One thing seasoned bodyworkers know is that trauma gets stored in the tissues. Stress, toxins, emotional trauma, physical trauma: these accumulate in muscle and fascia as we move through life. We’ve all got little stockpiles of garbage hidden away here and there. It’s not unnatural; it’s part of living, but sometimes the dumpster overflows – and that’s when we start to feel pain and get sick.
Bodywork can help release stored tension or trauma. Sometimes this feels fantastic, but often, we have to experience the muck as it gets cleared from our system. A mentor once offered me a helpful metaphor: if you scoop up sludge from the bottom of a pond, you’re gonna kick up some mud. The water will be cloudy till it all settles back down again.
This happened to me the other day. I received a wonderful session that was so relaxing, I fell asleep in the middle of it. But almost immediately afterward, I felt nauseous. That was followed by a flare up of my pain condition which lasted two days. I understood what was happening, so I didn’t panic. I let myself take it easy while by body did its thing. I helped it along by doing a sauna. Then, almost like magic, the pain cleared and I felt physically more at ease.
There are things we can do to lessen this effect: be hydrated prior to receiving work, stay hydrated afterwards, do gentle movement like walking or stretching to get the fluids moving; sauna, epsom salt soaks, rest. In my case, I entered into the session a little sleep deprived, depleted, and sad (and then I requested work on the psoas, which can bring up really old stuff), so I shouldn’t have been surprised to feel cruddy afterwards.
The takeaway: sometimes healing isn’t pretty. It’s a “process,” as they say. Bodywork is potent medicine. It teaches us self-awareness, which ultimately leads to resilience.
Jen Raimondi, owner West Side Wellness