At the age of 6, I was jumping on a trampoline…boing boing boing, crash…and lost my balance landing my left cheek on the steel bar around the outside (old-school trampoline). I rebounded back off the bar on to my back and suffered what I assume was a whiplash injury and also a fractured left maxilla (cheek bone).
I remember as a kid after this event, lying on the couch with considerable headaches. It wasn’t really common to take your kid to an Osteo, Physio or Chiro at this time, so I received no treatment. Just a day or 2 off school and back into it again. Not even an X-ray at the time. The fracture was realised a few years later with a dental X-ray.
In high school I woke all the time with headaches and took Panadol before school. By Year 10 I had been booked in to see a chiropractor to resolve this unrelenting and worsening problem. Countless appointments with my hips on blocks to untwist my pelvis so I was told, cracking of my neck and little relief. At this time in my life, as a 15 year old, I related to myself as having a bad neck that seemed curiously linked to my headaches.
More headaches & little relief, there was pretty much a low-grade headache at all times that would escalate to migraine. Studying Osteo means that you are a guinea pig for your friends and vice-versa as we learn our techniques on each other. This would often stir up my body. I would see student osteopaths in our uni clinic and this would provide relief but never resolution.
Once I qualified as an Osteopath my pain escalated again simply from treating more clients for THEIR aches and pains. I was relying more on my left shoulder and arm that I had found to be associated with my headaches. At this point I couldn’t wear a backpack or carry bags on my left shoulder, a guaranteed headache if I did. Along came ear stuffiness in my left ear, ringing in the ear and a jaw that wouldn’t stop cracking.
With worsening posture due to pain I was feeling like this problem was dominating my days. I never left the house without some form of pain-killer in my bag (codeine-based). This is when I started learning far more about my headaches and developed a stretching program I would do every day and this would usually hold my bad headaches at bay. I stretched my neck and chest all the time, had “tall” posture, tried pilates, tried yoga, got massage. Some things would help for some of the time. But what had puzzled me for a long time was why I couldn’t get past this issue AND I was getting a little worse each year that passed.
I would prescribe my routine to my headache-clients too and the results were pretty good…as long as we kept doing it. When we stopped…headaches came back. It was the best I had. This was my life for the next 14 years. But that question – why when we stopped the strategies would it always come back? To be honest I had no hope left but I think that also came from not remembering a time without the pain. It just seemed like “me”.
I couldn’t lift anything too heavy, gym workouts no good, yoga relied on my arms too much, anything requiring my arms up in the air and sitting…all would give me headaches.
I was taking it a few times a week despite my stretching routine. And now in my 30’s, with 2 small children, a business to run and a home to take care of, you do what you can to get through the day. There is little time to be in chronic pain & there is little time as a mum you are not lifting something or someone. You do what you do to get by.
That when I got older I would have to find a great young Osteopath, masseuse, whoever offered relief, that would be able to keep my neck loose. That if I was stuck in a chair due to disability or illness that I would experience unrelenting headaches. All this in my 30’s.
He is the author of “What the Foot”. I know right, great title! Gary and his co-presenter Chris, taught me for the first time, despite all my knowledge from Osteopathy studies & experience, they taught me how to identify the problem areas in my body and how the movement pattern I had adopted that was causing my headaches. By no means was this an instant cure for me, it required an unwinding process from all this built up tension. What I discovered though from a place of no hope, behind it’s facade of skin and bones is an untapped resource of incredible proportions – my central nervous system. A learning resource contained within your own body that given an opportunity, can overcome and learn how to move easier & more fluently.
Moments in time in our history causes us to protect something and hold our body a particular way. And this pattern, this adaptive movement gets adopted by our brain as “normal” despite it being off-centre and out-of-balance. Gary’s AiM® (Anatomy in Motion) approach is a potential reset button for your body. With no doubt I can tell you it was for mine.
The AiM approach is quite simple in theory – look for areas that aren’t moving and teach them to move again, re-integrate them into a normal pattern. Our body is an entire system together, that if it works together, all parts are mobile. So find what joints doesn’t move and use that information to re-learn whole-body movement.
Any bet your chronic pain pattern has not been identified by any practitioner to date and that’s why you are here…reading this…
Gary Ward’s approach takes a trained eye to identify which patterns you are missing at which point we can re-train your brain to move your body again in these areas that are restricted. Our Osteo clinic has 3 qualified practitioners to work your unique unwinding process with you. It is incredibly freeing to feel this process happening in your own body…a treat in fact as you re-discover the ability of the body you inhabit.
I am relieved & ecstatic that I am no longer at the mercy of my headaches, that I no longer carry codeine medication around with me. I don’t feel like a prisoner anymore, I feel I am re-connected to my whole self and can now “sit” on the damn couch. What a treat to just be able to sit.