see if it gets your attention. What if you could avoid, or at the very least, delay, that hip replacement and hang on to your original parts for as long as possible?

Think about this: When you cut your arm, it doesn’t stay cut. When you break your leg, it doesn’t stay broken. When you get your hair cut, it grows back. You are a living, breathing organism, and your body is in a constant state of renewal. Your degenerative hip is no different. There is a reason why your hip is degenerating, just like there is a reason why the right front tire on your car is going bald and the others are not. If you eliminate the cause, you’ll eliminate the symptom.

Remember, we are talking about your Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs) and how they, when given the chance, will help you stay functional. So let’s talk about how the VFFs impact your hip function.

When we compare the VFFs to the vast majority of other shoes, if not all shoes, we realize that the VFF is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Go look in your closet and you’ll notice that every other shoe you own has a tapered toe box and brings the toes together. It is, most likely, extremely stiff, and allows for little-to-no motion. In comparison, the role of the VFFs is to let your foot spread and move freely with each step you take in life. We at Egoscue have basically adopted these amazing shoes as our own! They really are that good…but you already knew that! They allow the bones of your feet to spread apart and then compress together as your foot progresses through the normal walking or running motion. With stiff shoes, this just doesn’t happen. The VFFs call upon the muscles and arches of the feet to do their job properly, without worrying about “constriction”. When the muscles of the foot and arch function better, so does the ankle, knee, hip and spinal column. The load joints above the foot are finally doing their job (and ONLY their job, rather than compensating) because of the functional domino effect that begins with a more neutral, free-moving, foot. Because the VFF is extremely pliable and malleable, they create a free-flowing mechanism to happen in your feet without disturbing your busy lifestyle. I can’t say enough great things about them, and just to be clear, I don’t work for Vibram, I just love the concept and product!

Is this starting to make sense? I hope you can see that there is a huge connection between what the foot is being allowed to do and how the hip responds. Just for fun, let’s play a game of anatomical “connect-the-dots”:

In an effort to not get overly technical and anatomical, take a look at your leg. That’s it, just look down. See how your foot is connected to your hip? Congratulations! You just played your first game of anatomical “connect-the-dots”. If you can see that the two are connected, then we have to assume that your shoes are greatly impacting your hip. There aren’t any hidden secrets here. You don’t have to have an anatomy degree. It truly is that simple. The foot bone is connected to the leg bone!

Try this on for size! What would you say if I told you that your “overly pronated” feet, diagnosed by your nearby shoes store, are that way in an attempt to create a locking mechanism during your standing posture and your walking? This locking mechanism is crucial to correct foot, knee, hip, and spinal motion. Kind of makes you think a bit, especially when you have been told that pronation is a bad thing. Egoscue begs to differ, and the reason we differ is that we have faith in the human body doing exactly what it should be doing at that time. So instead of hindering your motion, let’s increase your motion and what better place to start than your feet! If you let the foot move like it should, it will relearn exactly what it is designed to do, and do it! Remember, your symptoms are signals that something is not working as it should. Your hip pain or your degenerative joint issues are symptoms of something much larger at play. This must not be overlooked, and the VFF shoes could be just the answer you are looking for.

Trust me, I’m not expecting the guys at Vibram to come out and say that your degenerative hip will be cured by wearing their shoes, but I am here to say that their shoes will play a huge role in your hip joint regaining full function because of what the VFFs allow your foot to do and the way they positively impact the rest of your load joints.

Once your gait is changed, the hip will be allowed to function properly and, only then, will the body have a chance to heal itself. Remember, you cut your arm and it doesn’t stay cut, you break your leg and it doesn’t stay broken, why is your hip joint any different? The answer is, it isn’t.

Get in your VFFs (regardless of how weird they might look) and let your body function at its optimum level. If you’re wanting to get a head-start on your overall function and biomechanics you can CLICK HERE to download four e-cises that will help you start living life PAIN FREE!


The premise of The Egoscue Method is postural therapy: realigning the body to its original design blueprint through proper functional muscle engagement and without the use of drugs, surgery or manipulation. John Elder is the Clinic Director and Owner of the Franklin, Tennessee location. John found the Method at the age of 16 after suffering for two years with a bulging disc in his lower back. He has lived the last 16 years pain free and the last 5 years as an Egoscue Therapist sharing his story of hope with others throughout the south. Contact John today by emailing or by calling the Nashville Clinic at 615.771.8556.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Shoe, More Pain

Posted on by egoscuenashville

This post will also be appearing at as part of a four-week series I’m writing for them as a guest blogger. Thanks to Daniel for the opportunity!


