Body Stress Release

Origins of BSR

The origins of BSR

Body Stress Release is a health technique that arose out of one man’s journey from debilitating pain and hopelessness back to health. When Ewald Meggersee was five years old he fell out of a tree and was semi conscious for a week. From then on he experienced intense lower back and leg pain and over the next three decades he explored numerous forms of treatments but none offered any long term solutions.

When at the age of 30 Ewald began to experience the horror bouts of temporary paralysis from the waist down, he had the sense that the key to his recovery lay in investigating the body’s self-healing ability. This search culminated in the development of a new approach to healthcare, Body Stress release (BSR).

Ewald Meggersee’s Story

Fear of becoming totally paralysed while still in his 30s led Ewald Meggersee, together with his wife Gail, to pioneer the body-wellness system known as Body Stress Release (BSR). “I had the distorted posture of a 120-year-old and would frequently wake up paralysed from the waist down,” says Ewald.

Gail and Ewald, the founders of BSR

After the accident Ewald had a burning ache in his lower back and shooting pains in his legs, he often woke with numb hands and he was aware of a constant “funny feeling” in his stomach. His school days were a nightmare; he couldn’t sit still and was constantly moving his legs to ease his lower back pain. He was reprimanded for fidgeting. The soles of his feet felt bruised and hot and he would often collapse from a deep ache in his knees if asked to stand for any period of time.

He often suffered from a blocked nose and post nasal drip and frequent bouts of infection. When he was 15, he was told his pain and severe cramping was psychosomatic, because no one could find any physical cause for it. He could never play rugby or participate in sports like the other boys and he often felt humiliated. Because of his pain Ewald felt himself withdrawing into an emotional corner, becoming an observer of life rather than a participant.

Ewald qualified as an industrial chemist, and met and married Gail, a teacher. His body pain didn’t let up. “Sometimes,” says Gail, “Ewald would scream out in his sleep and leap out of bed in the grip of intense cramping in his calf muscles”.

One day Ewald woke up feeling no sensation from the waist down, Gail watched in horror as he rolled out of bed onto the floor, pulling himself up via the wardrobe for support while he waited for sensation to return to his legs. This nightmare soon became a regular occurrence for Ewald. “You can imagine my fear of going to sleep at night when I didn’t know if I was going to wake up permanently paralysed,” he says. Eventually it got so bad that Ewald faced losing his job and spending his life in a wheelchair. It was at this point that Ewald and Gail sold up everything they had to train as Chiropractors in America.

Over the years, Ewald had received temporary relief from regular chiropractic treatments, but the pain would always return. Now they hoped to discover something which perhaps others had missed and find a way to identify the source of Ewald’s pain and reverse his worsening condition. While they were studying in America they were fortunate to meet Dr Richard van Rumpt, a retired chiropractor who had researched an approach completely different to chiropractic manipulation. Van Rumpt’s research was based around listening to the body and using it as a biofeedback mechanism that would be self-healing.

Gail and Ewald returned to South Africa and built on his method of reading the body’s feedback response to areas of muscle stress and contraction. The technique became known as Body Stress Release.

Ewald comments: “What we discovered is that the body protects itself from stress in a highly organised way. Although it can normally adapt to the various stresses and strains of everyday life – falls, jerks, heavy lifting, bad posture – if the stress gets too severe, the body suffers overload and locks the stress into itself in lines of tension and contraction”.

This tension – or body stress – leads to pain, numbness or stiffness and it also interferes with the body’s self-healing defense mechanism. The body is less and less able to cope with or adapt to added stress, and begins to deteriorate further. This is why a person with long-term body stress may also feel tense, tired, and lacking in energy and enthusiasm for life. Headaches, backache and indigestion may follow. Sometimes a person suffering stress overload no longer feels stiff or sore – but just comes to accept as normal a sense of having less than 100% well-being.

Word soon spread when Gail and Ewald started their BSR Practice in Cape Town in the 1980’s. Many of their clients, like Ewald himself, had tried other avenues of treatment without success. After a few years in practice they could no longer accommodate new clients and Gail and Ewald realised that in order to assist more people they were going to put their energy into training new BSR Practitioners. But now the couple had found a gentle, almost miraculous way of enhancing the body’s own healing powers by releasing long-held stress locked in the muscle system. They knew it worked because Ewald himself, had gone from the constant fear of permanent paralysis to regaining his strength and the pain-free body he now describes as being as fit as a teenager’s.

The BSR system which the Meggersee’s pioneered differs radically from its chiropractic roots. BSR does not claim to diagnose nor treat like the traditional therapeutic realm, it is only concerned with releasing stored body stress so that the body is assisted in its inbuilt ability to maintain and heal itself. BSR has enhanced the lives of tens of thousands of people and is currently practiced in 16 countries, from South Africa, to Holland, Japan, the UK, USA and even Iceland. Log on to to find an international practitioner.