Pain Series Part 3: Top 7 Corrective and Restorative Therapies for Chronic Pain

Pain Series Part 3: Top 7 Corrective and Restorative Therapies for Chronic Pain

Movement-based therapies such as yoga, tai chi, qigong and more mainstream forms of exercise are gaining acceptance in the world of chronic pain management. Many pain clinics and integrative medicine centers now offer movement-based therapy for pain caused by (dis)eases; like cancer and cancer treatment, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and other (dis)eases and conditions.

Here I offer you seven of my top therapies that I have used  on and off to manage injuries, back pain, IBS and intermittent colitis, as well as coached clients through or referred clients, which has resulted in better movement, overcoming pain and restoration of their well-being.

In my own practice I am able to pull from a gambit of tools; where , Yin Yoga, deep breathing, NLP guided brain wave work and corrective transitional movement are part of my weekly pain management regime. Apart from what I can guide myself through, we all know that a support system and integrated teach is key. You can’t do it all yourself. Therefore, many of the therapies listed below I cycle in every 4-6 weeks. The first step is to always remember to honor the process and have patience as you progress. The second step is to ensure you keep moving. Humans are made to move, we are not meant to be stagnant. The less you move the more you will “feel” pain, your fascia will stiffen and you will lose strength. Train smart, not hard and take time to re build the trust in your training. The third step is understanding that there will be obstacles, detours and pit stops along the way. Like all things in life – unpredictability is a constant, so be prepared to have feedback from your body. In the beginning, your pain may increase, but this is a natural response, a protective response. If you keep your pain as an observer and your goal of living pain free as your driver, your body will respond as such, just give it time. Every step you take makes you stronger and brings you that much closer to the well-being you wish to achieve.


Yin Yoga & Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing:

Yoga and the art of pranayama are ancient systems developed in India that address the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the individual. Studies have shown its positive effect on stress through a decrease in serum cortisol levels and increase in brain alpha and theta waves. It may also be of benefit by increasing self-awareness, relaxation on physical and emotional levels, respiration, and self-understanding (Nespor, 1991). Decreased stress may positively influence the emotional component of pain. On this basis, it has been advocated as part of a multimodality program for back pain (Nespor, 1989). In clinical studies, yoga has reduced the pain of osteoarthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome (Garfinkel, 2000), and promoted stress reduction and positive mood (Kerr, 2000; Schell, 1994). These are just a few of the many studies that show Yoga as an instrumental benefit to anyone living with chronic pain.

Committing to a regular practice of deep breathing is the first place to start. Learning how to train the body and mind to move with breath will help, not only to break down that protective “turn on” of our auto stress response, which leads to contraction and “tightness,”  deep breathing will help release and relax tissue, as well as work to supplies every organ with necessary oxygen and blood to help restore function.


Scott Sonnon, Intu-Flow and Prasara Yoga: 

NLP Integration and Somatic Healing:

The power of language goes beyond words. Combining the methods of NLP and Yoga; two powerful schools of thought; you can experience the transformational tools that can lead you towards breaking down barriers that hold you back from greater potential. A private yoga setting is the perfect space to connect the body and mind through practiced, sequential postures; while utilizing the power behind guided meditation and language to encourage your consciousness to overcome obstacles, de stress, restore and rejuvenate.

Meditation is proven to have a huge influence on brain activity and physical response. Meditation produces significant increases in activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive characteristics like optimism and resilience, as well as “higher” executive functions. By tapping into the mindfulness of meditation and focused movement, you can reduce stress levels, by reducing the production of cortisol and regulate your adrenal glands (the organs designed for fight or flight). This in turn encourages your immune system to function in optimal levels.

Somatic education emerged during the twentieth century, but has been practiced in Eastern traditions for centuries. Western science classifys somatic healing and somatic education; a term used interchangeably, as an internalized learning process which is initiated by a teacher who guides the client or student through a sensory-motor process of physiological change.

When we speak of self-teaching, self-learning, self-healing, and self-regulation, we know that this is a somatic process, and as coaches and teachers we must guide our clients to the understanding that these are genetically-given capacities intrinsic to all human beings. When we combine guided meditation and yoga, the body can undergo a transformation.

NLP Integration:

Corrective Movement:

Repetition in movement and altered movement patterns through compensation can cause imbalances in the body and increase the high sensory stress response in clients with chronic pain. This can lead to changes in the elasticity of the tissue. And as most of us know when we feel pain, we tend to do less; which leads to the body getting weaker and the tissue getting tighter. This fear of movement is the number one cause that continues the viscous cycle of pain.

There is evidence that if you perform slow paced movements with regular breathing and slow the heart rate, you can calm or quiet the autonomic nervous system. Slow paced, corrective movement can ensure a client’s success towards moving away from pain and moving into a more stable and pain free existence. This tempo and focused intention can target the pathways by shutting off or diminishing the inflammatory response that causes chronic pain. Many of my clients who suffer from chronic pain show better movement and reduced tightness, tone and neuropathy after 12 weeks of consistent corrective movement 2 times per week.

Functional Movement Systems: Understanding Corrective Movement  Video:

Tai Chi  (Taiji) and Qigong:  

are gentle movement practices that have been used for centuries in China for health. As a form of exercise and relaxation they have been used to improve balance and stability, reduce pain and stress, improve cardiovascular health, and promote mental and emotional calm and balance. In the area of pain management, scientific studies have shown their benefit in reducing stress, as evidenced by alpha and theta brain wave increases, increases in B endorphin levels and drop in ACTH levels (Ryu, 1996). Effectiveness has also been shown for complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain when combined with education and relaxation training (Creamer, 2000; Berman, 1997). Studies continue to clarify the mechanisms of action, benefits and applications of these movement practices for health maintenance and disease management.

