Suffering pain from too much time spent at the computer or too much running leads to frustration, weeping and giving up. We seek to cure the pain by stretching, massage, physiotherapy and sometimes surgery. Last year I stumbled on a system that gets to the root causes of chronic pain and the answer often lies in the brain’s response to our first pair of shoes. 1 To understand why our baby shoes can cause chronic pain later in life it will help to examine three ways the brain interacts with our body.
The primary job of our brains is our survival. To achieve this goal, our brain predicts what will happen next according to what has happened before both in our lives and our bodies. So if we walk down a dark street and see a dark shape huddling in the gloom; our brain goes to its memory banks of dark shapes in gloomy places and assesses whether this just a bin bag or could it be a criminal out to do us no good? Our brain also goes to its knowledge of the state of our knees – just how fast can they carry us away if needed? Sometimes that knowledge has become vague, as we shall see.
The second point is that the body always adapts to exactly what it does. This has an acronym; the SAID principle which translates to Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. So drive a bus all day and the body adapts to sitting, steering wheel turning, right foot pedal pressing and finger waggling to indicate what the bus needs to do. Become a professional tennis player and the body adapts to a wide variety of body movements and one super dominant arm. All these movements have their virtual places in the brain and the more we do a movement, the bigger the virtual place will be, with the result that the bus driver’s brain will have a bigger virtual bottom in it than the tennis player’s. Were the bus driver to take up playing tennis for a living, his virtual bottom would shrink and the brain map of his dominant arm would grow.
So we have 2 things going on now, firstly a brain that predicts what will happen next based on its knowledge of past events and on its knowledge of the current state of our body and secondly, that knowledge is based on the brain creating body maps built on what we do physically, regularly.
Here’s where it gets freaky. The system I stumbled across is called Z health and I am now a Z health practitioner, working with the Rehabilitation part of the system. To demonstrate the power of this phase of Z health, I will test the strength of a new client’s leg, which is usually nice and strong. I will then jamb a thumb joint – a painless procedure, I assure you – then retest the leg strength, which has now become inexplicably feeble. Then I free the thumb and restore the client’s leg to Herculean strength. By jamming up the thumb joint, the brain’s virtual map of the thumb became blurred since it no longer could predict how the thumb would move. This extraordinary experience demonstrates that we have one body and if part of it is not working well, the whole body enters defence mode and becomes weaker.
So now we have 3 balls juggling. The brain predicts movement based on what we do with our body everyday and if a joint is shut down or not working optimally, the whole body weakens to reduce activity to avoid injury due to part of the virtual map in the brain being blurred.
So here’s where the shoes come in. Most children are born with perfect feet; plenty of padding and beautifully working arches. In due course, the child starts walking enough for us to rush to the shops to buy the first pair of shoes. These shoes usually look like mini-adult shoes, with stiff soles, so suddenly the arches of the feet and the small stabilising muscles in the feet no longer have to work properly and the foot starts to shut down. The feet have 26 bones, each a little joint. By wearing stiff soled shoes, those joints start to get jammed up. The map of the foot joints in the brain gets blurry. The foot is now working less than optimally and as a result, the ankle joints get blurry. And then we go to school and sit at a desk writing, texting and so on, so by the time we leave school our brain’s body map has adapted to us spending many hours sitting bent over an X box, wearing less than optimal shoes.
Time ticks on. At some point we have an accident or two, the most common probably being turning an ankle and this accident further blurs the map of the ankle. We are all individual in size, flexibility, weight, physical quirks we were born with and so on. We all do something everyday from sitting at a desk to Krav Maga martial arts. And sooner or later things start hurting, and we start the long round of stretching, massage, physio and so on, and we reduce our physical activity. And all this is due to blurry brain maps being unable to predict the outcome of moving about.
The R phase of Z health can have spectacular results. A 75 year old woman came in to see me, having broken her lower arm about a year ago and could now only lift that arm up to shoulder height. We restored the map of the fingers, feet and hands and the arm went utterly effortlessly up to her ear. A 33 year old woman came in having been born with hips and thighs misaligned – she wore callipers as a child – and as a result sitting cross legged on the floor was painful. We restored the map of her hips and within a fortnight she could sit cross-legged comfortably. Another 35 year old woman came in with the definitive scoliosis having struggled for years with many professionals to reduce the spinal curve. Again this simple restoration of her hip map brought her painlessly nearly straight. The list goes on – the 20 year old who was hoping to run a half marathon in 4 weeks time, but was in great pain from running, with his left leg a total disaster. He ran his race in 1 hour 40 mins.
The Z-health R phase stands for Rehabilitation from injury, neural (brain map) Restoration and mobility Restoration.
This blurring of the map is reversible and very simple. The main problem being that very few in the UK have heard of Z-health as yet and so are oblivious to its simple power.
- The system is called Z health, is American and over there has been going for 10 years. [↩]