As Hawke's Bay physiotherapist and now author Barbara Mawson points out it - "it's taken a long time".

About 15 years to be more exact and she is delighted to finally get the book she has produced titled Becoming the Shape of the Chair You Sit In . . . and other stories on to the shelves.

But there was a lot of other work to be taken care of as well as pen a book to help people recognise, and work on finding solutions, to back and neck pain - all presented simply and filled with practical ideas . . . and a few light-hearted touches.

She has spent time working in a hospital in Myanmar and her skills in physiotherapy have seen her take part in a string of seminars.


As a young physiotherapist she said it was an era where women largely only worked in the health system, and she had a dream to make a difference.

"To pioneer work in under-developed countries - to make a mark on physiotherapy practice."

While in New Zealand she moved around and, as she put it, when in places like Balmoral Forest and Eketahuna what emerged most in her line of work?

"I started to treat the local farmers for back pain."

However, she had her own health issues, and a period of myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, left her almost completely incapacitated for two years, and after that she could only work part time for another two years as her health slowly got back to normal.

"I used some of this time to work in practice quality and audit and on the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand - then teaching clinical practice for Otago University physiotherapy students."

She today is based at a specialist spinal clinic at the Hawke's Bay Hospital where she uses her more than 40 years of private practice experience in solving back and neck pain.

And the big focus of her approach is teaching people how to recognise and treat their own symptoms and problems.

She said the book was effectively written in response to a lifetime of results in working in the area.

"The book has been the last of my dreams - the expression of my life in physiotherapy," she said.

"The intention of making the most difference in as many lives as possible."

She has written it in a simple, easy-reading and occasionally humorously quirky style.

It is aimed to be a fun and informal read packed full of ideas on what to do about back pain, headaches, joint noise . . . through to buying a good chair or bed to keep the body happy.

"The science and the solutions," is how she puts it.

She is launching the book on Thursday, November 3, at Beattie and Forbes Booksellers in Bridge St, Ahuriri, at 5.30pm.

It will also be available on-line at