This is the first entry in a four-part series (and maybe more if we get a good response) on function and biomechanics and how those relate to those of you wearing your Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs). I will talk a lot about running and injuries suffered by runners, but if you have questions about injuries that either aren’t caused by running, or you don’t believe they are caused by running, please don’t hesitate to call or email me.

I have been fascinated by the VFFs since I first laid eyes on them. They completely go against what most of us have thought of as “normal” when it comes to our shoes. The common line of thinking is that if you pronate, let’s put you in an anti-pronation shoe. If you supinate, let’s put you in an anti-supination shoe. You need custom-made orthodics. You need more stability. The thought of wearing less of a shoe is so foreign to so many people, yet I couldn’t agree more with that thought. Years ago Nike came to Egoscue headquarters in San Diego, CA and pitched an idea for a shoe. A couple years later, the Nike Free hit the shelves. It was the first running shoe designed to allow for movement through the foot and touted “Barefoot Technology”. That was, by far, the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn…until I got my first pair of VFFs.

How many of you are struggling with any of the pains I listed above? How many of you are struggling with a pain that wasn’t mentioned? My guess is that somewhere around 75% of you reading this are hurting. If you are a runner, I’m sure you’ve been told that you “upped” your mileage too quickly and you have “Runner’s Knee” as a result. Perhaps you’re wondering how in the world you recently acquired “Tennis Elbow”, when you have been playing the game for 25 years. Or, maybe you are the weekend warrior who plays basketball every Saturday and your hip pain is chalked up to “overuse”.

But, do you really believe it? Think about it: If you upped your mileage too quickly and Runner’s Knee is the result, then both knees should be suffering instead of just one. When it comes to your tennis elbow, you didn’t get a “bad” elbow all of a sudden after all these years of playing. In addition, just like Runner’s Knee, both elbows should hurt if the game is to blame. Again, we can use the same thinking with that pesky hip pain. How can your hip pain be an “overuse” injury if both hips are running up and down the basketball court, and only one hurts, or one hurts worse than the other?

For our answer, we have to stay focused on the overall function and biomechanics of the body. For those of you wondering what function and biomechanics mean to me, I’ll tell you: Maintaining proper joint positioning (posture) throughout a movement, regardless of the activity. You are an amazingly created piece of machinery. You are designed to move, and do it without pain or limitations. And, you are designed to move BAREFOOT.

Being barefoot allows for optimum function in the body. Your metatarsals are allowed to spread, the muscles of the foot and arch are allowed to do their job, and you create a functional domino effect up the rest of the body. The ankle, knee, hip, spine, and shoulders all start to function better. Remember, “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone…”. We can’t forget that good ol’ kid’s song when addressing musculoskeletal pain and overall function.

Take a look at these pictures. These represent our design blueprint and where our bodies should be:

Notice that in both views the shoulder sits directly above the hip, knee, and ankle (and in the side view the ear is above the shoulder). Now, take a look in the mirror and compare these diagrams with your current joint positioning. How do they line up compared to what you see? My hunch is that you’re “off” a little bit, and if my hunch is true, then I can assume that your body isn’t moving as efficiently as it can (and needs to) be.

Do your feet point out to the side? Which direction are your kneecaps pointing? You might have one hip higher than the other. And, don’t forget about your shoulders—I’m guessing they are rounded forward (if so, you’ll be seeing the back of your hands when you look in the mirror), and you might have one shoulder higher than the other in a similar fashion to your hips.

Rest assured that these deviations from the design blueprint are simply the result of muscles moving bones. All we have to do is get the muscles to engage functionally and properly to move the bones back into their designed position. We can’t brace that injured knee, or treat that pronation with corrective shoes, both of which decrease motion and function. Instead, it’s imperative that the body is allowed to function like it’s designed to. Remember that you are designed to run, jump, climb, crawl and fall…and do them all pain free.

In the coming weeks we’ll discuss how you can eliminate your shoulder pain, change your breathing pattern, and increase function in your degenerative hip simply with the combination of VFFs and The Egoscue Method. You will be well on your way to living PAIN FREE for life! If you want to get started on living life pain free, CLICK HERE to receive four e-cises that will help kick start your path to optimum health.


