Common Sense for your Body

This book is the foundation for physical wellness, skilled movement, pain relief, injury prevention and taking control of your body.

◊ Physiotherapist Nik Curry brings you lessons, stories and insights from his 35 years of experience working with bodies.

◊ You’ll learn to see your own postural pattern in order to understand where problems come from.

◊ You’ll find the pathway to achieving your ideal balanced postural position

‘Common Sense for your Body’ recognises your underlying postural patterns and brings to consciousness the way your body works for you and communicates with you. Your body isn’t who you are, it’s where you live. This book is a tool for you to use.This is the first book about Postural Patterning. It will help you to find and understand your own Postural Pattern.

Common Sense for your Body    Nik Curry    $29.95

Contact Nik Curry direct at  to order your copy.

Cover commonsense for your body

Excerpt from the foreword of ‘Common Sense for your Body’

ICU return – my story

Lying in my hospital bed was a torturous pleasure. On the one hand I was profoundly grateful to be in the bed at all, to be alive at all, and the bed’s support and warmth were very reassuring. It even came with room service and body servants. But the weight of the sheet and blanket were heavy enough to pin me in place. The pillows, once positioned, would quickly set to rock-like hardness behind my head and however I lay I’d become more and more uncomfortable.

Until the day before I’d had extra help from three large blokes who would come in and roll me over a quarter turn every three hours or so. But since coming back to the Oncology Ward from ICU I was supposed to do this myself, which I couldn’t. So now I had to wait till a nurse found a moment, after which struggle I’d be back to my aching square one within a few minutes.

When the steam reheated meals arrived, mine would sit oozing into itself until the nurse had everyone else organised and could come and sit me up and feed me spoonfuls of mixed glop, which all tasted like soap, so I’d get my strength back.

She needed to feed me as I could barely lift my hand. If I tried to lift my whole arm when I was sitting up my body would slump away across the bed, as I couldn’t hold my arm’s weight. The one time I’d tried this ended with my head hanging over the side of the bed, unable to move and about to fall on my face. If John, in the bed across from me, hadn’t buzzed and yelled for a nurse, I would have fallen out for sure.

“So the wanderer returns, just couldn’t stay away huh?” Julie, the Oncology Charge Nurse, always had a line for the troops. She sat sideways onto my bed and looked closely at me, more softly, “It’s good to see you back.”

I realised there were tears in the corners of her eyes as she said this, and it was too much for me. My own tears rolled down my face and I felt myself convulsing as the masquerade fell apart. Julie took my hand and sat quietly, shielding me from the ward with her broad back until I had it together again. “You’re the first one who’s ever come back from there you know, it’s new for us too.” She squeezed my hand and moved on, checking everybody before the ward round arrived.

As I lay there, captive in a body that barely functioned, I wondered how and where I’d find the strength for what was to come…

Why this book?

The little story above tells of the major turning point in my life. I can divide my life experiences into before this moment and after this moment.

I felt like I’d not just come back from ICU, but that I’d mysteriously been granted a second chance at life. I was thirty and had lived well in a good family, done okay at school, had lots of choices and chosen to do whatever had suited me at the time. I hadn’t been really happy but I certainly hadn’t been sad or very challenged. I had floated along, hardly paying attention, hardly connecting at all.

When I had first been diagnosed with leukaemia, it wasn’t a big surprise. I’d always felt that something like this was looming over me and going to happen.

When I was fourteen I’d been thoroughly captivated by the story of an American boy who’d eventually died of Leukaemia. The boy, Eric, had always seemed so like me. The difference though was that I never thought I was going to die – and after this day on the Oncology Ward, I got on with living.

This day was two years down the track from when I’d first been diagnosed with leukaemia. I’d got into remission with chemotherapy and radiotherapy then had an autologous bone marrow transplant, using my own bone marrow. I’d recovered, gone back to work and fought hard to get back to normal. I’d done the ‘leukaemia thing’. It was over. I was back.

Then, one day at work, standing on the side of a swimming pool with a hydrotherapy class waiting for me to get into the pool, we all saw the bruises that covered large areas of my body… and the slippery slope opened at my feet all over again.

And I was angry. More than anything else I was angry. The first time I’d been ill I cooperated and got really involved. This time I didn’t think it was fair. I felt I’d already done all this and now, what? Again! NO WAY!

So I got sicker. There was no way out except finding a bone marrow donor. My family were tissue typed but I didn’t match anyone and in 1990 the bone marrow registries were only just beginning around the world.

I got an infection. I caught it from myself. With an immune system that was not functioning due to both the leukaemia and the treatment, it was just a waiting game really. Nothing seemed to help and the Charge Nurse pushed to have me sent to ICU earlier in the process than was normal, and somehow I came back.

Against the odds a bone marrow match was found in California.

The journey forward from that moment on the Oncology Ward has had lots of challenges and many, many blessings. Being alive to enjoy the side effects of life-saving treatment is a privilege granted to few of us. Living your life well afterward is the duty owed to all those who helped, loved, supported and somehow shared the journey. Living my life well is also the duty I owe myself.

