Happy Talk

Can lying on a bed of nails relieve lower back pain?

Christine Manby is determined to find out – and along the way discovers that the mats, which are made exclusively by women in the Gratitude factory, can also dispense karma

Friday 10 January 2020 21:10 GMT
I had visions of puncturing myself and squirting gouts of blood all over the living room floor
I had visions of puncturing myself and squirting gouts of blood all over the living room floor (Illustration by Tom Ford)

Let’s talk about pain. Regular readers of this column (hello, Mum!) will know that I spend half my life doing Pilates to strengthen my lower back and the other half of my life looking for ways to ease the agony of Pilates-related lower back injuries. Physio, chiro, daily cold showers, weird breathing techniques... I felt like I’d tried everything until I saw a Shakti mat.

As a child, I was fascinated by a photograph in an encyclopaedia of a fakir, naked except for a very small loincloth, lying on a bed of nails. Actual nails, hammered through a wooden board so that they were vertical and the fakir was on the pointy ends. How was it possible that he wasn’t writhing in agony? On the contrary, he seemed relaxed enough to have fallen asleep. I was sure there must be some trick involved. Either that or he was dead.

Four decades later, I’ve had acupuncture on my back a number of times: just four or five needles to ease the muscle spasms that accompany disc slippage and can age one by a hundred years in a day. Apart from one occasion, those acupuncture needles turned out to be hardly noticeable, much less uncomfortable, and – perhaps I was imagining it – gave some relief. So surely more needles should equal faster recovery?

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