“I Saw A Fascia Specialist For My Back Pain — And It Was Life Changing”

This is no regular massage.


Leah Wyar |

Leah Wyar, a beauty editor, is no stranger to massage tables or unique body treatments. But after six sessions with a fascia specialist for back pain, she came to one two-word conclusion: Life. Changing.

Having struggled for a decade with severe backaches, courtesy of a blown L5 disc, I have a you-name-it-I’ll-try-it approach to pain management: acupuncture, acupressure, chiro, cupping, physiotherapy. So when a colleague suggested structural integration, described as intense manipulations of jacked-up fascia? Instant yes.

READ MORE: What Is Fascia And Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

I booked an appointment with therapist Jessa Zinn, who told me to lie face up on the table. “But the pain is in my lower back,” I said. “To treat your back, I have to treat your front,” she responded. Apparently, fascia functions like a tucked-in top: “When a shirt is too tight at the waist, it pulls at the neck – but we don’t yank at the neck to fix it,” she explained. “We untuck the shirt and reorganise the material.”

My stealth body shifter? Extreme tightness in my hip flexors and lower abs. Sitting hours a day with improper posture pulled my pelvis into an anterior tilt, drawing my lumbar spine into an unnatural curve right around my disc injury. Relieving it required deep, steady pressure from Zinn’s thumbs, fingers and even elbows to reorganise the fascia.

READ MORE: 5 Easy Pilates Stretches That’ll Finally Sort Out Your Stiff Upper Back

During one session, she focused on two pelvic muscles, my iliacus and psoas. Each time she hit a tight spot, she’d coach me through the tenderness: “That’s it, just breathe… Great release, Leah.” Her praise confirmed that we were making progress; that motivated me to stick with the stretches and stabilisation exercises outside of her care. One such: rolling my stomach on a semi-deflated ball to keep my psoas spongy.

Understanding the relationship between body parts bound by fascia has empowered me beyond my back issue too. I now notice when I clench up during ab exercises out of fear of hurting myself and I embrace the cracks and pops, which are a form of release as well. I started running again, something I’d avoided to spare my back, and I’ve felt more confident than ever, since I have better form to support the mileage.

READ MORE: 5 Exercises To Avoid If You Suffer From Back Pain

And I’ve taken control of my body. This week, when I could hardly bear a pain in my right shoulder and the headaches that came with it, a light bulb went on: it’s not my shoulder; it’s my teeth-grinding. I grabbed my FaceBlaster (a fascia tool for your visage – find it at WantItAll.co.za) and glided into the tension around my jaw, ears and neck. The next day? I felt amazing.

Turns out, the best treatment you can give yourself requires listening to the very pain that we try so hard to ignore… And, sometimes, seeking help from a magical set of hands.

READ MORE ON: Back Issues Health Health Advice