The Art of Living Pain-Free

14 JAN 2024

Dealing with pain isn't always straightforward. Pain can sometimes come from a single incident, like spraining an ankle from a fall. Other times, it's a complex combination of postural habits, referred pain, overcompensation and emotional stress, which makes pain a challenge to manage as well as prevent.


Comoclub sat down with Kim Kösters, a visiting physiotherapist for COMO Shambhala — and an expert with whom the brand regularly collaborates. Kim has completed residencies at various COMO Hotels and Resorts worldwide. She is based at the COMO Shambhala wellness centre at Cocoa Island in the Maldives until 19 February, and will be at COMO Laucala Island in Fiji this coming Easter.

Kim Kösters uses a variety of treatments to usher every guest into a calm and healing state.

With over 15 years of experience, Kim has mastered the ability to provide bespoke treatments targeted to each individual's unique needs. She uses her knowledge and intuition, listening and observing for an underlying cause. ‘When someone comes in for a treatment or a massage, I pay attention to what the body is telling me,' she explains. 'What is their breath doing? Are they tensing up against me? How is the body moving?’


Kim approaches every client differently, whether it’s a functional pain or a more complex pain. ‘It’s like a dance. We are working together,’ she says. 'I try to guide people through what they're feeling or where the pain is really coming from.'


During a recent session, a guest came in with back pain, neck pain and headaches, but Kim's experience led her to suspect there might be an issue with the guest's jaw. Her suspicion proved to be correct. Kim explains that the body is connected by the fascia and the nervous system, and sometimes pain in one area can be caused by an issue in another seemingly unrelated area.


If there’s one myth about pain Kim would love to debunk, it’s the old adage of ‘no pain, no gain.’ She emphasises the importance of working with 'good pain' rather than pushing through discomfort. ‘Sometimes we need to lean into the discomfort, however excessive pain and exercise spikes cortisol and adrenal levels that can lead to longer recovery times and increased injury risk. Even massages require the right amount of pressure. 'Some people want more pressure, but if the body is tensing up against that pressure, it will create more tension and not help you recover as fast as if we were working with that “good” pain,' Kim says.

Kim approaches every client differently, providing bespoke treatments targeted to each individual's unique needs.

A significant chunk of Kim’s practice involves vagus nerve activation. The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves, which plays a crucial role in the parasympathetic nervous system. It carries information between the brain and our internal organs, controlling the body's response in rest and relaxation and our immune system.


‘There are many ways to stimulate the vagus nerve. In my treatments, I use breath work,' Kim says. 'Humming creates a vibration that stimulates the vagus nerve in the throat and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, it gets you out of your fight and flight stress response. I also use guided meditation and massage to stimulate the vagus nerve.' Kim’s (vagus nerve) treatments bring every guest into a relaxing, almost meditative state where the body can focus on rest, healing and digestion.


It’s a practice that has its roots in pranayama. ‘The yogis have been doing this for ages. The Western world is just catching up,’ Kim says. ‘It’s very powerful. After two minutes, you can feel the mind slow and calm down. You feel the tension in the body reduce. It’s a very beautiful feeling.’


Beyond the one or two sessions Kim has with guests on holiday, she makes sure to equip everyone with tips that they can continue to do when they go back home. This means that you can expect not only immediate relief but also long-term health benefits from your sessions with Kim.


During her visit to COMO Cocoa Island until 19 February 2024 and her visit to COMO Laucala Island this coming Easter, Kim will be offering a range of tailor-made services that are designed to help guests recharge and discover the art of living pain-free.


Contact the COMO Shambhala team at COMO Cocoa Island to arrange for your session with Kim Kösters.

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