What is Pain? – Peter Egoscue Interview

Peter Egoscue – Conversation with shareguide.com

What is pain?

We think we’re getting the message of limitation, or that something is broken, and I don’t believe that’s true. I think the message we’re getting is the body’s only voice saying, “I can no longer compensate with what you’ve given me, and you need to address the situation.” It’s not that you’re diseased, not that you’re broken, but you have to pay attention to the body’s voice because you’ve ignored all the other signposts that it threw up for you along the way-you went right through them, or you didn’t recognize them. So now it’s using pain, the loudest voice it has, and you will pay attention to this.

Biggest factor for pain is not enough movement?

That’s half right. Never have humans been busier than we are now. We are running from pillar to post so, yes, we do have compensations that have occurred because of our lifestyle. But we are still using the same body and we’re still participating like never before in activity. The problem is that the body has a system of adaptation, and the adaptation is to the stimulus that we provide it–so even though we’re very active, and we’re trying to be fit and healthy, what’s happened to us is that the posture muscles that were designed to hold us upright have grown increasingly dysfunctional. And this is escalating decade by decade, generation by generation. So that’s where all this chronic pain is coming from. We are moving, but it’s the body that we’re bringing to the movement that’s causing the problem.

Body pulled out of joint and loses balance when it uses other muscles to do the job of the major muscles that atrophied. Explain this compensating effects.

The body works on a brilliant principle of what’s called “vertical load.” The skeleton has two jobs as a muscular skeletal organism–one is to bear weight, and the other is to absorb the shock of movement. It does this with joints called load joints, such as shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. The law of vertical load says that in order for these joints to enjoy their range of motion, they must line up, meaning stacked one over the top of the other. This design requirement is the same for all human beings, male or female, short or tall, skinny or fat, it doesn’t make any difference. Range of motion takes place from the inside out. The big posture muscles are the ones that no one can see. They’re located down deep next to the skeleton. As they lose their function, the body begins to compensate. So what happens is a series of steps that are taken by the body because it’s such an incredibly adaptable machine. The muscles of the outside, the ones you can see, eventually begin to do the work of vertical load, of stabilization, compensating for the inside muscles that have become dysfunctional. You end up acquiring a posture that is visible to an evaluation: one hip in a different position than the other, or one shoulder forward or higher than the other one. And this eventually leads to pain.

Is it possible to increase the dyfunction by continuing exercise on the compensating muscle?

Let’s say that we have a shoulder dysfunction, and the right shoulder, because of compensation, is in a different position than the left shoulder. Now let’s take that person to the gym, and let’s participate in a weight training program. What will happen is that the body will figure out a way to push those weights around or implement the exercise the person wants to do. The problem is that the muscles being recruited in one shoulder girdle are different than the muscles in the other shoulder girdle. You’re still making exactly the same motion, but you’re recruiting different muscles because of the posture position of the joints. So without realizing it you end up increasing the dysfunction as you strengthen those muscles in that position.

So if a person is thinking of starting an exercise routine, it would make sense to make sure that they were balanced before getting into it?

 That’s correct. Unfortunately, most people in today’s culture are posturally imbalanced, because of the demands of the culture–or lack of demands of the culture. Eventually there’s going to be the signal of pain. And what happens when the signal of pain comes is that we make that classic mistake, which is stopping activity. There needs to be an awareness that we are bilateral, and that we are designed to be symmetrical. There is a huge penalty for not being symmetrical. So how does a person tell? It’s very simple. Take off your shoes and socks, get on a hard surface, shut your eyes, and determine where the weight distribution is in your feet. Is it more towards the left or right? If you’re anatomically balanced, the weight is evenly distributed left to right, and it’s primarily centered on the balls of both feet. If this is not the case, you have an anatomical imbalance. And that means your immune system is being compromised, and your basic metabolisms are being compromised, and eventually there’s going to be some kind of pain. People say, “I can’t run downhill without pain; I can’t go to the gym and do military presses without pain; I can’t go to my office and sit in my chair; I can’t drive my car without pain.” The pain isn’t the villain here. Pain is the signal that the body cannot function properly.

If you’re not in pain, then you’re in balance?

Not necessarily. If you’re not bilaterally posturally correct, you already have limitations that have nothing to do with pain. For instance, you may have a hard time sleeping, you may be hypertensive, you may have diabetes. Many of the things that homeostasis can’t explain because there’s no mechanism to be fixed, are actually a result of postural imbalance. It’s because we’ve compromised our basic metabolism. The primary indicator of metabolic health is the reaction of demand, which is muscular skeletal demand. So there are all these signals that we’re off balance, even before actual physical pain starts. But eventually the pain is coming.

Explain the three R’s of The Egoscue Method: Rediscovering the body’s design is number one; restoring function is number two; and returning to health is number three. explain the three R’s of The Egoscue Method: Rediscovering the body’s design is number one; restoring function is number two; and returning to health is number three.

 Rediscovering the design, that’s the postural balance, that vertical load we talked about. And then, once you are aware of this, to restore the body to its function requires an absolute belief that this imbalance has nothing to do with poor design, nothing to do with our age, and nothing to do with genetics. It has to do with the reaction of the stimulus to our environment. So once that awareness happens, now you have two choices: you can change the stimulus or you can change the environment. Those are the only two choices you have. Well, most of us won’t change our environment because it’s not practical, so we’ve got to change the stimulus-to return ourselves to balance musculo-skeletally. Lastly, the return to health requires not just the change of physical stimulus, it also requires an emotional change. We have to change our MIND. That is the key. We need to realize that we’re not fragile, we’re not overly complicated, and we do have all the abilities necessary to get well.

So you need to put yourself in a positive frame of mind?

There’s no question. I don’t think health is the absence of pain; I think health is the absence of limitation.


Interview with Pete Egoscue
Pain Relief Expert, Educator and Bestselling Author

Pete Ecoscue, an anatomical physiologist since 1978, is the creator of the Egoscue Method¨ for safe, effective, and permanent relief from chronic pain without prescription painkillers or invasive surgery. His exercise therapy program is acclaimed worldwide, and he has been consulted by some of the biggest names in sports. His books include Pain Free, The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion, Pain Free for Women, and Pain Free at Your PC.

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