How To Be Pain Free
(Without Drugs or Surgery and Without Leaving Home)
If you're in pain and if you've ever thought you’re ‘broken’, it's time to think again.
Hi, I'm Matt Waters, a PAS (Postural Alignment Specialist) of The Egoscue Method (‘Egoscue’ for short), and I don’t think you’re broken.
(In case your attention has gone to “how on earth is that word pronounced?”, it’s ‘EE-Goss-Cue’.)
Do you think pain and limitations are a normal, unavoidable part of “getting old”? Or do you think there’s “something wrong” (as in 'unresolvable')?
What if that’s not the case?
Have you ever said something like:
“I’ve got ________ pain because of _______ ?”
Just fill in the blanks with your pain or problem and whatever you may have blamed it on. ’Running’ often gets the blame for things like knee pain, but that’s a red herring. More on that shortly.
So perhaps it is time to think again.
You’re Not Broken. Seriously
The premise of Egoscue is simple: you experience symptoms such as lower back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, sciatica... because your body has become imbalanced and is out of alignment (misaligned). What some people call ‘bad posture’.
Why is your body out of alignment and what causes ‘bad posture’?
How well aligned you are — how ‘good’ your posture is — comes down to how well your muscles function. If your muscles maintain balance with their opposites and maintain a good ‘length / tension relationship’, then you’ll generally have good alignment or good posture.
But when your muscles aren’t balanced with their opposites and the length/tension relationship gets distorted, that’s when you experience certain pains and limitations. It’s what many people describe as “getting old”.
I was able to go to the theatre the other night and sit through the whole performance (2 hours) without having to stretch my leg out once!
In the past, I couldn’t sit for more than half an hour without having to straighten my leg out or get up and walk around.
Nothing New Under The Sun
Now, you may be thinking that talk of ‘muscle imbalances’ is nothing new. And you’d be right. Egoscue is far from the first modality to identify that balance between muscles is important.
Where Egoscue is different from most other modalities, though, is in the thinking. Three main keys to the Method are:
- Which exercises to use for each individual client
- How to sequence those exercises (what order to do them in)
- To treat your body as an integrated unit and address the dysfunction (rather than chase the symptom, which many other modalities do)
Let’s say you have lower back pain, which is a common symptom nowadays. And let’s say a friend of yours also has lower back pain. Same problem, right?
Well, not really.
The symptom may be the same, but it’s quite likely the underlying problem (the dysfunction) is different. In other words, your (mis)alignment and muscle imbalances are almost certainly different from your friend's misalignment and her muscle imbalances.
You might have an excessive arch in your lower back (known as ‘lordosis’). But your friend might have a flat lower back (possibly created because of a posterior pelvic tilt, although not definitely).
Example of Lumbar Lordosis
(excessive curve of lower back)
Example of Flat Lumbar
(no curve of lower back)
Just with that one piece of the posture puzzle (the excessive arch in the lower back versus the flat lower back), is it likely you and your friend will need the exact same exercises? And where the same exercise is used for both you and your friend, is it likely it will be sequenced the same?
Possibly, but probably not.
You’re unique, which means your lower back pain (or sciatica, knee pain, shoulder pain or whatever pain you have) may appear on the surface to be the same as the next person’s. But “underneath the hood”, your unique imbalances mean the underlying issue is different.
And that means the corrective exercises you’ll need to restore proper function — and the sequence of those exercises — will be different.
Identifying Your Dysfunctions and Compensations
The thing with muscle imbalances is that the longer you have them, the more they tend to get reinforced. Ever seen an older person stooped over?
That’s what many people call “getting old”. Here’s a question for you to ponder, though:
- If being stooped over was caused by old age, why don't all old people have stoop posture?
It’s a similar thing with symptoms such as knee pain. Many joggers get knee pain, commonly referred to as ‘runner’s knee’. And it’s common to hear people say ‘running causes knee pain’.
But that doesn’t add up...
If running causes knee pain, why don’t all runners get it?
Even more intriguing, if running causes knee pain, why do so many runners get pain in just one knee?
I mean, both knees go running together, right?!
Just a thought...
So, as your muscle imbalances increase and your posture becomes more and more compromised, so too does the wear and tear and patterns of compensation. And that’s one of the key words when it comes to your posture, alignment, joint pain and muscle pain:
If your body was functioning according to its design, you would be balanced from front to back and from left to right...
... Just as you see in the two images below.
But as you slowly deviate from your design, due to your muscle imbalances, some parts of your body become less functional.
Functional Design Posture — Front View
Functional Design Posture — Side View
Those less functional parts of your body then require help from other parts of your body. That’s the ‘compensation’ part of the equation.
What Is Compensation?
Compensation is when one body part stops functioning as it’s supposed to, so another body part takes over.
The job still gets done this way, although far less efficiently than it should be.
Ever Encountered ‘Lazy Workmate Syndrome’?
Have you ever worked somewhere that had a lazy person who didn’t pull their weight? If you have, then you’ll understand that when one part isn’t functioning as it should be (the lazy colleague), other parts have to take up the slack (you or other colleagues).
