( Context )( Preamble )
A really good massage therapist in Oregon recommended I see a world-class "Rolfer" in my current town. I did not know what this was. It has changed my life.Rolfing
was devised by a biochemist who realized there was a gulf of practical kinesiology between bones (chiropractic care) and muscle (traditional massage care); this comprises fascia, tendon and ligament, all of which should be mildly elastic without actively articulating.
Most of us lose a lot of this elasticity with age. You can also use it if you are self-medicating for chronic pain (hello). I lost it and knew as much when I was told by a Pilates instructor that I looked like I was getting ready to bank into a right hand turn when I thought I was standing up straight. Most folk who are relatively inactive (read: desk job) have fused their ilio-sacral joints by the time they are 50, this is related to the fascia and ligaments tightening up.
Rolfing< (or as I like to think of it: Brain Rehab) is generally a series of ten sessions, over ten weeks with possible breaks at particular times. Apparently, for some patients, it hurts? But it shouldn't. You have a therapist with sub-standard technique; pain means you brace yourself, and you'll see much slower results with that level of resistance. My understanding of what they are doing is this: massage of the surface layer of muscle until they can get to the ligaments/fascia etc. Light specific stroking of the ligament/fascia etc, to enable "clearing" of the cells, or removal of the detritous that could block blood flow and flexibility. Lastly, manual stretching (this is part of the art of the care: the direction is something the therapist would sort out by feel) of those inelastic ligaments and fascia to get back to the right movements and articulation of the body. Post-script: you settle into this new range of motion over the course of the week. You may have homework as simple as taking a walk, or specific stretches or movements. You'll see fast results if you do these things.
I don't know if I can explain the ways in which my body changed, but the following things are documented in my before and after shots: I stand straight now. I am 1 3/4" taller (not joking. I initially measured an inch shorter than I thought I was due to the leaning. I'm now roughly 1/2" taller than I thought I was.) I walk differently, with my weight shifting evenly over my toes as I rock. I walk *lighter* than I did: I can articulate my ankles and heels and hip so much farther that a lot of my body weight is absorbed differently and not in the heel strike.
We didn't get to my shoulders and head until session, what, 7? 8? I noticed major changes long before that. I noticed them on day one (average height gain after the first session: 1") A big thing for me was releasing the psoas muscle. This is my new favorite muscle.
But back to my brain: I don't remember a lot of the details of that session, but there were fingers in my ears, mouth and nose (with gloves. And nice smelling oil, if you were wondering.) I don't know if you have ever had anyone stick their fingers in your nose, but it's odd. They are right next to your brain, after all, but that is why I was there, so I was all in, you know? My upper three or so cranial vertebrae had been pretty much fused into my skull from tension and stress and chronic pain. They move now. They articulate. IT IS AMAZING.
My migraines aren't gone
, but the side effects are so minimized they may as well be. I noticed, the other day, a mild amount of light sensitivity before I went home for the day. The thunderstorm cracked that evening, and I was on an average dose of ibuprophen, but awake and functioning. Previously, 8-12 hours ahead of tiem, I would have checked out, gone home and shut the blinds and hoped to sleep through it (stupidest superpower ever). The change, can you even appreciate the change? The difference for me is the ability to rely on my brain when I need it and choose to take an evening off as soon as I have the luxury. It used to be that every week or few weeks I would work through such significant pain and side effects that I knew I wasn't at full capacity. I didn't used to be at full capacity, and I missed it.
I walk so much more fluidly now. I can move my leg without canting my hip, I can move my hip without tugging my ribcage around. I can stand straight and let my arms fall over my hips. I can TILT MY HEAD TO THE SIDE. Also, and I may not have mentioned this before: the point is that I only go back two or three times a year if I choose. The point of Rolfing is that it sticks
, not that they create a patient for life.
It was a game-changer. I have the levels of energy and range of motion I had as a teenager. I am also on summer schedule (meaning, I am not teaching two-three new courses right now!) I may take over the world. LOOK OUT.
So, yeah. Rolfing. Anyone else try this?
*er, I am a doctor, though I don't play one on T.V. This post should not be taken as a directive.