All Notions of Good Posture are Grossly Incomplete and Obsolete

Why are all notions of good posture grossly incomplete and obsolete?

They’re incomplete because they apply to a non-moving position — and life is altogether about movement.  If it isn’t moving, it’s dead.

So, to take “spinal curves”, for example, the lower-back (or lumbar) curve exists to distribute the weights above (chest, shoulders and head) and below (pelvis and legs) for balance.  When you bend over to pick something up, your curve changes.  If it doesn’t change, you’re stiff.  Same with your neck curve.

Balance-in-movement is the overriding “imperative” (or necessary purpose) of all posture; balance is what makes all other actions possible. If you’re out of balance, you’re unstable — and then what happens to you, whichever movement or activity you are involved in?

Your curves change continually, as you move, to maintain easy balance.

This is not to say that there’s no such thing as too much or too little curvature in the spine. There are such things — but they can’t be corrected in any lasting way by adjustments or by holding on to “good posture”.  Adjustments don’t last and holding on to good posture doesn’t lend itself to good movement.  You can’t go through life holding on to “good posture”; as soon as your attention goes to something else, you forget about posture. So, that approach is entirely impractical.

That’s why notions of “good posture” are obsolete.

What’s the alternative?

Good movement.  Good movement takes care of good posture, automatically.

Improving Movement (“Muscle”) Memory

Good movement isn’t something that you maintain by moment to moment discipline, by efforts to maintain good movement.  That’s no more practical than holding on to “good posture”.  Good movement is “good movement memory” — done automatically and fine-tuned by the movements of the moment.

How do you develop good movement memory?  You develop it the same way as you develop any other memory:  repeated experience until the memory forms.  It’s a temporary discipline.

It’s also a discipline that few undertake.  With movement, as with most other activities, most people stop developing with the minimum learning needed to get by, just as with handwriting, cooking — and walking.

Next time you’re out in public, watch people walk.  How few are a pleasure to watch!  Many people lumber; some plod; some bounce; many lean to one side or come down heavier on one side than the other — or come down heavy on each side, as they walk.  So many are ungainly — and it isn’t genetic; it’s movement memory.

Few efforts to improve movement memory work.  Most involve stretching and strengthening.  Just try stretching or strengthening any other kind of memory and see how far you get, changing it.

To be fair, let’s look at each:  stretching and strengthening.


Stretching muscles generally involves pitting one muscle group against another — even the muscles of one person against the muscles of another (as in assisted stretching, massage, or professional adjustments).

The experience is generally uncomfortable and, if at all successful, is only temporarily so.  Old muscular tensions (and posture) reappear in short order.  (That’s why there’s a term, “chiropractic lifestyle”.)  So, movement memory isn’t changed, but only temporarily overpowered.

Now, apply that to other kinds of memory.  Think of an unpleasant memory.  I’m not suggesting this to torture you, but to illustrated a point more quickly.

Stretching an unpleasant memory would be like trying to avoid remembering it — or practicing denial.  How effective is that?  You tend to react the same old way in a similar situation, don’t you.There’s always a strain, isn’t there?

Movement memory is just that: the memory of the feeling of a movement (how to move) that controls action.

If you want to change movement memory, you need another approach, one that deals with memory the way memory actually works.  I’ll get to that once I’ve dealt with strengthening.


Strengthening muscles to improve posture means only one thing:  that those muscles aren’t strong enough to overpower their opposing muscle groups, which are always tight.  

Generally, those “weaker” muscles aren’t really weaker, but just tired from working against their opposing muscles.  They don’t need strengthening, but refreshment — and that refreshment is possible only when their opposing muscles relax from being tight all the time. 

Another effect of muscles being held tight (by movement memory) is that your brain causes their opposing muscles to slacken to allow the tight muscles to cause movement without counter-interference.  We feel that slackening as weakness, but it isn’t weakness; it’s how coordination works.  Although strengthening muscles to improve posture may be meant to work against that, it doesn’t work.

By the way, tight muscles are usually ticklish, sore to pressure, or painful from muscle fatigue —  so, you’ve got painful muscles on one side and “weak” (tired) muscles on the other.  Tight muscles drag you out of good posture and that make good posturing tiring.

Do you think you’re going to strengthen muscles to correct your posture and have it stay “corrected” under those conditions?  You’ll only make them tighter and sore — and make yourself stiffer.

Good posture is natural only as a condition of freely coordinated balance, not as a condition of effort (which you can’t maintain under ordinary conditions of life because you can’t continually pay attention, to it).  You’ve got to free the tight muscles, not make the tired muscles stronger.

Now, let’s take on memory in terms of strengthening.

That would be like trying to convince yourself that things happened differently than they did, that the old memory wan’t real.  That’s known as self-deception.  You can work really hard to convince yourself, but how effective is that?  You will still tend to have stress and strain in that area of life, won’t you?

So, we’ve dispensed with stretching and strengthening as approaches to good posture (because they don’t effectively deal with movement memory) and with the standard notion of good posture, itself.

We’re in the home stretch, now (pun unintentional, but recognized!)

Improving Movement (“muscle”) Memory

By, “improving”, I mean “developing a more satisfactory experience of something”.

A more satisfactory experience of movement memory is a more satisfactory experience of movement — both in terms of comfort and in terms of motion or action.

There’s an alternative to stretching or strengthening that’s entirely natural and that everybody’s experienced in a simple form.  It involves relaxation, rather than stretching, and refreshment, rather than strengthening.  It’s called, “pandiculation”.

I’ll let the video tell and show you, about it.  Click, below:

If you want good posture, learn pandiculation to free yourself of muscle tensions that drag you down, out of good posture, and that make good posture tiring.  Learn pandiculation to make good posture natural.  Learn pandiculation to refresh yourself.  Learn pandiculation.

So, that’s why all notions of good posture are grossly incomplete and obsolete — and what you can do that feels better and works better at making good posture easy and natural.

Lawrence Gold has practiced clinical somatic education professionally since 1990, with a world-wide clientele composed generally of people needing to get out of pain.  All of his clients end up with better posture and movement, along with being pain-free.  You can free the tight muscles that drag you down, by yourself, with  the general program of somatic education (pandiculation) exercises called, The Cat Stretch Exercises (involves neither a cat, nor stretching).

How to Get Lower Back Pain Relief


If you want to know how to get lower back pain relief, you need to learn how to get your back muscles, which never relax, to relax. That’s exactly what’s necessary and is usually entirely sufficient. I explain, below.

To relax your back is not something someone can do, for you; you have to learn to do it, yourself. It’s not difficult, but you have to do it entirely differently from the usual way you try to relax.

To relax your back this way brings lasting relief faster than the usual therapies and without need for long periods of repeated therapy sessions.  It comes from a new discipline in the field of healthcare, called clinical somatic education.

I explain this new way of getting muscles to relax, and the differences between the usual back pain therapies and clinical somatic education, in this piece.  If you’ve been frustrated by the lack of lasting relief from the usual therapies, you’ll like this approach.

