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Debunking our beliefs about pain, age and how to heal.

July 30, 2019

 

I started having pretty bad back pain last year. My acupuncturist told me that I had a pinched nerve probably due to my scoliosis. My curved spine has never caused me any problems but I noticed my body gradually crunching down to the left. He performed acupuncture on me as well as Chinese massage called tuina and cupping to bring more circulation to my back. I loved his treatment. But then I moved to Marin, an hour away and stopped seeing him after my back pain had improved immensely. I no longer had bouts of pain that stopped me in my tracks. Slowly a low lying pain returned, which was a dull ache from my lower back down the left thigh, knee and into the foot, then behind the left shoulder blade, behind the left eye and into the arm as well. It also didn’t help that I moved away from the yoga studio that I had been attending for 17 years, and so now I only perform yoga at home, and not enough. 

As I was driving home from work one day I noticed a Thai massage establishment. I had never had a Thai Massage and so I thought I would give it a try.  I quickly fell in love with the treatments and began to go more frequently, depending on how much money I had in the bank. Sometimes I went once every two weeks and occasionally once a week, but now I hope that I can continue it forever. Since I started going to Kanya Thai Massage my back pain has just about disappeared and I feel like my spine is also more straight. 

I was convinced for a long time that I needed to go to Physical Therapy or to a Rolfer to straighten my spine. I tried Rolfing but I was not impressed. If you’re not familiar with Rolfing it is a deep tissue massage where  you commit to something like 12-15 sessions. They massage so deeply that it hurts a lot of the time, as they are changing the shape of a person’s fascia. The theory is that we have injuries and repetitive habits over a lifetime that alter our shape, and posture, and deep layers of tissue in an often painful, or uneven way.  Rolfing presses so deeply that it essentially is ironing out all the knots that have formed over a lifetime. This can help to strengthen and straighten one’s body and one’s spine. But the Rolfer I went to was not impressive, as she did not go deep and could not fit me into her schedule on a regular basis.. You really want a practitioner that is committed to your healing but if someone does not have time to see you, and they want you to come for 12 weeks in a row there is really no commitment on their part, I felt. 

At Kanya Thai Massage I could always get in weekly to see either Kanya the owner, Pin, or Parinda who are all wonderful. They went deep to iron out the lumps and uneven or tight areas which sometimes hurts, but mostly it felt incredible. They use the weight of their bodies to stretch you out, sometimes using their legs, elbows, and feet. And I could give no direction and they know exactly where to go. It was like they read my mind. What was also amazing was that if I had a knot in my shoulder blade, she would start massage at the base of my spine which would disappear the knot in my shoulder blade, so she knew the anatomy. 

A lesson I  learned early on is to always be able to challenge myself and break free of all beliefs and habits, which means changing my mind about things. I don’t necessarily mean to run a marathon as a non-runner, but try the things I said I knew would not work, or things I am set in my ways about. Not to say I can always break my habits easily, but usually, eventually I can, in one way or the other, if it doesn’t serve me. One of my beliefs was that my spine has to keep getting worse and more crooked as I got older, as that is what I have noticed in myself and others. And so I challenge my beliefs about that like, yea maybe my life has to be that way. But maybe it doesn’t. 

My mother and father, as they got into their 80’s lost their ability to turn their heads very far from left to right, which gave them less visibility when driving a car as their necks became more tight with age. Over the course of six months, that I have been going to Kanya Thai Massage the restriction in my neck which was getting worse as I have gotten older, is no longer an issue. Parinda does this technique where she presses down on the tight area and has me turn away from it, essentially pulling open the tightness. Miraculously I can turn my head so much more easily from left to right now. And so what I thought was a static condition of aging, is no longer a condition at all.  

I find that to be miraculous because so many of us just except physical changes in our bodies as simply part of aging and something we have to live with. I reject that notion and I encourage you to do the same. Although the majority of the massages that I get mostly feel good, I would say 10 to 20% of them are painful as they sometimes press quite deeply to work out the tightness. But as in life, sometimes you have to suffer a bit to feel the good stuff, and rise to a groovier place. 

A symptom of my scoliosis was that I was crunching down on the left side of my body to the point where when I cough or sneeze my rib hits my hip bone. I did not even have to tell Parinda that this was an issue for me because she knows bodies so well that she could feel the problem. She bent me over a firm pillow to open my left torso and pressed deeply into the left abdominal area to open up that crunched down side of the body. It was amazing because I feel taller now and not so hunched over to the left. The worst of my pain is gone and I am so grateful to Kanya Thai Massage. Although I believe there are many wonderful forms of healing that may work, this one is working for me. There are also many wonderful Thai Massage therapists. Please reference the practitioner directory on unarmed-observation.flywheelstaging.com under healers for the location of Kanya Thai Massage or ad yours to my directory as well as your story of healing by emailing me at ali@unarmed-observation.flywheelstaging.com. I really would love folks to know who the good practitioners are.

I am someone who plays it safe mostly, although I also believe in trying new things. And so I went from a Kinesiologist, many years ago, to Acupuncture regularly to Thai Massage regularly and in the future, I may just try something completely different. But I don’t regret my experiments of trying new healing arts, herbs, etc. because often what I find is there is not just one way to fix a problem. I did not have to see a Rolfer or a Physical Therapist or take drugs as others suggested and as I came to believe. Debunking myself and my beliefs is a strength of adaptability. Maybe we don’t have to shrivel up and become less cable as we age. Just a thought. Practice changing your mind about that belief!

In Health,

Ali

Alison Trotta-Marshall