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Body Stress Release

by Kerry Teakle(more info)

listed in bodywork, originally published in issue 102 - August 2004

Since falling out of a tree at the age of five, and lying unconscious for a week, no one had been able to find the source of the continuous shooting pains and cramping he had suffered in his lower back and legs. Ewald had the distorted posture of a 120-year-old and would frequently wake up paralysed from the waist down.

His schooldays in South Africa were a nightmare; he couldn't sit still at a desk and was shouted at for fidgeting. He would often collapse from a deep ache in his knees if asked to stand for any period of time. When he was 15, he was told his pain was psychosomatic, because no one could find any physical cause for it.

Ewald qualified as an industrial chemist and met and married Gail, a teacher. His body pain didn't let up. Sometimes, Ewald would scream out in his sleep and leap out of bed in the grip of intense cramping in his calf muscles. Their blackest moment came the day he woke up feeling no sensation from the waist down. Gail watched in horror as he rolled out of bed onto the floor, pulling himself up via the wardrobe for support while he waited for sensation to return to his legs.

The nightmare became a regular occurrence for Ewald. Eventually it got so bad that he faced losing his job and spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Gail and Ewald felt they had nothing to lose, so decided to pack up everything and both train as chiropractors in America.

Over the years, Ewald had received temporary relief from regular chiropractic treatments, but the pain would always return. Now they hoped to discover something, which perhaps others had missed and find a way to identify the source of Ewald's pain.

During their studies in America they had the good fortune to meet Dr Richard van Rumpt, a retired chiropractor who had researched an approach completely different from chiropractic manipulation. He talked about listening to the body and using it as a biofeedback mechanism that would be self-healing. When they returned to South Africa, they built on his method of reading the body's feedback response to areas of muscle stress and contraction. The technique became known as Body Stress Release.

Discovery of BSR

A chronic back pain sufferer for over 20 years and a redundancy from a job in public relations in 2002 led me on my journey to retrain as a Body Stress Release practitioner in South Africa.

My mother, Ginny (67), who's normally very cynical about anything alternative, had been persuaded whilst on holiday in South Africa some years earlier to try Body Stress Release (BSR) for her arthritic pains and backache. To her amazement she found it really worked. She was so impressed that she continued with the process when she returned to the UK, as fortunately, there was a practitioner twenty minutes from where she lives.

I'd been troubled by back-pain (and the skin condition psoriasis) since my mid-teens when I used to do ballet and dance to a fairly serious level. Since then, I had been receiving treatment on and off from various sources in order to manage the pain.

The turning point came when I was made redundant. I had been to a specialist and had X-rays and a bone scan for the on-going back problem, only to be told that "apart from the odd wear and tear, there didn't appear to be much wrong, there wasn't any disease apparent and that I should continue with physio"! However, it still didn't explain why I was in constant pain.

Meanwhile, my mother had been on at me for some time to try Body Stress Release for my backache; with time on my hands, I decided to head south and give BSR a go. After just three 'releases', I was so impressed with the results that I applied to study the five-month course in South Africa, the only one in the world, taught by the pioneers of the technique, Gail and Ewald Meggersee. Not only would it give me a new career option but also, if it meant that I could sort out my long-standing back problem in the process, it would be a bonus!

The Principles of BSR

The body protects itself from stress in a highly organized way. Although it can normally adapt to the various stresses and strains of everyday life – falls, jerks, heavy lifting, bad posture – if the stress gets too severe, the body suffers overload and locks the stress into itself in lines of tension and contraction. This tension – or body stress – leads to pain, numbness or stiffness. It also interferes with the body's self-healing defence mechanisms. The body is less and less able to cope with or adapt to added stress, and begins to deteriorate further. This is why a person with long-term body stress may also feel tense, tired and lacking in energy and enthusiasm for life. Headaches, backache and indigestion may follow.

In some cases, a person suffering stress overload no longer feels stiff or sore – but just comes to accept as normal a sense of having less than 100% well-being.

Thousands of South Africans beat a path to the Meggersees' door as word spread when they started their BSR practice in Cape Town in the 1980s. Many of their clients, like Ewald himself, had tried other traditional avenues of medical and chiropractic treatment – without success. But now the couple had found a gentle, almost miraculous way of enhancing the body's own healing powers by releasing long-held stress locked in the muscle system.

