Egoscue: Restore Alignment, Alleviate Pain

It’s always exciting to read about our Egoscue affiliates (those who practice the Method but aren’t working in an Egoscue clinic) who are implementing the Method successfully with their clients. The latest article comes from Charlottesville, Virginia and the Pain Free Performance clinic run by Cindy Meyers. Thanks to Breathe Magazine for the great write-up!

Egoscue Method Restores Alignment, Alleviates Pain

BY  | 12/02/11

Despite having a youthful, active body, I have a few painful injuries that I’m constantly putting up with. I have a shoulder that pops out of place from playing outside hitter in volleyball throughout high school, and I have a bad back that my mom attributes to my textbook-filled backpack growing up. I’m an active person who enjoys everything from running to skiing to cycling to yoga. But, despite considering myself “fit,” my body has always felt a little off kilter. My hip pops of of place; my joints creak; sometimes I find myself walking crooked into things. It was due time to find out what was going on with my body!

Last week I tried a form of physical therapy called Egoscue at Pain Free Performance here in Charlottesville, Va. The Egoscue Method restores your body to its proper alignment, and after speaking with one of the owners of the clinic — Cindy Meyers — I found out how essential it is to have your body in perfect alignment for it to work efficiently and for you to be at peak performance and health. Also, restoring your body to its proper alignment relieves chronic pain, which is why a majority of people come to the clinic. Egoscue is a way to heal your body’s pain without drugs and medical procedures. Rather than treating the symptoms of your pain, much like prescription meds, Egoscue goes right to the source of your pain and fixes it through a series of exercises, Cindy says.

“When the body isn’t lined up, you can have pain anywhere in the body that could be coming from another part of the body,” says Cindy, a physical therapist who was drawn to the Egoscue Method six years ago. “If your pelvis is off, then you parts aren’t working correctly. If your shoulder is forward, that is creating the pain in your hip. When you treat just a part of the body — the symptom — it can give a person relief, but it doesn’t correct the problem and people end up back in pain. If you go to physical therapy, get injection or take pain med, it’s not correcting underlying stimulus that is creating the problem.”

When I got to my Egoscue appointment, my alignment therapist Mackie Boblette (He studied alongsidePete Egoscue, the developer, for 15 years!) stood me against a wall and took pictures of my front, back and sides. He then printed out the pictures and drew dots on my shoulders, hips, knees and feet to show that I wasn’t standing straight, and was indeed off balance because of this. He showed me that my shoulders were rounded, my feet weren’t square below my knees and hips like they should be, and that my pelvis was pushed forward too much. We also talked about my active life: my exercise routine, sports I used to play, pain from sports injuries, etc. to give him some background on my body.

Mackie then accessed my walk and pointed out the things that were off kilter. When I walk, my right shoulder swoops down, which throws my hips off. Also, my right hip pops (not in the alluring way) when I walk. I stood in front of the mirror and Mackie also pointed out that my left knee turns in a bit and that my head tilts to the left. I was completely unaware of all of this. I watched myself walk in front of the mirror and he pointed out each of these issues.

After accessing the issues with my posture, Mackie created a series of 15 exercises — from an ankle sequence to stand quad stretches to static wall splits — for me to do at home to create a new healthy muscle memory. Mackie and Cindy both stress that it’s the order or the exercises that retrain your muscles. After a few of the exercises, I felt like I was walking different. I felt like my weight was more evenly distributed on my feet and that I wasn’t leaning to the side anymore.

“What happens is, after two hour session, you feel change in body, but wont hold because when you go to the gym and do workouts you use your big superficial muscles and this type of exercise is not an exercise like people think of,” Cindy says. “It’s retraining the muscle that are responsible for posture. The muscles responsible are involuntary, so when you’re done with two hours, you have retrained those muscles, but your body will fall back into those old patterns and then you do a menu [series of exercises] again and retrain.

“Research shows if you do 20 minutes per day in two months that position that feels better will hold,” Cindy says. “You will retrain those muscles neurologically and you wont have to think about it. It takes the the challenge to do it every day.”

Cindy says Egoscue has a 95 percent success rate if the patient does their exercises every day for at least three months to create a new muscle memory.

After the initial two-hour appointment, Cindy says they typically see people every couple weeks and they start changing up their exercises.

“Our goal is to give you programs for your boday and then it’ll come to a point where you’ll rotate them,” Cindy says. “We went to give people the tools to take care of themselves.”

Egoscue, unlike Rolfing or massage or chiropractor appointments, puts you in charge of the health of your spine and posture.

“It teaches people how to take care of themselves,” she says. “Almost everyone does it at home.”

Being able to do the exercises at home allows you to do them on your own time, in your own space, which is convenient. Cindy says that Pain Free Performance does welcome patients to do their exercises in the clinic — and some do.

As mentioned earlier, I learned that Egoscue changes your posture, which in turn changes your overall health. According to Cindy, it changes the neurological pathways, so the muscles are doing the job they were designed to do. It restores balance to muscles, which changes balance to the bones. In other words, it puts you back in alignment.

“When people get straighter, they can breathe better and lose weight because intestines are flowing the right way,” she says. “There are lots of benefits to having good posture. It’s not just getting rid of pain. It’s about having your body working as efficiently as possible.”

Let me add that Mackie Boblett is an excellent therapist. The experience that Mackie brings to the table is immeasurable. He has been a part of our company for a long time. If you’re in the Charlottesville area, it would behoove you to give him a call!

QUESTION: What’s your Egoscue experience? Leave your story in the “comments” section below!