When that happens, you have to do your job PLUS the work of the lazy person. You can do it for a while, but it’s not sustainable over the long term. If the lazy colleague isn’t replaced or doesn’t change their ways, you’ll end up with burn out.
It’s the same when other parts of your body do the work of other dysfunctional parts of your body.
So How Does The Egoscue Method Resolve Muscle Imbalances and Correct Compensation Patterns?
Egoscue has 2 main components to it:
- First, it is a way of observing your body to understand what's not working as it should be (where certain functions have become dormant and other body parts are compensating to help out)
- Second, the Egoscue practitioner or PAS creates a program of corrective exercises that reawaken dormant functions and restore them
An Egoscue Practitioner or Egoscue PAS observes you in two ways:
- Statically (normal standing posture)
- Dynamically (observing your body in movement) — specifically with ‘Functional Tests’, which are simple movements that allow me to see how your body moves in specific movements
When I’m working with a client using the tools of Egoscue, I’m taking in all the information to understand their body. I’m looking at:
- What’s not happening that should be?
- What is happening that shouldn’t be?
From there it’s a case of giving your body the stimulus it needs to get it moving properly again.
Your Body Never Forgets...
You see, your body knows what it’s supposed to do and it remembers how it’s meant to function. But as your dysfunctions become greater, some functions become more and more dormant.
Your body never forgets, though.
Those dormant functions are still there, waiting patiently to be reawakened and reminded of what they’re meant to do. And that, very simply, is what Egoscue exercises seek to do:
As those dormant functions are reawakened and restored, your body heals itself and your symptoms — such as lower back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain etc — take care of themselves.
Egoscue treats the underlying issue, which allows your body to take care of the symptoms itself.
What Is Posture?
The word ‘posture’ has been used a few times already, so it might be a good idea to understand what posture is and how it affects you.
The video below gives you a good overview of what posture is and how your body works as a unit:
If you’ve read any of Pete Egoscue’s books or if you used to listen to his radio show (no longer on air), you will have come across the word ‘posture’ many times. I even used a few times in the video above.
For many people, the words ‘posture’ and ‘Egoscue’ have become synonymous.
Even though I talk about 'posture', I’m not a fan of that word.
Because in my experience, as soon as the word ‘posture’ is mentioned, it usually elicits the same response:
- People stick their chest out
- They pull their shoulders back into an unnatural position
- Then they put an excessive arch in their lower back
A bit like this guy:
That’s not (good) posture!
What’s a better way of talking about posture without talking about posture? For me, a much better word to describe things is ‘function’. If your main load bearing joints are functional, then ‘good posture’ should follow naturally.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves...
A Simple Posture Definition
You can find all kinds of definitions of posture out there. But as with all things, I like to (try) to keep things simple.
My simple definition of posture is this:
Posture is how well the relative parts of your body function, in 2 ways:
- Individually (in isolation — such as each hip, each shoulder etc), and
- Overall as an integrated unit (how your body parts 'talk to each' other and function as a team)
For example, if you need to reach up to grab something heavy, the individual part you’d want to function well is the shoulder of the arm that’s reaching up.
At the same time, your shoulder doesn’t function in isolation, and the way the rest of your body supports you as you reach up is also key to the movement pattern.
Your shoulder is the main player in the action of reaching up. But your back (spine), as well as the rest of your torso and your hips and legs are also an integral part of the movement.
You have 8 load bearing joints in your body, which are your:
On a typical body that hasn’t suffered serious trauma or birth defects, there are 2 of each joint — one on each side of the body — giving you 8 in total.
When you reach up, as in the example above, your ankles, knees and hips are as much a part of the movement as the shoulder and arm that are reaching up.
In other words...
Your Body Is An Integrated Unit
That’s a key fundamental premise of The Egoscue Method.
Many other modalities treat body parts in isolation, which is why they often fail to get significant or lasting results. Before I discovered Egoscue for myself, I'd tried many approaches to resolve the various pains in my body.
I once had quite a painful shouler, which I visited a physiotherapist (physical therapist) about.
I was given a series of exercises to ‘strengthen the rotator cuff muscles’, which didn't help at all.
Why didn't those exercise help?
For 2 reasons:
First, the underlying reason my shoulder hurt was because of a problem in my hip (remember, the body is a unit and when it's not functioning correctly, other parts will compensate).
Second, the rotator cuff group of muscles are stabilizing muscles — they're not endurance muscles. Giving exercises to 'strengthen' them is futile and a waste of time.
The Rotator Cuff group
And that’s what many physical therapists, physiotherapists, massage therapists and practitioners of other modalities are often doing:
They’re focusing on where it hurts rather than taking a step back and seeing how all parts of your body are affecting one another.
Shoulder pain is very often a symptom of a hip problem.
So Do I Need To Have ‘Perfect Posture’?
No you don’t.
In fact, I highly encourage you not to have that as a goal for yourself.
The primary goal of corrective exercise programs and The Egoscue Method is to get your body moving properly again. Your body does not need to be perfectly aligned for that to happen.
