Erasing Pain by Restoring Proper Movement

Years ago, after many rounds of physical therapy for an assortment injuries, I started taking dance classes. I was awkward and clumsy, but I stuck with it for quite a while. I noticed that some of my nagging pains faded and my range of motion increased – even though dance lessons and classes cut into my normal PT and stretching routines. What was going on? How were these series of movements that were new to me helping?

After some additional training, I discovered that I had inadvertently made some corrections to a faulty movement program that I had been stuck with since childhood. I also learned that there are simple

Almost every adult has developed chronic musculoskeletal pain somewhere. It might have been an injury that should have gone away but never quite healed. It might be a nagging pain that has snuck up on you from poor posture at work. It might be an annoying restriction in your range of movement that interferes with your favorite sport or fitness activity.

In many cases, we fail to recover because we are using some faulty movement programs. This means that we are no longer moving in a way that is natural and optimal. We have developed a series of compensations and customizations to the movement program we were born with – the same program we were ALL humans are born with.

When we see a foal getting up and taking its first steps, it is obvious that it has a program for this. Humans also all have a set movement program, but it is more complex and takes much longer to develop. If you are fortunate enough to have young children in your life you may have several examples of normal movement and development in progress. Occasionally a child experiences a developmental delay or disorder. However, in most cases ALL infants and toddlers move in same basic ways. They have a menu of basic movements that expands as they get older until they can crawl, sit, walk, run, climb and throw.

What is remarkable about babies that they all move in the same way. That is because we all start with the same neuromuscular movement Yet, if you look at the general population in any moderately crowded place you will see a virtually unlimited number of variations on the same movements. No two adults move alike. Sometimes we can even recognize someone in the distance or the dark by the movement of their silhouette.

We might call this an aspect of personality. Let’s say it is their Personal Movement Style (PMS). While an interesting personality is often an asset, an “interesting” PMS never is. We want our PMS to look much like it did when we were about 3 years old. It should be natural, boring and look just like everyone else’s.

When our program is disrupted by training, injury or habit, we develop a unique PMS that reflects the series of compensations we have made over time. When someone in pain is not moving in a natural way, it can be hard to know what came first. Is there movement pattern a response to some prior experience of pain or is their current pain a result of the unnatural movement pattern? By the time the problem presents, both are often true, so it makes sense to treat from both angles.

Physical and massage therapy are common ways of treating painful muscles and connective tissue that contribute to incorrect movement patterns. Treating taut bands, trigger points and other types of myofascial dysfunction is an important and necessary part of any treatment plan.

However, many trigger point and physical therapists forget that proper movement is its own therapy. Dynamic neuromuscular stabilizing movement is key to restoring proper movement programs. In conjunction with myofascial therapy it is possible to completely erase many cases of chronic pain.

Thorough medical practitioners compare the symptoms someone presents with and the range of disorders that can account for those symptoms. Then they perform a “differential diagnosis”. So let’s run down some common causes of chronic pain.

It is a simple method and it works. We continue to use and improve this approach to treating upper back, neck and shoulder pain with great success. Everyone is different and many of us have additional challenges and complications. We tailor our treatment plans to the individual, but there are common foundations to this work with everyone.

Email us at or call us at 630 858-0000 to learn more about how you can reduce pain, increase flexibility and gain strength from simple self-care activities.

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