On my fourth visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD he asked where was I experiencing the most pain. Once again, since I had so many variables in my body’s dis-comfort range, and since I now understood how everything in one’s body is interconnected, I felt much safer that day asking Tatz to please decide which area of my body needed the most focus.
For the record that day, I had the following symptoms which I did not mention to Tatz before his treatment: A lingering headache on the right side of head, the hiatal hernia that continued to keep my stomach bloated and my left trick-knee was still experiencing discomfort. Plus my lower back was acting up, an on again/off again scenario for the past twenty years, which I had never disclosed to Tatz.
First Tatz had me lie face up on his treatment table, then concentrated on my feet. With his expert hands, he pressed on acupuncture points on each foot and then began to rotate my feet and ankles to the left and right and forward and backward. Then he turned his attention to my legs ranging from acupressure points to shaking out each leg to deep tissue massage. Then he gave complete focus on the left knee – the original reason I went to see Tatz in the first place. His hands manipulated my knee in many different directions, pressing on different points of the knee – cartilage and meniscus areas.
His attention then shifted to my stomach and abdomen. He began to massage deeply the muscle tissues and organs. Although his touch is mostly light, these modalities were incredibly strong, it felt like hands-on-surgery. It never hurt, but was a very intense twenty minutes.
His expert hands returned to my left knee, gently pulling and manipulating, then the right knee – to keep them in sync. He told me to move my knees and legs in any direction and to keep them moving and he left the room for five or ten minutes. When he returned to the room, he had me cross my left trick-knee over my right knee and then had me breathe as much air into my abdomen as possible and then to blow it all out. He pushed on my abdomen while doing this. This went on for another five minutes. After he taught me this, he told me to do this at home, take vigorous breaths and blow it all out. The out-breath in this particular exercise was key.
Then he had me lie on my right side and brought over a magnetic stimulation machine – a device to increase blood flow, flush out lactic acid from tissues, increase blood and oxygen circulation and improve fracture healing. This was an old fashioned looking machine that would every few seconds tap magnetic energy onto each hip/lower back area. Again, I never mentioned any issues with my lower back or hips. He left me on my own, this time for twenty minutes. On this day the view outside was pretty gloomy. One of those gray New York City days, but it didn’t feel gloomy inside. As the little magnets kept tapping my lower back in sequence, I was relaxing and feeling good to be in Tatz’ office, in Tatz’ hands.
Once he returned, he asked me to gently turn over and to stand up on my knees and elbows. He told me to do this for five minutes and then I was done. While relaxing in this position, I realized my headache was gone and that the rest of my body was in alignment. I then reflected on all the physical therapists I’d seen over the years. Whenever I went in for knee treatment, but had a question about my lower back, the response would be, ‘one-body-part-at-a-time.’ Or if I was receiving a back treatment and asked another physical therapist if they had any suggestions for my migraines, I would hear, ‘you must have a doctor’s prescription before we can help.”
After only four visits with Tatz, it’s clear already the things that differentiates him from any other physical therapist I’ve known: He does not segregate the body, he works on the entire body as a whole. When I go see him, I don’t have to tell him what’s wrong, he just knows. But the icing on the physical therapy cake is that Tatz and his body-tuning hands know what to do and how to do it.
by J. Baldwin