This is a place where I share my thoughts regarding pain - and what can be done about it - from a Christian perspective. I do not give specific advise. That is for your care givers to do. I give you information. If you would like me to discuss a particular topic let me know!
always enjoy a good parade.The floats
are often amazing and there is always a great display of talent.I like to see the various people as they pass
by.What tends to strike me is the way
the people in each of the groups all try to look the same.The Military people stand erect with stomachs
in and shoulders back and they stare straight ahead.The dance school groups come by and have a
very characteristic posture that just can’t be missed.The people watching are often just as
entertaining as the actual members of the parade!
often see people or even look in the mirror and comment on how good or bad
someone’s posture appears to us.We seem
to have an innate understanding of how each other is supposed to look - in our culture!We often work hard to hold ourselves in
uncomfortable positions just so people won’t look at our bearing and criticize.We know they will because we do it ourselves.
have to admit that as a therapist I was rather horrible at postural evaluation
when I first started.My wife worked as
my receptionist and would often come beck and tell me what she saw in a person’s
posture and movement.This was
invaluable to me because I just did not see it.
Then I Learned About Posture
I attended a workshop where a local DO taught us how to evaluate posture.He mentioned during his demonstration that we
could use this new tool to see if our clients were making progress.I light went off in my mind – perhaps I could
evaluate the posture and then create a treatment that would intentionally alter
eagerly applied my knowledge of muscles and their areas of attachment and
developed a plausible theory of what to treat and what order to do it in.I made it all up as I went along.The results were amazing.I was helping people that I had not been able
to help previously.It was an exciting
even wrote an article about how to do it and got it published in a medical
journal.I had people come up to me at
professional meetings and thank me for my work in this area.I was even asked to demonstrate it for my
national association as a major contribution to our discipline.
doctor – this time a DC added a substantial missing piece to my puzzle.I was especially thankful for his input and
developed his material to suit my own needs.I eventually taught this in the school where I worked for 18 years and
in seminars to therapists all over the country and even internationally.
section has contained a good deal of what I call “Blowing and Glowing.” There
is a reason for the overrated build up.I think that most of what I did is wrong.This is my public retraction.To set the record straight – I was a Posture
King.I was wrong.
helped a lot of people utilizing the approach that I developed.I now believe that those successes resulted
from other factors that were not directly related to my postural
understanding.I see a number of
problems with my previous approach.
A lot of people with
poor posture don’t hurt.This is readily
apparent.Just look at the people who
you know with less than stellar posture and ask them if they hurt.Many of them do not.If posture is directly a cause of pain we should
find that everyone with poor posture also has a pain complaint associated with
that particular postural fault.It
simply is not the case.
We are not simple
– in fact scripture teaches that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”If we were a simple machine it would make sense
that a lift under a short leg would balance everything and our pain would just
disappear.I have put lifts in shoes and
under heels for years and can confidently state that many people remained in
pain.They did so because we are a flesh
and blood creation and have our very own nervous systems.A machine would have been fixed.
Fixing the posture rarely
works long term.I could often make a posture look rather
stellar but it was often a short lived thing.I saw those who were helped long term but unless they followed through
on a number of other things I had them doing - those were a minority.
Anatomical variation is hugely apparent
in people – often in the same people from side to side!In a recent study the pelvis was compared for
symmetry from side to side in the same person.The sides were clearly different.There is great variability in studies when therapist attempt to describe
what they see posturally in the same person.This is in the literature and I have seen it numerous times myself in
settings where I have tried to teach postural assessment.
Freeze, Fight or
is something we have all heard of.Simply stated – When we have a sense of threat we tend to curl up in a
ball to protect our “tender vittles.” In our homes and work places we tend to
live in this constant curled up little ball.No amount of bodywork is going to correct our posture if we live under a
constant state of threat and stay curled up in a tight little ball.
