Laura came to me at the age of 45. She had spent 20 years as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit and was on her feet for twelve hour shifts four days a week. She’d raised three children, mostly without the help of her husband, who worked long hours. Low back pain had plagued her for over five years, to the point where she decided to seek medical advice. Her doctor told her that a laminectomy of L4/L5 was the only option. She took it.
The surgery relieved her pain for a short period of time, and then her pain came back in full force. Nothing had changed. She went for chiropractic adjustments weekly for several months, which again only yielded short-term relief.When I met the first thingI did was to palpate her back muscles, They were taut and rigid. She stood with her lower back straight while her upper back was slightly rounded, causing her shoulders to slump forward. In taking her history she told me that she had had a very difficult childhood, which she was sure had resulted in a habituated startle reflex. Her right hip was slightly higher than her left, which she felt had come from years of holding her growing children on her right hip.
We began our work by addressing the taut muscles of her back. Because Laura had to stand all day at her job it was important that she become aware of the “green light reflex” (Landau Response) and how to relax the back muscles when she finished work. She learned to contract and release her back muscles while prone, and while sitting. She reported instant relief in her low back. In subsequent sessions we worked with her waist muscles to even out her leg length and allow for more movement of the hips. We also addressed the muscles of the front of the body in order to allow her to stand up to a neutral and balanced straight posture. This allowed for a more natural curve in her lumbar spine. She found that her breathing improved after this particular lesson.
Laura does her Somatic Movements daily and has reported no recurrence of chronic back pain in several years. She takes weekly dance classes and is enjoying an active life while continuing to work as a nurse practitioner in a busy hospital.