Searching For A Solution

I’ll start with a listing of approaches you may have tried, so you know that I’m taking your experience into account.

There are strengthening and stretching exercises, pain meds, muscle relaxants, skeletal manipulation, spinal decompression devices, acupuncture, bodywork of various sorts, yoga and laser therapy.

You may be familiar with these therapeutic approaches. You may have found that they bring relief that lasts no more than a few days or a few hours. Practitioners end up administering the same treatment again, and again and, if asked, tell you that’s what you should expect.

Of the approaches I listed, the ones that sound like they come closest to relaxing your back muscles are stretching and massage. Neither of these approaches works any better than the others because any relaxation they produce is temporary. It’s temporary because your brain controls your muscle tension and your brain is conditioned to maintain your muscular tension at a “set point” to which your back muscles return: always tight.

So, what you need is a way to change your brain-conditioning to change the resting state of your back muscles to relaxation, instead of to, “always tight.”

Another way of saying, “change your brain-conditioning” is, “relearn control of your muscles.” “Conditioning” and “learning” are the same thing.

If, after reading this article, you still want to explore some of the usual therapeutic approaches, perhaps you’d best bookmark this page. You can come back to it after you’ve finished your tour (and testing) of those other approaches. I expect you’ll be back.


What the usual approaches have in common is that they all attempt to counteract  or oppose symptoms that keep reappearing. They address symptoms, not the causes of those symptoms.  “Symptoms” include back muscle pain, spinal mis-alignment, subluxations, disc bulges, facet joint irritation, muscle spasms and sciatica; these symptoms are effects, not causes. 

For example, misalignment doesn’t cause muscle spasms; it’s the other way around: muscle spasms cause misalignment. Bones (vertebrae) go where muscles pull them.

While counteracting symptoms may seem reasonable (and is all many people care about, as long as they get some relief), it’s ineffective in the long term and leaves you having to limit your activities to protect your back.

That’s what happens when therapy doesn’t address the underlying cause.

What’s necessary is not to counteract, oppose, or suppress symptoms, but to undo their underlying cause, altogether. Counteracting, opposing, and suppressing are different from undoing the underlying cause, as I will explain, shortly.

Let’s slow down, here, and make that point clearer.


People often mistake symptoms for causes. The usual therapies all treat lower back pain symptoms as if they’re a sign of something happening to the body, rather than something that the body is doing to itself that causes the symptoms.

In that view, misalignment and subluxations “just happen”; discs bulge and degenerate because of “degenerative disc disease” (the cause of which, therapists wrongly attribute to aging, to your genes, or can’t explain). Sciatica “just happens”. Lower back pain is supposedly caused by conditions beyond our control.

But these symptoms are within your control — if you take the approach that addresses the underlying cause.

The Underlying Cause

Tight back muscles cause most back pain. The usual causes of tight back muscles are

  • an injury such as an accident or hard fall
  • frequent and ongoing repetition of bending and lifting movements
  • long-term stress (nervous tension).

In an accident, the pain, violent motions, and shock of the accident cause muscular cringing, or tightening, a reaction that sets in long-term.

In repetitive bending and lifting movements, we get so ready to do those movements that we never relax completely, and strain patterns form.

In long-term stress, we get tense and stay tense for so long that we get used to being tense and stay tense, automatically.

These situations lead to abnormal brain conditioning. Muscles stay tight, from then, on.

(A “lifting injury” isn’t an injury, at all, but a sudden spasm triggered by an increase of muscular contraction in already-too-right muscles. Contraction – burn – pain – cringe – tighter contraction – worse pain — sounds like a spasm, doesn’t it?)

Abnormal brain conditioning causes overly tight back muscles. Another term for “abnormal brain conditioning” is “abnormal habit”.

Habit keeps the muscles tight, automatically. Habit is what makes the way we move move different from the way someone else moves. Habit controls posture. Habit controls spinal alignment. Habit keeps the muscles in the state of tension originally triggered by injury, repetitive movement, or stress.

Habitual back muscle tension makes muscle spasms more likely; the tighter the habit, the more likely spasm is to occur.

Habitual back muscle tension causes most back pain.

Relief of  habitual tension can’t be done by stretching, manipulation, or any of the usual approaches I mentioned because those approaches only oppose the habit that keeps muscles tight. They don’t change itdon’t normalize it. They try to counteract it. They “resist” it. The tension habit persists.

Symptoms return shortly after the usual kinds of therapy.

Where muscles are concerned, habitual patterns of muscular tension have a special name: muscle memory (more properly called movement memory).

Ring a bell?


When chronic muscle tension ends, pain ends. Pressure comes off discs. Nerves come free from entrapment. The facet joints of vertebrae no longer rub together. Alignment corrects itself to a healthy flexibility. If tissue healing is needed (such as for irritated facet joints of vertebrae) healing can now occur.

Why Did Your Back Muscles Start To Hurt?

Simple answer: muscle fatigue, “the burn” they say to go for, in athletics. What “the burn” is, is oxygen starvation of the muscles from being too tight for too long.

Make sense?

If you pay attention to what happens in you when you’re in a hurry or in a state of intense attention (“stress”), you’ll notice that your back muscles always tighten up.

Over your lifetime, that kind of situation has happened over and over so often and for such prolonged periods of time (in your “way of life”) that you stayed tense and formed a tension habit.

You may never have noticed that you were tense that way until your back muscles started to hurt — and it may not have occurred to you that your symptoms (i.e., pain, etc.) came from your muscles being tight all the time.

Other Conditions of Low Back Pain

Tight back muscles pull neighboring vertebrae closer together, squeeze the discs in between, and cause a host of problems commonly regarded by therapists as different “disease entities” called by different names, but all from the same cause:

  • disc bulges
  • degenerative disc disease
  • spontaneous fusion of vertebrae
  • disc herniation
  • sciatica (pinched sciatic nerve)

The cure for all is the same.

Clinical Somatic Education

The purpose of clinical somatic education and somatic education exercises is to for you to relearn control of overly tight muscles, to create a new movement memory free of the muscle-tension habit. Your back muscles come free and symptoms disappear. It’s a long-term change that occurs relatively quickly, in this approach.

Clinical somatic education has two forms: clinical techniques and somatic education exercises. You may resort to either or both.

How it Works

What makes somatic education different from the usual therapies is that it uses an action related to yawning to relearn control of muscles. That action is called, pandiculation.

Usually, a person with back pain can relax only so far and no farther. They’re stuck tight. Pandiculation causes a much deeper relaxation, so so rest at true rest — which is to say, relaxed, pliant, strong and comfortable.

By pandiculating, you re-learn control of muscles. As you saw in the video, pandiculation produces results different from the usual therapies. You may have noticed that many of the “before” and “after” changes occurred after one session.

What therapies do you know of that produce that much change after one session — a lasting change? So, clinical somatic education is an exception to the rule.

