All of us have dealt with pain in one form or another. There are two major types of pain. Acute pain is the pain we feel immediately after an injury to the body. It’s sudden and sharp when it happens, and the residual pain lasts anywhere from hours to months. Examples of acute pain include muscle tears in the gym, broken bones, burns, cuts, scrapes, etc.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is the type of nagging pain that lasts long after an injury has healed. In fact, chronic pain isn’t even always caused by a specific injury. This is the type of pain that stays with you, and it’s particularly agitating because it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Examples of chronic pain include lower back pain, headaches, carpal tunnel pain, and arthritis pain.
While acute pain can be, well, very painful, there’s a certain comfort in knowing that with time, the pain will lessen and the injury will be fully healed. But chronic pain offers no such comfort. Many people suffering from lower back pain, for example, just accept the pain as a normal sign of aging, with no hope of it ever going away. In fact, as they grow older, they learn to live with other pains, like an achy shoulder joint or sharp pains in the elbow.
There’s good news, though. This type of chronic pain can often be cured – that’s right, cured – without surgery or expensive medications. And that’s where Ming Chew comes in.
In his book The Permanent Pain Cure, Ming Chew addresses one of the most common causes of chronic pain: knots in the muscle fascia. Knots in the fascia have been a surprisingly overlooked cause of many types of chronic muscle and joint pain. In this book, Ming Chew explains what muscle fascia is, how it becomes damaged, and what you can do – at home – to restore your fascia to optimal condition, completely relieving you of your pain.
Ming Chew is a physical therapist who practices in NYC. He’s also a former bodybuilding champion, a martial artist, a personal trainer, and a student of Chinese medicine. Ming Chew made a name for himself as the physical therapist who worked miracles on famous sports stars, including Jason Kidd and Jason Giambi, so he certainly has the credentials to back up his claims.
The book is divided into two parts, and I’ll review each of them separately.
Part 1 – What You Should Know About the Fascia-Pain Connection
Ming Chew starts by introducing himself and telling the story of how he first discovered the methods he presents in the book. Although he himself was a physical therapist, he began to look beyond traditional therapy techniques after badly injuring his rotator cuff in a martial arts competition. He went through standard physical therapy for his shoulder, but he didn’t get the results he was looking for.
It wasn’t until he met up with an Active Release practitioner who promised to fix his shoulder “in a few sessions” that Ming Chew discovered the remarkable healing effects of myofascial release. When his shoulder significantly improved with just 2 days of Active Release treatment, he knew that he had to learn more about muscle fascia, and so began his career in myofascial therapy.
What I really like about Ming Chew is that you can tell he has a genuine passion for his life’s work. This is not a man who went to school and was content to let his knowledge stagnate. He knew that there had to be a better way, and he committed himself to becoming an expert in healing chronic musculoskeletal pain.
After the part about his personal history, Ming moves on to educating the reader on muscle fascia – what it is, how it works, and why damaged fascia is the source of so much chronic pain. Ming provides perhaps what is the best and clearest description of muscle fascia that I’ve come across so far.
One of the most interesting takeaways from this section is that the location of your pain is rarely the actual source of your pain. For example, a pain in your shoulder could be the result of kinked fascia in your neck.
This part of the book concludes with a summary of “The Ming Method”, Ming Chew’s plan for relieving pain and restoring the muscle fascia back to its optimal condition. The Ming Method has 3 components: preparation, stretching (of both the spine and the fascia), and strengthening.
Part 2 – The Ming Method
Now we get down to the actual meat of the program, and I’m betting that most people will be disappointed with the first step, which is preparation.
Essentially, you have to make a few changes to your diet and supplement regime before starting the stretches, which are the cornerstone of The Ming Method. The preparation phase lasts for a minimum of 10 days.
What does Ming Chew mean by preparation? The quick version is that you have to drink a lot of water, make a few changes to your diet (like reducing sugar intake and eliminating trans-fatty acids), and start taking a few essential supplements (like fish oil and systemic enzymes). Ming gives very specific dosage recommendations for all of the supplements that he recommends, and clear explanations about why he is recommending them.
Note that these changes are meant to be permanent ones, so you don’t just stop drinking a lot of water once the preparation phase is complete.
