Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I'm always hoping 

My bloody back hurts. I’ve been suffering with this for about 5 years, on and off, but in the last few months, a stiff and sore lower back has been a more or less permanent feature of my life. In simple terms, it means that I can’t sneeze without first bracing myself against something, and I can’t put the loo seat up without bending my knees. I have been to various chiropractors to try and fix it, but with limited success. The session of painful twisting and cracking of my bones usually results in some improvement, but I am usually tender for a day or two afterwards, and it never seems to do the trick completely.

My latest venture is to entrust myself to something called body stress release. This is apparently a South African invention that is spreading across the globe. The theory goes that certain muscles supporting the spine are permanently tight, which gives you problems. This tightness is caused by physical, mental, or emotional stress. The best way to relieve the problem, so the theory goes, is to gently persuade the muscle to relax so that everything goes back to normal. This all sounds vaguely plausible, and I had heard good reports, so I went along for a session.

The table that the practitioner uses is made up of two (warning: unintentional and potentially messy alliteration coming up) parallel padded planks. When you start, these are almost vertical, and you step onto a platform at the bottom, lean against the planks, and are then cranked into a horizontal position. So far, so good. Face down on the bed, fully clothed, and he went to work. Now I have been attacked by physios and chiropractors many times, and this experience was nothing like as uncomfortable. Beneath my head, under the table, was a cushion. I initially assumed that this was to catch the drool from those who fell asleep, but it turns out that it’s to put your head on when you turn onto your back. The fact that falling asleep was a possibility at all is testament to the soothing nature of the treatment – much more like a massage than a manipulation. Adding to the soporific nature of the whole thing was the soothing music - with wave noises - that he played during the treatment.

The treatment itself is a bit weird. It felt like a series of very precise pokes with his thumb. Every so often he performed a longer stroke, then rushed round to my feet to see what happened. Apparently, the body acts as a ‘biofeedback mechanism’ so my feet can speak to him. Or something. Anyway, I went for the second session last night. This was much the same as the first, except his dog was asleep under the table, and the seagulls had arrived to accompany the waves. He was a bit disappointed to hear that I had felt much the same after the first treatment as I had before it. Still, we live in hope. Watch this space. If this doesn’t work out, I might give yoga a try. Something's got to fix it.

Listening to: The White Stripes, Elephant.

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