Re-Learning to Control Your Back Muscles

The word, re-learn, might not quite seem to you, to fit, since you have no memory of learning control of your back muscles to begin with. That learning at first occurred when you were very young, at about three months of age, when you were first learning to lift your head and to sit up and to stand and to walk.

You need to re-learn control because, over the course of your life, you went through situations that made you tense up in ways that involved your back muscles.

You developed the unconscious habit of holding yourself tight (as if to be tight were your normal state).

Eventually, you got stuck with tight back muscles and a diagnosis of low back pain, lumbar pain, subluxation, degenerative disc disease (“DDD“), sciatica, spinal stenosis, ankylosing spondylitis, or something similar and frightening-sounding.

All you really need is to re-learn control of your back muscles.

If that seems too simple, it’s likely that you are in the grip of the memories of your previous experience of therapy or the prognosis of doctors and therapists and expect this to be like that. People often try to understand something new in terms of something they already know. But this isn’t like that.

Clinical Sessions

During clinical somatic education sessions, muscle relax and comfort improves during the session. Usually, a few sessions are required for a complete change. You come to a practitioner of clinical somatic education who guides you through pandiculation actions — which are comfortable-to-do (and which rapidly reprogram muscle/movement memory, long-term).

Below, you see a video that shows part of a typical clinical session for clearing up lower back pain.

Some practitioners offer a money-back guarantee of satisfaction.

Somatic Education Exercises

If you can’t get to a practitioner, you can get lasting relief (more gradually) by somatic education (pandiculation) exercises.

Unlike strengthening exercises or stretching, somatic education exercises work by improving control of your own muscle tension. Your muscles lengthen as you relax, accomplishing the hoped-for result of stretching. As you relax, your muscles get refreshed, again, and being refreshed, are stronger, accomplishing the hoped-for result of strengthening exercises. Pandiculation accomplishes the hoped-for result of strengthening exercises and stretching — only better.

In both cases, clinical sessions and somatic education exercises, back muscle tension virtually never returns to the painful level, but increases or decreases within a normal range under life’s stresses.

The exercises enable you to keep yourself free and comfortable so that a recurrence of symptoms is unlikely.

There is an exception. If someone’s back has been so tight for so long that discs have ruptured, or spontaneous fusion of vertebrae has started to occur, or narrowing of nerve channels (stenosis) has occurred, it’s too late. Then, it’s surgery. After that, it’s clinical somatic education to prevent a recurrence.

Clinical somatic education is a highly personalized process, not a one size fits all process, so you will have a functional assessment done of your condition before starting sessions and you’ll know, with a high degree of accuracy, how many sessions will be required (generally, a small number). You can expect relief that lasts because the underlying cause — the muscular tension habit — has been undone.

The most common question I hear from clients after a session is, “Why isn’t this better known?”

How To Get Lower Back Pain Relief

You relearn control of your back muscles and the pain disappears. This result stands in stark contrast to the approach and result of the usual therapies.

So now I’ve told you something new about back pain and how to get lower back pain relief. Consider it fully and choose what you will do. If you’re serious about getting relief from low back pain, you’ll like clinical somatic education.

Lawrence Gold is a Hanna Somatic Educator in clinical practice since 1990.  He spent 1997-1999 on-staff at The Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of the Watsonville Community Hospital, in California, before returning to private practice for a worldwide clientele. Reach him, here, if you’d like to consult him about your back pain; note the free consultation option.

Somatic Education as a Way to End Pain, Speed Recovery, and Reduce Injuries

The years take their toll on our agility and speed of recovery not through the passage of time, but through the accumulated effects of stress and injury — effects that are largely avoidable and even reversible.

Everyone’s initial reaction to insult and injury is the same: we tighten up. Sometimes, we are able to release that reaction quickly; at other times, we retain it — and suffer the effects mis-labeled as “aging” or “injury”. This “tightening up” reaction is the secret origin of the loss of agility and the lengthening of recovery time that accompany aging and that bring many athletes’ sports careers to a premature close.What these effects have in common are habituated muscular tension, restricted movement and chronic muscle fatigue.

What makes these effects mysterious is that people commonly think that if “nothing was broken”, the injury wasn’t “serious”; they ignore pain and fail to notice or give adequate care to changes of movement. So, people don’t connect their injuries (and the neuromuscular protective reflexes triggered by injuries and stress) to gradual and cumulative functional changes in performance. These changes persist because brain-conditioning doesn’t diminish with age; as a form of learning, brain conditioning (residual “muscle memory” of injuries) tends to accumulate as we become “set in our ways” in reflexive muscular tension patterns. “Injuries” don’t heal because they are not injuries; they are habituated muscular tension patterns that often outlive therapy or surgeries.

When muscles go into reflexive contraction from injuries, they generate metabolic waste products (lactic acid and others) continuously. Habituated muscular contraction blocks circulation, slowing tissue regeneration; they muscular contractions lengthen recovery times, often indefinitely.

So, to recover from injuries, two things are necessary: to erase the conditioning affecting our brain and muscular system and to reclaim control of our own bodies. To do so is possible for nearly anyone, once they are shown how.

As part of a general, pre-warmup conditioning regimen, somatic education exercises improve movement and recovery time and reduce the likelihood of injuries, even during maximum athletic activity. These patterned exercises refresh bodily-awareness and improve muscular responsiveness and coordination. Athletes can enhance their performance and reduce the likelihood of future injury.

Brain conditioning is a large part of aging. That is a large part of why pain and stiffness persists and gets worse, whatever part genetics may play. With somatic education, older athletes can improve their mobility, balance and recovery times to younger performance levels. Improvements consistent with age-reversals of ten to twenty years are common.

Somatic education helps prevent sport- and overuse-injuries, reduces post-surgical pain and speeds recovery. To clear up multiple old injures, clients typically need four to eight sessions of clinical somatic education for a definitive outcome– or an appropriate somatic education exercise program.

After recovery, new injuries can be cleared up much more quickly and self-maintenance (somatic education exercises) can reduce the likelihood of future injury.

The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
Santa Fe, NM
This article may be reproduced only in its entirety.
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Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other ‘terminal’ Diseases

Silicon Valley: home of the computer and of the computer terminal.

A large percentage of people in Silicon Valley have at least one thing in common: they spend many hours at the keyboard of a computer terminal. They have another thing in common: tight shoulders, back pain, tendinitis, and in many cases, carpal tunnel syndrome — “repetitive use injuries”.

So let me say a few words about work hygiene — things beyond “keyboard hygiene” that you may not have heard before — because if you’re going to avoid stress or repetitive use injuries, you’re going to do something different to take care of yourself. More on that, later.

Repetitive use injuries do not come from mechanical problems of the body; they, Themselves, are mechanical problems caused by habitual action patterns, ways of working. Habitual ways of working set up habitual tension patterns in your muscles and habitual states of stress. Repetitive use injuries are one physical manifestation of stress.

