SPA DOCTOR: I’m pain-free after Chinese therapy in the Bavarian alps
Hamstring injuries are an absolute bugger – ask any physiotherapist.
Given they’re the muscles that form the majority of the back of the legs (the back of the thighs, to be precise), it’s not surprising that even a minor tear can be debilitating.
Depending on the severity of the damage, you’re looking at months, or possibly years, of walking funny.
I injured the inner part of my left hamstring five years ago. It was while doing yoga, which is ironic as I’d been told it was good for middle-aged blokes like me who wanted to stay injury-free. I didn’t see a doctor, and rested it for six months.
I’ve since learned the hard way that this was dreadful idea – immobility while a muscle or tendon injury is healing leads to a build-up of stiff scar tissue.
Ever since I’ve basically been unable to move in certain ways without feeling like the inside of my thigh is being restricted by a rubber band that’s about to snap.
So when, during a holiday to southern Germany earlier this year, I was invited to meet a traditional Chinese medicine therapist who specialises in joint pain and muscle injuries, I jumped (as much as my dodgy hamstring allowed) at the chance.
BREATHTAKING: Schloss Elmau has spectacular mountain views
Where’s the solution?
Schloss Elmau is a state-of-the-art spa resort nestled in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. The original schloss, built in 1917, burned down in 2005 but has been rebuilt with extra buildings, making it pretty much a self-contained resort.
You can enjoy year-round outdoor activities, from cross-country skiing in winter to hiking, biking and even rock climbing in the summer.
There’s also a yoga room (yikes!) and a seemingly endless spa facility, with pools galore. The saunas have breathtaking views of the mountains. It’s an absolute stunner, and the food is Michelin-starred too.
What’s the treatment?
I am booked at the Turtle Spa, a devoted traditional Chinese medicine facility, with its medical director Dr Imke Konig, who qualified as a doctor in Germany before studying Chinese medicine.
On hearing my symptoms she leaps up to fetch a mammoth physiology textbook. I’m to have ‘cross friction’ massage. Using two fingers, Dr Konig presses deeply on the troubling muscle, pulling width-ways across it.
I have to jump off the massage table at intervals to stretch and see whether I’m loosening up.
The treatment is uncomfortable, but I’m gobsmacked that by the end of it I’m already more flexible. I’d lost hope that anything could help me, to be honest, so it was a revelation.
She advised on further treatment at a Chinese clinic back at home in London, and I am pleased to report that, after a month of sessions, I’m pretty much back to how I was before the injury.
Schloss Elmau offers double rooms from €317 (£265) per person per night based on two adults sharing on a half-board basis. This includes yoga and other activities, access to the spa and admission to concerts. Visit schloss-elmau.de/en/.
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