The premise of The Egoscue Method is postural therapy: realigning the body to its original design blueprint through proper functional muscle engagement and without the use of drugs, surgery or manipulation. John Elder is the Clinic Director and Owner of the Franklin, Tennessee location. John found the Method at the age of 16 after suffering for two years with a bulging disc in his lower back. He has lived the last 16 years pain free and the last 5 years as an Egoscue Therapist sharing his story of hope with others throughout the south. Contact John today by emailing or by calling the Nashville at 615.771.8556.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Understanding Egoscue Method Therapy (Synopsis)


The Egoscue Method recognizes that fundamental anatomical, physiological and biomechanical principles govern the human musculoskeletal system. With only very rare exceptions, each person is born with certain core design characteristics that serve as a strong, resilient and efficient operational platform. By using a blueprint of this extraordinary platform as a guide, the goal of the Method is to eliminate disparities that can occur when injuries or negative lifestyle conditions affect the way the musculoskeletal system actually moves as opposed to its underlying structural parameters. By restoring muscular balance, skeletal alignment and the harmonious interplay of internal systems, the body takes a quantum leap in healing power, stamina and physical capability. The Egoscue Method is not a form of treatment that chases after short term, symptomatic relief. Rather, symptoms provide a common sense starting point, a working frame of reference based on each individual’s unique combination of strengths and limitations. Our primary objective applies to everyone we seek to help—to eliminate musculoskeletal system disparities and the resulting postural dysfunctions that interfere with pain-free living.

A key part of the “blueprint” we refer to is familiar to all health professionals—it is known as the standing normal anatomical position. Without being overly technical the hip, knee and ankle joints are aligned vertically in paired stacks, each of which is subdivided by three horizontal parallel planes that extend through the joint pairs, creating what amounts to a partial dynamic load-bearing grid. The grid’s structure is completed by the shoulder joints which are in a functional interactive relationship with the major joints below instead of being aligned vertically like the others, although they too (the shoulders) operate individually and as a pair on a fourth parallel horizontal plane.Topped by the head, placed over the S-curved central spine that links the hips and shoulders, the grid allows upright posture and bipedal motion capable of a great range of movement. In addition, there is only temporary incidental rotation in the pelvis, legs, knees and ankles. (Think of rotation this way: Looking straight down on your upright body from above, draw a imaginary clock face with your head in the center facing twelve o’clock. In design position a straight line runs from hip joint to hip joint starting at nine o’clock and extending through the other hip joint, exiting at three o’clock. In such a configuration, there is no rotation, but if the lines depart from nine and three, say ten and four, rotation is present as the hips move off the design plane. This analogy works for the other load-bearing joints and the big leg bones. It is not unusual to find left-to-right pelvis rotation and right-to-left shoulder rotation.) The body is intended to rotate by twisting and turning, ascending and descending, in reaction to variations in the terrain and other temporary situations and then return to vertical alignment. When it remains stuck in rotation the integrity of the structure can be compromised

As you probably have concluded by now, the load-bearing grid we have just described means that vertical and horizontal alignment is all-important to both the musculoskeletal system’s structural integrity, smooth functioning and full, pain-free capability.

An individual whose body deviates from this design must do so for a reason. That reason is, (in cases that do not reflect past injuries), a muscular imbalance in strength and/or flexibility. An individual’s standing, static posture provides essential information to our therapists in predicting what the body will do as it moves. These predictions can be confirmed and often reinforced by observing the patient’s gait, the way he or she strides forward, turns and executes other routine maneuvers. In the process, changes in muscle tension/length may be detected, along with atrophy of underutilized muscles or damage to over-used muscles that results when one group of muscles is repeatedly substituted for another that is more appropriate to the task. Such postural anomalies, we describe them in general as “dysfunctions,” directly impact joint mechanics.

As well as being a highly integrated structure, the body has a tremendous capacity for self-healing. To effectively facilitate that healing, we must first remove the noxious stimulus that has disrupted normal function. This is a major premise of The Egoscue Method.

An individual who has experienced either some sort of trauma or who has had surgery or both is not beyond benefit from The Egoscue Method. This individual has had some external dysfunction placed upon their existing dysfunction. The combinations of the layers of dysfunction can seriously impede the healing process. Cases in which surgery is performed to accommodate a chronic symptom will have the same outcome as therapy performed with the same goal. It will not impact the cause of the symptom and therefore the symptom will return. Traditional rehabilitation following trauma or surgery following trauma is often much slower than expected and both patient and doctor are unhappy with the recovery. This is because although the trauma created the symptom, or accelerated its appearance, the body’s structural/mechanical dysfunction will not allow it to heal optimally.

The noxious stimulus is never removed. Even if a person has been physically altered due to surgery or trauma, the rest of the body is not relieved of its responsibility to execute its function. A body that lacks one of its components (i.e. meniscus, fused vertebrae), now more than ever needs the rest of the body to function as efficiently as possible to minimize the deficiency imposed upon it.

We must then return to our “blueprint”. The individual is visually evaluated with the aid of a plumb line and background grid. The therapist who is highly trained to recognize structural and mechanical deviations of the body as a whole and does so without the use of diagnostic machines or specific manual muscle tests. Based on the patient’s self reported history and the therapist’s observations, a series of functional demand exercises are developed. These exercises are designed to address the muscular imbalances and dysfunction leading to this individual’s structural deviations.