Your brain is an organ of learning and the master control center for your muscles and movements. If your muscles are too tight, the problem lies not in your muscles, but in your brain, which controls them. You have conditioned yourself to maintain a state of muscular tension. The mechanical problems of the body come from how you have applied yourself to your work.


You may notice that people who work at a keyboard spend long periods sitting in one position. As they do, three things happen: they enter a heightened state of concentration, they hold relatively still during those periods of concentration (except for their hands), and their breathing and circulation decrease.

Let’s look at what happens with each of those aspects of self-programming.

High Concentration for Long Periods

Usually, keyboard workers enter not merely a heightened state of concentration; they enter a state of high-speed concentration — the race to beat the deadline or to meet the quota. To work at high speed involves a heightened state of tension.

This heightened tension affects workers in two ways: their whole body gets tense, particularly in the low back, neck and shoulders; and the muscles of their forearms, which control the movements of the hands, get especially tense, possibly leading to tendinitis in the wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome. Neck tension pulls the neck vertebrae closer together and can cause pinched nerves.

Long periods of tension, like long periods of exercise, create a kind of conditioning. As someone programs themselves (i.e., learns) to meet the demands of a job — they get used to the tensions it entails. These tensions tax the body and form the bodily basis for job stress, burnout, and medical consequences.

This kind of self-conditioning also creates carpal tunnel syndrome. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which involves burning sensations and numbness down the arms, has the same origins.

Lack of Movement 

Movement interrupts tension habits. Conversely, lack of movement while under tension leads to conditioning into a state of tension. Postures become set; people “set up” like jello –but without the jiggle! They get stiff on the job. Stiff jello.

The position most people adopt when working at the keyboard involves suspending their arms with bent elbows, hands over the keyboard. This position places strain on the muscles of the back and shoulders below the shoulder blades, which prevent the shoulders from rolling forward. Those muscles get tired and sore and produce mid-back pain.

The combination of intense concentration and lack of movement is a sure formula for stiffness and stagnation. It is an often unrecognized fact that muscles pump blood as they relax and contract. Muscles that stay in heightened tension produce metabolic waste products that accumulate. The effect is stagnation and fatigue.

Circulation Decreases

In addition, muscular tension blocks blood circulation (since blood must circulate through the muscles). This tension-induced blockage makes the job of the heart even harder, deprived as it already is of the pumping action of muscles in movement.

Decreased breathing leads to decreased mental clarity and decreased productivity — not to mention decreased vitality.

Lack of good keyboard hygiene contributes to tight shoulders, to low back pain, and to Worker’s Compensation costs.


Take “stretch breaks”. A stretch break interrupts the formation of a tension habit and flushes out stagnant body fluids. There are certain movements that you can perform to prevent tension from accumulating in your back, shoulders, and forearms — not stretches, actually, but related to yawning.

Here’s a video that talks about and shows what I am talking about.

Better than a stretch break, however, is an exercise break. Five minutes of calisthenics — windmills, side-bends, and running in place — can make your morning break feel like a vacation (or at least highly refreshing).

Another way in which you can reverse the effects of prolonged keyboarding is with somatic exercises. These exercises reverse the conditioning that result in habitually tight muscles; they refresh your ability to relax.

So break your concentration. Interrupt your “productivity program”. Take care of yourself. You’ll be more productive.



Accumulated tension takes its toll. Once accumulated past a certain point, tension cannot sufficiently be eliminated by mere stretching and calisthenics. The person has lost too much bodily awareness to release the stored tensions; you can voluntarily release only the tension you can feel. So the “tension program” continues to run on automatic.

People at that point turn increasingly to massage therapists. Massage therapy produces healthful benefits, and it can be habit forming! On-site massage has become increasingly popular in recent years.

However, massage therapy has a big limitation: its benefits are temporary. Due to the need for repetition, massage therapy can become an ongoing expense of which people may tire — at the expense of repetitive use injury. Often, by the time chronic tension has produced a Worker’s Compensation claim, the person is generally beyond the help of a massage therapist. Their brain is too conditioned to let the muscles relax for long. Something else is needed.

That “something else” is control of your own muscular tension. One name for the training process that gives you back control of yourself is, “somatic education.” Somatic education is a kind of self-preservation through grooming out accumulated tension.

Somatic education gives you back control of the brain conditioning that keeps you tight. Once done, you don’t need to pay special attention to your muscles or state of tension; you’re freed — and you have sufficient bodily awareness to notice when you need a break — basically, because you notice that you’re not comfortable, any more. You take a break and take care of yourself.

Somatic Education improves or restores natural control of muscular tension by a short-term, physical learning process in which you participate actively, coached as necessary by a somatic educator. The somatic educator’s job is to make it easy for you to regain control of your muscular tension. This approach differs from massage and chiropractic because it leaves you self-sufficient and able to manage conditions that might otherwise ultimately worsen until you require medical intervention, such as surgery. There are numerous forms of somatic education: the Alexander Technique, the Trager Approach, Feldenkrais Somatic Integration, Rolfing Movement, Hanna Somatic Education, and others. Some produce results faster than others, and some produce significant improvements nearly immediately.

Of course, if you let things go for too long, you do have a last resort: your doctor — or his favorite surgeon.


Lawrence Gold is a certified clinical somatic educator who has been in practice since 1990. His clients are typically people in pain who have not gotten help from standard therapies. Contact Lawrence Gold, here. Read about his background, here.

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What Happens When We Ignore Pain?

The question seems to bring its own answers: “Uh-oh!” or its opposite, “No pain, no gain.” But there’s more to it than that, a bigger picture.

True of Everybody

People have a universal reaction to injury: we tighten up. This reaction occurs in everyone, from infants to adults, and in all animals. It is a universal reaction: to cringe, to pull away, to avoid pain. Our brain senses the pain of injury and causes muscles to contract. It guards the injured part. Everyone has experienced the guarding reaction, but the role of the brain may be new information for some.

Most injuries heal in days or weeks. When pain persists for a long period, it warrants attention. Such pain may indicate, not an injury, but the residual reaction to an old injury, and that reaction can and often does create more consequences than the original injury.

Injuries That Linger, Injuries That Mysteriously Surface

Reactions to injury often persist, sometimes for years after an injury has healed. In my experience, it is common for the muscular tension of the guarding reaction triggered by injury to persist decades after healing has occurred — and even to surface mysteriously, decades after. The reason: the brain, the master-control organ of the muscles, has made a conditioned habit of the guarding reaction. The guarding-habit becomes part of the brain’s conditioning.

Interestingly, it is also common for pain to surface long after an injury has healed. What is interesting is that the pain signals, not an injury, but the brain conditioning that keeps muscles contracted after an injury. Contracted muscles get tired and sore.

Why the pain surfaces when it does involves numerous factors. It could be nervous tension, or overuse, or poor posture has added to the muscular tension of the guarding habit.

Consequences of Unattended, Lingering Pain

Another factor: joints and soft-tissue degenerate under the unrelenting tension and pressure of contracted muscles – with consequences: arthritis, bursitis, disk problems, bone spurs, facet joint syndrome, spondylosis.

