I’ll never forget the stinging pain that shot through my right arm in July 2000. I was turning 23 years old, working as a copy editor and page designer at a former Knight Ridder newspaper in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. I went to see a couple of doctors, and one advised me surgery was my best bet if physical therapy didn’t work out. He was adamant, however, about not getting cortisone shots, saying they could leave my hand permanently disabled.
The pain had begun in fall 1999 during my final semester at Penn State, but once my full-time job called for my right hand to be on a computer mouse for most of my working days, the intensity got only worse. I never received an official diagnosis, but one of the doctors thought I might’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome.
I went the physical therapy route, and although it helped lightly dial down the degree of pain I experienced, the pain itself didn’t go away. It got worse and worse after my PT sessions ended, leading my right hand to collapse inward for brief time periods in 2006 and 2008 after extreme computer mouse usage. Fast-forward to April 2010, and I bring my aching 32-year-old body to my first Egoscue Method appointment. The last straw for me was vertigo. I had self-diagnosed myself with carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes sometime after giving up on doctors for help with this health challenge in 2004, and my back and neck were in severe chronic pain. All it took was sitting in my office chair to feel chronic pain, and when I put my hands on my computer mouse or keyboard, it felt like daggers in my arms, especially my right arm.
But this vertigo I started suffering from in fall 2009 left me feeling as if I was going to topple over when walking, even standing in place. I am grateful to my friend Daniel Pishock, the former bass player in the Philadelphia rock band mewithoutYou and now a website development guru, for telling me about the Method in August 2007. The Method is the only physical therapy program that addresses the cause of chronic pain, treats the body as a unit and focuses on posture. I sure wish I had sought out help right away, finding a person skilled in the Method I could hire for guidance, beyond just buying Pete Egoscue’s Pain Free and feeling overwhelmed with where to start, given my assorted physical issues.
What Egoscue exercise therapist Mike Kenny told me during my first appointment was that my load-bearing joints—ankles, knees, hips and shoulders—were out of alignment and that this negatively affected my posture and caused my chronic pain symptoms. We got to work on a menu of personalized stretches and gentle exercises for me to awaken my dormant postural muscles and begin correcting my postural alignment.
I can look back in my life and count this day, April 17, 2010, as one of the most important. Over some weeks and months, my chronic pain sure went away and was replaced temporarily by some slight but good discomfort as my body settled back into its design posture. My attention to my body enabled me to embrace what became an evolving exercise program, and my body was also powered by increasingly copious amounts of fruits I consumed, mostly in the form, in the early days, of green smoothies.
Now, in August 2016, I’m in pursuit of having peak postural alignment and as functional a body as I can! Long wanting to know the ins and outs of the Method, I graduated from Egoscue Institute and am primed to help you or your loved ones eliminate or mitigate chronic pain and correct posture while resetting the alignment of these critical load-bearing joints through my Posture Exercises Method.
One key lesson I learned from the University as well as my own chronic pain experiences is that bodily compensation begets more compensation, leading to a downward spiral. So if your postural muscles have shut down because of long periods of sitting in chairs at work and home, your body’s compensation while walking will play out in other ways, too, such as in the form of a depressed or elevated shoulder to serve as a counterweight to a misaligned hip. I also learned that the body has a memory, and discomfort and chronic pain can come back if the body doesn’t get what it needs.
I treat the Method as a lifestyle practice, and it’s for life simply because the Method’s stretches and exercises provide the body with stimulus that it craves. These days, I have raised my practice of the Method, developing four weekly menus for myself and spending two hours most Sunday nights, also movie nights, for me, completing Progressive Supine Groin, the glue that holds the whole Method together. I’ve had several ask me in recent weeks whether I grew, and I know I’m standing taller and straighter than I ever have. Overall, I “grew” a whole inch from correcting my posture and am now 6 foot, 2½ inches.
Some of my Posture Exercises Method clients, including Arnold Kauffman, owner of the Lansdale, Pennsylvania, raw food café Arnold’s Way, have reported improved overall health, a heightened sense of postural awareness and increased mental clarity. All this is in addition to enhanced posture. A friend of Arnold has told me that the raw legend looks many years younger in his face as well. My studies taught me that posture affects all the body’s systems, including the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, lymphatic, muscular, respiratory and skeletal systems.
I have also discovered that there likely isn’t a person in the world with picture-perfect peak posture and that everyone stands to benefit from practicing the Method. Additionally, it’s to everyone’s benefit to begin practicing today. Some damage, especially nerve damage, can be so severe it can be challenging to undo, even with the Method’s magic. Why wait and why live in chronic pain when you can enhance your relationship with your body and not only feed it the foods it’s designed to eat but learn how you can take care of yourself so you’re moving and moving well in your later years?
Are you up for enjoying life in a fully functional body? Get started on your journey to improving your posture, alignment and overall health with me today!