Sitting Disorder, part 2

Here I was, all prepared to put together a post on how to use chairs more effectively when I discovered, to my delight (and chagrin), that I had ALREADY done a series of vids on chairs.

Not wanting to repeat myself, I’m going to link to the relevant one HERE and move on to other questions from you all.

I’ve heard one that is in this ball park from a few clients recently, so here we go:

Am I “too far gone”?

In other words, I’ve heard people say they’re too old, too beat up, had too many car accidents, etc.

Here are a couple of preliminary thoughts.

1.  There are certain limitations that are difficult to overcome. Examples are surgeries to repair things (ligament repairs, pins, plates, joint replacements, other metallic objects and other issues) and broken bones, if they’ve healed poorly or been broken badly enough that they lost their original structure.

The thing to remember in this situation is that it’s not over, just that this new limitation will need to be what you balance the rest of the structure around.  Now, back up and read the last sentence again, ’cause it’s really important.  Expanding on that idea, you can get a lot of freedom in the body if you balance it to it’s “new” limitations.  But if you try to make it how it was before, you will end up frustrated and/or causing other problems.

2. You’re never too old, beat up, etc. to make at least some improvement. You have to decide if it’s what you want to do or not.  Nothing will trump your decision.  I’ve worked with clients from newborn to 88 years old.  The clients insistence that they can do it and change things is the single most important ingredient in the recipe.

3. Any rehab project will require four things:

a.  a super-skilled bodyworker (such as yours truly)

b.  being committed to the goal

c.  a consistent program of good diet and exercise

d.  time

Let’s unpack those one at a time:

a. a super-skilled bodyworker. You’ll need someone who understands the idea that the body is a fluid system and that its alignment and mechanics can be changed with the right touch and exercises.  While there are systems that work better than others, it’s better to focus on the quality of the practitioner.  Listen for unusual words that their clients use to describe them like “genius”, “magician” and “i’m not sure what they did, but look at me!”

b. nothing, and I mean nothing, will help if you’re not committed to getting where you want to be.  Despite all the marketing hoo-haa out there, the number one ingredient in any self-improvement project looks at you in the mirror every morning. As the man said, nothing succeeds like persistence.

c.  You must have good nutrition and a conditioning program that you can do FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. You cannot out-train a bad diet (I know because I tried for years) and you MUST have good base strength and flexibility to keep the momentum going.  The bottom line is this: the body is a use-it-or-loose-it system.  If you stop using it, it stops working how you want it to.

This is not to say that you have to look like a swimsuit model or the dudes on the cover of men’s fitness mags.  A good routine will give you strength, endurance and flexibility that will last your whole life, not take hours and hours every week (or like some routines I’ve seen and tried, hours every day).  I’m a huge fan of functional strength and flexibility, and bodyweight exercises.  They don’t take long, pay huge benefits and keep your workout times to a minimum.

d.  Time. Sorry to be the bearer of potentially bad news, but despite the overload of marketing BS promising you everything tomorrow (jeez, don’t get me started…), things took a period of time to get how they are now, so they will take consistent applied effort over time to change them.  There are no substitutes for this rule that I’ve found in over 20 years.  There are no hard and fast charts for how long a particular problem with take, but don’t expect to sort out the back pain you’ve had for 5 years in a week or two; it’s happened, but it’s a VERY rare occurrence.

Lest you despair, let me finish with a little inspiration. When I was first getting started as a bodyworker (back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, as far as my children are concerned), I had the extreme good fortune to have a client referred to me that helped me really understand these ideas.

This person came to me after being in a severe car accident, one which resulted in her car being totaled and her being in the hospital for quite some time with a closed-head brain injury.  Her injuries were compounded by the fact that she had Polio as a child – in the days when the surgeons went wild, resulting in her having lost track of how many surgeries she had had.  The surgeons had moved muscle attachments in multiple places in the quest for having my client be better able to use what muscle she had left at her command.  Most bizarrely, they had fused her ankles, but at different angles – one was fused at 90 degrees, the other at about 45 degrees of plantar flexion (toes toward being pointed).