That’s what may happen in the long-term when you ignore pain: pain, tissue degeneration, poor aging, loss of mobility and at last, for many, decrepitude. Even if you’ve tended the injury, if you haven’t tended the residual muscular tensions, this may become your destiny. It’s what we haven’t handled that gets us.

Where Do You Go to Correct the Problem?

Having heard this explanation and recognized that it applies to themselves, some people may turn to their chiropractor, their massage therapist, their acupuncturist, their herbalist, their nutritionalist, their surgeon, not recognizing that these health professionals don’t deal with the condition described: the brain conditioning that causes residual muscular tension. People sometimes choose a familiar course of action, rather than a relevant one. They act out of habit; the habitual guarding reaction persists, the pain returns.

Others may hear this explanation and do nothing. They may not believe that this explanation is correct and remain unmoved. They may adopt a wait and see attitude. They may lack the will to take action until the situation is unbearable. Sometimes, it’s a matter of whether someone is interested in handling the problem or entertaining it. This solution is for handling the problem quickly and directly.

A word, to the wise, is sufficient: Somatic education typically ends the pain and can protect you from the effects of reflexive muscular contractions by easing those contractions.

Lawrence Gold was certified to practice Hanna somatic education® in 1990. For two years, he was on-staff at the Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of the Watsonville Community Hospital, in California. Click, here, for his background, credentials, published articles, and public speaking engagements. Here’s his email address:

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Activation Energy | The TetraSeed

ONE OF THE PRIME CHALLENGES OF ANYONE WORKING with transformative processes, self-generated evolutionary processes, is the matter of Activation Energy.

The intensity of your impulse to change (cumulatively, to evolve) must be at least equal to the intensity of the tendency of things to stay as they are (the intensity of  their integrity).

What that means in Earth language is that the urge to move something must be at least equal to the force keeping it in place for a change to be possible. That amount of force, in any particular case, we call, its Activation Energy. This much is obvious, upon looking at it.

Working at transformation with insufficient Activation Energy makes the going slow, at best, and one never really gets to the root. So, one keeps pursuing the root more and more. This takes time, but it does eventually result in your gathering Activation Energy and you will eventually get to the root and dissolve it.


Recognizing and not being satisfied with, “eventually”, practitioners of certain approaches employ a measure to “charge up” Activation Energy — everything from Bellows Breathing (pranayama) to Holographic Breathwork, BioEnergetics, and related approaches.

Other approaches use awakening and self-grooming practices: The Avatar Course, The Lineage of Don Juan’s Warrior’s Way, and numerous others. These latter teachings employ practices used to gather or recover the force of one’s being from ensnarement by subconscious memory patterns. They are grooming processes, preparation for personal evolutionary (and maturational) changes.

Other practices involve wisdom-contemplations that lead beyond mind, leaving a trail of “clean-up” in their wake.

For my part, what I found, when confronted with dense activation patterns in myself, that felt like they would never change, was that the way that works easiest was to confront each such dense activation pattern, as felt (as an involuntary state of tension), to find in it the four operation sets of intelligence:


nicknamed, The TetraSeed.
Upon sufficient activation of that set of four operations, the denseness of one’s condition is overcome and it starts to soften. It does so without any special extra effort to make it soften — just by virtue of finding those operations in that item, that stress pattern, whatever it may be: the operation sets of 
and their corresponding objective aspects, as shown, above (color-coded)

One might immediately wonder how one does that. There exist procedures that use those four operation sets in special patterns, patterns that produce specific kinds of changes to how one operates. In other words, they tune up your operating system, they debug you. They allow you to uncover mental viruses in yourself that are pervasive in these times, and to remove, dissolve, or tame them.

In other words, instead of them having you, you have them, and you discover the previously unconscious way you are keeping yourself that way, and then you can relax something in yourself and have those things simply dissolve away, commonly with postural shifts of shape.

The success of all of this depends upon your having sufficient Activation Energy available to match the intensity of the integrity of the item in yourself you want to change, upgrade, or dissolve. You’ve got to be equal to it — and that’s what the TetraSeed Transformation procedures end up doing.

That being so, these procedure would jet-assist other kinds of transformational procedures and processes from various transformational teachings.

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More Detail about Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

If you’ve arrived at this article from a search, you may wish to see the basic article (of which this entry is a more detailed version), first:

Understanding Sacroiliac Joint Pain | Stopping the Pain and Weird Symptoms



This article is for you if . . .

  • you have found the information provided both by medical practitioners and “alternative” medical practitioners to be “thin soup” that doesn’t make you feel particularly optimistic about your recovery from sacroiliac joint dysfunction and doesn’t increase your understanding, much, but only leaves you feeling faintly hopeful — hope perhaps tinged with desperation or despair.
  • you have found pain medications inadequate to deal with the pain.
  • you have tried therapies and/or surgery and are still in pain.
  • you want lasting relief and are willing to do the work to get it.


am a former sufferer of sacroiliac joint dysfunction and a long-time
practitioner (since 1990) of a clinical discipline whose principles and
techniques I applied to myself to clear up sacroiliac joint dysfunction
in myself: Hanna somatic education.


What Do Your Sacroiliac Joints Do?


Your S-I joints allow the walking movements of your legs to move flexibly, through your pelvis (which flexes at the S-I joints), to your trunk. Your S-I joints lend “cushion” to your spine and pelvis, when you sit. If the joints are jammed or the muscles of your pelvis are tight, there’s no cushion and sitting can be fatiguing.

These distortions affect the muscles of the trunk (primarily the back, the psoas muscles, and the quadratus lumborum (“QL”).

What Happens to Your Sacrum in Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Your sacrum gets twisted, usually jammed one side forward, one side back. That causes your whole pelvis to twist, the opposite side forward. (More rarely, both sides are jammed forward — more about that, later.) In addition, one side may jammed downward, causing the appearance of unequal leg length — even though the legs are the same length — and the appearance of one hip being higher. You may have heard all this, before, from your health practitioner; now you understand it, better.

Distortions of movement and spine shape may follow, with pain as far as the jaws and down the legs.

The pain triggers muscles of the abdomen to tighten, especially when bending forward or turning over, in bed. It’s often a very delicate situation — as you may have experienced.

Muscular pulls where the legs connect to the pelvis (the psoas muscles, the inner and front thigh muscles, the hamstrings, and buttocks) interfere with walking and add pain. Pulling forces interfere with walking and sitting and affect the S-I joints. In the healthy condition, everything is comfortable; in the unhealthy, jammed condition, there’s strain and pain.

How a Twisted Sacrum Causes Sacroiliac Joint Pain

When a sacrum is twisted from its home position in the pelvis, we call that, “displacement”. It’s out of place. With displacement comes distortion of pelvic shape, which puts strain on ligaments of the pelvis, puts pressure on internal organs, and generates pain. The brain senses those strains and pain, and, as a reflexive response, causes muscular contractions that generate a “gripping” sensation in the pelvis that gets worse with movements such as bending forward to put on socks or flush the toilet, rolling over in bed or attempting to stand up straight. The pain triggers cringing, in which muscles tighten up, potentially anywhere.

