(Above photo courtesy of Roger Burkhard).

This blog has been a bit moribund lately due mostly to changes in location and other big things. This past year has seen me make progress on publishing a book about creating and maintaining a pain free life. The next few weeks I’ll be blogging about the book and you’ll be getting a sneak preview of the book and its contents. Once it is published you’ll get a significant discount as members of the community.

Have you ever been in pain? You got out of bed and your legs buckle as a wave of pain ripples up your back.  “What did I do?” You can’t understand it. You take some aspirin or Ibuprofen and hope. You lie back down and over the next day or two it starts to go back to normal but you are wary and baby that back because that wave of pain was so bad you never want it again. (Photo courtesy of Yuris Alhumaydy)

So why did it happen? Did you have other episodes whether running or walking or playing tennis where pain hit you? Why did it happen? The short answer is lack of motion. The longer answer is lack of postural awareness as you sit, stand or lie down. And the subtext is you sit too much. You can sit so it doesn’t cause pain but it takes an awareness that when we are working or watching TV disappears from our awareness.

“Ok, Cliff. So what is the first principle of being pain free? I’ve been there with the pain. Tell me the first principle so I can start working on it.”

The first principle is easy but hard to accept.

The First Principle is that you are responsible for your pain. You got yourself into pain. The corollary is that since you got yourself into it you can get yourself to be pain free.

I know, I can hear you screaming, “I’m not responsible for the idiot who ran a red light and hit my car.” Or, “How can I be responsible when I fell down the stairs and broke my arm?” We all have accidents. We all have stories. And most of those stories are about blaming others and then shifting the healing of you to others. Guess what? It doesn’t work very well. Only you have the true motivation to be the best you can be. I never said you’d be a Steffi Graf or a Michael Jordan from where you started. But you can accept the responsibility for your pain. And from there with a little guidance and help you will create a toolkit to manage your body through movement;To be pain free.

And that is what I am here; to show you the way. Why me? I’ve been a movement junkie for most of my life. I’ve studied postural methods such as Egoscue (certified) and Alexander and I am a martial artist with deep knowledge of the body and its function through more than 40 years of practice. This includes Qi Gong, Tai Ji, Ba Qua, Xing Yi, Tang So Do, Hapkido and Kundalini Yoga . I’ve developed a unified way of looking, diagnosing and ‘fixing’ people. I provide tools so people can take care of themselves. What I’ve learned over many years of working with others is that there is great success if people accept the First Principle and take responsibility. This gives them courage and hope because they are affirming that their outcome is in their hands. Spend some time coming to grips with this principle. How many times a day do you curse under your breath and blame someone else or the computer or the printer? Start owning your life. See you next time for the next step on your way to a pain free life.


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Hi. I’ve been busy on another project for the last couple of years. Now this project is back on the top of my list. You will be getting regular blog posts again and other subsidiary documents and videos on learning to be pain free. The emphasis for me is on you learning how to be pain free not in me being a guru. Remember somehow your posture got you into this place and postural methods can help get you out. Blessings to all of you and be talk to you soon. Cliff


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Becoming Sensitive

Sorry I missed the last post. I was dealing with a family medical emergency (which turned out well) that prevented this. Also, that post was going to be a video of exercises you can use through your work day. After many tries I’m still not happy with the quality of the video so I’m postponing it for a few weeks. Don’t worry, it will be here soon.

Today I want to emphasize to you about the real time dynamics of posture and its relation to pain. One of the things we do when we have pain is confuse the location of the pain with the source of the pain. We think that if we have pain in our knee that we need to do something to make the muscles around the knee stronger and the pain will go away. This is not true.

An example will make this clear. About a month ago I had a long afternoon sitting at my computer writing a talk. I was quite focused on the task and had a goal to finish by 5 pm. I spent from 11:30 am to around 5:15 pm sitting in the chair with much fewer exercise breaks than I usually take. At 6 pm I noticed my left knee was giving me a lot of pain. It really hurt. Being aware of the issues of posture I did a quick survey of myself posturally. I noticed that my left hip was stiff and rotated slightly. I immediately did a series of exercises to eliminate the rotation. By 11 pm the pain in the knee was gone and my hip was aligned correctly.

The lesson from this example is two fold: 1) a clear example that things aren’t always caused by what we think causes them and 2) posture is dynamic. What I mean by the second point is once you get straight with good posture you live in the real world. Because of this your daily activities modify your posture. You must be sensitive to your feelings in your body and aware of changes that happen. When things change for the worse you must be willing to stop and do activities that get you back to your baseline. Even someone as trained and aware as me have issues. No state is fixed for ever. This is similar to how the head is attached to the body. It is attached dynamically, floating and rolling on top of the spine. If the head is balanced correctly your spine stays straight. Your overall posture is dynamic like this; it changes with conditions and you must monitor it and deal with those changes.

If you need some help with postural issues send me a note off my contact page at www.learnpainfree.com. I wish you life without pain.


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The 5 Minute Rule

You’ve heard me say that most postural and joint problems come from a lack of motion. This means you have to exercise i.e. move on a regular basis; Daily. For years I and others have preached this. But in general people still find all kinds of excuses not to move.  The biggest excuse is, “I don’t have enough time”. To counter that, use my 5 minute rule. The expression of this rule is, “I will exercise for 5 minutes every day”. Immediately you will say that 5 minutes a day is useless, it can’t do anything. In contrast I will point out that 5 minutes a day is 35 minutes per week, 150 minutes per month and 1800 minutes (30 hours) per year. This is hardly nothing.  Also the rule doesn’t say you can’t exercise more. If you end up doing more some days that is fine. But by giving yourself a goal of 5 minutes this reduces the resistance to taking the time. Your motivation stays high. I use this technique for things beside exercise. Currently I’m studying a new mathematics book and I’m using the 5 minute rule every day with it.

I will tell you that although I’ve been teaching this for over 20 years very few of my students have embraced it.  They have such a difficult time suspending their belief that learning involves stretching yourself and pain. If you want to make a real change in your life give the 5 minute rule a shot.


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