by Anthony Penman MRSS (T)

Philip had his appointment to see me made by his wife. He appeared for our first session looking a little tense and uncertain.

Philip is 53, had been a University lecturer most of his working life and was now Head of Department. His contact time with students had decreased and his role was increasingly administrative. Philip is married with three children, the youngest aged 17 and still at home.

Philip’s main concern was a long-term tendency to neck and shoulder tension, particularly evident after a long session in front of the computer. He also had a more recent problem with his right shoulder, which for the last five weeks had been quite stiff and achey, especially in the mornings. He could not link his shoulder problem with any physical event or trauma.

He suffered from occasional headaches, and from summer hayfever, for which he used an inhaler. He had a history of intermittent lower-back problems. He described his back as having “gone into spasm and seized up” on four or five occasions over a period of ten years. He never sought medical advice, and each time the problem improved within a day or two.

Philip did very little exercise. His wife is a good cook and they try to eat “sensibly”. Philip volunteered that he felt he had not been dealing with stress so well of late, and that this had affected his attitude towards work, and caused strains at home.

Session One

Philip had had an aromatherapy massage on holiday, but otherwise had not had bodywork before.

He exhibited a lot of held tension at a deep level. His body was stiff and board-like. His right shoulder was far more locked than his description led me to expect – movement was severely restricted.

Energetically I worked particularly on Gall Bladder, which was very congested (jitsu) and Spleen, which was depleted (kyo). Gall Bladder (jitsu) is often associated with physical stiffness and joint problems.

I went very gently and conservatively with all stretches. I did not want to give too challenging a treatment when there was so much physical tension and resistance. Gauging this is a matter of judgment and experience. It is important to build trust and I did not want to produce a big reaction to the session.

At the end Philip was slightly hesitant about booking a session a week hence. I gave him the option to go away and think about it. I explained that he would probably need at least three or four sessions to release his shoulder. He decided to book another session for the following week.

Session Two

Philip was more at ease. He reported an improvement in his range of shoulder movement, though there was still restriction and pain taking the arm backwards, as when putting on a shirt or coat.

He slept better the first two nights following his first session, and could sleep on his right side. He had had a fairly light week on the computer, and his neck tension was not too bad.

The Gall Bladder ki was ‘softer’ and GB points on the foot less painful when I worked. We discussed again the number and frequency of sessions. I suggested having weekly sessions for four weeks and then to review, possibly moving to two or three-week intervals. I also recommended drinking 1½ – 2 litres of water a day for a month, and cutting back on coffee.

Session Three

Gardening had upset his shoulder and it had been painful for two days. Philip and his wife had been for a 3-mile walk the previous Sunday. He had felt more relaxed at college during the last week, but said his workload had also been lighter. The shoulder was still quite restricted when taking the arm back.

I did soft tissue and energy work around the shoulder-blade and deltoid muscle in both sitting and side-lying positions.

Philip was relaxing better during this session, though he held his legs rigidly when I performed hip rotations and stretches. He was nearly asleep at the end of the session and I covered him with a blanket for a few minutes.

Session Four

Philip was very much lighter in his mood, and easier with me. He said he was walking differently and was paying more attention to how he sat at the computer. He had had a twinge in his lower back during the previous week, but had been doing some daily stretches, which I had recommended. He felt they had helped to release some tightness in the lower back.

His shoulder was “much improved”. It was less achey, but movement was still restricted.

He was still holding his legs tightly during the session. We talked about this, and Philip was able to let me ‘have the weight’ when I lifted his legs whilst he was lying on his back. He was still inclined to tighten again at times during the treatment.

We discussed further treatment and settled on a three-week interval before the next session.

Session Five

Phillip said he had looked forward to the session, but felt that the three-week gap was a bit too long.

Philip booked his next session for two weeks later.

Philip continues to come for shiatsu when he feels he is “tightening up” – about once a month on average. He has used some Ibuprofen gel on his right shoulder and has now regained full range of movement.

He continues with his stretching routine most days, and says he feels physically more supple. He has had no more ‘episodes’ with his back, and his headaches have not returned.

He feels his concentration has improved and he is more easily able to relax in the evenings at home. He and his wife now go on some quite ambitious walks.

Philip says he doesn’t know if it’s the shiatsu, but he feels that he is coping better with unforeseen events at work and he is able to take a more flexible approach with colleagues.

About the Author

Anthony Penman MRSS (T).

My name is Anthony Penman MRSS (T). I have been working as a full-time shiatsu practitioner since 1990. I also taught for the European Shiatsu School in Cardiff during the 90’s.

I spent a year studying shiatsu at the Bristol School of Shiatsu in 1987 and went on to study for a further two years at The British School of Shiatsu-Do in London, being awarded my practitioner diploma in 1990. I was accepted onto The Shiatsu Society Register (MRSS) later that year.

I continued my association with the British School for a further year, assisting on various courses and additionally studying for my shiatsu teacher (T) qualification. It has also been my good fortune to have studied with some of the great shiatsu teachers, including Master Ohashi and Saul Goodman.

I currently offer one-to-one individual shiatsu sessions by appointment at: –

The Natural Health Clinic
98 Cathedral Road
Pontcanna
Cardiff
CF11 9LP
Tel.: (029) 20 222221

I work at The Natural Health Clinic on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. An appointment can be made by telephoning the above number Mon – Fri between 9am – 5pm.

And also at:

The Newport Clinic of Holistic Health
4 Llanthewy Road
Newport
NP20 4JR
Tel.: (01633) 843333

For appointments on Wednesdays in Newport please telephone the above number Mon – Fri between 9am – 3pm (answerphone at other times).

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