Back, joint, and spine pain is a widespread and escalating health concern, with a significant impact on millions of individuals worldwide. Recent statistics reveal that in 2020, approximately 619 million people grappled with the burdensome effects of low back pain (LBP) across the globe. Alarmingly, this challenging issue is expected to surge even further in the coming decades, with an estimated projection of 843 million cases by the year 2050.
In response to the growing ‘epidemic,’ this review will explore a comprehensive resource that addresses this pressing issue. The book in focus, titled Safe Movement for All Spines by Gwen Miller, delves into the intricate world of spinal conditions, offering invaluable insights into their anatomy, associated pain profiles, and potential aggravating factors.
Gwen Miller is the owner of Gwen Miller Studio, where she specialises in clinical movement and manual therapy.
She is an experienced educator in the fields of Pilates, yoga, and fitness, offering workshops on various health topics. Gwen also mentors teachers and runs a mentorship program called The Dynamic Spine, aimed at educating and empowering the next generation of movement professionals.
What is the book about?
Safe Movement for All Spines by Gwen Miller delves into various spinal conditions, offering clear explanations of their anatomy, associated pain profiles, and potential aggravating factors. Gwen draws from her extensive expertise in yoga, Pilates, personal training, and manual therapy to provide practical guidance for alleviating pain and restoring spinal function.
Each chapter focuses on a specific spinal condition, providing carefully selected yoga poses and appropriate Pilates exercises to aid in stretching, strengthening, and stabilising the spine. The book also includes sections on Activities of Daily Living, offering practical advice on maintaining healthy postures, movements, and sleeping positions for tangible results.
Furthermore, Gwen caters to yoga and Pilates teachers and personal trainers, offering insights on assessment, tools, and red flags unique to each discipline. The book encourages readers to explore chapters relevant to their specific concerns, making it a flexible resource for addressing various spinal issues, such as disc derangement, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, and more.
Table of contents
- Section One: Flexion-Intolerant Spinal Pathologies
- 1. Disc Derangement and Herniation
- 2. Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
- Section Two: Extension-Intolerant Spinal Pathologies
- 3. Spinal Stenosis and Osteoarthritis
- 4. Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis
- 5. Ankylosing Spondylitis and Spinal Fusion
- Section Three: Sacroiliac (SI) Joints and Hips
- 6. Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction and Sciatica
- 7. Hips
- Section Four: Hypermobility, Scoliosis, and Special Cases
- 8. Hypermobility
- 9. Scoliosis
- 10. Special Cases
- 11. The Language of Healing
Three key takeaways from Safe Movement for All Spines
1Comprehensive insights into spinal stenosis management
One of the main key takeaways from the book, in the context of spinal stenosis, is a deep understanding of how this condition manifests and how to manage its symptoms effectively. Miller outlines the distinct experiences of lumbar and cervical spinal stenosis, with lumbar stenosis often causing sciatica-like pain that worsens while standing but improves with forward bending, a phenomenon known as ‘shopping cart syndrome.’ In contrast, cervical stenosis aggravates symptoms with head and neck extension but can find relief with head retraction and a slightly downward chin tilt.
Importantly, she stresses the need for medical evaluation to determine the cause of stenosis and identify any underlying spinal conditions that may contraindicate specific actions. For instance, if stenosis results from disc derangement or bone density loss, protocols outlined in previous chapters should be followed. Her guidance extends to teaching optimal head carriage, strengthening core musculature, and maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt for lumbar stenosis, highlighting the importance of posture and muscle engagement in managing this condition. Miller’s insights offer a comprehensive approach to address the unique challenges posed by spinal stenosis, empowering individuals to better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
2Holistic approach to bone health in osteoporosis
Another key takeaway from Gwen Miller’s book, Safe Movement for All Spines, in the context of osteopenia and osteoporosis, is the importance of a holistic approach to bone health. Miller stresses the significance of professional guidance and medical diagnosis when dealing with these conditions. Her recommended program for individuals with bone density loss encompasses postural correction to prevent improper vertebral loading, movement pattern re-education focusing on the hip hinge, weight training to increase muscle mass and bone density, and balance training to reduce the risk of falls.
Beyond physical exercises, Miller emphasises lifestyle factors like diet, calcium, and vitamin D intake, smoking cessation, and alcohol limitation as integral components of a prevention program. Additionally, making ergonomic adjustments in everyday surroundings plays a crucial role in mitigating the risk of fractures. Overall, her book provides a comprehensive and practical guide to promoting bone health and preventing osteoporotic fractures.
3Recognising and managing SI joint dysfunction symptoms
Regarding SI joint (sacroiliac joint) dysfunction, the author emphasises the importance of recognising its diverse symptoms and understanding its impact on daily life. Miller provides valuable insights into how SI joint dysfunction can manifest as pain in the lower back, buttock, groin, or tailbone area, with potential radiating pain down the thigh to the knee. She describes the pain as variable, ranging from sharp and stabbing to dull and persistent.
Crucially, Miller emphasises that SI joint pain often occurs during position changes and movements like standing up, bending, or rotating, affecting activities as basic as getting in and out of a car. Her guidance not only helps individuals identify SI joint dysfunction but also offers practical advice for managing acute and chronic pain, ensuring readers can take appropriate steps to address their specific situation effectively.
Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews
The book effectively conveys a wealth of valuable information in a clear and concise manner, making it accessible to a wide audience.
Gwen Miller’s expertise, experience, and passion shine through, establishing her as a credible authority on the subject matter.
The book’s acute pain program proves highly effective in providing rapid relief for conditions like sciatica and SI dysfunction, demonstrating practical and immediate benefits.
Some readers may find certain medical terminology or exercise descriptions challenging to understand, requiring additional research or clarification.
Best quotes from Safe Movement for All Spines
“Movement of the limbs originates from the trunk, so the spine is neurologically predisposed to respond either in flexion or extension in its entirety. This is why, in the case of lumbar stenosis, the person’s instinct will be to move toward flexion in all parts of the spine, which might help their back feel better. But this is at the expense of their posture and therefore breathing. As a result cervical spine lordosis will increase, to keep the eyes level with the horizon.”
“Wrist weights or light hand weights may also be added to functional training in the personal training environment to mimic activities of daily living and teach lift-and-carry skills, and add creative variations to lower body, postural, or abdominal exercises.”
“Disc derangement can be very painful and may cause radiating pain along a spinal nerve pathway, usually on one side of the body. These nerve pathways correspond to areas of skin called dermatomes. If someone has a disc derangement that is in the cervical (neck) spine, they may have pain in the shoulder, shoulder blade, or upper arm, but not necessarily also in the neck.”
Safe Movement for All Spines by Gwen Miller is an invaluable resource for individuals dealing with back pain and movement teachers seeking to work safely with clients facing similar challenges. Gwen Miller’s wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion shine through in this book, providing readers with a clear and concise understanding of various spinal conditions and effective strategies to manage them. Her comprehensive insights into spinal stenosis, holistic approach to bone health, and guidance on recognising and managing SI joint dysfunction make this book a must-read for anyone seeking relief from spinal issues. While some readers may encounter challenges with medical terminology, the book’s practical and immediate benefits, as demonstrated in the acute pain program, make it an indispensable tool for improving spinal health and overall well-being. Whether you are a student, movement professional, or simply someone looking to alleviate back pain, Safe Movement for All Spines offers valuable insights and practical solutions to enhance your quality of life.
Where to buy
You may purchase Safe Movement for All Spines on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.
Receive Exclusive Tips & Weekly Digest – subscribe to our newsletter