For the past five years, my back pain has been getting steadily but significantly worse. Fellow self-employed people might relate to that tendency to shrug things like this off, because you’re too razor-focused on being as productive as possible. But a few months ago, around the start of the year, the back pain became so intense that it often hurt just to stand up. I couldn’t ignore it any more!
I went to countless sports therapists and masseuses, and they were all great, but they didn’t make my back any better in the long run. I nearly went to the doctor’s — imagine that! I’ve also been a regular at Everybody Pilates in Southsea for a couple of years, and even though Pilates made my core stronger, I could still feel my back getting worse and worse.
The Everybody Pilates studio overlooks my Love Southsea Market in Palmerston Road, and they could see through their windows by the end of each market day that I was in a great deal of pain. Pilates instructors are always watching you walk — it helps them identify your weak points and what you need to work on.
One of the Everybody Pilates instructors told me about Oliver from the Wow Clinic in Westbourne. He’s a practicing osteopath, and had worked wonders on her back! At this point in time, I was so worried about what the back pain could mean in the long term, I found Oliver’s number and booked in.
Before becoming an osteopath, Oliver trained in the medical profession as a nurse, so his knowledge is impressive. He swapped over to becoming an osteopath because he felt, as a nurse, he didn’t have time to properly care for his patients.
The osteopath role suited him better, as he could get more out of his patients, as his time wasn’t stretched as thin.
He went over everything I do in my day-to-day life: running Love Southsea is more than a full-time job, as I have the markets (booking in traders, organising their pitches, adverting the markets, looking for new traders and events, answering trader questions on email), my social media/online marketing side, the clothing and artwork shop, etc. It’s very rare that I switch off!
I start working on my phone as soon as I wake up at 7:30am to when I put it down again at 11:00pm, so on it all day and night! I have done this now for the past 10 years.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Love Southsea. It has enabled me to keep my kids at school, meals on the table, and clothes on their backs. 10 years ago, mine and my husband’s property business crashed and we lost everything essentially overnight. We had to rush the sale of our prize home (a very big house in the county) to move out quickly into a rental in Southsea.
So the feeling off losing it all has, I think, never left me. To monumentally fail so badly could not be an option again! So I have worked and worked and worked!
Ten years on, I have three successful markets, a great marketing platform with a cross-network weekly reach of over 200,000, etc. We’re doing okay-ish. Never going to be mega rich again, but we are stable!
So, back to my back pain: Oliver worked out quite quickly that for the past 10 years, I have been holding my breath! Not only that, but I have been holding by whole body tight and tense. I go to to bed extremely tired, so I fall asleep straight away, and when I wake up, my jaw is tight shut and my back extremely sore.
I was blaming the bed, but of course, it wasn’t the bed: it was the fact that held myself tense all night long in one position.
You reading this, take a moment right now to think about your breathing. Think about your body and posture: can you breathe all the way out so that you can completely relax and let everything go? I can’t — I have to physically retrain my whole body, mind, and brain to dictate the way I hold myself in order to relax again. It wasn’t until Oliver pointed this out that I realised this was what was going on.
From holding my breath for so long, my rib cage has moved up higher and my pelvis is twisted so everything was out of kilter. That’s why my back was getting progressively worse and worse.
Six months on and six appointments later, I’m a changed person! My back is no longer hurting every day. I know now if I’m going into a stressful week or a hard meeting that I will tense up again and my back will hurt, but now I’m retraining my mind to try and not let this happen.
Oliver makes me laugh as each time I see him he describes me as a pressure cooker that he has to decompress! As well as retraining my mindset, he has actually realigned my pelvis, loosened up my back, and my rib cage is gradually coming back down to where it should be. It’s taken a good 10 years to get up there, so this isn’t going to cure overnight!
Hand on heart, my back is 90% better. I make a point of switching off more now.
- If you have a bath, have a long soak at night when you can throw in a Karma bath bomb and some Sleepy Oil from LUSH Portsmouth in Cascades. This really knocks you out! Also try their Sleepy Moisturiser. I put this on this on just as I’m getting into bed, rubbing it in around my neck and arms.
- Read a book! No screens.
- Put down your phone when watching a TV show or film. It stops you asking your partner constantly what’s just happened, or having to rewind.
- Check in regularly throughout the day with the position of your body — are you holding tension in your neck, your shoulders, your back? Let it go! Even writing this blog, I have had to reposition my back at least four times where I had held it into my go-to tight position.
- Meditation! This is something I’m working on. I’m not very good at this but I hear it’s phenomenal, so I will persevere. Even if you do it for five minutes before you get out of bed, you can clear your mind for the day and not wake up with a mind racing at 100 miles an hour.
- Anxiety! I have found the more and more I use my phone, the more anxious I get. So again, when you feel this feeling arising, put your phone down and go do something else. I also recently found out if you have anxiety your body might be deficient in magnesium — taking one magnesium tablet a day has kept the anxiety monster at bay!
Since going to see Oliver at Wow, my whole family has been in to see the marvellous magical osteopath with the healing hands! I could not recommend him or his team highly enough.
So there you go: just breathe. Easier said than done, as today life isn’t the easiest. There’s so much to do and so much to be accomplished, and so much to keep up with, but sometimes all you need to do is just chill and breathe, and remind yourself to relax.
Osteopathy is a physical medicine that finds restrictions throughout the body, whether it is is in the muscles, bones, ligaments, gut, or the nervous system. Everybody can be seen by an osteopath, from the very young to the very old. The Wow Clinic offers both structural osteopathy, which is more manipulative and direct, and functional or cranial osteopathy. The latter is a gentle treatment that listens to the body.
Find out about the Wow Clinic at thewowclinic.com.