More than once I've compared myself to a musician, thinking of my own instrument as the human spine. I think of my hands as playing with notes of pain - because I know that it’s up to me to deliver beauty from the discordant, dysfunctional mess in front of me.
I need to keep aware of being in contact with the pain (the part of your spine not working properly) because I know this is the best way of drawing the pain out - like drawing off the vapours - to make the spine sing sweetly again.
I say to my students that there’s a way of finding a pain, of touching it - like tapping it on the shoulder - that engages with it and brings it along with you. I explain that our job is to liberate a pain, not pulverize it by matching it force for force.
As I sit quietly, face to face for the first time with a patient, taking in their story that's the odyssey of their back, there's always a rising moment of pent-up anticipation - right to the point where I go in to feel what I can feel in their back. For diagnosis, my hands tell me more than anything else.
But as you may have heard I also use my feet. When it comes to treatment, using pressure to gently coax free a jammed spinal segment - and remember most problems (over 90%) are this - the heel of the foot is better. All therapists at the Sarah Key Physiotherapy Centre use their feet to treat.
I use the heel for several reasons. Firstly, it’s easier for me - and this is not inconsiderable. Using my heel also allows me to focus all my reserves above that pain and funnel a delicate dissolving force into it. It’s much more effective and feels much more agreeable to you, because the force is distributed over a wider area.