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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Stiff Neck - Ma Kuang TCM Treatment and King Koil Micro-gel Support Pillow

Block 231 Bain Street #01-69 Bras Basah Complex, Singapore 180231
Tel: 6336 6386

After the first stiff / sprained neck  episode in February / March 2014 - when I woke up in the morning experiencing severe stiffness and pain in my neck + shoulders, so painful that even moving my arms or turning my head hurt - I have been having rather frequent (albeit milder) bouts of stiff / sprained neck or shoulder pain.

I stumbled into the well-known Ma Kuang Chinese Medicine Centre for treatment, since the two TCM clinics / Sensei that were recommended to me were closed (it was still within the 15 days of Lunar New Year). Ma Kuang has many branches, and not all have therapists (though all have physicians), so for a list of their outlets and services, visit their website here.

Not knowing what to expect in the clean, well-kept Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic since it was my first time, I told the friendly receptionist about my problem, and she assigned the Therapist on duty to me.

Last visit was a male therapist / tuina-logist, and since today he was not around, they assigned a female therapist / tuina-logist to me. When it was my turn, I was ushered into the treatment area with beds (okay, it is nothing like a lovely spa bed, but this is a clinic!) and the therapists took care to sterilize them and lay the necessary towels etc.

There we chatted about my current ailment that required treatment, and the therapist would ask questions about my lifestyle to discern the causes. Then they would work on the treatment. Having been scared (by movies and hearsay / misconception) since young into believing that "tuina" (bone-setting) was all about therapists forcefully twisting one's joints / bones back into shape, and that it would hurt like mad before one was soothed, I braced myself for the onset of agony.

I was asked to lie facedown while the therapists worked on me - kneading, massaging, rubbing and pressing on the knots of my back, constantly asking if a certain area hurt. Sometimes I would hear gently cracking sounds as my bones / joints settled into position at being treated. The male therapist had asked me to sit up while he rotated my head, neck and shoulders while the female therapist did more of massage-style treatment.

The male therapist included Cupping Therapy (Ba Guan) as part of his treatment package whereas the female therapist today asked if I wanted to include it - I said yes anyway. The heat and tight vacuum suction upon various parts of my back was a little painful, but it was still tolerable - I knew it had many benefits such as sucking out the toxins, water etc in the body.

My body did feel better after the masso-therapy, and the entire session of one hour only cost around SGD$70.00 each time, including some medicated plasters to take home. The only drawback was probably the ugly red marks - 3D at first, then fading into 2D - that would last me for about a week. Service was polite overall and no pushy hard-selling, hence appreciated.

I also did some research and consulted with several TCM and Western medical professionals on the probable causes of neck sprains / stiffness one feels upon waking up in the mornings:-

(i)    Bad sleeping position
(ii)   Prolonged sitting down to use computers or working at a desk
(iii)  Bad sitting position
(iv)  The very high heels I wear to work
(v)   Showering after 11pm at nights
(vi)   Previous injuries or spinal issues (N.A. for me)
(vii)  Sunken in / soft pillows or mattresses
(ix)   Stress or pressure
(x)   Standing too long with head bent (i.e. computer not at eye level)

I also had to end up buying this pricey King Koil Micro-Gel Support Pillow (SGD$99.00) - was debating between the cheaper coutour support pillows or this - and found this to be softer.

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