RS asks: “I was wondering if you had any opinions on Pete Egoscue and his stretching programs? I’m concerned he maybe new age because D.P. Chopra gave a recommendation for it…”
I can’t find anything New Age about Pete Egoscue and his Egoscue method. This method is based on the belief that joint pain can be relieved by correcting skeletal misalignments via muscle rebalancing. In this interview with a holistic care magazine, he explains:
“The body works on a brilliant principle of what’s called ‘vertical load.’ The skeleton has two jobs as a muscular skeletal organism–one is to bear weight, and the other is to absorb the shock of movement. It does this with joints called load joints, such as shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.
“The law of vertical load says that in order for these joints to enjoy their range of motion, they must line up, meaning stacked one over the top of the other. This design requirement is the same for all human beings, male or female, short or tall, skinny or fat, it doesn’t make any difference. Range of motion takes place from the inside out. The big posture muscles are the ones that no one can see. They’re located down deep next to the skeleton. As they lose their function, the body begins to compensate. So what happens is a series of steps that are taken by the body because it’s such an incredibly adaptable machine. The muscles of the outside, the ones you can see, eventually begin to do the work of vertical load, of stabilization, compensating for the inside muscles that have become dysfunctional. You end up acquiring a posture that is visible to an evaluation: one hip in a different position than the other, or one shoulder forward or higher than the other one. And this eventually leads to pain.”
His method involves a series of exercises that correct these imbalances. Egoscue, who has no medical background, was badly injured while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and developed these exercises which he said eventually left him pain-free. Thus far, he has authored four books on the subject, including the best-selling Pain Free.
Referring to himself as “the Posture Guy,” he has 25 clinics worldwide and a corporate headquarters located in San Diego, California. He also founded Egoscue University in 1998 where practitioners are trained in the method.
When asked about whether or not Egoscue relied on any New Age practices such as meditation, yoga, or positive thinking, the website for a clinic in Minnesota said no, but added, “However, your thoughts, actions, habits and outlook on life can and does have a profound effect upon one’s physical well-being and perception of pain. As you go through Posture Alignment Therapy you will be encouraged to explore how your thoughts, words and actions are highly correlated to your perception of pain and ability to heal and get well.”
This raised a few red flags for me because controlling one’s thoughts and/or teaching a person how to think differently can be associated with the New Age. I also found that many of the practitioners are also yoga certified or involved in other New Age therapies.
Egoscue is okay, but be careful where you go to receive this therapy (which can cost as much as $2495 for 16 visits at some clinics) or simply buy the book and do it on your own.