One thing I’ve noticed as I transition through adulthood is the subtle increase in bodily pains that strikes once you’re past your mid-twenties. Shoulders cramp easily after a day at the office; eyes strain from staring at monitors; and don’t even get me started on the pressure placed on the lower back from a desk job. But it’s not just me—day-to-day living in the modern world can be highly stressful, and many people store tension all over their body, unconsciously adapting to always feeling just “okay” instead of “great”.
That’s one of the reasons chiropractic and osteopathic clinics are so popular in Japan. People want to find relief from the pent-up stress and pain in their body, and if possible, keep them away despite living a harried lifestyle.
Is such a thing possible? If you ask Mr. Kunitomo of susumu Chiropractic Clinic in Kiyosumi-shirakawa, he would answer with a resounding “Yes!”
I visited his clinic near Christmastime, just when the tiredness in my body was reaching its peak. I was glad that the clinic was a simple and cosy abode, located on a quiet side street. It’s completely private and by reservation only, so I didn’t have to worry about other customers.
One thing I noticed right away was the playpen set up for kids—and for good reason. The clinic specializes in pre- and post-natal chiropractic! “Pregnancy changes the skeletal and muscular makeup of a woman’s body, particularly around the pelvis,” Mr. Kunitomo explained. “Left untreated, this can lead to chronic pain later, which many people then give up on ever fixing.”
But ladies, have faith! Mr. Kunitomo wants everyone to know that you don’t have to give up on those nagging pains in your body. And this goes for those who’ve had children and those who haven’t.
To demonstrate, he got started right away by asking me to fill out a questionnaire and inquiring thoroughly about my physical condition.
I told him that I was prone to getting stiffness and cramps in my shoulders and neck (all that time at the desk, you know?). After making sure he understood my situation, Mr. Kunitomo asked me to perform a series of actions while he observed.
“I want you to remember how these actions felt so you can have something to compare to after treatment,” he said.
He then started to explain what he saw.
Using easy-to-understand visuals, he showed me an ideal spinal cord, versus mine. “You’re experiencing some cramping in your neck and chest area, which is causing compression and limiting your breathing,” he explained. “It’s also possible that your lower abdominal muscles aren’t active, causing your pelvis to tilt.” Apparently, we don’t use these muscles consciously in daily life, but they’re very important in helping to support our organs. So today, we were going to wake them up.
Mr. Kunitomo’s therapy works in interesting ways. There’s not much pushing or kneading; instead, it felt like he was just holding on to different parts of my body, feeling his way along.
He worked in stages, starting with my arms, then my legs, before moving to my back, and so on. After finishing each section, he would ask me to stand up and do certain movements.
“How does it feel compared to before?” he asked, watching me carefully as I raised or lowered my arms, walked around the room, and stretched. “I’m watching to see how your body works, and what we can do for it to work better.”
And indeed, as the session went on, he started to unlock exactly where the most tension and “crookedness” in my body were. I could feel him hitting trigger points I wasn’t even aware I had!
It was especially interesting when he did my neck and shoulders. As expected, I had a few knots in those areas, but Mr. Kunitomo didn’t try to force them loose. He would instead cradle those places, applying just enough pressure to be comfortable, and wait for the muscles and joints around the knots to loosen up under his touch.
“What I’m doing is slowly unlocking your joints so they can move easily again,” he said.
After about an hour and half under his careful ministrations, I was asked to stand up one last time—and lo and behold! My body felt a lot lighter! It was as though I’d been carrying a backpack full of invisible weights all this time, and was finally allowed to take it off. My neck and shoulders felt the most improved, but I was also breathing more deeply. I’d always thought having all that tension in my body was inevitable—normal, even—but clearly, I had been wrong.
Mr. Kunitomo also taught me some exercises for my back, shoulders, and pelvis that I could do at home. “These are some simple ways to loosen up your joints and activate those inner muscles we worked on today,” he explained kindly as he made sure I could do them on my own.
“Ideally, you shouldn’t have to keep coming back to a chiropractic clinic,” Mr. Kunitomo explained at the end, as we prepared to finish the session. “I’ve had clients whom I’ve treated for chronic pain who felt so much better after one session that they haven’t needed to come back. They just do the simple exercises I taught them at home for maintenance. I get emails from them weeks later, thanking me and saying that they still feel great. And isn’t that the best solution for everybody?”
One last thing: “I’m not a doctor, so I can’t diagnose or treat pain that’s coming from an internal organ. I also can’t recommend chiropractic care for those who are in their first 16 weeks of pregnancy. If you’re coming in for pre-natal care, be sure to talk to your doctor first,” Mr. Kunitomo advised, emphasizing on the importance of being able to receive chiropractic care safely and with peace of mind, for both the practitioner and the client.
But if you’re prone to getting pain in certain parts of your body that cannot be fixed by a trip to the hospital—especially muscle and joint aches, cramps, and stiffness caused by daily strain—a session at susumu Chiropractic Clinic might be able to set you straight! And hopefully, with a little bit of help, you’ll finally be able to say that you feel “great” instead of just “okay” all the time, because isn’t that what you deserve?
Story by Xianru Shen（Koto City Office Coordinator for International Relations）