“A mini exercise ball cured my neck pain!”
Debilitating pain kept Ruth Chiles, 64, from leading a full life—until she uncovered the simple tension-releasing remedy that restored her health and happiness
Ruth felt guilt creeping in as the phone rang. “I’m going to have to take another sick day,” she regretfully told her boss. “I was calling in sick more and more often. I knew it was starting to wear on my boss’s patience, but I was just in too much pain to go into the office.
“Things started to get unbearable about four years ago. I was spending three hours in my car each day driving to and from work—an hour and a half each way—and then I would sit in front of the computer all day, which made my shoulders, neck and back stiff and sore. I would return home absolutely drained and exhausted and fall right into bed.
“As tired as I was, though, on most nights I’d be shocked awake by extreme pain in my neck and right arm that prevented me from getting back to sleep. When I was able to sleep through the night, I’d often wake up in the morning with a headache that would last throughout the day and make it difficult to focus. My sleep
debt kept growing, and I was feeling more and more irritable. I just wasn’t myself anymore.
“As someone who works in the health field as a dietician, I know how important sleep is to being healthy, and the fact that I wasn’t getting enough made me very anxious. As the sleepless nights turned into sleepless weeks, I became increasingly stressed.
“I’ve always favored natural remedies, so I didn’t want to start relying on pain medicine. But after countless nights waking up with my arm just killing me, I knew I needed to do something. I tried a class that was kind of like tai chi in water, but that didn’t help. I had done yoga for years, but that didn’t help either. The pain became constant, the headaches were getting progressively worse and I was starting to get scared.
A feel-good fix
“A friend noticed how much pain I was in and recommended I try a class at my gym called The Miracle Ball Method. Desperate for a solution, I decided to take the class. On my first day, I received a small, squishy ball. Elaine Petrone, the class instructor and creator of The Miracle Ball Method, taught me how to position the ball under different parts of my body. Once the ball was in position, she told me to lie there and breathe. It felt very passive—not at all like exercise and not painful.
“It actually seemed so passive that, throughout the class, I wondered how the ball could possibly have any effect. But as soon as I walked out, I felt different, in a good way. I suddenly felt much more aware of my body and how I was moving, and that helped me feel looser. I started attending Elaine’s Saturday class on a regular basis, and I would occasionally try to sneak one in on a weekday too.
“Once I felt comfortable with the method, I started using the ball at home. I even brought the ball into bed sometimes. Before going to sleep, I would put it between my shoulder blades, which helped release the tension in my shoulders.
“After a couple weeks, I was sleeping through the night. My headaches vanished, and getting a good night’s sleep helped me cope better with the pressures of work and my long commute. My posture improved too, and I started standing straighter and moving more easily. In fact, I went to get my bone density checked recently, and the nurse had to measure my height twice. She couldn’t believe it: I had grown nearly half an inch!
“I think the method has helped me age more gracefully—I can feel how all the parts of my body connect to one another and how they all move as one. I’ve started taking dance and tap lessons because it actually feels good to move again. Now I’m not calling in sick anymore, and I look forward to living my life to the fullest!”
—As told to Alyssa Rosenthal
“My pain and
headaches vanished, and my posture improved almost instantly. It actually feels good
to move again!”