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Why does my back hurt?

A story of Hellerwork®

A new client came into my office walking very gingerly, obviously in pain. With a grimace Bill lowered himself into a chair. He looked over at me and said, ”All I did was sneeze”. His next question was familiar to me. “Why does my back hurt so much”? Bill’s situation is not unusual.

In fact most of my clients don’t end up in pain because of a serious accident or traumatic injury. Another client told me about taking a short hike and the next day her knee was swollen up like a balloon and very painful. She pleaded her case, “It was not a very hard hike, why does my knee hurt?”

Most injuries and pain conditions accumulate over time. Our bodies absorb small injuries all the time. Old sports injuries, falls, car accidents, lifting heavy boxes, tripping off the curb, several days of heavy gardening...

Our body absorbs these small injuries day after day year after year. Joseph Heller says that the condition of our body is the accumulated history of our lives. It tells the story of all we have been through good, bad, and ugly. All the traumas large and small both physical and emotional shape our structure/posture.

The human body is a master of adaptation and compensation. It will compensate for injuries by protecting, bracing, and shifting. Muscles will tighten, weight bearing will shift to the uninjured side, the pelvis will twist, the spine will tilt, and on and on.

Problems occur because each adaptation will require another part of the body to compensate, followed by a compensation for the compensation. This vicious cycle continues on for days, months, and years. At some point our body will use up all of its’ adaptive capacity. At that point it will start to decompensate or breakdown.

The pain may come on gradually or there may be an event that causes major pain. You have heard of “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Sometimes it just takes a straw, or in Bill’s case a sneeze.

As I unwound the tension in his body, Bill’s history began to unfold. A broken ankle when he fell out of a tree at 7yrs old, several knee injuries from high school football, a car accident when he was a teenager, a broken heart from his first love, years of sitting behind a desk, a ski accident during a midlife crisis. “I was hot-dogging it”, he said.

After I worked through his body, releasing compensations, and re-aligning his structure, Bill feels much better. He loves to tell his friends how his Hellerwork Practitioner Joseph, turned back history. “I am a new man”, he says. Well maybe not a new man, but Bill certainly has regained much vitality and greater ability to absorb life’s hard knocks.

Hellerwork Structural Integration is a modality that combines, structural bodywork, movement education, and therapeutic dialogue. It is designed to rebalance the structure of the body by unwinding and releasing chronic tension and strain patterns. †

Joseph Hunton, Lead trainer for Hellerwork International, will be teaching “Intro to Hellerwork Structural Integration” at PMTI June 23rd and 24th, 2018. This class is a prerequisite to Hellerwork levels 2 and 3, which will be offered later in the year.

For more information and to register go to

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