Someone recently recommended a book to me with interesting concepts for dealing with pain. The book is called “Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain.” It is co-written by Pete Egoscue with Roger Gittines. Egoscue is a physiologist who franchises clinics throughout the nation and teaches how to manage pain without medications or surgeries.

A family member recommended the book. She has been plagued with back pain since her early 30s and has found relief by studying and employing many of the book’s concepts. Recently I tried them in order to stop muscles spasms in my achy neck.

I followed easy exercises that almost anyone can do. First, I lay down on my back with my lower legs at a right angle in a chair. I followed the instructions about breathing deeply from my diaphragm. Second, I stood on a step and stretched the back of my legs. Third, I lay down again on my back with my feet against a wall, toes pointing downward; and, finally, I lay on my back with my feet drawn upwards. “E-cises” are what Egoscue calls stretches. The book has a photo and description showing how to do them. My neck was better in three days. I had no crick that usually requires muscle relaxers and steroid shots.

However, my first thought was to ask what these stretches had to do with my neck? Egoscue teaches that E-cises align bone structure and strengthen muscles that hold the bones in place.

So, the E-cises I did strengthened and balanced the muscles that eventually led to my neck. Remember, the foot bone is connected to the leg bone, and the leg bone is connected to the …. You know the rest.

As a medical professional, Egoscue has studied the human body and determined that the lifestyles of modern man are causing unnecessary pain in multiple areas of our bodies. Here is why.

Most pain, the book states, is caused by the overuse or underuse of muscles, which control the joints, bones, and nerves. Our muscles must stay in balance in order to avoid pain. “Bones do what muscles tell them to do,” stated Egoscue.

Each of us has different lifestyles that create patterns of muscular use. We do not realize that our patterns, such as bending our heads over too often to look at computers, use one set of muscles in our necks but not the others. The stress on the overused muscles creates pain. Also, the weakness of our underused muscles creates pain due to impingement of nerves.  

Another key point is in the book is the need for keeping our skeletal structure erect. How often do most of us think about keeping our spines straight, our shoulders erect, and our feet and legs in alignment? Not often enough.

Ecosque predicts in his book that today’s young people are set for years of pain because of poor posture of their bodies related to cell phone use, video games, and computers. They, and sometimes we, use technological devices for so many hours at a time that we all develop pain. Such overuse and underuse of muscles will likely cause chronic pain, which may lead to reliance on medicines and surgeries. Living with extreme pain leads to depression and irritability. Egoscue said he is worried that millions of young people in tomorrow’s workforce will suffer.

I like the exercises, even though following them for only part of the body takes about 30 minutes a day. Even the oldest person seeking relief from pain can implement the E-cises because most are done lying down, sitting down, or standing still.

In addition to telling readers how to “cure” the pains of each part of the body, the book has conditioning E-cises for maintaining proper stances and muscular use.

The book encourages us to move, play, stretch, and use muscles we usually ignore.

Think of a world without so much medication or so many surgeries. Egoscue’s ideas are a little odd when compared to common methods of dealing with pain, but his theories and practices make sense and are a natural way to stop pain. His ideas may allow us to lead more comfortable lives. Those who try implementing the E-cises, which should be done consistently, may find that they are rather relaxing activities.

Another interesting fact: feedback from patients reveals a 95 percent relief from pain. “Those among the five percent who are unable to find relief using the Method, “ the book states,”  often do not have the time or the inclination to take action; they do the E-cises sporadically or not at all.” Egoscue has written other similar books; one for women, another for anyone using computers, and an older version of “Pain Free.”

He recommends the updated version, though; and, the Internet is full of places to order the book, most under $15.

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