I came to see Michelle in 2013 complaining of stiffness in the neck/shoulder/back region. It didn't seem to matter what I did - stretching, yoga, massage - I never seemed to get any permanent relief.
I met Michelle at a stretching class that she was taking in her studio in Eden Terrace. I was trying to get rid of the constant tension and discomfort I had in my neck, shoulders and upper back. I also have osteoarthritis in my lower spine so I figured some extra stretching would help with that too.
I am no stranger to stretching as I did Yoga at Les Mills and have also tried Pilates. My other favourite thing to do for the muscles was to have a massage, although it has to be said that I could have had a massage every day and not long after the tension would be back again.
As you can probably guess, the stretching class didn’t get rid of my problem any more than the yoga, Pilates or massages did. At the end of one of the classes I asked her why it wasn’t making a difference. She put me in front of a mirror and did a mini postural assessment on me pointing out a few things but the most revealing was when she felt around my shoulder blades and made the comment that my shoulder muscles were very weak.
What she was saying was that I didn’t need stretching, I needed strengthening. This was a revelation to me as I was a regular gym go-er doing Pump, Step and Spin classes and I thought I was strong, or at least strong enough. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense because goodness knows I had done enough stretching and it wasn’t working so why not try something else.
I decided to book in for an assessment so Michelle could better understand where my problem areas were and these included weak muscles in all the wrong places, poor posture, skeleto muscular imbalances, and no core strength worth speaking of.
I booked in for 10 sessions and have never looked back. Michelle took me right back to basics, giving me small exercises to re-awaken my muscles, and the one was in the deepest sleep was my core. They talk about the core at the gym all the time “turn on your core” “activate your core” and I used to suck in my tummy but of course this also involved holding my breath so it was short-lived.
Sometime over the last 40 years I had forgotten how to activate this muscle band and consequently my posture wasn’t as good as it could be and it probably made my osteoarthritis worse. I’ve got my core back and this has made a huge difference to my posture and being able to enjoy doing every day activities without getting a sore lower back.
Working with Michelle has changed my life. This became apparent when my husband and I decided to walk the Abel Tasman at the beginning of this year. Being upright for long periods of time had always made my lower back stiff and resulted in me having to take Voltaren and suffer. Consequently even though my husband loves tramping, I never go with him but with my new found strength I decided it was now or never. I walked the 2 ½ days and my back was fine and the Voltaren stayed in the packet.
Someone once said to me that the biggest cause of old age is pain and stiffness and it’s true. I can tell you that I feel younger than I have for years, not because I have less wrinkles or grey hairs, but because I am no longer living with a sore neck, stiff shoulders and back.
If you are thinking about taking some steps to improve your health and wellbeing then start by talking to Michelle Owen - it will change your life.
- Gina Collins