Faux Pas Friday: Outing to the Osteopath

Fort Collins Back Pain
Before I moved to France, the word ‘osteopath’ was not in my vocabulary, much less a person I would actually go see.

Give me five years and several stretches of fifteen-hour days behind the computer, though, and an osteopathe becomes a savior.

Not a chiropractor or a physical therapist, the osteopathe as far as I can tell is someone who uses manual manipulation to treat musculoskeletal problems.

It’s not exactly a newsflash that the human body isn’t meant to sit at a work station staring at a screen all day. And yet, alas, this is the fate of so many of us.

Back in May I had a crick in my neck that wouldn’t go away. After a few days it was not just a crick in the neck but a major pain in the….well, still the neck. I couldn’t move my head, I’d moan when I had to turn in bed, I felt almost paralyzed.

The old ‘it will go away on its own’ strategy wasn’t really panning out. Someone in my dance class (I had to stop going to dance class) gave me the name of her osteopathe and said I’d be amazed at what she could do.

I was.

The Magic Tree
(Let’s call this a visual representation of magic).

After two sessions the crick magically disappeared (or, I guess the point is that it wasn’t magic. After a few strange adjustments and contortions all the tension was released and I could move my head again.)

But do I ever learn the first time?

Right, so last week, I’m doing some mundane household task – looking up in my kitchen cupboard or something – when all of sudden: crack! There goes the neck again.

Are you kidding? I am now prone to injury just by simply looking at something on a high shelf?

It wasn’t as bad as in May so I try to ignore it. I even go out dancing on Friday, but find I can’t lift my left arm at all. (I did not win the miss Sexypants award out on the dance floor.)

By the next day, oh yes. Moaning again. It hurt just to lie still in bed.

So, ok, call up magical osteopathe who does work on Saturdays. Can’t get a hold of her. By Sunday, I’m panicking as I’m walking like a robot.

Then Monday she calls me back and asks if I can make it that day. I say YES! not only because I’d like to move my head again, but because, um, my monthly visitor was due very, very soon and I knew later in the week it would be a little, erm, awkward.

An hour before my appointment…yep, I get my period. I realize that’s a lot of information, but just trying to paint the full portrait here. I believe I’ve established before that they don’t really do the cover-up gown here, even at routine medical visits. And with the osteopathe where you strip down to just your undies and then they spend a lot of time manipulating your coccyx (gosh, even that sounds dirty!), they’re um, very near your undies. So let’s just say I was feeling a wee bit self-conscious.

ANYWAY, human body is beautiful and everything is natural, so I tell myself to fuggedaboutit and go.

I have to say, the whole thing is still fascinating. I’m nearly naked in a chilly room, lying on my back with a beautiful woman’s hand under my coccyx (tailbone). She closes her eyes and gently, gently manipulates my tailbone for a long time. The only way to describe it is that I feel she’s listening to my body.

So that happens. Then she moves to my belly and starts making circular motions for awhile there. I have absolutely no idea what this is doing and what my belly has to do with it, but ok!

So the majority of the séance is very serene; she has her eyes closed in extreme concentration. And then for about 15 minutes a whole bunch of action happens. She starts tugging on my legs. She tells me to relax! (I’m apparently not good at relaxing) She says she can hurt me if I don’t relax. (It’s hard to relax when someone says they will hurt you if you don’t relax.)

Apparently there’s really something wrong with my left leg – are you sure you’ve never had anything happen to your ankle? she asks as she’s trying to snap my foot off.

Then I return to my back, cross my arms tight across my body. She scoops me up with her hand cradling my head and then swooshes across my body pressing all of her weight into me to try to release some pressure along my spine.

At some point I’m sitting with my hands clasped behind my head elbows wide and she inserts herself into this position to tug me upward.

None of this really hurts or is violent. I just have a moment where I’m looking at myself from the outside (ever have those moments?) and thinking, wow, that looks weird!

And more to the point, wow, I actually need someone else to realign my body for me.

Like I actually need to budget into my life that every few months I need to go see someone to put me in strange positions so they can readjust my entire vertebral column.

Somehow this just seems like a sad commentary.

