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Physiotherapy vs Assessing Your Body Pattern

In 2012 I had a car accident, I was hit from the back, they were doing around 40 mph. This obviously caused me a very common injury, which was whiplash in the neck. I would get regular back spasms and it was affecting my work as an Ice skating Coach and Pilates instructor.

I had the usual physiotherapy, where I expected them to work on the area where the pain was but I knew it isn't always that simple. Majority of the time in my experience it's referred pain, unless it's bursitis or other similar conditions. I went through the motions with the process and they were short 20 minute appointments. After each appointment I always ended up trying to blend the massage I had been given as when you massage someone, if you don't blend a massage you only move the pain to another area of the body. Most of the time the pain ended up in my forearm and fingers and I was frantically trying to draw the tension out myself as I was left in more pain then before.

While writing this blog I decided to google images of whiplash and nothing other than the images of neck stress came up.

Which is very misleading as they haven't taken into consideration what happens to shoulders on impact or the way someone holds the steering wheel. I mention this as I had a life changing moment, and I realised that it's not as easy and ticking a box and putting everyone into different categories.

This was the same year I went to Lake Tahoe in America and finally qualified as Aston Pilates Instructor.

Whilst I was on my course, I learnt about body patterns and when we cause an injure to ourselves, it was most likely always going to happen. We put our bodies through stress and strain each day, repeating the same pattern of movement, until eventually our anatomy has tolerated enough. I found all this so interesting and educating myself on my own imbalances and how we are all built asymmetrically. We are designed around our organs. For example the left lung is slightly smaller than the right due to the presence of the heart, so therefore we will always have one shoulder higher than the other. So working the body symmetrically will create more imbalance.

One day on my course, my back spasmed and I was in tears. Luckily on this day, Judith Astons husband was working with us, Brian Linderoth, and he decided to work on me. He observed my body pattern, then sat me down and gentle scanned my arm. But instead of working where the pain was, he gentle massaged my forearm. This massage was non compressive, not painful and was deep tissue. It was incredible and this experience is what got me hooked to working more with the anatomy. After he explained to me, that the muscles in my forearm had been twisted, so he had unravelled them for me. And he could give me in detail how I was holding the steering wheel at the time of the accident. After that day, my back never spasmed again and it has been 12 years since. You see if the muscles in my forearm were twisted it would lead to the fibres pulling in my back. I was so happy, it was definitely a whoo-hoo moment.

Which brings me to last year. In October 2023 I had another car accident, someone went into my passenger car doors and I was thrown sideways. So this time no neck pain. Instead a constant persistent ache in my right shoulder. So the process starts all over again. I have good range of movement to begin with and this pain does not stop me from doing various activities but it goes up and down in intensity. So for example if I'm having a bad day I have to cancel a massage I have booked in or change my lesson plan of various classes to stop aggravating the area.

I of course was sent to the doctors, the usual, "Can you touch your toes", etc. Then back to regular physio visits, although this time was better experience but there has been no change in my recovery. My experience was better as she observed my movement and my physio sessions were 50 minutes long which meant she had time for more work. She would look at my neck range, and ask me questions, "Were you symmetrical before?" "We are looking for symmetry." My response was always the same, "No I was never symmetrical, no one is as, our skeleton is designed around our organs, and our organs are asymmetrical." She was always a bit silent after my response, but it led to conversations of what I do for a living and when we spoke about the body together sometimes we were on the same page.

Even when she gave me exercises, the exercises she gave me wouldn't resolve my issue, but I could see that we could both see what was needed to be done. Upon my own observations and analyse, my forearm was not painful to move or use, but when I would gentle palate the muscle fibres, it was painful and very uncomfortable. So I asked her on one of my visits if she could massage my forearm. I pleased when she did, when she work on the area I asked my shoulder would improve.

Now my physio has finished I am now working on my self. Here are the differences and my findings through experimental trial and area and analysing my body pattern on a daily basis.

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