Until I went for Body Stress Release I was unaware of how stressed and unhappy my body was. But after three sessions with Winston Wiggins I'm as right as rain again - for now anyway.
Body Stress Release (BSR) is the brainchild of two South African chiropractors, Gail and Ewald Meggersee, who developed the technique after many years of research into stress and its highly negative effect on the body. It has been practised in South Africa since 1981.
However, as Winston Wiggins, a BSR practitioner in Table View, Cape Town, hastens to point out, BSR is neither a medical treatment nor an alternative therapy. "It is a complementary technique which helps the body to heal itself by releasing stored tension."
Wiggins has been a BSR practitioner for three years and got involved after he experienced a release himself.
"It all started when a BSR practitioner sorted out five years of major back pain in very short time."
The basics of BSR
The BSR practitioner enables the body to heal itself by locating the precise areas where the body is stressed, such as along the spine, in the neck and head, even the buttocks and hips. The practitioner uses the client's body as a biofeedback mechanism, and by applying light and firm pressure to the key areas, activates the body to release the stress.
Wiggins says BSR is most commonly used to counteract the physical effects of stress, such as lower back pain, neck pain and headaches.
You're fully clothed during the session and, depending on the severity of your condition and the level of stress your body is carrying, sessions generally last between 15 and 20 minutes.
"We start off by doing three releases," Wiggins explains. "Ideally, the second session follows four days after the first, and the third is given one week after that. Usually by this time we have a good indication of where we are going, and in some instances more sessions could be required.
"It differs with each person as to how long the release will last, and this would depend on their lifestyle. We usually recommend clients to come back for regular maintenance releases, with the length of time between appointments varying between two and 12 weeks."
Read: The physiology of stress
How it felt
My first session with Wiggins was slightly longer than the rest as he took time to explain exactly what was involved, and how the process worked.
I listed some of the things I was having problems with, such as tension headaches and a sprained ankle. In fact there were so many I started to feel I was a wreck, but Wiggins was reassuring.
After this it was onto the kind of bed chiropractors use: the kind you stand against and get lowered down onto. Lots of major back problems come this way, then.
As I lay on my stomach, Wiggins patrolled between my feet and my back. Eventually, he focused on my back, firmly pressing down on a few spots.
Most of these were tender enough to make me flinch when he pressed them. Wiggins later explained that the reason he kept checking my feet and then marking spots on my back, was because he was testing for stress by using the feet as a biofeedback monitor.
He repeated the process on my buttocks, hips, up my spine, my shoulder blades, neck, shoulders, the base of my head and along my chest bone.
Once he was done he had to gently rouse me. I hadn't actually fallen asleep, but I was deeply lethargic. I was also slightly lightheaded when I stood up, but this passed quickly.
Stress and chemical imbalance
After the session Wiggins told me I had significant stress in my body, particularly in my neck and shoulders, as well as chemical stress caused by factors such as air pollution, chemical exposure from soaps, shampoos and so on.
I left with instructions to drink lots of water in the following hours, and I was warned to expect a mild detox headache the next day. It He was right about this, although the headache was gone by that afternoon.
The follow-up sessions
The next two sessions with Wiggins followed much the same path and I was delighted to hear in the second one that my body was responding well to the releases.
By the third release, he announced that my body was in a far, far better condition. The chemical stress was almost completely gone, as was the tension in my neck and shoulders.
Since I hadn't experienced any hint of a sore neck or shoulders before the sessions, I can't report any feeling of relief on that front. But I do feel more in touch with myself, more focused on my posture, and more careful about tensing or hunching.
My body still feels pretty relaxed. I know it's up to me to keep it that way, but I really am impressed.
And the best thing? Touch wood – I haven't had a tension headache in over a month, which is really amazing for me!
Contact Winston Wiggins at 083 265 9115 or find a BSR practitioner in your area (countrywide) by visiting www.bodystressrelease.co.za.