Oh! My Aching Back: Alternative Therapies

While some aches and pains can be easily cured, back pain often won’t go away. If you think you’ve tried everything, think again. Here we report on two alternative therapies that can make a difference.

Cheryl wants relief from her back pain. “I simply turned my head, and my whole neck just went out,” she explains.

Ellen knows the feeling. “I would get a fatigue that would turn into pain, and I’d just have to sit down.”

Both women turned to alternative therapies for help. Cheryl chose Pilates®, an exercise that uses specialized equipment and floor techniques to strengthen the back.

Certified instructor Maureen says Pilates® also increases flexibility and improves posture. “She learns how to strengthen her back, strengthen her abdominal core and initiate movement from her center,” says Maureen.

Cheryl hurt her neck and back in two car accidents about 20 years ago. Since then, she’s tried everything from orthopedic therapy to acupuncture. “I’ve never felt healthier. I’ve never felt stronger,” says Cheryl.

Neither has Ellen. She says, “Today I had some Feldenkrais work done and had a lesson, and I found just walking from the car to the office, I was moving my body differently.”

Ellen turned to Feldenkrais, a method developed 40 years ago. Feldenkrais uses gentle movements to increase range of motion. Certified practitioner Wallis Chefitz says it helps a person live a more full and comfortable life.

“What Feldenkrais does is you learn yourself from the inside out and learn how you move,” explains Wallis.

There are an estimated 1,200 Feldenkrais practitioners and 400 Pilates® instructors around the country.

Cheryl admits, “I will always do this. I’ll give up everything to do Pilates®.”

Ellen says, “As soon as I started going, I just started feeling differently about my body and how I moved and how I felt.”

Cheryl and Ellen say after years of searching, they’ve finally found something that works.

One Pilates® session costs about $50. Some insurance companies will cover it when prescribed by a doctor for physical therapy. Feldenkrais ranges from $70 to $150 an hour.