Pain is actually a physical symptom telling the body something is wrong. It often manifests itself in the body as a response to: poorly treated past injuries; overexertion; common, everyday work-related activities; and inactivity. Stress, emotional life, or even spiritual issues can also result in physical pain.
Typically, traditional medicine treats the symptom of pain, but not its root cause. Responding to pain by taking over-the-counter or prescription medications serves to treat the symptom but does not address the cause of the pain.
Take back pain, for example. Western society faces a huge epidemic of low back pain due to continuous sitting, inactivity, and poor diet. Uninterrupted sitting and inactivity can create a neuromuscular response in the body to shorten muscle length, resulting in decreased range of motion and—often—pain. Muscle shortening and decreased range of motion then creates a biomechanical dysfunction within the joints, causing anatomical discrepancies in leg length and pelvis alignment. These anatomical discrepancies lead to spinal misalignment, which in turn causes pain in the limbs.
In an effort to survive, the body seeks to protect itself by correcting or compensating for any imbalances. However, with back pain, the body does not know how to go to the source of the pain, so its first response is to protect the injured area. The body’s second response is to begin to repair the injured area nutritionally.
To repair the injured area, the body responds to pain by tightening, reducing the range of motion, creating inflammation to protect and immobilize the painful area, and by producing endorphins and other chemicals that serve as a mask. The body then compensates its posture and biomechanics to move away from the source of the pain.
Since the body’s survival mechanism is to keep the eyes level and the body coordinated within its surroundings, it creates distortions—twisting of the torso, shortening of the leg, tilting of the neck, lowering or moving the shoulder forward, rotation of the pelvis—which lead to more spinal and neurological stress. As a therapist it is crucial to understand biomechanics and our relationship to gravity. When a person’s posture is compromised our relationship with gravity is far from the path of least resistance.
My job as practitioner is to release those shortened muscles that are distorting a person’s posture due to whatever the circumstance is and to show the patient various movements and stretches to help improve their posture so they can move with the least pressure/distortion on their joints, which then releases the pressure on their nerves. This, in turn, releases their pain in most cases, which improves their relationship with gravity. It has been reported time and time again how much more energy and ease clients feel after making those changes.