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Pete Egoscue on Living Healthier
Pete Egoscue, the self-proclaimed “posture guy,” has been helping hundreds of thousands of people relieve themselves of chronic pain since 1978. In more than 20 clinics worldwide, he practices a unique therapy method based on the body’s functional design that eases pain and encourages peak physical performance. His clients include celebrities and top athletes such as golfer Jack Nicklaus, who calls him an “anatomical functionalist.” He has authored four books, including the best-selling Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain, and is the host of the nationally syndicated talk-radio show of the same name. In this interview, Egoscue argues that one’s posture has a great deal to do with one’s overall health.
How would you define health?
The answer I would give now is different from the one I would have given five years ago, 15 years ago and certainly 30 years ago. Thirty years ago, I would have said that health is the absence of pain. Fifteen years ago, I would have said that health is the absence of limitations. Five years ago, I would have said that the definition of health is a combination of the absence of pain and limitation. Today, I will tell you that health is peace of mind. That means a variety of things to me: no obstacles to staying in the moment, whether physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual; no obstacles stopping a person from realizing that they’re not separate and distinct, but a part of the whole; no obstacles that prevent and restrict a quiet mind.
What is the Egoscue Method?
The Egoscue Method is a postural therapy program that involves a series of stretches and gentle exercises. It’s designed to treat musculoskeletal pain without drugs, surgery or manipulation, which enables people to live an active, pain-free life. We’re the world leader of non-medical pain relief because we’re the “posture people.”
Do different people have problems with their posture for a variety of reasons?
The reason for misaligned posture is that the human body—in its perfection of design—is a wonderfully adaptable, compensating organism. That’s why we’ve had the same design for millions of years, despite the overwhelming change in stimulus. Compensated posture isn’t that there’s something wrong: Even when there’s great pain, it’s merely that the body has adapted and adjusted to the stimulus you’ve created. Everybody’s environment is different and that’s why everybody’s posture is different, even though we have the same design.
Do you help people discover causes as opposed to symptoms?
I think that the healthcare paradigm has shifted. The old paradigm is an expert-driven system. The old paradigm has died and, like all paradigms that shift, it doesn’t know it yet. The new paradigm is a patient-driven system. We’ve become merely facilitators. We allow the customers to come to their own conclusion and understand that they need to change their mind from an outlook that’s pessimistic and hopeless, from expectations that are immediate, from speech that’s outward-directed. Pain is merely a voice: You have all the tools you need to lead a pain-free life, to correct your posture, to get out of a crappy job.
Our view has changed so much that seven years ago, we would spend 90 cents of every training dollar on the implementation of posture. Today, we spend 95 cents of every dollar on the psychology of communication. We try to create an atmosphere where our clients can come and change their minds. We give them the tools so they can change their minds and lead a pain-free life.
How do you communicate these concepts to people?
We’re not New Age-y. The message is timeless; we didn’t invent it. We go to expectations: We say, “There’s a process here. It’s a pain, no-pain process. Let’s get your mind off your pain and onto your life.” All of our patients are referrals. They expect coming in the door that we’re going to get them out of pain. We allow them an atmosphere and a process where they become confident enough in their outlook, speech, mannerisms and posture so they know they have the wisdom , tools, energy and time to correct the cause of the malady.
Step by step, pessimism is replaced by optimism, immediacy is replaced by long-term, struggling is replaced by striving, faltering is replaced by steadfastness, guilt is replaced by responsibility, drained is replaced by nurturing and exhausted is replaced by enlightenment. The message is very simple, very powerful: You know and you always did. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t. You will know if you can quiet your mind. Bring yourself to the present. You are the expert. You always were, you always will be.
What’s your view of exercise?
We’ve got more health clubs per capita than any other country in the entire world, and we are, by some measurements, the unhealthiest nation. I think we’re unhealthy because we’re disconnected.
How much can we heal if we’re focused only on the external issues?
The old me would have said 100%. The new me would say it’s possible to control your symptoms but impossible to get well.
For more information about Pete Egoscue, visit www.egoscue.com.