They knew it worked because their prime guinea pig, Ewald himself, had gone from being a near-cripple to regaining his strength and the pain-free body he now describes as being as fit as a teenager's. Today, at 59, Ewald reports that his body continues to improve. "For the first time in my life I can feel the sensation of socks and shoes on my feet and have improved movement in my ankles" he says.

Ironically, the BSR system, which the Meggersees pioneered, differs radically from its chiropractic roots. "BSR differs from chiropractic in that it uses information provided by the body itself to determine where abnormal muscle tension is undermining the efficiency of the nervous system and disturbing its ability to co-ordinate its functioning," says Ewald.

What Happens in a BSR Appointment?

Working with the body's natural striving to be stress-free, BSR is a gentle procedure that does not require force. It can be used on anyone from newborn infants to the aged, in all states of health.

Body Stress Release is carried out on the person fully clothed, lying down on a special couch. Each appointment lasts approximately 30-45 minutes. During this time, a detailed medical history is taken.

Tests are then carried out to locate the exact sites of body stress, watching the reaction of muscles to indicate where and in what direction the tension lies. The stress is then gently released by means of light but definite pressure, encouraging the body to let go. The process may provide instant relief or require a number of sessions, depending on the severity and duration of the stress. This is because tight protective layers of muscle tend to relax by degrees back to their normal tone.

As Body Stress Release is a process rather than a quick fix, clients are recommended initially to book three appointments: ideally on day one, four and eleven, in order to experience the full benefit of the process.

Clients are given feedback on the practitioner's findings, a few self-help exercises and advice on use of the biomechanical structure of the body.

Clients are also encouraged to take responsibility for their well-being by booking regular maintenance appointments a couple of times a year, or sooner if symptoms should reappear.

…and the Effects?

Whilst BSR is not a diagnosis or treatment of any specific illness or condition, it may assist with a range of symptoms including: back pain and sciatica, sports injuries, neck, shoulder, knee and ankle problems, RSI and tennis elbow, headaches and migraines, heartburn and indigestion, respiratory conditions, menstrual irregularities, pregnancy and childhood disorders, boosting the immune system and generally assisting with the release of stored stress and tensions.

True Stories

Take the woman in her forties whose severe asthma cleared up after only three sessions; or the 50-year-old diabetic whose need for insulin ceased as his diabetes improved. Several women who thought they were sterile became pregnant after their lower-back stress had been released over a period of months. One man's eyesight improved so dramatically after a month that he no longer wears glasses. A 30-year-old female county-standard golfer had her back pain clear up after three releases and the 27-year-old male, whose quality of life has so improved after releasing the stress in his lower and upper back. His chronic back pain and requirement for indigestion medication have ceased to be a problem.

Babies respond very rapidly. After a difficult birth, a two-day-old baby kept rolling her head and was unable to suckle. After the neck was released, she suckled and slept normally. A five-month-old baby was suspected of having cerebral palsy because his arms and legs were in spasm. He could not focus his vision and constantly moved his head. All these problems cleared up after one session; two years later his development was normal in every way. Babies, who may be screaming almost continuously, become placid and responsive after neck stress is released.

Ewald, in particular, takes special pleasure in attending to older children with 'growing pains' and helping others to improve concentration at school. In this way he can give to others what he never had as a child – a gentle and effective way to relieve painful and distressing systems, which can otherwise worsen and cripple the happiness of childhood.

My Own Relief

After years of suffering back pain, I can now appreciate the simple pleasures in life. I no longer dread social engagements, which involve standing or sitting for any length of time, which before would have left me needing to lie down to recover. This is also the case after going for a walk. I used to avoid this at all costs and my family would put it down to laziness. And going to bed, something most people take for granted, has now become a pleasure. I no longer have the continuous turning due to lower back pain and rather than struggling to haul myself out of bed, I now effortlessly make the move. Reflecting on the miracle of Body Stress Release I know how it has given me not only a new lease of life, but an equally fulfilling career.

Further information

For further information about BSR and a list of practitioners nationwide, visit or contact Paul Masureik on Tel: 01276 475 651.


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About Kerry Teakle

Kerry Teakle, BA (Hons), MBSRA (UK) was the first Body Stress Release Practitioner in Scotland. She may be contacted on  Mob: 0780 110 3528;

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