Just a short drive from the world headquarters of the Pranic Healing Foundation overlooking Mulshi Lake in India’s Sahyadri mountain range is Atmantan. At first glance, the ambience looks much like a luxury spa but its patrons, including Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities, know that superficial trappings are just a facade. The award-winning integrative wellness centre treats lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, going as far as cancer prevention and post-chemotherapy care.
Using non-medicinal applications such as yoga, Ayurveda and naturopathy, The holistic centre hosts renowned healers from across the world as guest faculty. Through October, treating Atmantan’s check-ins was Maor Netsah, an Integrated Manual Therapist. Shuttling between clinics in the UK and Germany, who was also previously hosted by the Body Holiday in St Lucia and has an upcoming residency at the Kamalaya Koh Samui.
A relatively recent treatment modality, Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) diverges from more conventional medical practices like chiropractics and osteopathy. Netsah says, “IMT is a specialised movement-testing system used to understand the causes of ailments through the nervous system connecting biomechanical, breathing, digestion, psychological and immune systems.” While the initial description goes above my head; I’m able to grasp the concept during our consultation.
Netsah asks me to walk and guides me through a series of basic movement routines. He notes that my posture is misaligned, my hip jutting out towards the right. He makes sense. Even though I reveal nothing to him yet, I have been coping with a piercing ache in my abdominal muscle on the right side, which I suspect to be the onset of hernia. Over the next 90 minutes, I sit and lie down on a massage table as he uses his hand to impart gentle pressure, asking me to move in specific ways.
At the end, without my prodding, he assesses that I have a stiff right shoulder and the mid-section of my spine is rigid and has been possibly for years. I’m shell-shocked. When I lift weights at the gym my right shoulder never reaches its full potential like its left twin, and ever since college, my colleagues teased me about walking like a duck. I never attributed it to a stiff back until now.
IMT can also be used to treat autism where conventional therapies may be unable. Wendy Lam, an IMT practitioner who runs Holistic Physiotherapy and consults at Central Minds in Hong Kong, treated a three-year-old who was diagnosed with the disorder, whose blood tests indicated high heavy metal levels. Lam’s treatment focused on normalising the tissues and drainage pathways around the liver and kidneys, the cranium and realignment of the spine. After four sessions, the child started to respond to and make eye contact with her mum.
Lam says IMT is a comprehensive solution that benefits patients with acute and chronic problems. For adults it relieves arthritis, back and neck aches, musculoskeletal dysfunctions, chest pain, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, disc problems, emotional imbalance, migraines, insomnia, nerve tensions, scar tissues, tinnitus and women’s antenatal and postnatal health. For infants and children, it aids allergies, asthma, learning difficulties, behavioural issues, birth trauma, brain injuries, concussion, autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, emotional problems, neurological conditions, scoliosis, sleep problems and spinal-cord injuries.
“I was unsatisfied with results from conventional interventions. Patients might feel better after the sessions, but afterwards they always came back with the same issues in a few weeks or months. It meant that their conditions were only ‘managed’ temporarily, but they had not truly recovered. After practicing IMT, I achieve not just better but longer-lasting results,” says Lam.
THE ANATOMY PUZZLE
The revelation in my assessment with Netsah is that my aches –whether the right shoulder, back or hip – stem not from the respective body parts but because of knots in my stomach and intestines. The culprit? Poor eating habits and high stress levels. I’ll agree – I’m a travel writer struggling with deadlines who eats out of restaurants a few times a week.
Lam seconds his inference. She says, “We are trained to look beyond the overt manifestation to find the true origins of a patient’s health issues. Just as chronic neck pain can stem from different causes, the tensions and strain patterns presented among clients can be very different even with the same medical diagnosis. IMT practitioners are trained to perceive and normalise these subtle tissue changes unique to each individual. There is no one treatment protocol that fits all patients. It is an art of ‘listening’ to the body and working with its inherent wisdom.”
IMT was developed by Dr Sharon Giammatteo in the 1970s in the US, in an effort to enhance the benefits of manual therapy, cranial therapy and rehabilitation. It is popular in the US and Europe, and beginning to gain popularity in other parts of the world. Netsah says, “For most patients, I expect to see 50 per cent recovery after three sessions.”