In-depth Interview with Dr. Steve About Stress Relief and Crossed Posture Syndrome


The following interview was posted on the popular stress relief resource site, on July 26th, 2010.

This is an in-depth interview and will give you the core philosophy of the Core Wellness Institute. Now, on with the interview…
stress relief technique
Core Wellness Stress Relief Technique
An Interview with Dr. Steve Hoffman, director of natural medicine at The Core Wellness Institute in Jeffersonville, IN
I wanted to include this stress relief technique because stress can be responsible for changing our posture over time. It does this by creating a damaging patterns of thinking, moving, and eating that creates “Stress Physiology” which goes on to cause degeneration and breakdown.
Dr Hoffman provides a very different approach to helping us to prevent this degeneration and as he puts it “that old age bent forward posture” that prevents us from living full and active lives.
I hope you enjoy the interview and that you take a look at Dr Hoffman’s website and discover more about how you too can use this core wellness stress relief technique to your benefit.
Q. Can I begin by asking you to briefly explain what chiropractic is and how it differs from osteopathy?
A. My favorite “official” definition comes from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary which defines chiropractic like this: 
“Chiropractic:  The science of applied neurophysiologic diagnosis based on the theory that health and disease are life processes related to the function of the nervous system. Irritation of the nervous system by mechanical, chemical, or psychic factors is the cause of disease. Restoration and maintenance of health depend on normal function of the nervous system. Diagnosis is the identification of these noxious irritants and treatment is removal by the most conservative method.”

The main difference, as far as historical training, is that osteopaths focus on the musculoskeletal system whereas chiropractors focus on balancing and optimizing the nervous system.  I personally think it’s kind of silly because you can’t affect one without affecting the other.  You are ALWAYS affecting the nervous system with any kind of manipulation. 

So, in my opinion, a lot of it is simply semantics.

If you are restoring proper motion to a joint then you are calming the noise in the nervous system (the “noise” is called the central excitatory state which sends the “stress message” of breakdown to your body).

So in the end, as long as your dysfunction is diagnosed and treated correctly, it doesn’t matter whether an osteopath or a chiropractor does the work.  There’s a lot of overlap.

The other difference of which I’m aware is that osteopathic manipulation traditionally uses more “generalized, long lever moves” verses chiropractic’s more specific adjustments for fine tuning of the nervous system.

The last thing is that the actually “hands on” care from D.O.’s has dwindled greatly since they also have the ability to prescribe drugs and do surgery.  The minority of D.O.’s still use manipulation as their primary treatment modality and my hat is definitely off to them!

Just as an observation, I rarely meet any osteopaths at my continuing education seminars related to the new methods of rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system.  It seems that, as a group, they have more of an “internist” or “family practitioner” type of practice instead of a musculoskeletal practice.  That’s just my observation.

Q. Can Chiropractic be used for all sorts of ailments or is it mainly used for treating muscle and joint problems?

A. Chiropractic, as I stated earlier, is designed to remove noxious irritants to the nervous system.  So, for instance, when I help someone get rid of a blocked or stuck joint that was sending a “stress message” to the brain and central nervous system (that’s what stuck joints do), not only does the pain resolve because of the big burst of good functional input I introduced back into the system, it also decreases overall stress on the system.

And think about it for a second.  What are the top stress related diseases? Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the two big dogs, but in the end, ALL conditions are related back to stress in some way or another, especially digestive complaints. 

So my belief is that absolutely, chiropractic helps with all kinds of stress induced conditions.

Q. I notice that you say that your business carries out chiropractic rehabilitation.  Can you explain how this differs from normal chiropractic?

A. I’d love to!  This is my favorite part of the profession.

Probably the #1 difference is “Active Care” vs “Passive Care”. 

Passive care is what most people think about when they hear or talk about chiropractic.  In the passive care model of chiropractic, you come in, get adjusted, maybe get some ultrasound and an ice pack.  You really had no “active” participation in that experience.  You had something done TO you instead of you doing something for yourself.