Non-spasm pain may radiate from the S-I joints into the pelvis, lower abdomen, groin, or sex organs. One person with whom I worked had a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis (intense bladder pain) — and a twisted sacrum from falls from horses.

Therapists unfamiliar with the bizarre symptoms of S-I Joint Dysfunction may attempt to treat symptoms as if they originate where they appear. Such treatment attempts fail. They don’t address the symptoms at their origin — the twisted sacrum.


In investigating sacroiliac joint dysfunction in myself, I came to understand the condition and its causes. At that point, I had an idea of what I could do to correct it: set up ongoing, symmetrical muscular forces to make my pelvis (sacral position) become symmetrical. I was the first “guinea pig”; I developed the exercises, in myself, and refined them based on the effects I felt. Remember — I was qualified to do that, having been in clinical practice, since 1990.

As I stated, earlier, S-I joint pain comes from excessive and unbalanced forces on the S-I joints that trigger muscular reactions. Now, I’ll go into more detail.

Most cases of SIJD start with an accident, such as a hard fall (athletic injury, fall from a bicycle or horse, ladder, tree, or rooftop); I told you what I think caused it, in me. Because the changes of muscular tension from an injury are asymmetrical — meaning, the right and left sides no longer mirror each other, they keep the pelvis distorted. These muscular forces don’t change in any lasting way with stretching because they’re programmed into muscle/movement memory and so reappear, shortly after stretching or manipulation.

The brain recognizes the strains felt in the pelvis as an emergency situation: the integrity of the person’s movement system is in crisis. Brain-triggered contraction patterns follow (as an emergency response) to reflexively stabilize the situation — but it’s a grip, not a correction to pelvic shape because the correct sense of pelvic shape has been lost in the injury. 

The term we use in clinical somatic education is, “sensory-motor amnesia” (S-MA). These muscular contractions are so strong that they hurt and trigger pain-related tightening, throughout the body, but one isn’t in touch with holding them tight because the tightness is “on automatic”. 

Radiating pain follows from the distortion.


What happens to ligaments chronically under strain? They get inflamed. Inflammation is nature’s way of forcing fluids and nutrients into tissue that is strained (or injured) so it can heal. But under this kind of strain, no healing is possible — basically because it is not a “damage” situation, but an ongoing strain-and-irritation situation. Suppressing the inflammation is of no help. The ligaments aren’t the problem, anyway.

Muscles Triggered into Contraction by Injury

Isn’t it true that injuries usually occur from one side, rather than exactly centered at the back or front?

What happens with any injury, then, is that a cringe response gets triggered — a tightening centered at the injured region and radiating outward like the cracks in a damaged windshield — but off-center, and the tightening isn’t just momentary, but commonly lasts indefinitely.

The psoas muscles commonly tighten in reaction to a twisted sacrum. The video, below, tells about the psoas muscles.

It’s common to misdiagnose tight psoas muscles as the problem causing the pain, when the psoas muscles are tightening in reaction to a twisted sacrum. When the sacrum straightens, psoas pain disappears.


  • Two-sided (bi-lateral) S-I Joint Pain
  • One-sided (uni-lateral) S-I Joint Pain (more common)

Two-Sided SIJD

Bi-lateral (two-sided) S-I joint pain is simpler than one-sided S-I joint pain. Bilateral S-I joint pain involves compression at both S-I joints.

One cause of bi-lateral SIJD is sitting too long, perched on the edge of a chair in a condition of high tension and stress, as at a desk doing work by phone or on a computer. That pattern of tension involves the groin, hip joint flexors and psoas muscles in front, and the back muscles. The combination produces strain on the iliosacral ligaments — and soreness. Sometimes, it can be corrected by retraining the psoas muscles and hip joint flexors — an easy “fix”.

One-Sided SIJD

One-sided sacroiliac joint dysfunction is worse than two-sided SIJD and accounts for nearly all the chronic S-I joint pain I have seen.

Asymmetrical (off-center) muscle pulls and posture place more stress on one S-I joint than on the other.

Symptoms commonly appear at different locations on each side and people commonly mistake the locations of pain as the locations of the problems. Clinicians may also mistake groin pain as a sign of psoas muscle dysfunction, rather than as pain radiating from an S-I joint.


you’re used to exercises or therapies that produce such small changes
that you can hardly tell if anything is different, this isn’t that. With
somatic education exercises, you can feel changes rather quickly
(obvious after two practice sessions). As, your movement and posture
change, the symptoms of SIJD fade out.

To get started with the
program, Comforting Your S-I Joints and to see a statement of the
expected result of each section of exercises, you may enter your
information, below.

Enter where to send “get started for free” emails with instructional video links.

quick-response email message will come to your email address requesting
permission to mail to you. Once you give permission, “Getting Started
for Free” emails will come to you with bite-size steps for Unit 1 of
Comforting Your S-I Joints. 

Unit 1 is preparatory for the section of the program that causes
your sacrum position to straighten. Getting started will allow you to
evaluate how well these exercises work, for you, in general.
Comforting Your S-I Joints
is a system of movement-based exercises that reprograms muscle/movement
memory. You’ll feel changes for the better with each practice session;
changes accumulate over time. The entire system extinguishes the pain
and restores mobility. 

These exercises got me me back to my life with no limitations.

exercises are refreshing, not tiring. If you’re feeling too tired to
practice the exercises, practice them and get refreshed.


Click the image, above, to find out about
availability of personal mentoring through the program
with me, Lawrence Gold.

~~ Since 1996, I have offered a Lifetime Satisfaction Refund Guarantee ~~

copyright 2014-2018 Lawrence Gold
This writing may be reproduced only in its entirety,
with accurate attribution of its authorship
and contact information.

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Symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction | Sacroiliac Pain

If you came to this page from a search and want to understand what’s going on with you and what has to happen to clear it up, click to visit this page

If you have two or more of the symptoms listed below and want to purchase the program to clear them up, Comforting Your S-I Joints, click to visit this page.


This is a fairly comprehensive list of symptoms.

If you’ve arrived at this page from a search for symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, you may read the related article that explains sacroiliac joint pain more clearly than you usually find in published articles. Click, here to see the article.

Because more than one condition can cause a symptom, we look for combinations of symptoms — at minimum, two or more. When symptoms from a single cause appear in clusters, that’s called, a “syndrome”.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

I have grouped these symptoms in terms of





Do you have two or more of these symptoms? 