Needless to say, the accumulation of stresses from the surgeries were a problem, but compound those over time and then add a near-catastrophic car accident.  When I saw her for the first time, I heard her say that one of her main goals was to be able to walk more than 50 feet without pain.  Yes, you read that right – she couldn’t walk across a parking lot without being in agony.

So we worked, using all of the above ideas.  I saw her twice a week for about 8 months.  She started noticing improvements in how she felt and moved within a month or so.  By the 6 month mark, she was hiking with a pack on.  By 8 months, she could bicycle, cross-country ski and hike for miles.

Keep in mind that the doctors and PTs had given up.  They gave her the best pain killers and muscle relaxants around and said, “Get used to it.”  She hobbled in to her first session with me.  She refused to give up and worked consistently at healing.  I was deeply honored to be part of that process.

If she recovered from that, you can do it, too.

You’re never a lost cause.

9 Replies to “Sitting Disorder, part 2”

  1. The story about your client is really inspirational, Chris, as are your three points regarding the question “Am I gone too far”!
    In my opinion this post takes away any excuses that anybody of sensible age could bring up! Thank you.

  2. Hi chris
    this looks all very much like I work and think .
    I would like to get to your tools to see . but I only can get to the upper pages on your website . please let me know how I can get to the products .
    and see the descriptions etc .
    thanks barbara

  3. Hi Barbara – Thanks for the sweet note. I’m developing a few products at the moment, and the one I’ve got available right now can be found on any page by hovering your mouse over “Courses & Products” and then clicking on “No More Back Pain.” (or you can CLICK HERE). I’ll keep you up to date on new products as they become available.

  4. chris–i just ran across you on you tube–have had back issues most of my life–very bad for the last 15 years–go to chriopractor anywhere from 3 times a week to hopefully once every 2 weeks and getting worse-from my low back to my neck-i hurt sitting, standing, lying down,and walking–have 23 mm build up on shoes to make up for short leg–many issues left out here–what have you got to help me–desperatley seeking an answer–doug

  5. Hi Doug – sorry to hear that you’re suffering. I can offer you my book, No More Back Pain, which should go a long way towards giving you some relief. And, if you’re anywhere near Northern VA, I could help you myself. Failing that, I’m always available for consultations over video link. Contact me at and we’ll see what we can do. -Chris

  6. Hi Marguerita – Thanks for the kind words. I’d love to respond to you, but I need to know exactly which post you’re referring to in your question. Let me know and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
    – Chris

  7. I really enjoyed reading your story above. I have never heard anything like that. Your youtube videos are great too! Couple days ago I come across this book “healing back pain” by J Sarno MD and started reading it briefly while searching around at my local Barnes n Nobles. If you are familiar with the book and the doctors ideas, would you mind in a short paragraph share your opinion on that. I greatly appreciate your time and the effort you put in to build this awesome web site full of great resources of personal experiences.

  8. Hi Dima –

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I’ve read Dr. Sarno’s books and have been pleased with their ideas for the most part. Here’s the important bit, in my opinion: The mind AND the body are not a separate entity; you need to work with both to get the result you want. While I think that Dr. S has made the very important point that some focus must be put on the mental aspects of healing, it is also equally true that you need to respect your tissues and work with them with the same focus.

    The times that I’ve worked with clients to shift their mental focus and bring their attention to how they use their bodies and how they talk to (and about) themselves are too many to mention. The results that that sort of focus brings accelerate the work we do together and help to maintain the work afterword.

    That being said, you need to be cautious about putting too much importance on the mental game. There are times when the only alternatives that will move things forward are surgical intervention. This is NOT to say that all other options shouldn’t be exhausted first – as I’ve said for years: once you cut it, you can’t go back.

    As a case in point – one of my clients had been struggling with back pain for some time when I got to him. We worked diligently to correct the problem, but although he had relief for a few days after I saw him, the work wouldn’t “hold”. The option of surgery was discussed and taken – and we’ve been very successful in post-surgical rehab: the work holds and he continues to get better and better.

    Hope that’s helpful!

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