The Baby Steps: Essentials

The Align Quick Start Guide


We have collected all of the primary information you need to walk through chronic pain inside of this Quick Start Guide. You will learn more about: The Pain Spiral Cycle, The Baby Steps, The Pain Smart Principles, and The Joint Function Scorecard.

Download PDF



The Joint Basics

This video will help you discover how your upper body and lower body joints are supposed to work. This is a great educational resource to help you measure the functionality of your mobility, stability, and strength. (Use the "The Joint Function Scorecard" in "The Quickstart Guide" PDF to refer back to as needed)


The Immune & Nervous System Basics

  • Your immune and nervous system are activated by threats. 
  • Those activation patterns are memorized and grow bigger and more out of touch with the actual threat if left unhealed for longer than a few months. 
  • Memorized, as well as runaway, immune and nervous system activation patterns are part of The Chronic Pain Spiral.

Immune & Nervous System Threats That Elicit Responses

  • Foods that elicit an allergy response: 
    • Dairy for 85% of the population
    • Gluten for 10-15% of the population
  • Refined Sugar
  • Excessive Salt & Caffeine
  • Dehydration
  • Insufficient movement, blood/nutrient circulation, and lymphatic circulation
  • Fear
  • Isolation
  • Unhealed/unresolved emotional trauma
  • Overwhelming stress
  • Catastrophizing style thinking patterns

The Immune & Nervous System Toolkit 

  • A blood work up, seeking micronutrient insufficiencies
  • Water
  • A good multivitamin, Magnesium, b vitamins, D, iron.
  • Food from the earth. 
  • A journal.
  • Loving community.
  • A counselor or mentor.
  • Knowing Your Purpose.
  • Moderate intensity aerobic exercise


The Joint Maintenance Toolkit

These are the tools every person should own so they can maintain their joints with wisdom. These tools are also all you need to progress through Baby Steps 1-4. Once you progress to Baby Step 5: Restore Strength, you need weights to restore load bearing capacity to your structure.

Mobility Tools

  • 5" Massage Ball: Link
  • Foam Roller: Link 
    • If you can’t get down and up off the floor easily, purchase a roller bar as an alternative: Link
  • Toe Spacers: Link

Stability Tools

  • Resistance Band Set: Link
  • Yoga Block: Link
  • Yoga Belt: Link


The High Route Challenge

I declare my life and my body is a gift, one I am grateful for. I declare that I take ownership over my body, the state it is in, and how it works. I declare I am not a victim to my joint dysfunction, my joint degeneration, or my doctors. I declare I am working toward being a good steward of my body by knowing how it’s supposed to work, owning the tools I need to maintain it, and prioritizing the maintenance of my body. I declare I want to keep my body working well so I can avoid destroyed joints, preventable surgeries, taking pills, and losing the activities I love. 

I declare I will not be led in circles trying to “fix my pain”, wasting years of my life as a victim of my body, my pain, and my doctors.. I declare I am chasing Complete Healing. I declare I will be victorious over the Chronic Pain Spiral.  

I choose to take The High Route.


The Death Zone


The Deactivations

The Deactivations are two exercises aimed at calming your nervous system, decreasing the amount of contraction and tone within your joint systems, and preparing your body for future demands. The Deactivations may bring your pain down temporarily but that result will not hold. The purpose of The Deactivations is not to bring your pain down, it is to prepare your body for success in the future Baby Steps.

  • Static Back: 20min. Watch
  • Supine Groin: 10min each side. Watch

As with any exercise, do not work through pain. Pain will cause your body to contract and protect itself, which is the exact opposite effect we are trying to have. When you are working through The Baby Steps, if you have problems with an exercise, swap or modify the exercise. Rarely should you skip the step, alter the objective, or change your focus. If you hit a road block on your way to your destination, you don’t change your destination. You find a way around it. That’s correct thinking.


Where do Surgeries fit into The Baby Steps?

We are often misunderstood as being anti-surgery. We are not against all surgeries. We are against aimless and needless surgery. So how do surgeries fit into The Baby Steps? 

To answer this question we must first refer back to Pain Smart Principle Four…

The North Star Principle

To achieve Complete Healing and live the abundant life you were meant for, your joints must be mobile, stable, and strong, and your immune system and nervous system must be regulated and healthy. ("You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.” - Zig Ziglar)

In order to walk through our pain journey with wisdom, we must adhere to the Pain Smart Principles. Any surgery in compliance with the principles will be a wise choice. 

If we have a degenerated joint or structural issue that, after all reasonable effort is made, is keeping us from making progress through The Baby Steps, then a recommended surgery, done by a leader in their field, is a necessary part of your journey through The Baby Steps. If through your efforts you, and a competent coach, realize you cannot progress any further, pause The Baby Steps, have the surgery recommended by a competent surgeon, complete any physical therapy recommended, and then resume The Baby Steps. 

There are some severe conditions, severe nerve entrapment causing muscular weakness or severe spinal instability that presents an immediate threat to the spinal cord, in which case the surgery to release the entrapment or stabilize the spine/joint is obviously the first, necessary, and immediate step to take. A competent surgeon is the best person to assess if this is your scenario.

Common Surgeries & Their Place In The Baby Steps: 

  1. Nerve releases may need to happen before Baby Step Two: Restore Calm, or Baby Step Three: Restore Mobility, can be achieved. 
  2. Bone spur removal may need to happen before Baby Step Three: Restore Mobility can be achieved. 
  3. Joint replacements or tendon repair may need to happen before Baby Step Four: Restore Stability can be achieved. 

Any surgery done without the long term vision of Complete Healing, and never addressing the root cause of why the surgery was needed in the first place, will ultimately land you back in the grip of the Chronic Pain Spiral. All procedures should be done within the framework of walking toward Complete Healing and adhering to the Pain Smart Principles




Adorable bunny

The Principle of Problem Multiplication

Now that you have a deeper understanding of The Pain Tunnel, you need to understand The Principle of Problem Multiplication. This principle states that, one tiny problem, if allowed to exist for longer than a few months, will multiply into many, big, hairy problems, each requiring their own treatment. Let’s unpack this a bit. Let’s say you sit for work and you haven’t been intentional about keeping your butt muscles strong. That will lead to one tiny problem in the way you walk.

Read More
bunny rabbit

The Pain Tunnel: Part One

Before we can understand neck pain, we need to get a better grasp of the problem of pain. It requires us to take a journey into the inner workings of our perceptions. Hang in there with me and follow me down the rabbit hole. We perceive pain. It seems pretty straight forward. We can feel it. We can’t ignore it. It’s just there eating away at our souls. Those things are all true but the nature of the problem of pain is a bit more complicated. To make this easier to understand I’m going to describe it using another one of our senses.

Read More
illustration of a tunnel

The Pain Tunnel: Part Two

Being in unending chronic pain is like falling down a dark well. You feel alone in the darkness, hurting, terrified, and you don’t know if you will ever get out. You can’t see the walls of the well so climbing out seems impossible. You just feel hopeless. In Part 1 of this series, I deepened your understanding of the nature of chronic pain and I introduced you to The Pain Tunnel. If you haven’t read that you can do it here. Understanding The Pain Tunnel gives you a map of the well. Now I want to give you a flashlight so you can begin to see how to navigate your way out.

Read More
PainSmart Principles

The PainSmart Principles: An Overview

“You cannot break timeless principles. You can only break yourself upon them.” – Stephen Covey

The PainSmart Principles are the foundation of The Align Method. These principles are timeless, unavoidable, and essential to understand if you are going to walk with wisdom in the area of pain. Any treatment not informed and guided by these principles is like shooting a gun in the dark.

Read More