A woman walks into a doctors....Yeah, I know, it’s the oldest one in the book, yet I have been consistently walking into doctors and osteopaths for over 15 years with reoccurring lower back problems. I had heard that a new treatment from the USA was doing some amazing things for back pain sufferers, which not only causes upset for the individual, but a recent report stated that back pain also costs the European community up to €240 billion every year in both treatment and work absences.
Before I even got to lie down at the beginning of my session with Tanya Fitzpatrik at Align Somatics she had already got me looking into the mirror at my posture. Not only was I lop-sided (a lifetime of heavy handbags) I also stood like a ballerina in position number two (like a duck for those who don’t often don a tutu). I was also starting to stoop (I am tall and a lover of high heels) and was also curving my shoulders inwards (no doubt years of trying not to be caught out by the teacher as the tallest in the class). Jeez – any more of this and I would start resembling the old woman who lived in the shoe! But Tanya was right – my body was literally bending inwards. All of these posture problems were pivotal causes of tension in my lower back, routing stress into the area and causing the back pain.
Finally I got to lie down and Tanya began to get me to very gently flex and relax different areas of my shoulders, abdomen and lower back. Bit by bit I could feel tension falling away as she coaxed me to think about why my back was in pain and how to mend it from the inside, thinking about how the left arm connected to the right arm....you get the picture.
Align Somatics is already well established in Ireland, where Tanya is the industry’s biggest name. Somatic Movement Education (SME), is all about using your mind to train your body to reduce the pain. “It’s all about re-programming yourself” says Tanya as she gets me to roll my shoulders in and out and gently lift and drop my back on and off the table. We live in a society where you think that if you haven’t be shouted at and sweated that things don’t work, but what seemed to be a very non invasive practice has actually worked!
Founder of Somatic Movement Education in the US, Thomas Hanne PHD says of the treatment, “if you can sense it and feel it you can change it.” Not trying to “fix” the problem of the back with drugs or working “on” each patient, Somatics practitioners get the patient to take control of the causal factors of the pain, and work on how to best fix themselves by giving them education as to how their body is interacting between the muscles and the nervous system.
You need some commitment to this treatment, as its really in your hands to change the problem. You get the tools, but you have to teach your own body to change. However if you have spent as much time (and money) as I have going in and out of osteopath then Align Somatics may finally be the answer to what can be a crippling pain.