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HEADACHES – How does Myotherapy really work?

The actual pain that you present with is normally just the ‘visible’ part of your problem. Your movement patterns are what really need to change to address the ‘cause’ of your pain.

Let me explain . . .

The human body will deliberately and subtly restrict your movement in response to injury or overuse for weeks or months before it even gives you pain! The pain is the ‘last resort’, your body’s final means of communication. So it is not enough for treatment to just resolve the pain; treatment must restore healthy movement if results are to last.

The secret to resolving long-standing pain is in the practitioner’s ability to address the subtle restrictions in movement that the body has adopted in attempt to avoid the pain. Once normal healthy movement is restored, lasting relief is achieved. Myotherapy treatment gives pain relief, enabling better movement which leads to lasting improvement.

Pain Relief > Movement > Lasting Improvement

When it comes to lasting resolution of chronic pain these words should be a mantra that both therapist and patient live by: ‘Pain relief > Movement > Lasting Improvement’

What do I mean? Let me explain using ‘Mary’ with headaches as our fictitious example.

Pain relief . . .

Mary has had a reoccurring headache for weeks now, and is keeping ‘Panadol’ in business. A Myotherapist can determine where the pain is coming from by carefully charting where the head pains are strongest. Then accurate manipulation of the offending muscles, tendons or nerves will resolve the pain. This is great, Mary gets a few days or even weeks of relief BUT this is not going to give permanent relief and so it s not a real solution. Because Mary has to come back regularly to get relief this creates a patient-therapist dependency, which is great for the therapist if they need to pay off their car loan but not great for Mary, who is trying to pay off hers!

The first treatment or two addresses the pain in order to give relief. This pain relief is really just a ‘window in time’ for Mary and therapist to address the real issue: her unhealthy movement patterns.

Movement . . .

What most people do not realise is that when the body experiences pain it adopts limitations in movement to compensate. An obvious example is: a painful knee will cause a limp. But a more subtle and yet very common example would be a patient like Mary with headaches has learned not to use a full range of movement in her neck.

On assessment it is clear that Mary’s neck is restricted in movement on one side. Yet because the restriction is subtle and is only felt in the last few degrees of movement, she hadn’t noticed. The body had though. Mary’s body had adopted a restriction in the right lower angle of the neck as well as a restriction in the left upper front of the neck. Finally there is a third restriction in the left shoulder blade, further down the spine. These restrictions are so subtle that they are only noticeable on an extreme range of movement.

Try it yourself . . .

Sit shoulders straight ahead.

Now without moving your shoulders, turn your head as far as you can to the right. Now do the same to the left.

Is one way easier than the other?

Now turn back to the side that was stiffer.

Where is the stiffness?

You might find for example that turning right you feel a stiffness in the upper neck and turning left you feel a stiffness in the lower neck?

What you are feeling are very subtle and deliberate restriction(s) your body has adopted.

If you feel no stiffness right or left but just a simple painless ‘stop’ then your neck is probably quite healthy.

This scenario is very common, often including five or six connected restrictions! But we will keep the example simple. What I am getting at is that Mary’s whole neck and upper back had ‘learned’ over months or years to function in an imbalanced and inefficient way. And Mary did not even know it. All she knew was that her head ached.

Lasting improvement . . .

The only long term solution to Mary’s headaches is not just treatment of the symptom but treatment of the unhealthy pattern of movement.

Tim King

Myotherapist

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