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What is our personal experience with AiM?

In a word…it’s hope. 

Tired of prolonged histories of chronic pain, 2 of our Osteopaths had been on the merry-go-round of trying to feel good for years.  We weren’t trying to feel amazing, we were just after a bit of a break from the daily grind of chronic pain. 

One of us had a 30 year history of headaches & migraine, eating codeine almost daily to get by, and the other, a history of a disc so bad they required surgery at 19 years old, but never able to really move on from it, always teetering on the edge of another episode.

Our days existed of trying to get through, and often silently struggling along.  In a way we had both resigned ourselves to thinking that our bodies were just “this way” and it was plain bad luck.   We had plenty of reasons we thought this way.

You’ve probably heard some of these reasons yourself:

  1. I’m getting older
  2. I sit at a desk too much
  3. I’m on my feet too much
  4. I’m not on my feet enough
  5. I use a mouse
  6. I used a shovel
  7. It’s genetic
  8. I haven’t got a high enough pillow
  9. I haven’t got a low enough pillow
  10. I have lazy posture
  11. My core is too weak
  12. My gluts are too weak
  13. My hip flexors are too tight
  14. I have degenerative joints
  15. I have loose joints
  16. My ligaments are wound too tight
  17. Everyone gets something
  18. I’m doing their prescribed exercises wrong
  19. My X-ray/MRI/CT scan SAYS SO…

Our first “what the…” moment

In 2016, our group of Osteopaths were lucky enough to find the eye-opening & insightful body work with Gary Ward from Anatomy in Motion (Author of: What the Foot)

Why was this education eye-opening?? 

For years we had done our best to alleviate the problems WE were experiencing. However, our struggle was clear in that we were unable to get rid of our pain complaints and didn’t understand WHY.  We were left in the space of managing pain.  Maybe that’s also familiar for you.

The eye-opener was that Gary explained and demonstrated the natural movement potential our body has mechanically as a whole-structure rather than as parts.  He also explained that when parts are missing their movement potential, this affects the whole structure in a predictable fashion. 

It is the predictability that became the game-changer.  

But how can we predict how one part could affect the whole structure?
To answer that, we look at the facts about the human body.

Learning human anatomy we go to the books.  Anatomy books can be written with such accuracy because the human body is the human body, it’s a consistent structure and shape that is predictable.  All the structures are predictable, the muscles, discs, organs, vessels…the lot.  A few variations can occur but mostly not. 

The joints that lie between the bones are also a consistent shape, and it’s with the joints that our work is focused.  Every other structure is important but the joints and bones provide the framework everything sits on.  It’s the foundation for movement potential. If the framework is imbalanced in movement, everything else will be also, muscles, discs, organs, vessels…the lot.  Kind of obvious when someone points it out hey!

Finally things were making perfect sense as to WHY we had resigned ourselves to managing our chronic pain.  We weren’t looking at the evidence that exists in all of us.  Our framework design.  Read on.

If the anatomy books are able to descibe joint structure they must be consistent in shape from person-to-person.
What is the significance?

Evolution is not random, it’s selective.  Our human body design is precisely they way it is for a reason.

And it’s in the design of the joint surfaces that you discover the clues for the smoothest way we are intended to move.  A way that feels light, easy and efficient.

But there are plenty of other versions accessible that occur as a result of the impact of our individual history, be it fractures, surgeries, injuries, scars etc.

It’s these compensatory versions our Osteopaths are interested in. 

For example. For fluency, when the knee joint bends, the hip joint should do “this” (insert predictable movement), the pelvis should then move like “that” with the spine (insert predictable movement), the spine segments glide best to these directions (insert predictable movement) and so on all the way up to the highest neck joints combining with the skull, and also downwards, below the knee through the foot to the toes. Predictable movement patterns based on the shape of the joint surfaces.

But if the knee joint bends poorly, a bit crooked, maybe a little too much pressure in one spot, all the other joints above and below have to accommodate for this change and adapt to a different position creating a compensatory version, one that doesn’t flow and is instead potentially clunky.   

So if our combinations are a bit askew then something, somewhere is going to cop it & become a pain hot-spot. It may not even be the knee, even if the knee started the whole thing off as in this example.  That’s where our higher level of inquiry comes in.  The ability to identify the true cause and relate it to the whole-body posture.

How did Gary work this out?
There’s a You Tube video podcast below answering this question.
Have a listen!  It may be your eye-opening moment.
(but read this first, it’s good for background & context)
Bewildered…jaws open…the penny started to drop. 

Think of it this way… When a part of the body stops moving in the way it was designed to, the body still wants to achieve that desired motion…somehow.  In doing so it may have some parts move a lot more to compensate, or lots of parts moving a little bit more, but the key point is they are now moving in ways they were not optimally designed to.

And we were learning a model aimed at deciphering the impact of the missing movements.  We were gaining an understanding of the significance of our own movement deficits and why we had always struggled with chronic pain.

If every little unit has a specific movement to do, and one of those units stops or changes the way it moves, the others need to take up the slack to achieve the same output.  In some cases the extra load may be spread evenly but in other cases all the extra load may be taken by just a few units. 

There was a profound realisation occurring for us.

Our chronic pain issues had developed from compensatory movement patterns.  And that our painful hot-spots were really out of balance in terms of movement potential.

The painful states and stiffness we were feeling, were adapted patterns to compensate for something not moving as it was designed to. 

However, we were also realising we might be able to undo the compensation patterns via the root cause and replace them with fluent efficient movement. 

By methodically identifying the problem structure, and re-training it’s movement, the endless tirade of pain might cease.  We would be reversing the domino-effect that had occurred in the first place.  An unravelling of these postural imbalances.

And thinking about the bigger picture, we weren’t alone. 
As a society we are suffering in a potentially unnecessary cesspool of chronic complaints, repetitive complaints of pain.

We had been privvy to the existence of this for years in clinic, listening to people’s stories of pain, spreading pain and gradually worsening.

  • headaches and migraine
  • neck pain
  • foot pain
  • back pain
  • and the rest…there’s so many when you start to think about it!

It’s wherever YOUR repetitive pain hot-spot is.  So often people complain of that place in the back of the shoulder blade and think it’s their fault for having bad posture.  Maybe that’s not the case.

chronic pain | body flow project | anatomy in motion

Not to mention the growing number of surgeries, clean-outs, removing bits, putting in bits, changing bits in a search to feel less pain and move better.

It brought up many questions for us about pain.  About repetitive pain, repetitive conditions.

It now made sense why we had been stuck with our own chronic issues and had justified it with all kinds of statements.

Anatomy in Motion | Katie Willy | Elise Fuller | Tristan Joss | Steph Klupacs

Want to know more?

Listen to this Gary Ward Podcast seen below perfectly titled “Returning to Centre” 

How Gary discovered how we move.