Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Review: Muscular Retraining for Pain-Free Living

To be blunt, and a bit simplistic, there are two types of people:
Those who are willing to do what it takes to get out of or prevent pain, and
Those who don’t want to make any changes but want pain to go away.

If you are the type of person who has been looking for changes to keep you pain-free, I recommend Muscular Retraining for Pain-Free Living by Craig Williamson, MSOT. In this enlightening text Williamson notes that kinesthetic dysfunction (the inability to sense and perceive parts of the body) creates Dysfunctional Movement Patterns (DMPs) that cause internal, repetitive injury.

Unfortunately, most people have many dysfunctional patterns that cause pain, for example sitting in front of a computer with shoulders rounded and head forward, lifting objects by hinging in the low back, straining the neck to stand up, and walking with misaligned knees to name a few. However, this book will help you discover and correct these ineffective tendencies.

“If you want to discover a new way of using your body or performing an activity, you need to break free of your DMPs. You do this by letting go, by feeling your muscles and alignment in new ways, by coordinating your movement in new ways—and by observing what happens.” (p. 49)

I like that Williamson uses easy-to-understand language and comprehensively covers sources of dysfunction, from bad habits to past injury to poor posture to unconscious emotional tightening. The movement explorations in the book help you build your kinesthetic awareness and the exercises help you replace ineffective patterns with effortless, balanced strength and flexibility.

My favorite part of this book is the emphasis on non-forced movement. “In fact, muscular retraining involves moving as easily as possible by avoiding the use of any unnecessary muscles.” (p. 46)

If you’ve suffered from chronic pain and think that the key to pain relief is to try harder and do more, Muscular Retraining for Pain-Free Living will be a pleasant and effective change of pace. If you live relatively pain-free, the advice in this book will help you stay that way.

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