  • pain at the groin and waistline in back, same side – combination | COMBINATION OF MUSCULAR PAIN and RADIATING PAIN

  • sharp, stabbing pain at the back waist area, on one side | LIGAMENT STRAIN 

  • pain around the top rim of the pelvis, usually at one side or in back | RADIATING PAIN
  • a “deep pulling” sensation in the lower spine, like a taut wire | DEEP SPINAL MUSCLE PAIN
  • a tired feeling across the low back, both sides | MUSCLE FATIGUE, QUADRATUS LUMBORUM (“QL”) and SPINAL EXTENSORS
  • buttock pain, one side, that doesn’t respond to direct treatment (sometimes mistaken for piriformis syndrome) | NERVE IMPINGEMENT PAIN
  • deep pelvic/lower abdominal pain (“lightning”-like burning, or gripping pain), | UNNATURAL STRETCH OF THE LINING OF THE ABDOMINAL CAVITY FROM SACRUM DISPLACEMENT
  • pelvic floor disorder, one side more than the other, tailbone pain
  • thigh numbness in the front or side | NERVE IMPINGEMENT
  • iliotibial (“I-T”) band pain or numbness (sometimes mistaken for a tight gluteus medius muscle)| NERVE IMPINGEMENT PAIN 
  • pain deep in one hip joint (sometimes mistaken for gluteus medius muscle pain) | RADIATING PAIN FROM THE S-I JOINT 
  • pain at the attachment of hamstring(s) at the “sitbones” (ischial tuberosities) | RADIATING PAIN (hamstrings often tighten reflexively, as well, but the sensation of tight hamstrings would be at the back of the thigh)
  • sciatica-like pain down the back of (usually) one leg at thigh, back of knee, or foot | NERVE IMPINGEMENT PAIN FROM EXCESSIVE “FOLD” AT L5/S1
  • pain along the thoracic (upper) spine, one side | MUSCLES IN “CRINGE” SPASM IN REACTION TO THE PELVIC PAIN 
  • restricted
    or the sense that the breathing diaphragm is restricted |
  • a feeling of your head being jammed down onto your neck | MUSCLES IN “CRINGE” SPASM IN REACTION TO THE PELVIC PAIN
  • a feeling like the pelvis is spread open, in front, jammed in back on one side
  • upper ribs and shoulders tight | MUSCULAR TENSIONS


  • pelvis rotated around a vertical axis

  • anterior pelvic tilt with twist around a horizontal axis, one side forward and the other side backward
  • twisted sacrum, one sacro-iliac joint deeper
  • pubic bone misalignment/pubic symphysis pubis separation
  • low back arched more on one side than the other
  • ribs and shoulder blade pulled down and back
    on one side
  • neck pulled to one side
  • one foot pronated (“flat arches”)


  • tight TFL (tensor fascia lata) and IT band
  • walking with legs/knees involuntarily turned out
  • inability to sit cross-legged with knees down
  • tight hamstrings
  • one knee“shaky” or weak
  • painful forward bending (“tight wire” feeling down spine into pelvis)
  • impossible to stand fully upright without “jamming” pain in the low back
  • abdominal muscles tighten protectively, when bending forward

EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS (combined with two or more symptoms from the other two categories)

  • chronic anxiety 

  • unremitting sadness 

  • irritability 

If you have two or more of these symptoms, you may do a manual self-examination of your own S-I joints, as shown in the instructional video in this article. It takes 2 minutes, or so to learn how to do it and to do it. If you find that one S-i joint is deeper than the other, you have a twisted sacrum, sacroiliac joint dysfunction. 

Enter where to send “get started for free” emails with links to video instruction.

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The Gold Key Release app

The Gold Key Release is a psychoactive procedure that liberates the mind from the sense of predicament, in this moment, and liberates intelligence to receive new ideas.

“Google-search” the keyterm, “Gold Key Release”

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Relieve Sciatica Pain and Piriformis Syndrome: Pitfalls | Causes and Treatment Approaches

Sciatica is commonly regarded as difficult to cure.

It is, when you use the wrong approaches — the approaches most commonly used to stop the pain: drugs, stretching (including an inversion table or spinal decompression device), adjustments or manipulation, TENS (electrical stimulation), surgery. If you do, your final relief may take forever. None of these approaches gets at the underlying cause, so relief is partial, temporary, or may never occur to the point that you are free of sciatica and can move freely.

This article presents an approach that gets to the heart of the matter, one that can end sciatica in a few weeks — but there is a catch: you have to do the work.



Commonly, what keeps people trapped in sciatica is the entire approach they take to getting free of it. So, before I explain the condition, itself, to you, I’m going to address the approach that people (maybe you) take toward “curing” it.

There are two ways you can approach sciatica: as a
“consumer” of care and as a “do-it-yourselfer”.

A “consumer” expects to pay someone for their
expertise and have them “do it for them”. “Expertise”
includes the “expertise” of the pharmaceutical companies. The
consumer turns to experts, or to their products, to “fix” him or her. The consumer doesn’t want to have to understand; that’s what s/he pays the expert for.

A “do-it-yourselfer” learns about the condition to the point of arriving at an understanding of its cause that makes sense — and then does what it takes to get the required result.

With sciatica, you can’t be a consumer and get the relief you seek.
Sciatica doesn’t work that way; it’s not that kind of condition. It’s not
caused by something external, so that you can do or take an
“external” approach and fix it. Nor, in most cases, is it a “spinal disorder” caused by a mechanical breakdown or deformation. (When those exist, they are an effect of the underlying cause) It’s caused by something your body is
doing to itself. It’s caused by muscular activity.

This article explains what your body is doing to itself
(really, what you are involuntarily and unconsciously doing to
to cause the pain and what you can do — not to counteract
it, but to cease doing it. When you do, the pain fades out and everything is all right, again.

If you are going to get free of sciatica any time soon,
you’re going to have to understand what’s going on in you and be
a do-it-yourselfer.

If you doubt me, continue with the “consumer” way
of operating until you see its failure. Then, you may come back here,
what you need to learn, and become the do-it-yourselfer you need to be to end
your sciatica.

The word for today is, “pitfall.”

Definition of PITFALL
1 : TRAP, SNARE; specifically : a pit flimsily covered or camouflaged and used to capture and hold animals or men
2 : a hidden or not easily recognized danger or difficulty


In this post, I’m going to deliver some strong medicine toward your relief of sciatica and also of sacroiliac joint dysfunction (of which sciatica is one symptom). I’m also going to provide a link to a post explaining who I am and my background. At the end, I’ll point you to where you can do something for yourself, for free, and where you can get more, if you want.

To start, the pitfall into which most people with sciatica fall is not the pain of sciatica or of sacroiliac joint dysfunction. That’s not the pitfall. The pitfall is the mood and approach you take to getting relief from these conditions — possibly the way you approach your entire life.

The pain is just the emergency that drives you into your way of seeking relief.

The pitfall is the mood of “action without understanding”.

Along with that may be a kind of submissiveness you may have to medical authority — a submissiveness that obediently takes the pain meds or accepts the TENS unit or does the physical therapy stretching and strengthening exercises or takes massage, or uses an inversion table or spinal decompression device, or goes for surgery.