Later on, after bone marrow harvests and transplants and chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the blood supply to my hips failed and the bones crumbled as a side effect of the process. When I needed help recovering after having both hips replaced I was quite surprised to find that it wasn’t straightforward.

Western medicine is great at saving your life but not always so good at helping you live it.

For some reason I’d assumed that my hips would recover well. I’d been a physiotherapist for six years and had worked with lots of people’s rehabilitation, hip replacements included. I thought I knew how to go about hip rehab, even my own, but it’s different when you’re the patient.

I was surprised.

I realised that my surprise reinforced what I’d been thinking even before becoming ill. I’d begun to feel that the rehabilitation we were doing wasn’t quite enough in many cases.

Some people certainly made excellent recoveries, but these were often the fit people with very good movement skills in the first place. Most people made a good enough recovery, back to where they were before or until they accepted the limitations they were faced with.

This wasn’t good enough for me, and I didn’t think it was good enough for anyone else either. I wanted to do better.

Medical science and the allied health field had been getting cleverer and more specialised for decades and I followed these trends in my own career. Recently though I’d begun back-pedaling to the more basic concepts which we all have in common.

So, I’d had my hips replaced and I knew how to do the exercises for my rehab, but I didn’t know how to sort out the underlying issues. I was finding that even though I was doing the exercises and I was moving around better, my legs and back hurt and I was walking very badly.

Both of my hips had been replaced at the same time, which had seemed clever and efficient. With hindsight though I wouldn’t recommend it. You can seldom trade quality for quantity successfully. I had two hips to consider and wasn’t moving well on either, and they were different!

I wasn’t aware of my underlying movement pattern, nor were my colleagues. They didn’t know about their own patterns either, so they weren’t much help beyond what I already knew.

I came to realise that fundamentally:

• We all have a basically similar physical body.

• Gravity pulls on us all the time.

• The way we stand and move and use our bodies is individual and unique and we have our own patterns and habits of movement and positioning.

• Unless our individual pattern is balanced and supported evenly then our movement and stance are affected.

• Pain and limitations are symptoms of this imbalance but are not the primary cause of the problems.

A symptom is the thing that we notice when we have a problem. It’s a sign. Pain can be a symptom; clicking, straining, collapsing, headaches, backaches, clumsiness or anything else your body does are also symptoms. A symptom is a sign, but it’s usually not the problem.

Relieving symptoms is a good and necessary thing but treating the reason for the symptoms is a much bigger and more difficult kettle of fish. Once I’d realised this for myself I could never be satisfied with just addressing the presenting symptoms.

I thought that with all the advances in medicine there must be some new ideas out there, and there were. I became almost fanatical about the new ways to treat all sorts of conditions. The subject and the answers got bigger and more complicated until I found them unmanageable and unusable. Everyone seemed to have a slightly different opinion, often contradictory. I found it overwhelming.

Finally I realised I was looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I was seeing a broad view of the response to the problem. Instead, almost in desperation, I turned the telescope around and looked at a much smaller view – I looked at where the problems were coming from.

This was a ‘eureka’ moment for me. I became much more interested in ‘what people brought to the party’ rather than ‘what happened when they got there’. That is, what was the situation of the injured part before it was injured, not just what was the injury?

Looking at my legs in the mirror I could see the things I’d always seen. My knees turned in a bit, my ankles were sloppy and my feet pancaked flat. But when I looked at them with this new vision of ‘why were they like that’ instead of ‘what was happening’ I began to see a very different view.

Twenty-five years later I’ve come to ‘see’ what’s happening in many conditions and to understand the implications of what I’m seeing. The information was always there but because I wasn’t looking for it I just hadn’t seen it.

I stopped assuming I knew and started seeing what was really there in front of me. Learning to see these things clearly is the gift I was given by my crumbled hips, bad knees and wonky ankles.

These days my knees give me no trouble, my ankles and feet are no longer wonky, and I don’t have to wear the orthotics I relied on for 10 years. Best of all, if I do have a problem I know how to relieve it straight away – and this is something we can all learn to do.

This book is partly my story, and partly the stories of some other people, though the names and identities have all been changed. Meeting and working with these people is a privilege which has helped me find some simple truths about how normal people like me and you use our bodies to do normal things.

And how normal things cause normal problems, which we think are extraordinary, then come to accept, but don’t understand.

This book is about not being normal. ‘Normal’ is the heart of the problem.

This book is the start of learning how to see yourself and understanding your own picture.

It’s about taking the unusual step towards learning to look after yourself by firstly looking at yourself, then going beyond what you already know and think and assume.

If you want to take an active role in your own wellness then this book is written for you. My goal is to give you tools to gain insight into your own body. To let you see and understand what your body is doing and saying and to help you take responsibility for your own physical wellness.

This book is the beginning of your postural patterning process. Taking things slowly you can achieve great results. You can resolve and prevent many musculo-skeletal problems and the stresses and anxieties that so often go with them.

Use it as a guide and the insights as tools.

Check the glossary at the back of the book to help find and understand ideas and words that are new or strange.

Most of all though, I hope you enjoy the book and the process of understanding yourself.

Let’s get going!