The exercises emphasize the deeper muscles of the axial skeleton and pelvis as well as the more superficial muscles. They require no special equipment and are designed to strengthen the body functionally. Our primary source of resistance is the person’s body weight and the force of gravity. The Egoscue Method’s therapists do not administer “hands on” therapy. The patient is instructed in a series of personalized exercises and then is expected to continue them on their own at home. Modifications are readily made whenever necessary. The home program prevents the patient from developing a dependency on someone else while pursuing their own well being. Instead, they assume responsibility for their own health. This is another major premise of The Egoscue Method.

The exercises alone are not the sole determining factor in improving structural/mechanical function. There are three primary components:

  1. The application of specific exercises to a given individual’s dysfunction. We have a catalog of over 400 different exercises. Only those exercises that apply to that individual will be of benefit.
  2. The sequencing of the exercises within a given routine is critical. Each therapy session has a given objective. That objective can only be reached through a properly designed menu. The exercises must be sequenced such that one exercise prepares the body for the next and that a successive exercise does not negate a prior exercise.
  3. The exercises are performed for an average of seven days. At this point we re-evaluate the patient and redesign the routine accordingly. Often the exercises are of low demand and as the neuromuscular efficiency improves, the exercises become less effective. Therefore, the body must be put under an increased or varied demand to adjust to the changes that has occurred as a result of the prior routine. This provides the means to continued progress. Patients on the average are seen once a week for eight weeks.

The Egoscue Method has had enormous success in helping people overcome their physical ailments. It is a technique that is attractive to many people because it is a common sense approach to the human body. The individual can see and feel the physical changes that take place as a result of their efforts. Associated with that is an increased feeling of confidence that accompanies the improved health that he or she is responsible for. A major concern of health care today is that of reduced costs and prevention. Therapy requires no special equipment or dependency on anyone other than you. Because we do not treat the symptom, but instead look to restore optimum function to the body, the implications toward prevention are obvious and very serious.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scoliosis, back pain, exercise, surgery and Egoscue

Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine when viewed from the front or back. It typically looks like this:

The Mayo Clinic states: “Doctors don’t know what causes the most common type of scoliosis…” but they do know that it most often occurs during a growth spurt. Scoliosis can cause lung, heart and back problems including arthritis and degeneration. The Mayo Clinic says typical treatments are braces and surgery and states “physical therapy exercises can’t stop scoliosis.” WebMD states “there is no evidence that corrective exercises, electrical stimulation, or chiropractic manipulation are effective treatments for scoliosis.”

But is that really true?

Can exercise or more specifically posture correction exercises effect scoliosis?

You tell me. Here is a woman’s photo of normal relaxed standing before Egoscue:

Here is the same woman 1 1/2 hours later after Egoscue:

What do you think?

Do you think Egoscue exercises can affect scoliosis?

Do you think Egoscue might be able to stop the progression of scoliosis?

Do you think it could start reversing scoliosis?

Now let’s explore why. First thing to remember is bones don’t move bones. Muscles move bones. We all know this. Most treatments for scoliosis focus on the bones, but we all know the bones are only doing what the muscles are telling them to do. Fix the muscle imbalances and the bones will follow. Another way to look at it is: form follows function. Restore the function to the muscles and the form of the bones and joints changes. This is what Egoscue focuses on.

Another important thing to remember is the spine doesn’t function all on it’s own. So treatments focused on the spine alone will not create long term change. Why is this? Well the spine is balanced on top of the pelvis and the spine is reacting to what the shoulder blades are doing. Take a look at the first image in this post. Notice how they pointed out the uneven shoulders and hips? That’s key. Those imbalances have to be addressed in order for the spine to change position and stay in a better position. Now look at the “before” photos earlier in this post. Notice again the uneven shoulders and hips?

The Egoscue routine of exercises we designed for our example here was basically going after the imbalanced hip and shoulder position and letting the spine react to that. And quite a reaction we got! Now in order for her posture to maintain this new beautiful position she must continue to do her Egoscue menu of e-cises on a daily basis to change her muscle memory. When she does this, long term change is not only possible, it has to happen.

When thinking about scoliosis, there are several key points to remember:

  1. Bones do what muscles tell them to do.
  2. The body functions as a unit.
  3. Scoliosis, or the curve of the spine, is reacting to the hips and shoulders.
  4. Specific exercises designed for an individuals unique imbalances will create positive change.
  5. It’s never to late.
Matt Whitehead
Egoscue Portland