But no matter. It’s another Friday and I can lift my arms! Think I’ll go try to pick up my Sexypants dancer award tonight.

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19 Responses to “Faux Pas Friday: Outing to the Osteopath”


  1. 1 writingfeemail October 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

    We don’t have osteopaths here in my ‘neck’ of the woods. (sorry couldn’t resist) But it sounds like exactly what we need to have. Neck cricks are nasty little annoyances that can be debilitating. I’m glad yours went away!

    • 2 paris (im)perfect October 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks, Renee. I love puns :)

      Yeah, feels good to move my head again. Just a little disconcerting that my body doesn’t seem to be recouping on its own – now I need someone else to put me back into place!

  2. 3 Tanya in Transition October 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Wow… Errrm, can I stop laughing now? Glad your neck pain is gone and thanks for the laugh!

  3. 5 Aurelia October 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    The human body *is* beautiful and everything *is* natural, except when it comes to my own corpus, or so dictates the mental dialogue. I suppose this means I won’t be visiting my neighborhood osteopath anytime soon, even if, like you, I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting (in an ergonomically flawed position) in front of the ordinateur.

    I’m glad you can lift your arm again. I’m waving to you from over the hill, imagining you and your newly functioning appendage waving back!

    • 6 paris (im)perfect October 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Hi, Aurelia! *Waves back.*

      Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with that mental dialogue and why we needlessly suffer. I really *do* recommend my osteopath (and she lives in your neighborhood!) so if you ever want to check her out, let me know.

      I have slowly made my work space more ergonomic (raising my laptop so I’m looking straight at the screen not down, getting a separate keyboard, a better chair, etc). We’ll see if I can make it for longer stretches of time before I have to go have someone realign me :)

  4. 7 Lindsey October 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Oh don’t I know these situations well!! My kiné has seen me in my undies way more than anyone else has at this point! GLad it has been working for you though. Those body twisters cost a fortune but boy can they change your life!

  5. 9 Amy Kortuem October 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Sounds like the contortions my chiropractor puts me through after a big weekend of harp playing (or spasming for no apparent reason, akin to your shelf-looking injury). It feels ridiculous at the time I’m lying there twisted around with him holding one of my legs and one of my arms and putting all his weight on my lower back to get it to adjust – but man, do I move better when it’s all done.

    Glad you’re feeling better!

    • 10 paris (im)perfect October 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      Oh man, yeah. You must really do a doozy on your back playing the harp! Yep, I don’t really care how silly the positions look as long as it helps me move better after. Hooray for crazy contortions!

  6. 11 Paris Paul P October 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I’m sitting right here until I see a picture of you in your sexypants. Just sayin’.

  7. 13 Franck October 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Aïe!
    I offered a broken ankle for my eleventh brithday to myself. Eight years later my back was stuck. My Osthéo told me, all my pains (neck, back, knees, hips) were sequel of my broken ankle.
    Even if you know you are getting much more better after these 30 minutes of weird positions in friendly hands, all these crack, crack-crack, and the famous crack-crack-crack… of the your vertical column, It is difficult to be relax (and staring a ceiling! just wearing underpants) when your body seems falling apart. Beside that, swimming is the best cure to fight the aftermath of our bad position in front of a screen.

  8. 15 Dani October 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I just saw her yesterday! Thanks for the recommendation. Wish I had read this first though! I would’ve been more prepared for those realignment/cracking maneuvers which, because they’re so intimate, feel almost motherly. It’s the cradling. She’s great, I’m going back in three weeks. Apparently some things were “bien bloqué!” Well, I kind of knew that.

    • 16 paris (im)perfect October 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Oh my gosh! I’m so glad she helped you, too! Yeah, the cradling is one of the most interesting parts. Definitely helps unblock whatever you’ve got going on, though! So glad you had a good experience with her.

  9. 17 Vicki Archer January 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    The FRench love an osteopath and so do I!… There is nothing better than that feeling of ‘looseness’ after the session… Hope you are feeling fab… xv
    P.S Loved your interview with Lost in Cheeseland…


  1. 1 Breaking It Down to Jacques Brel « paris (im)perfect Trackback on October 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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