It’s a submissiveness that is unwarranted because those measures don’t work. They don’t succeed at getting you free to move like a normal person. This submissiveness to authority may be the way you run your entire life — the submissiveness of a consumer to medical authority that may also show up as skepticism or even aggressiveness toward anyone who claims a greater authority than medical authority. 

A mood of submissive dependency on authorities is understandable, as long as you’re not aware of anything better than what they offer. It’s not understandable, rational, or responsible if the authority to which you submit isn’t producing the result you need. In that sense, it’s almost like a bad romantic relationship.

I’m here to remove the legitimacy of that mood of “action-without-understanding” by providing understandable, sensible, actionable information.

I recently joined a sciatica-relief group on Facebook. The first thing I did was to pose the question: “Who here understands the underlying cause of sciatica?” I got a response from one person whose stated understanding, “a spinal disorder”, combined with “surgery worked for me”, was the full extent of his understanding. This is no understanding, and it the exemplifies the submissiveness to medical authority that I am talking about.

Before I go into any of the explanation of the underlying cause of most sciatica, which you will find easy to understand, I’m going to address a general mindset of most people with sciatica, if this Facebook group is any indication, a mindset that is fostered by the approach of the medical profession. That mindset is, “Just get rid of the symptoms. Never mind the underlying cause.” It’s the mindset of expediency and acceptance of mediocre results, not of the uncompromising demand for final relief.

This mindset of expediency — a mood, again, of helpless submissiveness — is not one that takes final responsibility for results. It’s the mindset of avoidance of pain, of avoidance of inconvenience, of assigning responsibility to someone else, or of adopting hopeful measures without real understanding — not the mindset of identifying the real problem, handling it, and stopping the pain, that way.

Again, this is understandable, given people’s indoctrination into submissiveness to medical authority, and perhaps even to all authorities simply because they are considered authorities — perhaps based on lack of knowledge of something better, perhaps based on an upbringing (or educational experience) that demanded submission to authority.

However, it isn’t adequate to solving the problem — and neither is commiseration between people who have the same pain, although I can understand why one might do it to vent feelings.

While commiseration without an understanding of the underlying condition may lead to kindly suggestions intended to be helpful, suggestions-without-understanding are likely to lead to disappointment and to further despair. They commonly do. A mood of helplessness then prevails and the mood of submission to authority that can’t produce the required result has been reinforced.

There’s a point at which people have to take more responsibility or responsibility of a different kind — the responsibility to understand. This is that point.

At one point, the one person who responded to my initial questions said, “I don’t know. I am not a doctor.”

The difference between you and a doctor is knowledge and training.

I am here to provide better knowledge on this topic than you can get from your doctor or therapist. What makes it better is that (1) it makes sense and (2) it points to an approach that works – that works relatively quickly and very reliably. I’m also here to point you to a kind of self-training that will get you out of pain in a space of, say, weeks.

To review, I’ve just indicated two approaches:
• one that works with understanding and gets consistent good results by addressing underlying causes
• another, that acts without understanding to seek symptomatic relief by addressing secondary effects, not the underlying cause, that doesn’t work consistently, but which may be sanctioned by medical authority (because that’s all they know) or recommended by someone trying to be helpful

You’ve tried one. Are you willing to try the other?

One might think that, having been searching for information about sciatica, you’d be on the lookout for something other than what you’ve already experienced, or heard about. I’m asking you to exercise your intelligence toward understanding, not merely to believe an authoritative voice (including mine) or a sympathetic one.


Most sciatica comes from entrapment of nerve roots of the sciatic nerve that exit the spine at levels L3 through L5 – the bottom three vertebrae of the low back.

There’s nothing wrong with the spine — unless one or more disks have ruptured. It’s that the vertebrae are being pulled too closely together by tight spinal muscles that increase the lumbar (low back) curve, combined most often with a side–tilt caused by tightness of the muscles of the side of the trunk. These two locations of tightness change the curvature of the spine and trap (squeeze) the nerve roots on the inner side of the curve.

The tightness comes from a combination of (1) long-term stress, in which the back muscles tighten and stay tight, and (2) an injury to one side of the body at some point in life that prompted the muscles of the side of the trunk to tighten in a reflexive cringe response and stay tight. That’s it. Read on, after you have absorbed that information.

By the way, it’s that same tightness that over-compresses disks and causes them to bulge, herniate, or rupture.

A less common form of sciatica, known as piriformis syndrome, involves tightening of the piriformis buttock muscle, also usually triggered by an injury, e.g., from a hard fall onto the buttock. The piriformis muscle squeezes the sciatic nerve that passes through or nearby, and sciatica results.

Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to retrain your muscular control to relieve yourself of the tightness causing your symptoms. It can be done by almost anyone and can be done relatively quickly, with the right technique: pandiculation.


As I said there’s probably nothing wrong with your spine. It’s an ongoing muscular activity that you can retrain, that causes most sciatica.

You can’t change that ongoing muscular activity with drugs, surgery, or stretching. Strengthening, a common strategy of therapy, is altogether out. Think about it. How can strengthening cause a relaxation of too tight muscles?

Those are the two most common forms of sciatica. I’ve written more at length on two other causes in the article linked below, but this is essentially all most people need to know.

In case you still believe in the usual methods of physical therapy and bodywork, here’s another video entry, The Three Biggest Mistakes Made by People Who Are Trying to Get Out of Pain.

I’ve explained the pitfall into which you may have become trapped: going for relief of symptoms without addressing the underlying cause — and the related pitfall of dependency on drugs, surgery, and manipulation and the hope that something somebody does to you or for you will get you out of pain. I’ve explained the origin of that pitfall: your indoctrination into dependency on others — and failing to take “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer”, personal responsibility for results. I’ve provided information by which you may understand your condition and the means of your taking responsibility for getting yourself out of pain.

The final obstacles may be that people’s attention tends to be superficial — sometimes, new information doesn’t penetrate enough, but bounces off — and some people don’t want the information just because to change requires something of them. That’s what sometimes makes learning, in general, difficult. (Did that just bounce off or did it sink in?)

I’ve identified what I call the prime directive of my field, clinical somatic education: “You gotta wanna”. It’s up to you. I ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.


I have been practicing as a clinical somatic educator (Hanna somatic education) for the final relief of pain since 1990, with two years’ experience on-staff at the Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of a hospital in Northern California. Since 1996, I have had a money-back guarantee of satisfaction that has rarely been invoked. Learn about my professional background, including published papers, radio and TV appearances, and public speaking appearances, here.

Lawrence Gold is a certified clinical somatic educator who has been in practice since 1990. His clients are typically people in pain who have not gotten help from standard therapies. Contact Lawrence Gold, here. Read about his background, here.

This article was originally published at Full-Spectrum Somatics. Reprinted with permission from the author.

• get started bringing yourself relief: Gentle Spine Waves free downloadable video-app (Android) |• on my personal background |…/the-prophet-of-p…• on sacroiliac joint dysfunction (sciatica is one of the symptoms) |…/understanding-sa…





Understand sciatica. | exercises for sciatica leg pain |…


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