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The Pain Is Not The Problem

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

What’s the first thing you do to research either a new or old stubborn pain that you’ve struggled with? Let’s say it was knee or back pain.

If you’re like most people you may google it, and you would find a lot of pain-specific or knee and back-targeted solutions like painkillers, knee and back exercises and stretches, braces, fancy mattresses and chairs, or massage tools.

When it's more serious and you see a specialist, what's the first thing they do? Typically it's an X-ray or MRI of that area so they can see what's going on inside.

They may see tissue damage and suggest surgery or injections, or they may send you to a physical therapist for more knee or back exercises and stretches.

Now tell me, do you see a pattern in any of this? You may think nothing of it because this is all pretty normal.

the focus on the symptom

The pattern is whenever we have pain or injury, we are conditioned to see that pain or injury as the actual problem.

If its shoulder pain, the problem must be the shoulder. Back pain? Back problem, back targeted solutions. Knee pain? Knee problem, knee targeted solutions. Nothing out of the ordinary here, right?

Let me ask you this. If you’ve had shoulder pain, did anyone ever want to discuss the other shoulder that doesn’t hurt? Or the leg that doesn't hurt if you have knee pain?

Or do these just seem like incredibly odd questions?

Well, what if I told you that all of these parts of the body are connected and heavily influence each other? This isn’t exactly a breakthrough statement for most people.

So why then is there a disconnect when we apply this to pain and injury?

Why is it out of the ordinary to look beyond the symptom and diagnosis, and instead at the entire body as a system?

chronic pain and injury is normal, but is it necessary?

To preface, let me give you a short background story. I spent over a decade in the health and fitness industry studying the body, movement, and injury rehab/prevention from some of the best known organizations.

This is partly because I was dealing with recurring pain and injury over the years. And not just me, this was (and still is) a common thing in the industry as a whole.

I’ve witnessed medical intervention being just as common with people who were regularly physically active (possibly even more) than sedentary people.

All this, and I still found myself relying on chiropractic, physical therapy, and more. I was even facing potential surgery for a major back injury.

I’ve watched countless people including industry leaders go back and forth between their fitness practice and rehab for pain and injuries.

What’s unfortunate is how widely this is accepted as normal. And it is normal, but is it necessary?

I spent years looking for a better approach and today I can say I know that it’s possible to get off this recurring cycle of pain and injury. But to do that we have to see things a little differently.

The first thing is to understand the difference between addressing the symptom vs the root cause of the symptom.

treat the root cause, not the symptom

Think of a car that’s out of alignment, a common occurrence from daily driving.

With balanced alignment, the weight of the car is perfectly distributed. The suspension evenly absorbs and distributes the forces from the bumps on the road.

When the alignment is not balanced, the weight of the car is unevenly distributed. The forces from the bumps in the road get distributed unevenly into the car and wear and tear begin to happen.

So one day, you get a flat tire because it has worn down unevenly from the others. A mechanic who only knows to focus on the symptom will replace the flat tire, and send you on your way.

But what of the alignment issue? If the mechanic dug a little deeper by asking WHY the tire wore down, he would have realized the greater issue of the alignment.

As long as that issue remains, the car will continue to break down because the root cause of the wear and tear still exists.

The car in this example is like the human body. The mechanic wanting to fix the flat tire is exactly like the traditional approach to pain and injury in the body.

your body is one system

Just like the car, the body is a system, and the system needs balance to function most efficiently. When we talk about balance in the body, what does that mean?

How is balance in the body measured? How do we know if and when we are “balanced?”

your body is designed symmetrical

Muscles and fascia provide tension that holds up and moves everything in the body. The body is designed symmetrically as both sides of the body are the same. Two arms, legs, feet, eyes, ears..

When both sides work the same way, the tension is displaced evenly, the system is balanced, and it functions most efficiently.

If you were to stand up right now and look down at your feet, which direction are they pointing? What about your knees? Your hips?

If everything in the body functioned symmetrically, both sides would point straight ahead, and everything would stack directly on top of each other.

The way that the muscles and fascia work together determines how everything is positioned.

This is posture. Not HOW you hold yourself up, but how everything in your body is positioned on its own.

When the balance of tension isn’t symmetrical, it pulls everything in different directions.

Just like the car, when everything’s balanced, the body has an even weight distribution, and the muscles and fascia act as a suspension system that handles the forces applied to the body.

Over time, life causes the body to shift out of balance, allowing forces to the body to be displaced unevenly, leading to wear and tear, pain and injury.

your body is designed to heal

The body however is a far more incredible system than a car. It tells us that it’s out of balance and wear and tear is happening, with pain.

The body also has its own built-in mechanic.

It comes with the single most comprehensive pharmacy that exists, including the ability to heal itself from anything. It contains every drug and chemical it would ever need.

But when the system is out of balance, the body is blocked from being able to heal. Blood flow, oxygen, nutrients, and more that contain the components for healing and growth can’t get to where they are needed.

symmetry is the gold standard of functional health

In all the years I studied the body, perhaps the greatest thing I ever realized was the concept of symmetry.

It never crossed my mind that the direction of my feet, knees, or hips mattered when it came to my impinged shoulder or the herniated disc in my low back.

It also never occurred that these things mattered in my regular training in the gym at all.

And it’s not like posture was a new concept. I was familiar with things like rounded shoulders, various spine positions such as lordosis or kyphosis, pelvic tilt, elevation, etc.

But these things are traditionally perceived and taught to be simple shifts of the body caused by the surrounding strong or weak muscles.

There was no awareness that my shoulder muscles influenced my knee or foot position, or the other way around.

The traditional view of the mechanics of the body is a simplified system of tight, loose, strong, and weak muscles.

The traditional gold standard of a healthy functioning body is strength and mobility. If you are stronger or more mobile, you must be functioning better.

focus on symmetry instead of strength and mobility

Symmetry isn't about strength and mobility. It's about efficiency - how muscles and fascia communicate together transferring energy through each other as one system.

The more I started changing my approach to looking at and addressing symmetry in the body, the more successful I was able to improve it, and the more I was able to help myself and others out of the chronic pain and injury cycle.

Imagine a life where pain finally stopped coming back. Where you didn't need to fear pain just from moving your body a certain way, and you needed nothing but your own body to do it.

This can be your reality! To achieve this, instead of looking for the quickest way to shut off the pain signal, you have to take the time to ask WHY that pain signal may be there by looking at the basics of your functional health.

You already have everything you need to live pain free

Movement alone has the potential of regulating balance and symmetry in your body.

This is why I built the Symmetry Of Motion Online Program, which is a movement-based program designed to help you look past the symptoms, analyze and then restore symmetry in your body.

There are tons of movement-based programs out there, hell I spent half my life practicing many of them. But the key to success here in this program comes from using movement to address symmetry.

Pain-free movement is part of our biological design. Symmetry is the key!


Note: The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. If you feel like you have a medical condition, please consult a licensed medical professional.


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