One of my first projects in the Year of Me is to deal with my body. Cue eye-rolling, I know, but after two Caeserean sections, 15 months of breastfeeding, weight gain of 30kgs and weight loss of nowhere-near-30 kgs in two and half years, tackling my body issues is not a simple process at the moment (as if it ever is!).

But it’s something that I need to deal with. Feeling happy with my body is important to me and at the moment I’m anything but happy with myself.

The biggest issue for me are my aches and pains. I know I’m closer to 40 than 30 but that shouldn’t mean that I feel like I do when I, well, when I do anything. When I get out of bed, when I stand up from the couch, when I pick up Little S or J…I can’t do anything without a creak, twinge or pop, and it’s anybody’s guess where those noises come from!

And don’t even talk to me about exercise. Exercise is on my to-do list, right next to go to Thailand and win the lottery.

So when I was offered the chance to do Body Stress Release, I figured it was worth a try to see if it was something that could work for me.

What is Body Stress Release?

Body Stress Release is a complementary health technique that uses stress testing to find out where your stress is stored. Once an area of tension is found, an impulse is applied to the area to prompt the muscles to release the tension and to restore efficient nerve communication.

(If you want to get technical, nerve pathways can be interrupted or blocked by tension, which can hinder communication between the brain and the rest of the body, causing pain.)

In reality, what happens is this:

You lie (fully-clothed) on a weird-looking bed that looks like it belongs in Girl, Interrupted. You lie face down. The practitioner presses down on a particular place on your body and then looks at your feet to see if that’s where the tension is.

True as bob.

Body Stress Release uses a form of stress testing to detect the precise location and direction of stored tension in your body.

Once the locations of the stress have been identified the practitioner will release them, using a gently but precise impulse with their hands.

This is not a massage (as I keep telling the Beard). It probably looks like a massage to the innocent bystander, but it’s quite different. It can hurt quite a bit, but it’s that weird pleasurable pain feeling.

Did it work for me?

First off, let me say that I’m a big fan of practices like this. Crystal therapy, essential oils, yoga – I believe in many complementary healing therapies, which is why I was attracted to this in the first place.

The body issues I was dealing with were shoulder and neck pain, lower back pain and a weird shooting pain in my one arm – all, I assumed, from recovering from pregnancy and breastfeeding and picking up my 10-kg kids all the time. I was experiencing headaches regularly and just generally wasn’t feeling amazing physically.

I found the sessions really interesting. A lot of the time I wondered what on earth she was doing and other times I yelped in pain. Even the smallest pressure could get quite a big response from my body. The one time it felt like she was putting a hot cloth on my lower back; another time my feet twitched so hard I felt like I’d been shocked. After each session I felt really spaced out for a little bit.

After each session you have a chat with the practitioner and she tells you what she found and she tries to make connections to your history and your lifestyle. She picked up on some lower back pain and hip pain which I hadn’t considered and also related my neck and shoulder pain to working at my laptop and my abysmal posture.

After each session you, strangely enough, can be in a bit of pain. This is normal, apparently, as your body is trying to deal with the release of the tension. I definitely felt tender after she had done some work on my neck and shoulders in one session and my back in another session, but it wasn’t anything more than I was already feeling.

Today, a few weeks after my last session, I can happily say that the pain in my arm has disappeared, as have my headaches. My neck and shoulder pain has definitely improved, which is surprising because J and Little S are growing boys so are definitely heavier than before.

I think one effect of the sessions – besides the direct healing – would be the consideration it’s given me for my body. I’m much more aware of my posture, how I sit, how I sleep and how I pick up my children. I know that that sounds like it shouldn’t be rocket science, but I really wasn’t aware of what I was doing to my body and how it could affect me. I feel I am now a bit more mindful of my-self, which is an awesome side effect of the modality.

Who needs Body Stress Release?

Anyone, basically. Body Stress Release is suitable for anyone, even pregnant ladies and babies.

We all have stress in our lives – mechanical stress like injuries and strains, environmental stress like pollution, mental stress like work, and emotional stress like husbands ;-) If we don’t deal with this stress it can get locked in to our muscles, causing aches and pains.

For babies, doing Body Stress Release has been shown to help with colic and reflux. For pregnant ladies, it can help deal with the discomfort of carrying around a watermelon in their tummies for a few months.

If you want to get to the bottom of any pain you have regularly that you just can’t shake, them you might want to think about giving Body Stress Release a go.

You do need to be able to commit a bit of time, though. It’s not a once-off process. In your first consultation, the practitioner will take a detailed medical history before starting the release. After that, it is recommended that you attend at least three sessions in a two-week period. Each session is about 30 minutes.

After that, it will depend on the progress as to whether you should go for more sessions or not.

Where can you do it?

There are dozens of BSR practitioners around Cape Town (I’m sure there are others in other cities and countries but since I’m here I’ll focus on here). I went to see Meg Ringdal, who you may recognise from her blog Mind the Curves.

I haven’t seen any other BSR practitioner but I would definitely recommend Meg. She was so knowledgeable but gentle that every session felt like I was chatting to a friend but I walked away with a lot of knowledge (and bruises).

Would I recommend it?

Would I go back? Definitely, and I’m going to. Probably after the school holidays, because kids.

Disclaimer: These BSR sessions were sponsored by Meg Ringdal but the opinions are totally my own.

If you would like to try out BSR for yourself, Meg is kindly offering a special discounted rate for the Bird and the Beard readers. If you let her know that you read this post (or quote the code the Bird and the Beard), she’ll give you a rate of R300 for each of your initial three sessions (so R900 in total).

It’s a pleasure :-)

Featured image: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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