It just needs to be 'good enough'. When you bring your body up to a certain level of function, you'll move more freely and with greater efficiency and ease.
Having worked with many people over the years, it's become clear that that's what most people ultimately want.
Since I began only two months ago I have seen about an 80% reduction in pain on a daily basis.
Before I could barely crawl out of bed, now I am able to do many of the things I was frightened to do before.
Will The Egoscue Method Help Me?
Probably, but the best person to answer that question is you.
The way for you to get the answer to that is to:
Trust your instincts.
Pete Egoscue has always advocated trusting instincts and it’s something I also encourage my clients (and myself) to do.
If you've read any of Pete Egoscue's books and/or if what you've read here 'speaks to you', then trust that.
Your body always knows what's best for you. If it 'lights up' when it sees or hears something, that's its way of communicating with you, telling you it wants to do it.
Get Started With Egoscue Postural Therapy — No Matter Where In The World You Are
Unlike massage, chiropractic, physical therapy and other similar modalities, Egoscue is a completely hands off approach.
As such, we can work together no matter where in the world you are.
For the first few years of doing Egoscue, I saw clients in person only in my London clinic. Now with the advances in technology, along with many more years of experience, I see clients from all over the world on Skype.
As of this writing, I've successfully helped people with The Egoscue Method on Skype in:
- United States
- As well as the UK
What's The Investment of Egoscue Sessions?
Online Sessions — Skype / Zoom
Online consultations — using Skype or Zoom — allow us to work together in ‘real time’ with virtually all of the benefits of an ‘in person’ session.
The session takes place in real time.
Key Benefits of 'Live, Real Time' Egoscue Sessions
- You are assessed 'dynamically' as well as 'statically'
- You receive ongoing 'reassessment' throughout your session
- You are guided, step by step, through each exercise
Why Are These Points Important?
Seeing you in motion gives a deeper level of information about what's happening in your body and what stimulus it needs to get you moving properly again.
After every couple or so exercises, you'll stand up and will give feedback on what feels different. I'll also check you to see what looks different (yes, they'll be real time changes).
That information is fed back into the session and guides the next steps.
You're Guided Through The Exercises:
To be guided through the exercises, rather than reading instructions and interpreting them in your own way, is a big deal for most people.
Many people get good results working from the 'photos only' approach (see below). That said, there are always adjustments that can be made to how you're doing the exercises, which means you get so much more from each exercise.
I was a bit wary and skeptical about how it might work on Skype ... however, it was really easy.
Now my hips have balanced up and I can do the ‘lotus’ and ‘tree’ poses much more evenly at yoga. I don’t get sore knees when I run. My shoulders have more range of movement in my swimming. I can look over my shoulder easily when I drive. And I have no pain.
I am totally delighted with the progress I have made, and what is best is that I am in control of it. It is not something that anyone is ‘doing’ for me. I am doing it for myself, with Matt’s guidance.
It’s been worth every penny I’ve paid for the Skype sessions...
Investment for Online Sessions (via Skype or Zoom)
- Assessment and preparation work prior to your appointment
- 'Functional Testing' to provide greater feedback as to what's happening in your body
- Step by step guidance and feedback on performing each exercise optimally (priceless)
- Printable PDF document containing detailed written instructions for each exercise
- Email support in between appointments
1st Appointment: Up to 90 minutes
Follow ups: 75 minutes
If the session over runs, the cost remains the same.
£125 GBP (€130 EUR / $149 USD / $200 CAD)
Follow Up Appointments
£95 (€110 EUR / $120 USD / $165 CAD)
Please note: Payment is due before the session.
What If I Don't Have A Decent Internet Connection or Our Time Zones Are Too Far Out?
In that case, the best way for us to work together is via the 'photos only' approach.
'Photos Only' Programs
This is where you email a set of 4 photos over to me, which I assess and then create a program of corrective exercises from.
Investment for 'Photos Only' Programs
- Assessment and preparation work to create your corrective exercise program
- Printable PDF document containing detailed written instructions for each exercise
- Email support in between appointments
All 'photos only' programs
£40 GBP (€130 EUR / $149 USD / $200 CAD)
Please note: Payment is due before the program is created.
What Can The Egoscue Method Help With?
If the aches, pains, discomfort and limitations you're experiencing are because of your muscle imbalances (misalignments / poor posture), then Egoscue corrective exercises can help.
The Egoscue Method successfully addresses and eliminates pain associated with most conditions, including, but not limited to:
- Lower back pain, including herniated discs
- Mid back, upper back and neck pain
- Scoliosis, including lumbar scoliosis, mid scoliosis & thoracic scoliosis
- Shoulder pain, including Rotator Cuff injuries
- Hand and wrist pain, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
- Elbow pain, including Golfer's Elbow and Tennis Elbow
- Hip pain and groin pain
- Knee Pain, including Runner's Knee
- Ankle & foot pain, including bunions, hard skin and plantar fasciitis
- Recurring headaches / migraines
- As well as many other types of pain…
How Do I get Started?
To get started, get in contact and we'll make arrangements and get you going.