A Gentle Way To Manage Chronic Pain

“Tell me what you do for work and play and I'll tell you where you hurt,” says Lee Albert, neuromuscular therapist and yoga teacher at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Lee Albert is the developer of Integrated Positional Therapy (IPT), a gentle, safe, drug-free and effective way to restore alignment and relieve pain. Also known as Yoga on the Table, IPT is done on a massage table, fully clothed, where a person relaxes and is moved into positions to balance muscles and relieve discomfort through assisted stretching and slackening, or relaxation.

Lee came to this work after a car accident. Though he left the hospital with a clean bill of health, he subsequently experienced chronic migraines. Neither he nor his massage therapist friends could release the tightness and tender points in his neck.

Eventually Lee found a therapist practicing Positional Release Therapy based on osteopathic techniques. The practitioner had Lee lie down and moved his head gently, allowing him to rest for a minute or two in each position. While on the table he thought it was not possible that this would help his headaches but he was surprised to find his headaches receding immediately — and not returning.

The technique was so simple and effective, he set about to learn the work. Over time, Lee integrated a hip balancing series of poses and a wellness plan component to the work and called his unique bodywork protocol Integrated Positional Therapy.

Daily posture habits from work and play often cause muscles to strengthen in an unbalanced alignment: reading with your book, iPad or cell phone on your lap with your head bent down; sitting at work for much of the day; daily driving commutes; stabbing pain in the upper back during computer work. Problems arise from these habits.

Lee Albert at work.Much like a house built on a crooked foundation where doors and windows stick and walls develop cracks, the body — like a crooked house — will eventually start to experience wear and tear and to express pain. If the body is leaning or turned in an unconscious pattern, as is true in most people, your muscles have to work hard to keep the torso upright sitting and standing. You experience muscle fatigue, strain and eventually aches and pains.

Muscle imbalances occur when some muscles are chronically too short (often because they are very strong) or too long (often because they are overstretched and weak). In both cases the muscles feel tight. Since muscle attaches to bone, the bones and joints pull out of alignment. The solution: bring the body into balance by slackening over stretched muscles and stretching tight ones.

Education is the final important piece of the healing process to enable active participation in one's own healing and health maintenance. Awareness of healthy daily habits for sitting, driving, typing, standing, exercising and general movement can help you learn how to sit and stand so your muscles can release habitual overwork, strain and related pain. Simple daily exercises you do at home can release even decades of chronic plantar fasciitis, neck, shoulder, headache and back pain. Anyone can learn how to identify and correct patterns that contribute to pain in their own bodies or their loved ones.

Pat Lebau is an IPT practitioner and Yoga teacher in Northboro, MA, who has been in training with Lee Albert since 2010. Pat is sponsoring a workshop with Lee on Saturday, August 27, 2016 at the First Parish Church in Northborough, MA including a talk/demo from 12-2 and a gentle yoga practice from 2:15-4:15. Don't miss this opportunity to work with Lee Albert!

See also:
Alternative Medical Treatments for Chronic Pain
Online Musings: Reader’s Digest Health Recipe