It is so important we begin to recognize that where we experience pain is not necessarily where there is a problem. Our medical system is currently set up to treat pain “symptoms.” If you have knee pain, you are sent to a knee specialist, if you have foot pain you are sent to a podiatrist, and so on. The problem with this lies in the fact that the body needs to be addressed as an integrated kinetic chain, and pain in one area can be caused by dysfunction in another.
Our muscles are surrounded by a connective tissue called fascia. The fascia provides a protective layer around each organ and muscle. If you take a look below at the back and spiral fascial lines, you can see we are connected from the top of the head to the bottom of the foot; therefore, an issue in one area along the line can create an issue elsewhere along the same line.
I had a client recently who was scheduled for knee surgery. She had severe knee pain and could barely walk into my office. I asked why she thought she needed surgery and she said the knee was bone on bone and there was a severe lack of cartilage. I asked her how she thought it got that way. She claimed she is older and needs to lose weight. I reminded her that the other knee is just as old and she had a decent amount of weight on it as well. It’s important we look beyond the symptom and assess what is truly causing the stress.
Take a look at the picture below. Can you see “why” her right knee might have pain? Look at the torque from the foot to the knee to the hip. Look at how the right leg is forward and bent in each picture.
Do you know with all the doctors and specialists she saw, she was not aware of this misalignment? In the session I did not massage her knee and give her knee exercises. I did not give her anti-inflammatories and injections. Instead, I got her hip flexor to remember how to extend on each side, I helped her reduce a severe pelvic rotation and neutralized the forward lean her body was stuck in. I got her thoracic back to let go and her hip extensors to engage in place of her lower back, which had taken over all the work. I reminded the knee to begin to work with the foot and the hip once the pelvis was level and balanced. When she left her knee pain was gone! Does that mean she won’t need surgery? Not necessarily, as there has been significant joint degeneration, but it just goes to show that when we fix the alignment and don’t just treat the symptom (being the knee), healing can begin to occur.
Your body is ultimately trying to protect you, so unless you provide it with the stimulus it needs to regain alignment, it will continue to engage the muscles and shift the bones as necessary to keep you safe and upright.
I truly wish I had a more simple solution and could provide everyone in pain the same exercises to regain health and function, but this simply isn’t the case. It is important we take an objective view of the entire body when trying to make corrections and not just treat symptoms. That being said, once the proper stimulus is introduced, you will be amazed how quickly the body can adjust and a pain symptom will just disappear. I have literally seen miraculous recoveries when we remain objective and treat the posture.
In some cases, we can fix someone’s alignment, but pain symptoms continue to persist. It’s important to recognize that pain can occur for a variety of reasons. If we address the alignment and the pain continues, or the new posture doesn’t seem to hold, it is important we assess whether there is a structural, systemic, energetic or emotional component involved. We are very fortunate that holistic modalities are on the rise and the medical system is beginning to accept philosophies that integrate the mind and body. In all these systems, balance is a key component. When there is a lack of balance in any area there is an increased risk of pain, reduced mobility, a sluggish metabolism, illness, or some other form of limitation. We must begin to look deeper than our pain symptoms for true healing to occur.
Your body truly wants to be in balance, and the stimulus to achieve optimal alignment is within your reach. You deserve a pain free life free from limitation. We can begin to alleviate most pain issues and illnesses when we just begin to look beyond the symptom.
Lisa Decker M.S.
PAS, CES, PES, CPT, CAMQ