Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How I got pain-free - part 1

Hello :)

This is a bit of a different post. A post that has been 'in the making' for quite a while, but I could not begin to write it before knowing where (and when!) it would end.

ETA: You can find part 2 of this blog post here: How I got pain-free - part 2
And the most recent update: How I got pain-free - part 3: A DVD

This week I am celebrating my first pain free month in several years, and I'd like to share my story with you. Hopefully the things I have learned (which are quite a few!) might be of interest and/or help for some of you as well.

As you might or might not know, I have been struggling with vertebrae misalignment issues since many many years ago, even before I started dancing.

For a long time I didn't even know that things were 'off', but my movements became more and more restricted (despite dancing more/ desk-working less), I struggled to keep 'dance posture' or even generally 'good' posture in daily life (especially when stressed),  I developed wonky walking habits (noticed by my husband), my balance was.. unpredictable (making inline skating/ballet/standing on one leg a bit of a challenge!) and my upper body and neck were becoming tighter and tighter. To top it off, somewhere down the line I began to develop chronic pain in my right shoulder and hip.

No fun.

So how did I work my way out of this?

My first instinct was going to the Dr.s (as one does) But I soon found out the only alternatives offered were to either 'tough it out' or to get a cortisone 'Spritz' each time my neck muscles seized up.

Hm. Not really the long-term solution I was looking for...

And thus, not quite ready to give up so easily, I started down a multi-year get-pain-free adventure.

Getting outside help was what got me on the right track eventually.

Manual therapy 

Where did I go?
After talking to Yamila, one of my first dance teachers, she advised me to have my alignment checked by an Orthomanual therapist in the Netherlands, as the practitioner that had treated her after a severe car accident had - in her words - saved her back. My practitioners were Dr Dirven and Dr Nix from MC Hoensbroeck in the Netherlands

What did it do for me?
I was finally able to figure out the 'root' cause (a bad fall on my tailbone a few years earlier, made worse by years of gravity and compensatory/ pain-avoiding movement) and the treatments were successful enough to be able to continue my dance training with much less pain and restriction.

Although the treatments did help me enormously, they were not a permanent/complete solution. To keep from regressing, I needed to re-program the 'body around the skeleton' as well.

What else did I try?
As the problems had started with a misaligned tailbone/sacrum, and the tightness had gone up to my neck and head, I decided to try cranio-sacral therapy sessions with Point-of-Balance in Aachen.

The result of CST?
Even though the effects were temporary as well, I am REALLY glad I did the sessions, as they helped the effects of orthomanual therapy last longer, taught me how tense my body actually was while 'in rest' and I learned some great tips and exercises for self-release (tennis ball therapy!) of my ├╝ber-tight upper body muscles.

Tennis ball. I like the ones that say 'practice'.

Tennis ball rolling exercises for upper back

Learning to help myself

So.. It looked like was on the right track(ha) finally, but what would be the next step?

What helped me get (and stay) pain-free eventually was to learn how to find ways to self-help, reprogram my movement habits and find/maintain a better sense of full-body alignment.

I tried out various methods for this, each with their own advantages, usages and effectivity. In the next post I will do my best to line them all up, including the one(s) that helped me the most. (Hint: *cough* Monika Volkmar's online program *cough* /Hint)

But first, I must move about a bit :)

Read on to the self-help tips in the next part of this blog post: Adventures in self-care - How I got pain-free - part 2
And the most recent update: How I got pain-free - part 3: A DVD

x K.

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