Shou-Yu Liang (SYL) Wushu Taiji Qigong Institute:

KMI Structural Integration

KMI is expressed in two parallel through awareness of movement and Structural Integration; which is a hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic communication. This technique allows the client and practitioner engage in precisely structured movement explorations that involve sensing, moving, energy work and relaxation. The design of KMI is to unwind the strain patterns and compensations residing in your body’s locomotors system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. Common strain patterns come about from inefficient movement habits, poor posture habits, and our body’s response to our external environment. Individual strain patterns can come from imitation when we are young, from the invasions of injury or surgery or birth, and from our body’s response to traumatic episodes. Compensation begets compensation, and more symptoms. KMI is designed to unwind this process and reduce structural stress. The method depends on a unique property of the body’s connective tissue network.

Structural Integration attempts to make one aware of his/her habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and to expand options for new ways of moving while increasing sensitivity and improving efficiency without increasing in pain.

Sherri Leigh Iwaschuk:


Millions of people worldwide use acupuncture to ease a variety of painful conditions. Ever since the 1970s, when this ancient Chinese tradition debuted in the U.S., Western researchers have sought to understand the phenomenon of acupuncture. Even though there is still some controversy surrounding the scope of this ancient treatment; many swear by it’s healing powers and how it can be an effective tool towards reducing pain. What happens when a needle is inserted into “Acu-points,” the needle stimulates pain-sensing nerves, which trigger the brain to release opium-like compounds called endorphins that circulate in the body. There are some who believe that acupuncture works through a placebo effect, in which the patient’s thinking releases endorphins.  As for myself, I have seen Mon Jef Peters, with Fit to Train and I can say that it has worked wonders for me.

Fit to Train Human Performance Systems:


Osteopathy is a well-established branch of complementary medicineIt is a gentle hands-on treatment that aims to adjust your body’s structure (the alignment of bones, joints and muscles) so that you can function at your best, physically and mentally. The osteopath uses physical manipulation, stretching and massage to correct imbalances in the joints and muscles. Osteopathic treatment can also help problems that seem to have nothing to do with joints. Chronic fatigue, asthma and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) have all been successfully treated.

Correcting joint imbalances and postural problems allows your body to heal itself, freeing blood circulation and trapped nerves.

Roderia Ostepathy Wellness Art:

Additional Articles and Links:

5 Excuses to Skip Yoga And 5 Reasons to Do It Anyways!

Although most of the time I have a lot of motivation I find myself sometimes lacking the discipline that could so nicely compliment it. This lack of discipline can lead me into a lot of trouble, but I’m working out ways to really listen to my body as to when it’s best to simply rest and when I should muster up both the motivation (and discipline) to persevere. As we know, if we want to really reap the benefits of yoga, we have to consistently practice and keep our focus.

1. I’m tired. This is probably the biggest excuse and the most frequently used (and probably the most valid given that a lot of us work a full-time job. Yoga a mere compliment to everything else we do). But, there are ways to get past fatigue. One of those ways is to get moving. Taking a few minutes for sun salutations to simply warm the body up could be all it takes to re-energize and prepare for a full practice (5 Sun Salute A’s and 5 Sun Salute B’s and a nice 5 minute Savasana could do the trick). Another way is restorative poses. Staying in a few restorative poses for 5-10 minutes can help to restore some lost energy (supported backbend for savasana, and a personal fave, supported legs up the wall pose). There are times when it’s best to refrain from practice all together (some refrain during their period, a new moon, full moon or sickness). Given these times, it’s most important to listen to your body and to do what’s best for it. And, let us not forget about meditation! We don’t always need a yoga practice to meditate!

2. I ate too much. This one has sabotage written all over it. You pretty much know when your class time is and if you have a home self-practice, well then, you have no excuse really as you can wait until your belly is ready. If you aren’t eating during the day because your life is too busy, then it’s probably a really good time to bring some balance (and nourishment) back in so as to not miss a class that can be so good for someone who is so busy (and possibly frazzled).

3. I don’t want to leave the house. For whatever reason, we all feel like we want to be hermit (or feeling shy) from time to time. In those instances, and if you don’t have a home self-practice, there are A LOT of great teachers who offer online classes. And, not that the online classes should replace the real thing (as we could miss out on great adjustments, the connectivity, etc), but sometimes online classes are exactly what we need when we don’t feel like going anywhere or perhaps when the weather isn’t great for driving, walking or cycling.

4. Oh I’m a little sore. Perhaps we’ve done a bit too much of this or that that has left us a little bit sore. Well, yoga is just the thing for sore muscles (of course listening to your body in order to not over do it). Yoga helps to relax tight muscles and helps to remove lactic acid build up (the stuff that makes muscles sore). Yoga can actually help the body recover faster from whatever other training sessions we endure.

5. I’m feeling depressed. There’s nothing that can’t turn that frown upside down like some yoga can. Yoga has been proven to help elevate mood and help with temporary phases of depression. Some of my favorite postures for when I’m feeling blue include, all-levels backbends (upward bow pose, bridge pose, camel pose and upward facing dog). Sometimes a good Vinyasa or a sweaty Ashtanga class can also help get you back in the swing of things.

What are your experiences, excuses, and reasons to keep going?

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