It’s great for babies, but what does it do for adults?
For the first few weeks of a baby’s life, swaddling has numerous benefits. It allows them to sleep calmly because they’re not disturbed by their startle reflex. Plus, it keeps them warm and secure, reminiscent of their first nine or ten months in the womb. Now, in Japan, people are opening up to the concept of adult swaddling, although some doctors are a little leery of the practice.
Japanese midwife, Nobuko Watanabe, began swaddling women who’ve recently given birth to help with their post-labor pains and to show them how comfortable it is for their babies. In Japanese the practice is known as “otonamaki,” or adult swaddling, and it has spread beyond recent mothers. Watanabe’s company now provides swaddling to over 70 customers who swear that it’s effective at relieving stress, treating hip, leg and shoulder stiffness and pain, and increasing flexibility.
For each otonamaki session, people are wrapped in large, breathable cloths for about twenty minutes. According to Visvanathan Ravi, senior physiotherapist at Hallmark Physiotherapy in Singapore, the practice may have unseen consequences. “I totally disagree with the treatment method,” Ravi told the BBC. “They way they were wrapped up may lead to muscle strains if not in the short term, but the long term. If a person stays in the position for 30 minutes, I’m sure there will be spine problems. It’s not advisable to do this treatment.”