Why Did It Work?
hear me tell the story above about how I learned of the importance of posture
and how to treat it successfully you are probably wondering why I have come to
believe my approach was wrong.I did
give those reasons in the last section but of course the question remains – Why
did it work in the first place? You can bet I asked that question myself.It’s the stuff insomnia is made of.I have a few thoughts on that subject.
not only started dealing with posture – I also began doing a number of other
things at about the same time.One of
the biggest things was that I really lightened the amount of pressure I was
using.I really thought that in order to
be effective that I had to cause a good deal of pain during the treatment
session.Once I lightened my pressure it
really helped the process.
also began to look into the ergonomics of my clients at home and at work.I showed them how to vary their routine and
encouraged them to move frequently.This
had the effect of allowing the blood to be supplied to the nerves and to lower
the threat level experienced by the brain.More blood to the nerves is generally a good idea.
also started talking more with my clients about things that tend to perpetuate
pain.I recommended books and began to
give a good deal of movement for them to do between sessions.Those who did these thingsseemed to improve more quickly.I believe these are a few of the things that
made people feel better and I credit them rather than my attempts to correct
posture – with helping their posture!
I now have an entirely different focus when I treat people.I generally look for signs that a person is
in sympathetic mode (that’s a fancy way of saying Freeze, Fight, or
Flight).There are a few indicators that
are especially helpful.
that point to the ceiling
hands and feet
see these as indicators that their nervous system is on overload and I work to
calm them down using a variety of massage techniques.These are often performed on the neck.It is very common to see a pelvis untwist and
the shoulder drop after a few minutes of this.I am trying to calm down the nervous system and as the person begins to
relax they begin to uncurl from that tight little ball and the posture does
actually change.The difference – and this
is a BIG DIFFERENCE – is that I am not forcing my will on the person and trying
the change their posture. Instead, I am supplying novel input to their nervous
system and it is adapting itself to the new information gleaned by its
receptors in the skin that I am touching.
are a number of other ways of getting our nervous system out of this condition
of sustained irritation.Believers can
be seen doing these things all throughout the scriptures.Here a few of them.
in the Presbyterian tradition often speak of what they call the “Means of
Grace.” These are enumerated as:
Word of God
look at these and see how they apply to our subject.
Word of God is identified as the Scriptures contained in the Old and New
Testament.When we hear it preached,
taught, or when we read it the Holy Spirit often uses it in our lives.We deepen in our love for our Triune God as
we see his plan of redemption, Christ’s death and resurrection for our sin, and
as the Holy Spirit applies it to our lives.This happens in many ways.We
begin to think about him and the focus and meditation of our heart is on him
and his person and work.We rise above
this world and adore him.It is not
uncommon for our cares to roll away.I
have seen shoulders drop and people rise changed.It’s hard to be in Fight or Flight when
adoration of our God is occurring.
sacraments of the church are identified as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.These are done in community.People in pain often tend to live in
isolation that increases stress.In
worship we not only adore God but we pray for each other and try to meet each
other’s needs.This often gets the focus
off of us and our problems and can be incredibly effective in lightening our
is nothing quite like prayer to get out thoughts off of us and onto God.We pray to him as Christ taught us.We pray acknowledging who he is and what he
has done.We bring our requests to him
and we trust him with our needs.Talk
about stress relief.The Creator of the
universe loves us and asks us to ask him.Burdens are lifted.
are other things that can also help in dealing the stresses that curl us into
little balls.Learning certain breathing
techniques is a great way to bring us into a calmer state.The way I like to have people train their
breath is to have them breath in to a count of 4.Hold for a count of 1. Exhale to a count of 6.The longer exhale puts us into a more relaxed
or parasympathetic state.It should be
done for about 3 minutes.
is a big thing also.Studies seem to
indicate that stress uses up our B vitamins and that supplementing with a good
B complex can keep our nervous system from being as irritated.
massage therapy is also an ideal way to keep our nervous system happy.As a massage therapist I recommend it
highly.Exercise is another great way to
help your nervous system.These are a
number of ways to keep out of that tiny stressed out little ball – and maybe
even improve your posture as a side effect!