It’s Not in Your Head
It is Not in Your Head
December 6, 2022
On this episode, Lyndsay Soprano speaks with her guest, Dr. Amy Novotny about PABR, her unique method of pain relief specializing in the nervous system, awareness, and breathing.
She founded the PABR Institute with the mission to provide pain, stress and anxiety relief to those who seek a naturalistic form of treatment when other treatment methods have fallen short. Her unique technique and approach comes from her experience treating patients and clients in a variety of settings and with a wide range of patient populations over the past 13 or so years. Her background is in orthopedics, sports, geriatrics balance disorders, nerve injuries, and, of course, chronic pain. She has co authored two Amazon number one best selling books, Don’t Quit Stories of Persistence, Courage, and Faith, and the second one, Success Habits of Super Achievers, which she shares her journey on how and why she developed the PABR method.
They start talking about how she is a body detective! And how she basically figured Lyndsay out on one damn Zoom call. They talk about emotions, stress, trauma, and abuse and how she’s helped her patients work through those in a naturalistic way.
Dr. Amy discusses her background and how she started to use her training and schooling to create her unique technique – The PABR Method.
She spoke about how she started to come up with the method as she was training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and how she was running on a treadmill three times a week for 8 miles each time in about 55 minutes.
As she was training on the treadmill, she started to play with her body position. She uses the word position instead of posture because she worked on isolating it to how she positioned her ribcage, because how you position your rib cage affects your whole body from head to toe. So she started playing with her ribcage position, and changed her breathing mechanics and all that chronic runners issues that you get when you’re running marathons or longer distances, they all just went away.
She dropped 8 minutes off her marathon time which is a lot! So of course, she started putting it into a process, studying, looking at the nervous system. That’s where things started falling together. She realized there’s this nervous system component that she was affecting. And when she could relax myself by changing her rib cage position and her breathing mechanics, the tension in her body that was related to stress went away. Whether it was physical stress, mental stress, emotional stress, intellectual stress, relationship stress, she could get it to go away. And so she kept on going with her process to get to where she is with the PABR Method and started the PABR Institute in Arizona.
And it has evolved into a virtual aspect now, and now everything is virtual, and she works with people all over the world.
Dr. Amy explains about what she’s doing with her patients. She speaks about what the autonomic nervous system that runs our organs, our blood pressure, heart rate. It keeps us going because those organs don’t have our voluntary muscles telling them to work. We need something that’s more on an automatic basis. That autonomic nervous system also has a couple of states where it can either ramp you up or calm you down.
The problem is we get into a ramped up state and a lot of daily activities, relationships, work, career, contribute to that ramped up state. And you may hear that cortisol levels go up, your adrenaline goes up.
But what most people don’t hear or hear talked about is how your muscles start to contract without your awareness. You don’t even sense them beginning to contract. And what happens is one little stressor will kick in, your muscles contract and then another one adds on top of it. And you’re just working your way up and the muscles tighten up. And then the next day you wake up, you’re like gosh, I’m tight all over. Why am I tight all over?
And what happened was your nervous system didn’t get released. So your muscles learned to be tight. So your nervous system said, okay, you’re going to go to sleep. I’m going to keep those muscles being tight and I’m just going to keep tighten them up because I was never told another thing and to do anything different. So I’m going to just keep that communication going and telling those muscles to tighten up. In the meantime, the muscles are tightening up on bones and joints through tendons and they start to pull on bones and joints and start to pull them out of position. That’s when you get tissues that butt up against each other, creates pain, inflammation. Then you say ow. And this happens over the course of years. Any time you have a stressor, whether it’s mental, emotional, physical, intellectual, whatever it is, it causes this body response. And the problem is we don’t check in daily and we don’t release this physical response. So over time, your body starts to change position. You start to hold yourself in a certain position that you didn’t even know that you were doing before, that’s going to lead to impingement of tissues and pain and unknowingly.
When we were young, we were taught to advise chest out, suck your gut up, and then pull your shoulders back, which physically that stimulates your fight or flight nervous system, to turn those muscles on, to make you tight as well, and to prepare you for fight flight freeze mode. So we have those things happening. In addition, as soon as you lift up your ribs and stick out your chest, you are now detracting support away from the diaphragm. And the diaphragm can stimulate a nerve to calm you down. But if you are no longer supporting the diaphragm, or it becomes less efficient, now you have to revert to another way to get air in, which is why we lift up our rib cage or our shoulders, or tilt our head back, or arch their back. When we breathe. You’ll see this? Just watch. People, when they breathe, they lift from their lower ribs, or they lift their shoulders, or they tilt their head back, or they arch their back, or they shove out their belly, thinking that belly breathing is diaphragmatic breathing, and it’s not. And what they’re doing is they’re encouraging their back muscles to work even more.
And that further stimulates the fight or flight nervous system. So we have to address how you position your ribs, the mechanics of your breathing, because those two paired together is what creates the magic to calm down that nervous system so your muscles release their abnormal pull on your bones and joints so the joints can get freedom to move again. So tissues stop pinching and butting up against each other.
Okay, so what we do on Zoom and Zoom is beautiful. The reason she uses Zoom, and she actually likes it better than working with people in person. But there’s a specific reason why this process works really well on Zoom. Two reasons, actually. One, it forces you to learn, so she’s not doing something to her patients. Two, it gets you far enough away from her that she can see your body working if she is sitting by us and 5ft away from us. It is hard for her brain and her eyeballs to take in your whole body. Usually when someone is really close to us, we’re just focusing on their face or one aspect of their body. But Zoom puts you in two dimensions, so she can see when things are out of position much easier. Also, she can record it, and she can give you the recording, and you can work through it yourself as well after sessions. But it’s especially important for people in chronic pain. Often when you touch them, there is a response, and we’re trying to get away from that response of someone doing something external to you and working to give you more control over your body again.
Sometimes she can’t cover everything because it depends on how much your body can sense and feel. Now, someone who’s had trauma and emotional abuse and different things, their body is possibly disconnected with their ability to sense things, it might take longer. Someone who comes in and they don’t necessarily have a past that they’re still working through or that has stuck in their body and maybe they just had like, a knee injury. They might wrap up in succession and they know exactly what to do. So it depends on the scenario and how many things that we’re working through to determine how long.
Lyndsay asks about emotional release and if she experiences it with her patients. It’s just a matter of how working to get them to release stuff. There is a varied experience for everyone, just depending on what they’ve had in their body and how they typically release that. So everything is welcome. You know, some people cuss, some people shout. It is what it is.
A lot of people will say that “It’s All Your Head” and she even hears doctors, they used to send me people and say, this person’s malingering and is just in their head. In all of Dr. Amy’s years, she has never found anyone where it’s just in their head or they’re making it up. There has always been a physical change in the body. It can be response to an emotional event, but there is still that physical basis for their pain.
Let’s get to the heart of how to heal. With you by my side.
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