Thursday, December 1, 2016

Forever Painless: Book Review

Published November 15, 2016.
Miranda Esmonde-White is a fitness expert, author and host of the PBS show called Classical Stretch, which has over 300 episodes.

This fall, Harper Wave has published Esmonde-White's most recent book:

Forever Painless: End Chronic Pain and Reclaim Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day. (Hardcover, 320 pages).

The book's main point is this:

Appropriate movement is key for managing chronic pain.

The first four chapters explain the theory behind this point. 

The next ten chapters provide detailed instructions for various types of movement.

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Publisher Information 

Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States. Twenty percent of American adults accept back spasms, throbbing joints, arthritis aches, and other physical pain as an inevitable consequence of aging, illness, or injury. But the human body is not meant to endure chronic pain.

Miranda Esmonde-White has spent decades helping professional athletes, ballet dancers, and Olympians overcome potentially career-ending injuries and guiding MS patients and cancer survivors toward pain-free mobility. Now, in Forever Painless, she shows everyone how to heal their aching bodies and live pain free.

The root of nearly all pain is movement—or lack thereof. We need to move our bodies to refresh, nourish, and revitalize our cells. Without physical activity, our cells become stagnant and decay, accelerating the aging process and causing pain.

People who suffer chronic pain often become sedentary, afraid that movement and activity will make things worse, when just the opposite is true: movement is essential to healing. In Forever Painless, Miranda provides detailed instructions for gentle exercise designed to ease discomfort in the feet and ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck—allowing anyone to live happier, healthier, and pain-free no matter their age.

About Miranda Esmonde-White

Miranda Esmonde-White is one of America's greatest advocates and educators on healthy aging. She is the author of the the New York Times bestseller Aging Backwards.  She is best known for her PBS fitness show Classical Stretch, which has been on the air since 1999.

A former ballerina, she designed the Essentrics technique, which uses low-intensity strength and stretch exercises to relieve pain, prevent injury, and slenderize the body. Esmonde-White works with professional and Olympic athletes and celebrities, and teaches classes to thousands of students worldwide each year.  Follow Esmonde-White on Facebook.

My Review 

As a mature woman who spends a lot of time in the gym, I appreciate Forever Painless as a means for addressing issues I have with an injury to my lower back, an injury to my right shoulder, and arthritis in my hips and knees.  The chapters addressing these body parts provide compelling narratives of people who have been helped by Esmonde-White's Essentrics technique.  And these chapters contain clear photos and instructions for dozens of exercises.

However, it's the chapter "Stress Workout" that speaks to me the most.  My biggest physical challenge stems from problems I have with high levels of stress aka anxiety.

I relate to the personal experience of Betty Ng in the front of this chapter.  Betty found that Essentrics techniques help her remove muscle tension from stress.

Some of the exercises in this chapter are similar to yoga moves that address my muscle tensions. 1. Slow Shoulder Rotations 2. Ceiling Reaches with Slow Deep Breathing and 3. Embrace Yourself Sequence.

However, others are new to me and are a welcome addition to my strategies for releasing tension from my body.   I look forward to doing more 4. Zombie Swings with Spinal Rolls and 5. Relaxed Side-to-Side Window Washes.   This chapter also includes seated versions for most of the above poses, which is valuable for readers of various abilities.

For me, exercise is like "wringing water from a cloth." This image is similar to the ideals stated in Forever Painless: "A stress release workout is not intended to build strength. It is intended to release excessive tension in our muscles" (p. 257).

Beyond this Review

I talk to a lot of people of all ages online and in person about how they manage the social-emotional aspects of disease and injury to the body. Coping emotionally and socially with physical challenges is part of my work as a gerontologist.

I talk with health care experts quite a bit, too.  They have expertise that I value.  I look forward to discussing these theories of movement as pain management with various groups of people focused on healthy aging.

Note: I received a copy of Forever Painless in exchange for a fair and honest review. This post is part of a TLC book tour.  Click here or on the TLC icon to read more reviews.


Books on Aging

Exercise Enlightens


  1. I think much of my own back pain is stress related. I'm sure there are some stress-reducing exercises that would help me!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    1. Thanks for inviting me, Heather. It's a valuable book. I've been working to increase my body awareness (after decades of living in my head). It's got great information for better managing my "bag of bones" as I move into the second half of life. But young people would do well to prevent many problems by having a good understanding of anatomy and proper posture and movement.

  2. I will get this book. As a woman with bone degeneration in legs,movement can atually be dangerous for me somee times,but i am already making dietary adjustments and the like so I am always, always open...

    1. All my best to you as you manage your bone health. I do think it's smart to address this issue from multiple fronts: nutrition, supplements, and exercise (weight lifting, cardio and stretching). The author has a solid background, and the explanations are very clear. So far, so good!