Words: Olivia Ebeling
Photography: Iwo Gospodinov
A couple of years ago, I woke up one December morning with what I thought was a muscle strain in the upper half of my right arm. At first, I attributed it to the fact that I had been sleeping on my mum’s sofa over the Christmas holidays – or my badly executed attempts at doing push-ups after months of inactivity. But, as weeks and then months passed, the nagging pain just wouldn’t go away. Sometimes the throbbing sensation would wake me up at night, but because it didn’t hinder me too much in every day life, I didn’t bother sorting it out as a priority.
Then I returned to Ibiza for my second season and, wanting to resume my usual workout routine to get back that #beachbody, I started to look for a way to finally fix the niggling ache. I booked myself in for a deep tissue massage, but it was to no avail. The pain remained and I started to joke that now I’m in my thirties, I have a ‘bad arm’. I made some half-hearted attempts to find an osteopath or chiropractor – any kind of bone doctor, really – but with our calendar getting busier and busier, I kept forgetting to make appointments. But, as luck would have it, my work caused my path to cross with Katherine Berry, a professional acupuncturist, once more.
An island resident since 2015, the Australian practitioner has made a name for herself in Ibiza by offering a signature treatment that includes massage, cupping and, as mentioned, acupuncture to help both residents and visitors to the White Isle with ailments such as migraines, back pains and emotional strain such as anxiety. I had interviewed Katherine previously for Essential Ibiza and experienced her unique technique myself, albeit for stress. As a relative newbie to alternative therapies, I wasn’t sure if acupuncture could help with my physical pain, but, encouraged by Katherine’s warm yet matter-of-fact manner, was very willing to give it a go!
Like last time, we started the session with a consultation, and, having already experienced how easy Katherine is to talk to, I poured out my most recent dramas to her. When I mentioned a huge argument in my family circle that had occurred over the Christmas period, her ears pricked up. Katherine has evolved her treatment to included a sequence at the end of the session that will help clients let go of emotional causes or traumatic events that may have contributed to the ailment via a guided meditation with hypnotic elements. In my case, she reasoned that the argument I experienced would have caused my body to go into fight or flight mode, pumping out huge amounts of adrenalin. Tensing my shoulders, neck and back muscles in a bid to ‘protect myself’ could have contributed to a jammed nerve that would be to blame for the pain in my arm.
This is where I have to ask for a ‘sidebar’ with the sceptics amongst you. I’m fully aware that to many, meditation, hypnosis, acupuncture and cupping seem like either untrustworthy concepts or simply spiritual nonsense. And while I personally am very open to try new things, when it comes to my health I also prefer a science-based, ‘proper’ approach that is backed up by medical knowledge, rather than a self-proclaimed guru wafting about with a smudge stick – no offense meant. This is where Katherine has a unique appeal. Despite practising what are considered alternative methods, she has a very rational, science-backed outlook that perfectly fuses Eastern and Western medicine for the most beneficial outcome. She says, “The science behind acupuncture is moving into a new direction and I have also updated my approach. The theory is now focussing on a more modern view that is based around the thought that the needles, which are inserted into fascia [the tissue that holds together the muscles and flesh], stimulates peripheral nerves triggering a cascade that causes changes in the brain and the internal organs. It’s the scientific explanation – very different to describing energy channels that are traditionally talked about. Both are valid ways to explain how acupuncture works – just from a different perspective. It’s an exciting time to be an acupuncturist because there is so much research going on around the world that confirms acupuncture is Evidence Based Medicine. This is why acupuncture has over 870 recommendations for over 100 conditions from multiple international groups and over 30 countries. It is popular because it works!”
Like the last time, Katherine started my treatment with a thorough massage, and it was fascinating to feel how her fingers were reading every tense muscle and crunchy crystallised mass in my back to assess where the damage laid. Then, she applied the glass cups to my back to pull out toxins caused by the stresses and overindulgences of the modern lifestyle, a curious but painless sensation. Finally, she applied four or five needles along my neckline, arm and in my hand, which, again, didn’t cause me any pain. I was left to rest for fifteen minutes, and promptly fell asleep.
When I came back round I felt a little drowsy, the perfect state to enter into the guided meditation once the acupuncture needles were removed. Katherine explained to me that she was going to help me visualise the traumatic argument that had caused my pain once again, relive the emotions in all of their intensity and then guide me through a process of letting go and distancing myself from it. Applying a mix of mediation and hypnotherapy techniques, we completed this last step of the treatment before I was sent on my way with the instruction to do something nice for myself to celebrate and mark the process of letting go, something as simple as catching a few rays of sunshine.
Much to my disbelief, within a few hours I could feel the pain dissipate. Over the next few days, I could feel a few twinges in my arm, but the fast improvement I experienced over a very little amount of time was incredible. Now, four weeks on, I’m completely pain free. It’s all too easy to accept your niggles and strains, especially when you are busy or have a lot of other things on your mind, but I would highly recommend Katherine’s unique treatment to anyone who is open to trying something new and wants to reclaim their mental and physical wellbeing.
Katherine now receives clients at her new clinic in Santa Eularia. For further information or to make an appointment, call +34 638 423 575.