Since the age of about 14 I can remember having problems with my back. I’ve never been entirely sure why, perhaps being over exuberant in my sporting pursuits, perhaps poor posture (maybe both) but I have memories of lying in bed as a teenager unable to turn my head with tears streaming down my face. At that age my mother was always sending me off to various specialists in the hope of getting it sorted. For that reason I would say I’m fairly well versed in most of the treatment modalities used for back and neck pain.
This is why I was somewhat surprised when I was recommended a naprapathy treatment, having never heard the word in my life. Naprapathy? What could it be? I was willing to give anything a whirl, considering I had been doing a bit too much laptop work (from my actual lap on the couch which is never a good idea) and my neck was definitely complaining about it.
Lucky Bodies and Happy Souls
Off I trotted to Lucky Bodies and Happy Souls in the heart of Palma’s holistic and alternative therapy scene – Santa Catalina. While glancing around the waiting room at the various books on anatomy and yoga, I was warmly greeted by Patric – the resident doctor of naprapathy. Immediately I am at ease. His friendly demeanour and confidence has me relaxing, and we chat about the various elite dancers, sports professionals and national teams he’s been treating with naprapathy over the years. If it’s good enough for them, it’s most certainly good enough for me!
Google had told me earlier that naprapathic medicine was “a holistic approach to wellness derived from osteopathy and chiropractic that focuses on connective tissue disorders”. Patric confirms this, adding that elements of physiotherapy also play a role, and he personally utilises acupuncture techniques too. Sounds like quite an impressive toolbox!
The word naprapathy comes from the Czech word “napravit”, which means “correct” and the Greek word “pathos”, which means suffering. Put together naprapathy means, “correct the cause of suffering (pain)” and focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system to do this.
The concept of naprapathy was first taught in 1907 by Oakley Smith as an alternative approach to chiropractic, who believed chiropractic fell short by only taking into account dysfunction in the spine as the cause of disease. In fact naprapathy was first named ‘modernised chiropractic’. Naprapathy is now the most popular form of alternative therapy in Scandinavia (Patric is from Sweden). It makes sense. Why choose just one form of treatment when you can have multiple disciplines covered in the same session?
Patric explains to me his own style of treatment and the premise behind it. The spine sends messages through the nerves to the brain, which collects data and sends instructions to the body. Misalignments of the vertebrae or ‘subluxations’ (that’s chiro speak) prevent the messages getting to the brain correctly. Patric focuses on realigning these displacements so the brain can get all the signals it needs and the body can operate optimally using it’s inherent and innate wisdom to heal.
Patric utilises nervous system adjustments through the spine and joints; fast mobilisation techniques (chiropractic); slow mobilisation (osteopathy); and soft tissue work through trigger point therapy. The average number of sessions generally required for a patient is 3.6, with a 90% rate of success in reversing the pain being experienced.
To begin I lay on my back on the massage table whilst Patric presses on various points on my legs and hips checking for imbalances. Apparently there isn’t much to be concerned about – I am told most of us have mild imbalances which can arise from the simplest things such as whether you’re right or left handed and don’t cause too many issues. In fact most of us are probably walking around with at least one herniated disc but it will rarely give us grief.
He then moves onto the problem zone. My neck. Deftly moving it in different directions he finds the points he’s looking for and *crack-crack-crack* – before I know it my neck had been adjusted multiple times. I’m instructed to sit forward, cradle my neck in with my hands and touch my elbows together. *Crack*. Next I roll over on to my front where he performs the last of the adjustments on my back. “Ok, I’m going to put a needle in your hand now” says Patric, “and I’m sorry but it’s a bit of a painful one”. Yikes. He finds the spot he’s looking for and after a wee ‘ouch’ moment it’s perfectly bearable.
The needle is left to do its thing while Patric simultaneously works on the problem spots in my neck and upper back with manual manipulation. The final part is turning my head to one side while Patric performs a series of karate chop type movements to loosen up my neck further. And all done!
We run through some basic principles I can employ at home to ensure I didn’t undo all Patric’s good work. Reminding me that my head is essentially 4kgs pulling my neck forward when I’m staring down at my computer, I’m told to raise the level of my laptop (but I can still sit on the couch!), and to keep the obsessive phone checking at eye level. Another take away Patric said his wife Sarah (and Lucky Bodies resident yoga instructor) likes to remind people is that your palate should be level, not tilted up nor down. I find this a particularly helpful reference.
The Final Verdict?
As I left Lucky Bodies and Happy Souls I definitely felt the tension at the base of my neck had dissolved. As I strolled past the shop fronts I glanced at my own reflection. My shoulders were back, and my head was aligned with my spine. This was most certainly not the case earlier that morning. A few days later I’m trying my best to maintain my posture and I can attest that the positive effects are still being felt. However if I do slip back into old habits (they die hard after all!) it is good to know I can get a quality holistic treatment encompassing so many modalities in one session. Naprapathy – if you don’t know, now you know!
An Effective Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
As a final note, as someone who has close friends affected by Parkinson’s disease, I wanted to mention Patric’s very exciting work in this specific area. He has been developing an effective treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease with acupuncture.
The protocol involves daily treatments of acupuncture over a short period of time, plus the prescription of very specific physical activities. This can involve exercises such as running on a treadmill with flippers. Why? Because the body is forced to find new neural pathways to achieve the movement or risk falling over. After the series of treatments, improvements in symptoms are assessed, and if there has been notable success, a subsequent treatment plan is devised for the individual. If you, or someone you know is affected by Parkinson’s disease please do check it out.
Calle Caro 56
07015 Palma de Mallorca
Written by Ché Miller
About the author
Ché has always had a passion for hospitality having completed a conjoint Bachelors Degree in International Business and Hospitality Management. She has spent the last 15 years working in the hospitality industry. When this passion led her to working in a premier health retreat in Australia in her twenties, she found the knowledge she gained there inspired her to start living a healthier life.
Now Ché loves to combine her two favourite things, hospitality and wellbeing, by scouring the island for the best nourishing restaurants, products and services. She has been living in Mallorca since early 2017, having moved from her home in New Zealand. She absolutely loves the energy of the island and everything it has to offer.
Ché’s other interests include ashtanga yoga, boxing, reading, writing, and really good coffee.