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Treatment left me a little bruised, but I'm looking forward to the benefits.

Byline: Diane Parkes

I AM about to embark on an 85-minute aromatic herbal journey which will involve a body and face massage and the application of hot poultices.

But before we begin, Wilbur Serra explains a little about the treatment.

"These poultices will be heated up and used for massage," he says. "They include a blend of herbs and they originated in the 14th century when Thai warriors were always fighting. They would come back from battles and these herbs would be applied to help heal soft tissue injuries. The heat and the herbs help that healing process." Stripped down to my undies, but with a sarong to cover any modesty, Wilbur begins the treatment with a short foot massage.

He then moves to the face, applying finger pressure to the pressure points on the face and head to relieve tension.

Working around the shoulder and neck area, he then applies the poultices. They are tightly-wrapped, fistsized bags of herbs which can be applied with various levels of pressure.

I have requested a pick-meup rather than a send-me-tosleep massage, so the pressure is rapid and deep. The poultices are used in rapid motions, touching the skin only momentarily before moving on.

Wilbur alternates between reheating and using the poultices and hand pressure as he works on my legs, back, shoulders and arms..

All is going well until he reaches my hamstrings which, he tells me, are far too tight. This, is apparently due to overuse and not enough warming down after exercise.

But the real problems come when he reaches the back of my shoulders and upper arms.

Here he discovers that, not only have the muscles tightened up, but they are actually restricting my range of movement.

I admit that I was aware of this but hadn't really bothered to do anything about it - the typical response from someone just too busy to put their body first.

Wilbur then decides to go off the book.

"This isn't really part of the massage," he tells me as he proceeds to pull my arm into a half Nelson to demonstrate my lack of flexibility.

He asks me to do a number of exercises which basically involve pushing against his pressure and having my arm placed in a series of not very comfortable positions. But after a few minutes Wilbur is happily showing me the difference.

He then shows me a series of exercises which will help this process and confidently reports that if I follow them diligently I will be right as rain in three weeks.

I have to admit it was not quite the relaxing experience I had anticipated, but then Stevie had warned me it would be worse before it would get better.

I did feel a bit bruised and battered for the next couple of days, but I am now busy doing my exercises every two days and waiting to see
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 23, 2009
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