Seth, a man in his sixties, came to Dr. Bonner with an exaggerated case of one of the most common problems in older clients: a loss of mobility in the upper back that curves it forward and slumps it down. His back had been sharply curved and hunched for many years due to a sailing accident in his youth. The pain from this extreme stoop had at last become so severe that he could not even play golf. In addition, because of his “hump” (the upper spinal curve amounted to that), he couldn’t wear his expensive new suit.
He often despaired of ever changing and remained dissatisfied no matter how many breakthroughs he achieved - for example, being able finally to do the Ankle Sit with no pillows underneath his thighs after needing four to start with, or when he could straighten both legs while keeping his hands flat on the floor. He wanted to stand tall again, with no “hump” in his back. Nothing else would do.
To gain access to his back, Dr. Bonner first lengthened his hamstrings. All the muscles of the front of his torso were short and tight, and the opposing muscles of his back were weak and over stretched, so he worked first on opening and releasing the muscles of his chest and next on strengthening the muscles in his back so that they could support him upright. In effect, Dr. Bonner had to uncurl him, as though this whole upper body were a curled-up postage stamp that needed to be flattened out. When the supporting muscles were long enough, his spine lengthened amazingly. Of course, the spine is an extraordinary flexible column - as is obvious when you consider the seemingly infinite variety of ways it can become twisted and distorted - so the improvement can be equally startling.
Seth’s moment of victory came when he put on his new suit and took part in his church’s Easter service. Tall, straight and confident, he carried the wine down the aisle to the applause of the entire congregation. All his determination and hard work paid off in that one proud moment.
Seth said, “it sure feels different, standing straight again. The pain in my lower back is gone - and it used to wake me up every night, it was so bad. The other pain, between my shoulder blades, only comes back when I slouch. And now I can look in the mirror and see myself as I was all those years ago, before my accident.”