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Alignment: The Key to Pain Relief


Knee pain. Headaches. Low back pain. Shoulder pain. Such common ailments! What to do long-term for these chronic aches and pains? Quite often, pains such as these have one thing in common: misalignment.

Alignment is all about stacking the bones in a biomechanically sound way. An architect looks at a structure and makes sure that the columns are vertical and the foundation is solid. A biomechanically inclined yoga teacher will make sure that the bones are lined up in the body at the angle they should be for optimal performance.

What can misalign us? Repetition: Poor posture over many years is a common cause of misalignment. Trauma: falling with impact (e.g. off a bike or skis). Congenital diseases such as scoliosis. The cause of the misalignment will often determine the success in the treatment: misalignments that are many years old and created with much force (trauma) or congenitally will take the longest to rectify.

Figures 1 and 2 (top left, top right) show some very common postural misalignments that can lead to pain. Notice in Figure 1 (top left) the knees are caving in slightly towards the middle, not stacked directly underneath the hips and above the ankles (Fig. 3, bottom left) as they should be for optimal alignment. This “caving in” at the knees is often accompanied by “flat feet” or “fallen arches” which can also result in foot or ankle discomfort.

Figure 2 (top right) shows the most common spinal misalignment which results in compression in both the cervical spine (just below the head), and the lumbar spine (the lower back). As a result, the muscles of the thoracic spine (mid-back) are overly lengthened and weak. The compression in the neck can decrease blood flow to the head creating severe headaches. Compression in the lower back can create lower back pain, and the weak spinal muscles between the shoulder blades will often result in what some people have referred to as an "ice pick” sensation between the shoulder blades.