Don’t worry about cost – nothing in this phase is too expensive, and Ming presents the supplements in order of importance, so if you’re on a budget, you know which supplements are top priority.
This is it, the basis of The Ming Method – spinal and fascial stretches. Spinal stretches are designed to decompress the spine and increase the space between the vertebrae, while fascial stretches focus on loosening and restoring flexibility to tight, overworked muscles.
These 2 chapters – The Spinal Stretches and The Fascial Stretches – contain detailed descriptions of all the various stretches that you could be doing as part of your personal program (which is outlined in a later chapter).
The beginning of each chapter gives general instructions and practical advice on how to do the stretches. Make sure to read these general instructions, but you don’t have to read through all of the specific stretches in the book at this point. I’d suggest just skipping ahead to the chapter entitled “Your Personal Program” so you can start learning the stretches that apply to your particular situation.
Let me tell you something straight up: these stretches are difficult to learn, but the effort will be well worth it. They are, by far, the best and most effective stretches that I’ve come across, and I’ve seen the results in both myself and clients. But you do have to take the time to learn them, because each stretch involves numerous steps.
Despite the stretches being complicated, Ming Chew explains them about as clearly and comprehensively as possible. I’ve tried nearly every stretch in the book and not once have I found myself thinking, “I wonder what Ming Chew means by that…”
Some of these stretches are very challenging, and it will take you a few tries until you feel like you’ve really got it. Don’t worry if it feels awkward in the beginning, or you think that you’re doing it wrong. Keep practicing and reviewing the instructions, and soon each stretch will “click” for you, and then it will be easy to perform. I know this from personal experience.
I read through this section but honestly, I didn’t really have much use for it. I develop my own strength training programs for clients, and I do heavy compound lifting myself, so strength training has never been much of an issue for me.
The program in Ming’s book looks good for a beginner, though, and particularly for someone with no basis whatsoever in weight training who’s looking to develop a strong foundation. That said, I do think there are better approaches out there if you’re looking to increase core strength.
Muscle weakness is a primary source of pain and discomfort. If you don’t have adequate strength, then you will find it increasingly difficult to go about your life without pain. Not only does increase muscle mass help to move your joints, it also helps to cushion them and protect them from injury. That’s why it’s important to incorporate a good weight training routine into your exercise regimen.
Your Personal Program
This is the part of the book where Ming gives you a specific program of stretches to follow based on your particular condition. No matter what kind of pain you have, Ming Chew has a program for you in the book. Elbow pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, etc. You name it, and there’s a program for it in this book.
Even if you’re not suffering from any particular pain at the moment, and just want a stretching routine to improve the condition of your muscle fascia and prevent future injuries, Ming has programs for that as well. I particularly like the Office Worker program, a great set of stretches designed to prevent and correct the many fascia abnormalities that occur as a result of sitting at a desk all day.
My Personal Experience With The Ming Method
I had a nagging shoulder injury about 2 years ago that I couldn’t get relief from. It happened as a result of me being stupid in the gym. I was trying to lift too much weight on shoulder presses and managed to hurt myself.
Even after weeks of rest and therapy, my shoulder issues continued. I even went to a local chiropractor to try Active Release, the myofascial release technique that I mentioned earlier in this article. It reduced my pain, but didn’t eliminate it completely.
After following Ming Chew’s supplement recommendations and his stretching protocol, I was back to normal in only a few short weeks.
I continue to do Ming’s stretches to this day to help improve my flexibility, correct posture issues that occur from sitting at a desk, and keep my fascia in great condition.
If you’re suffering from any sort of muscle or joint pain, I highly recommend reading Ming Chew’s The Permanent Pain Cure. Ming Chew is the real deal and his methods have helped a tremendous number of people experience an almost miraculous recovery from all sorts of musculoskeletal pain.
Like I said before, you’ll need to devote some time to learning the stretches, and you will also need to make a few adjustments to your daily routine. But living life pain free and feeling youthful again is more than enough reward for the minor time investment needed to get started.
Have you had success with The Ming Method? Have you tried any other therapy techniques that worked well to relieve your pain? Let me know in the comments!