My body was aching in places I never knew existed. My lower back pain and knee pain don’t seem to go away. I had been working out daily, I might have overdone it, or maybe these are all signs of aging (I’m in my late 30s). Either way, I had to listen to my body; I needed some kind of massage or therapy. Then I remembered that a year ago, I also suffered from persistent lower back pain and the only thing that helped me was getting body alignment at Karada. Thus, I went to their SM Megamall branch in search of relief.
Author’s Note: Karada Factory in SM Megamall is temporarily closed due to the quarantine caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The review is based on the author’s last Karada visit late last year. This is not a sponsored post.
Karada offers Japanese body therapy founded by a man named, Koyasu Yuki. He had a car accident and was rehabilitated by chiropractic treatment. This has inspired him to study the concepts of chiro and massage, which eventually led to the birth of his business called, Karada Factory. From starting up a store in Yokahama, there are now over 300 Karada branches in Japan, as well as franchises in other countries, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. As of this writing, there are 18 Karada branches in the Philippines mostly can be found inside the malls.
Chiropractic was founded by D. D. Palmer in the 1890s and it deals with the disorders of the locomotor or musculoskeletal system (skeleton, muscles, cartilage, joints, tendons, and connective tissues). It is considered alternative medicine that involves spinal manipulation therapy (SMT), and manipulations of other joints and soft tissues. Though chiropractors are usually called chiro doctors, they are not medical doctors.
Among the services that Karada offers are AP (atlas and pelvis) Balance, Body Treatment, Foot Treatment, and combination treatments. You have the option to get your treatment from a local or a Japanese therapist, the latter being more costly. I have never tried a Japanese therapist, I’m not sure how they compare with their local counterparts. However, I do find that the therapists who did my treatment knew what they were doing. More on that later.
Here are their list of services with the corresponding descriptions and rates. Note that prices may change without prior notice.
Karada also offers products to help improve health and to correct body posture, such as Pelvic support leggings, Posture correction shirt, Pro skeletal frame correction pillow, Nightwear pelvic support, Pillowcase/cool, Izumio water (hydrogenated water), Hita water (a.k.a. the “miracle water” with a high volume of alkaline), Back stretcher, Karada balance belt, and Mini stretcher roller.
My Karada Experience
The SM Megamall branch has a slightly bigger space than the first Karada that I tried in Glorietta. I chose the 60-minute AP Balance and Body Treatment with a local therapist.
They made me change into a pair of shirt and pants and slippers that are too big for my frame. I placed my belongings inside a big plastic basket, which they put under the bed where I had my treatment.
A female therapist attended to me and we started with a brief assessment. She checked my posture and asked for any specific concerns that I may have. I shared that for days, I had been suffering from lower back pain.
As I lay down on the bed she proceeded with the pelvic test. She lifted my legs at 90 degrees, cupped my ankles with her fingers, and asked me if there is anything that I could observe. I looked and realized that the level of her fingers that were cupping my ankles was uneven. She explained that this is due to a misalignment in my pelvic bones, thereby making one of my legs shorter than the other. This is usually caused by incorrect posture and standing on one leg for longer periods.
The therapist said that the first thing she noticed when I came in was that I was slouching. This has been my life-long dilemma, my posture is just terrible even as a little kid. I remember when I joined my first Santa Cruzan and my aunt kept barking from a distance that I straighten my back. To be honest, I just don’t know how to maintain a correct posture when every time I try to straighten my back it hurts. Also, I’m usually unaware that I’m slouching until somebody mentions it.
She then proceeded to give me the AP Balance treatment. Unlike my first Karada experience where my body was all stiff, I tried my best to relax. I heard some cracking sounds and saw my body being bent and stretched in different directions. It was a little bit nerve-wracking just because I am not used to hearing my body make that sound, especially during the neck adjustment. It did hurt especially during the stretching part, but it was manageable.
Next, she led me to a private room with a mechanical bed where she continued some more adjustments to my body. After that, she did the pelvic test again and this time, her fingers that encircled my ankles were even. Apparently, this indicated that my pelvic has been re-aligned. She advised that I should be conscious of how I stand and sit, to always make sure that my posture is correct, and as much as possible, avoid putting all of my weight on one leg.
We returned to the common area where she endorsed me to a male therapist who performed the dry massage. This is the part of the whole treatment that I found to be extremely painful. The therapist kneaded and pressed on some points in my body in an effort to soften the knots in my muscles. It was particularly bad in my back area where everywhere he pressed made me want to scream in pain. On how I was able to withstand that 30-minute of torture is beyond me, but it’s something that I never want to subject myself again, even when it’s supposed to help in releasing muscle tension.
After the treatment, my entire body was sore, but at the same time, there’s been a noticeable sense of relief especially in my lower back. Just as I came in, they offered me a small cup of warm water to drink. They told me that body soreness is normal and that I should feel better after 3 to 5 days.
Everyday I travel for almost an hour to get to work carrying the company issued laptop that is heavier than a newborn baby. I also sleep on my stomach, often crosses my legs when sitting, and has a job that requires me to sit in front of the computer at least 8 hours a day. In short, my body pains are of my own doing. It doesn’t help that my posture has been bad since time immemorial. I find that sometimes, getting a massage doesn’t cut it anymore in relieving body aches. Thus, I have always wanted to try chiropractic treatment, however, they are too damn expensive; usually, they go between 3,000 to 5,000 pesos per session.
Thankfully, there is a place like Karada that incorporates the concept of chiropractic into their treatments. I like having a chance to experience chiro within my budget.
However, let me clarify that although they use the concept of chiro, Karada is different from a chiro clinic where treatments can be more extensive to treat more serious conditions. In fact, when I told them that I’ve been having this persistent pain in my left knee, they told me right off the bat that this is not something that they can handle. So it’s best to just look at Karada the way we do at any other massage salons; a good alternative for body wellness.
And here’s the best thing that happened months after this treatment. My right foot used to be riddled with calluses. They were painful and I didn’t know why I had them all on that one foot while my left foot was okay. I tried everything to get rid of them including getting a foot spa/scrub frequently. But the calluses always came back, it was frustrating. I’ve had the for over a year, that’s how long I’d been dealing with it. It was only a few months after this Karada treatment when the calluses started to disappear. I realized that they might have been caused by the misalignment with my pelvic. My right foot had been carrying most of my weight. Of course, this is just an assumption but I think Karada fixed more than my lower back pain.
Other important information
The following shows some helpful information regarding Karada. Note that the information below are based from Karada’s website.
How old a person need to be to get a Karada treatment?
You have to be at least 12 years old.
What are the contraindications?
If you have the following conditions, you cannot undergo a Karada treatment:
- 1-3 months pregnant
- grave illness (e.g. cancer)
- serious injury
- had undergone surgeries
Note: If you have hypertension or diabetes, you may be allowed to take a treatment as long as you have medications with you.
What are the health benefits of taking a Karada treatment?
According to Karada, there are several ways their treatments can help you such as stress, hormonal, sleep, and physical pain management, improvement of posture and digestion, among others.
What activities should be avoided after the treatment?
Apart from not drinking drinks that are too cold or hot, they recommend not drinking alcohol and not taking hot showers right after the therapy. They also advise avoiding engaging in strenuous activities to allow the body to recover.