Friday, November 21, 2008

I can has a gravity.

Structural Integration (The Rolf Method)

I've been dealing with a few nagging niggles, aches and pains for almost a full year now. Last winter, as I focused on core strength and stability training, I injured myself, a groin/abdominal pull i think brought on while doing planks and crunches.

Even before that, I have had pretty consistent issues with the ITB, piriformis, and plantar fascia, which i attributed to, and were exacerbated by increased running mileage and my adult onset cycling as i trained for triathlon. I've also had some issues with my shoulders and arms that seem to associate with my swim training.

I tried to follow what was suggested for this variety of problems. Rest, strengthening, stretching, massage. All of these were really helpful but only temporarily.

Then recently I became aware of "Rolfing", less commonly but more descriptive called "Structural Integration". Basically this method involves reorienting the body to more efficiently exist in gravity. As this is a force that is constantly pulling on our bodies, even non athletes might benefit by such adjustment. Intuitively we know that gravity is the force that we increase, and sometimes fight against, when running, for example.

Rolfing generally involves a "ten series", each session should not be separated by more than two weeks. At first the therapy looks like massage. It's done by a massage therapist in a massage studio, with a massage table etc. And part of the process involves palpation. But that's where the similarity ends. The first thing i noticed was that the therapist was taking notes! Next, she asked me to walk back and forth and made notes as to how my body moved through space. Then she had me get on the table and began working on my lower legs, just that.

The next week she spent time on my lower back and hips. The following session started with my raising and lowering arms, viewing from front and back. Noticing my right side was tighter than my left, she focused on opening my right shoulder, which we accomplished to some extent, but not completely, by the end of the session.

After 3 sessions I am starting to notice a difference in how i am moving through space. My feet are more solidly, but with less impact, meeting the earth as I walk. My body column feels more vertical, more properly aligned over my feet. Each week I have had some new area of pain, which seems to indicate a shifting of structure based on the prior week therapy.

I am excited to see what happens over the next 7 sessions. I also have some questions. This method seems to assume we are moving upright, walking or running. How does movement in other positions, like swimming or cycling, work into this process? Also, I noticed all of my complaints are on my right side. Are we going to find some deep imbalance on my right side, or will it be on my left and is that causing me to overcompensate to the right?

Oh, and I had my eyes checked this week. I am nearsighted in my right eye. Whats up with that?


Anonymous said...

That is pretty strange Tom. What side do you sleep on?

I'm going to be a doing a lot of running this winter to get a good base fitness, but it is going to beat up my body a bit in the process. I may just have to ask my massage place about Rolfing to see if they can hook me up. It does sound like a big commitment though...

ramster said...

{twilight zone theme playing}

I mostly sleep on my right side.

Mark said...

Hope you get it figured out man. My right VMO is much bigger than my left one, AND I sleep in my right side. Both arms and forearms are the same size ;)

ramster said...

dont know what a vmo is, should i ask?

interesting you mention s=relative size, during the first session she commendted my left calf looked smaller, "like it's wrapped in celophane", compared to the right.

Kolla said...

Very interesting, thanks for sharing. Look forward to hear how the next couple of sessions go!!