I walked into my first Body Balancing Session with Alon Davidow a touch apprehensive. And late. Because I might have skimmed the directions email. Unsure of what Body Balancing was or what it involved, I had decided to come with an open mind and a willingness to give it a chance.
I came across Body Balancing, or rather it came across me, via an email that promised to be the solution to back and neck pain. In it, Alon explained how stress and tension is the start of the pain process. Tension can reduce blood flow to the cells. Less blood means less minerals, vitamins and oxygen. The tension also slows the removal of toxins and waste. Learning how to switch off the stress response and identifying the causes of the stress can help you find the underlying cause of the pain. Once you remove the cause, the pain will go away on its own.
After years of figuring out how to treat his own chronic pain, fatigue and digestive issues, along with qualifications in craniosacral therapy, nutritional counselling, breathwork, fascial release, reiki and personal training; Alon devised the Body Balancing System in which he teaches people how to get rid of chronic pain, naturally.
Lower back pain has become a constant companion of mine in recent years, most likely due to running, really tight hip flexors and spending too many hours hunched over a computer. Over the past few months however, the pain travelled higher into my middle back and started feeling like I had tweaked something. It started making me feel like I had aged a decade, and then, I started feeling back twinges and the effects of super tight hips during running. If you’ve spoken to me in recent months, chances are my back issues would have come up in conversation.
I’ve tried acupuncture, massages, stretching, yoga and foam rolling, all of which provided temporary releases. The idea of spending 60 minutes trying something new that could help me, was a gamble I was willing to take.
I found myself on the bottom floor at Wellness in Motion in a cupboard sized room going through my list of back ailments with Alon Davidow. I had already filled out an incredibly comprehensive questionnaire about my medical history which meant we could get down to the session fast.
The dress code for our session was comfortable clothing, you aren’t going to be moving or sweating much, but will be stretching. I wore leggings and a sweatshirt. The session took place with me lying on a massage-like table, doing a full body scan. A full body scan is when you lie on our back, staring at the ceiling and going from your toes to your neck, try see if you can determine which way your body is leaning. Are your toes pointing up or outwards, same with your kneecaps? Does one side of your body feel tighter or heavier, are you tilting? The scan was repeated throughout the session and are done to create a stronger awareness in your body and to help you identify how your body is aligned, and where tightness and heaviness is coming from. These scans allowed me to notice when things changed.
After the scan, Alon started “working on me”. This consisted of moving my limbs ever so slightly, using his hands to find tight spots (which are usually along the back and neck) and getting them to release. My back pain is usually concentrated around my lower back and so he worked to find where that tightness could be coming from and releasing it.
As the hour-long session progressed, I could feel my body physically feeling heavier and my back sinking deeper into the table and relaxing. It was in a way one of the strangest things I have done, as I didn’t feel like I was doing anything, and my mind was constantly trying to figure out what he was doing. The movements and touch were incredibly light.
We chatted throughout the session and he explained to me how the body tenses as a defence mechanism to protect itself. During times of stress or trauma, that tension becomes worse, unless you do something to release it. His aim is to help make you more functional and build a foundation for a pain free body that enables you to move better and exercise easier.
I left the session slightly puzzled, but honestly, I felt like I had just had the most wonderful stretching and meditation session – I felt looser and more relaxed. My back pain while still there, had eased considerably. A few days later, I went on a long run which felt miles apart from the run I did prior to visiting him. The back and hip tightness I had been feeling mid run was gone. And a month later, it hasn’t returned.
One session made me feel good enough to want to book a 3-session package. A change had occured and I wanted to learn more, get tools to use myself and try get the rest of the tension in my back released.
At the second session we went through more releasing – focusing on my tail bone, ribcage and spine. Again, it almost felt like I was doing nothing, but midway through the session Alon showed me how much space there was between my right ribcage and hips compared to my left side. The left side was tense and hurt when pressed. He did some releases and the left side completely opened up. There was suddenly no soreness when pressed, and I could feel the space between my ribcage and hips was now bigger.
I was sent home with a small move to do when sitting at the computer for a while, and he instructed me to focus on not being in the same position for too long. He told me to try introducing different types of movement in my days and get more sleep.
The third session focused more on moves that I could take home and do myself, to help release my lower back and hips. The two moves we focused on were incredibly small movements that require intentional breathing.
Alon explained how sometimes small moves are more effective than big ones. As someone who has always had a go-big attitude towards exercise and prefers workouts that leave me sweating, the idea of taking time to do exercises that require minimal movement and can be done in pyjamas was new to me. The idea that those moves could do more for my back and my overall fitness than spending 10 minutes rolling my body along a foam roller in pain, was even more surprising. And yet, each time I left a Body Balancing Session I felt noticeably more relaxed, less tense and less sore.
At each session Alon focused on areas that were tight, releasing them – sometimes with movements in completely different areas to where the tightness was. I learned how tightness on my left side may be caused by my right side, and learned that my lower back pain can be a symptom of tension in my neck.
It’s hard to fully describe what Body Balancing is, or what it is that Alon does.All I know, is that whatever he is doing, does work to reduce back and neck pain.
Aside from ridding myself of the old lady back tweaks I was experiencing, the past month of weekly Body Balancing sessions has taught me many things. I learned that;
- Small moves can make a big impact.
- Stress, whether emotional or physical, impacts your body whether you are conscious of it or not.
- We tense up to protect ourselves.
- Sleep is crucial to feeling good.
- Allowing your body to relax and release, can do a world of good for you.
I came across an anecdote that perfectly sums up what the Body Balancing System is to me;
To move forward, jellyfish must contract and then relax for a second wave of motion to occur. Without the crucial step of relaxing in between, there would be no movement.
I learnt how to contract and release using both breathe work and muscle tension, and how that crucial stage of relaxation, a state I almost instinctively resist, is the state that allows you to move forward and move better.
I’m currently still doing my daily back exercises, but don’t need regular body balancing sessions. Alon’s aim is to give people the tools to take what he did in each session and apply them every day by oneself.
My back isn’t 100% pain free, but it has improved significantly since I started Body Balancing, and lying on my back, on the floor no longer hurts. I really enjoyed the sessions and it’s the best thing I’ve tried for back pain. It is also the best money I have spent doing something just for me in recent months and I believe a lot of people would benefit from giving it a shot.
Most people, at some point in their lives, will experience back pain. It’s a symptom of our lives spent sitting motionless rather than moving, and a symptom of stress that we don’t always acknowledge. I’d rather deal with little niggles before they become big niggles, and that’s exactly what I did with each session.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.