Jane roper

I am 52 years old and work as an accountant.  I have two adult children and my hobbies are mountain biking and walking.

I have had back issues for over 20 years. A small number of major flare ups where I’ve really struggled to walk at all but mainly real stiffness, predominantly in my lower back which made getting out of cars, up from the settee or off my bike quite painful. Every few months I found that I was walking hunched over and sometimes I couldn’t straighten up even after moving around for a few minutes. I struggled with lots of karate moves which involved my right hip and mountain biking caused a real strain on my back.

Over the years I have been to see physiotherapists and chiropractors. I seemed to end up feeling worse after visiting the physiotherapist and whilst I felt better with my 3 times a year sessions for a decade with my chiropractor (plus extra sessions following flare ups), the relief was always short lived as I was never dealing with the cause.

This year I decided to get some mountain bike coaching and to push myself a bit more.  I put in a lot more miles and a lot more effort. I then went away on a week’s biking holiday and noticed that I was having to dose myself up on painkillers just to get round and that in the evening I could hardly manage to get up from the settee. On the day that I came home my back just gave up.  I could move but had to be helped off the settee, sleeping was painful and I now had a pain all the way across my hips.

A chance conversation led me to the door of Chris Halliday. I am so very glad of this. A friend with worse issues than me said that out of all the therapists she had seen over the years, Chris was the only one to get her pain free. I looked at the website and was very sceptical.  Somatics? What kind of weird and wonderful technique was this? It all sounded a bit wishy washy to me but I decided to give it a go.

What a great move this was.  A complete game changer. In early September I had my first of 5 sessions with Chris. A thorough investigation concluded that all the muscles on my right hand side were permanently contracted at around 30-40%, even when they should have been resting. Chris explained everything as we went along and I have since read more about the subject. Muscle memory.  That’s what was to blame. At some point over the years my body had had to compensate for some injury or other. It might have been childbirth, karate, one of my many bike crashes.  We will never know. The upshot is that my body then perceived this new muscle position as the normal one and it would always seek to return to that position. Physio was just like pulling a knot that was already tight even tighter. I worked with Chris to help retrain my brain to retrain my muscles. It took a good few weeks as my body just wanted to go back to the old position but each week it was very obvious that I was getting more and more mobility back.  I have had to put a lot of time in myself, working on the exercises that I was given.  They were a chore to start with but I now rather like doing them.  Somatics must be done with complete focus on how your body feels, in my case comparing my good side with my bad. Full concentration is needed, concentrating on the different positions and differences between sides etc. After a few weeks it was clear that most of my back was doing great but my sacroiliac joint was still causing me discomfort and simply wouldn’t go and in fact was getting worse.  I did some research and started thinking about the new exercise that I’d been doing and we worked on adapting things and after a few days there was a massive improvement.  It is definitely a case of learning to listen to your body and creating new muscle memory.

I am now two months on and my back feels better than it has in years and this is all due to Chris and the use of Somatics. I love that there are no harsh manipulations, no forcing your body where it doesn’t want to go and with Chris’s excellent tuition you start to learn about your own body and make the necessary amendments as you go on.  I can now get out of the car, off my bike and out of seats with zero stiffness in my lower back. My hips now move when I walk which they don’t do before!  My whole posture has changed. I can’t tell you how delighted I am with how much Chris has helped me. I am under no illusions that my back will still be an issue due to the nature of my work and hobbies but I now feel better equipped to deal with it. I will continue with maintenance visits to Chris and also with all the exercises that we have been working on. The more I read about Somatics the more I am convinced that most people with back issues can benefit from it.  If you don’t believe it at least give it a go.  You will beed to be committed but it is so worth the effort. I can’t recommend Chris highly enough.

Jane Roper 06/11/19