Feel like you’re back in the womb. ??
Being alive takes its toll on the body, and lately people are turning to unconventional methods to cure life’s aches and pains. In the US, cuddling is becoming popular as an alternative to physical therapy. In Japan, another fad is brewing: swaddling.
In Japan, people wrap their babies in fabric to assist with their physical development. One Kyoto-based midwife saw the benefits and in 2015 decided to try it on adults. The midwife, Nobuko Watanabe, started her own company to provide the treatment she began calling Otonamaki, or “adult wrapping.”
As of December, Kyoko Proportion has provided swaddling for 70 people. Staff provide the treatment — which replicates the sensation of being inside your mom’s womb — to help women reduce stiffness in their joints after giving birth. Patients report that the procedure is also effective in treating hip, leg and shoulder stiffness and pain, relieving stress, improving posture and increasing flexibility.
Swaddle your way to a more relaxed body
Otonamaki practitioners sit cross-legged on the ground as staff members tightly wrap them in a blanket or oversized piece of fabric. After securing the cloth with knots, the staff member rocks the patient back and forth on the ground in a soothing motion. Sessions last 20 minutes and cost about $30.
Does it actually work?
Adult swaddling has only been around for a little over a year, so there are no studies available to track its effectiveness. Most medical experts are skeptical that the practice could elicit long-term results and some believe the treatment might be actively bad for your spine.
In an interview with the BBC, for example, a senior physical therapist at Hallmark Physiotherapy named Visvanathan Ravi said, “I totally disagree with the treatment method. The way they were wrapped up may lead to muscle strains if not in the short term, but the long term.”
Adult swaddling is not the only practice provoking criticism from medical professionals. In recent years people have pushed back against the idea of wrapping up their babies in cloth, too (surprise, surprise). Previously, doctors told parents to swaddle their infants to help calm them and to inhibit the Moro Reflex — a reaction in newborns between three and four months old that makes them feel as if they’re falling.
A 2016 study conducted by the University of Bristol suggests that the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome rises when babies sleep swaddled on their sides or stomachs.
Regardless of the health implications, people who practice adult swaddling appear to enjoy it. And the good news is that the procedure looks easy to replicate — just grab a blanket and a friend and get to work.