It’s the same model as the current conventional medical system.  If you hurt your back, you get a pain reliever and a muscle relaxer. That’s passive. (Of course the natural methods of adjusting and therapies are leaps and bounds better than putting toxic drugs into your system!)

BUT…with ACTIVE care, you are taught what you can do for yourself so you don’t become dependent on passive care!  It’s interesting that not everybody wants this responsibility.  Some would rather just get the adjustment and go on their way without learning a thing.  And that’s fine.  That’s their choice.  We usually refer them out if that’s the case. 

If you’re readers would like some more information about the benefits of active vs. passive care, I have a short article about it at

Q. As this site is about stress I would like to first ask you about a statement on your site that says “damaging patterns of thinking, moving, and eating can create a stress physiology. Can I ask if you could explain this in a little more detail?

A. Sure.  Let’s start by describing what I mean by “stress physiology”.  Stress physiology is the
physiology of breakdown.  It’s when your brain senses danger (or any type of potentially damaging situation) and, as a result, it “flips the switch” and changes your metabolism over to a state where energy is diverted to making bullets for the war instead of attending to repair and rejuvenation. 

The stress response is great for saving your life is survival situations but when you experience chronic stress and live in “protection mode” all the time. You get sick.  You get tired.  And life is no longer any fun.

So your main goalhas to be to reduce stress from all angles.  With our coaching programs we empower you to adopt a new thought system that create the belief that you’re “breaking down” and “getting old”, like you’re often told by your doctors. “It’s just your age, Mrs. Jones!”. 

Instead, you areconstantly reminded that your body is renewing every moment and your cells are paying very close attention to what you’re saying to yourself!

Thoughts of stress and replaying painful experiencesof the past put you breakdown mode, remember!  We offer self talk affirmations to help you “write over” some of the stressful self talk.  It makes a HUGE difference when you become aware of the power of belief and how self talk influences it.

As far as your movement goes…damaging movement occurs whenyou use your body inefficiently and cause unnecessary stress and strain on your musculoskeletal system. 

Simply reaching to get a glass out of a cabinet incorrectly eventually causes overload inyour neck and shoulder muscles that lead to pain, headaches, and more.  Pain is stress and the stress message equals body breakdown.  The stress response related to pain is well documented and even affects your ability to think clearly.

But interestingly,you don’t have to have pain to have physical stress.  A blocked or stuck joint can do the same thing, as well as any joint that is not in good alignment with it’s neighbor. 

The central nervous system (CNS) likes it when your joints are in their most balanced and congruent positions.  And as a bonus when you have good alignment, you experience much less damage if an unexpected load hits your system (like a fender bender or a trip and fall).

With good alignment and muscle balance, you canmore easily dissipate that force so you don’t get injured, or at least not as severely.

When it comes to the nutritional stress piece,probably the biggest source is too much sugar and refined carbs.  These “fast carbs” cause your blood sugar to spike and fall.  And when it falls hard and fast, your adrenal glands kick into action to release the stress hormone cortisol to get your sugar levels back up. 
And if the sugar falls after you’ve gone to bed and your adrenals fire up at 3am, there you sit…wide awake and wondering why. 

As a side note, if you find yourself heading to the kitchen a bowl of cereal when this happens, you’re in carbohydrate hell and you must break the cycle.

The other 800 pound gorilla for nutritional stress is too much omega 6 fatty acid intake, usually from grains. 

These get easily converted into arachidonic acid (AA) in your body and too much AA tells your brain to tell your adrenals to release more cortisol.  That’s another example of nutrition induced stress.

Q. One area I am particularly interested in is something you call cross posture syndrome and how it is triggered by both emotional and the physical effects of stress. Can you briefly explain what this is and why it is important that we try to prevent it in the first place?

A. Here’s the facts, any kind of stress creates a very predictable pattern of muscle imbalance.  Dr. Vladimir Janda, of the Czech Republic, who I had the unique experience of working with before he died, was the first person to recognize these patterns in people with neurological lesions like cerebral palsy and stroke.  He also had polio as a child so these neurological issues where near and dear to him.

