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Controlling Pain Through Motion and Exercise

January 14, 2002

PAIN FREE FOR WOMEN: The Revolutionary Program

for Ending Chronic Pain

By Pete Egoscue with Roger Gittines

Bantam Books

446 pages, $24.95

Perhaps I was in the right frame of mind when I picked up this book--I had just joined a gym and, after a flare-up of tendinitis, was paying close attention to my posture, alignment and use of my joints and muscles. So I was ready to listen to Pete Egoscue's message.

Egoscue, an exercise physiologist, says that our bodies need the proper support to function at their best. Though we all have some musculoskeletal imperfections--maybe one leg is slightly longer or one hip slightly higher--it's possible to compensate. When you're hunched over and tensed up, your body doesn't work efficiently, he says. Pain and tenderness set in, you get cranky, stop moving and, all of a sudden, you're one big ball of dysfunction, not to mention vulnerable to illness. But it need not be so. As Egoscue so wisely puts it: "Motion begets motion."

The author, who runs a San Diego-area pain clinic, has spent more than two decades helping clients (including professional athletes) strengthen muscles, gain flexibility and improve their posture and body alignment through simple exercises and stretches used in yoga, physical therapy and other disciplines.

This book, written specifically for women, provides an exercise program designed to alleviate or prevent chronic pain of the back, neck or joints. You won't find weight-lifting or machines here. You will find fundamental ways to use your own muscles and the natural resistance of your body to achieve better posture, strength and flexibility. The program can be tailored for various phases of life--childhood, adolescence, the 20s, middle age, pregnancy, post-pregnancy and the senior years--with the exercises demonstrated by real-life women in each stage. Surely, the approach is worth a try.

--Jane E. Allen

*

THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN

Co-produced by David Grubin Productions Inc. and Thirteen/

WNET New York PBS

A five-part series, beginning Jan. 22, 9-11 p.m.

Anyone familiar with PBS science specials will recognize the polished, orderly look of this new series on the human brain. But although the program is similar to documentaries we have seen before--with microscopic views of brain cells, interviews with doctors and cameras trailing people receiving medical therapies--the content breaks new ground.

"The Secret Life of the Brain" dispels many myths, such as the idea that we lose vast amounts of neural cells as we age. The emerging concept of the brain is that it's a remarkably adaptable organ that is capable of performing beautifully well into our senior years.

Understanding the brain means understanding ourselves, no matter what our age. The five parts of the series explore the brain during infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age.

For example, the third segment, on the adolescent brain, offers a new paradigm for understanding teenagers. Although psychosocial development and hormones play a big role in how teenagers act, scientists explain that a growth spurt in the brain's prefrontal cortex is most likely responsible for teenagers' struggles with reasoning, emotions, impulse control and judgment.

And, in the final episode, scientists provide good support for the notion that even old brains can be great brains as long as people use them. In other words, if you want to learn French or how to play the piano at age 70, go for it.

--Shari Roan

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