If you look at a child with cerebral palsy, you’ll notice classic spasticity patterns in the muscular system.  The thing is, these muscles are the exact same muscles that become tight and tense when your brain and central nervous system perceives any kind of stress!

Dr. Janda identified the “upper crossed posture” and the “lower crossed posture” as classic conditions that occur as a result of these patterns.  I simply combined the two together and called it “Crossed Posture Syndrome” or CPS for short.

The upper cross syndrome is associated with tightness in the short muscles at the base of your skull (the ones you use to poke your head at the computer screen) and tightness in the pectoral or chest muscles in the front. 

When those muscles tighten, their opposite muscles (the shoulder blade depressors and the deep neck flexors) have no choice but to weaken. 

This creates the unattractive, slouched forward, head forward posture that lies at the root of most headaches, neck pain, back pain, and even carpal tunnel (along with other arm and hand problems).

The lower crossed syndrome creates a forward tilted pelvis and jams the low back joints together because the hip flexors (the muscles in front of your hip) shorten along with the big muscles in your low back called the erector spinae.  This massive compression and tightness pattern then causes a weakness in your abdominals and the gluteals. 

This syndrome is classic for back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and even plantar fascitis.

So why prevent it? 

You prevent it to keep from curling up into a little old shriveled heap when your 70 or 80 years old!  The longer you have your youthful, efficient, pain free posture, the more you can evolve mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to serve your greatest purpose to humankind!

Why prevent it?  So you can have more FUN in you life!  To PLAY with more enthusiasm and share joy!  That’s why we’re here.  At least that’s what I believe.

Q. I know I suffer from the syndrome myself, years of sitting stressed over a desk and general stress at work has done this to me. I am currently working my way through your free video help series for cross posture syndrome. Can I ask how quickly the can syndrome be reversed if your advice is followed correctly?

A. The great thing about the free “Reverse CPS Now!” series is that you can have immediate changes in the way you feel.  You should immediately feel taller, more centered, and less stressed.

Actually, the “reprogramming” of your nervous system can take place fairly quickly.  It can take as little as 3 weeks to “rewire” a posture program in your brain but it usually takes longer because inevitably, you tend to slip into old patterns as life “triggers” you here and there.  The getting “on and off track” means it may take a few months to actually change the neural circuits between your ears.

But as far as actually “remodeling” your tissues to make permanent changes in the architecture of your fascia, muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bones it can take up to a year or more.  And the thing is, it’s not like you can ever just quit paying attention to your posture. 

You ALWAYS have to keep the intention of growth, renewal, and expansion or else “the matrix” of the world will suck you back in to it’s stress and protection agenda!

My last two questions are about you personally rather than your work.

Q. In your online videos you always come across as someone who really enjoys their work, I was wondering what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

A. Great question!  What I enjoy most is LEARNING the latest and most effective techniques and then empowering people to transform their lives with the information. 

This field of human performance is advancing at the speed of light and I love being on the front edge.  I’m especially enthralled with the whole “dynamic neuromuscular stabilization” model that’s finally making it’s way from Prague to the states.  The concept I created called “Organic Posture” has sprung out this model and forms the foundation for my new coaching course.

Q. I once met an osteopath who was always complaining of a bad back caused by the physical demands placed on him by his work. I was wondering if your work put a similar physical strain on your own body and if so how do you counteract it?

A. I counteract it by practicing what I preach with keeping my joints in their best possible alignment when I do chiropractic bodywork.  I also have the benefit of demonstrating exercises so I get to pay my tissue debt that way as well. 

I also sit on a ball for most of my work which places me in the best possible ergonomic position.

The worst strain I have is the computer, and I find myself doing more and more of it as I continue to move towards online coaching.  My next project is a standing active office desk station where I stand on a balance board while I work.  The “makeshift” standing station I’ve used in the past worked well, but I want to take it to the next level.  I’ll keep you posted on that.


  1. Excellent interview. Thanks for posting it.
    When I started reading the article, I realised that a computer break was in order, so I took a couple minutes to stretch and breathe deeply.

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