Rolfing in Austin: Rolfing’s Impact on Joint Pain Relief

Photo courtesy of magicalrobot.org

Most of the joint pain people experience stems from the connective tissue of the joint, part of a seamless interconnected tissue web that contracts under strain. Rolfing® Structural Integration helps to remove the restrictions in the soft tissue that impede joint range of motion by manually softening and sculpting the body’s connective tissue or fascia three dimensionally so that the muscles, tendons and ligaments are balanced. Balanced tension throughout the body can take strain off of joints so that they are free to move without pain. Providing natural pain relief can be a benefit of Rolfing therapy and movement education proposed by a Certified Rolfer™.

The Anatomy of a Joint

A joint is actually the space between two bones, separated by fluid and cartilage, encased in soft tissue ligamentous sleeve connectors (see the white structures in the image above). Ligaments are sensory organs that evoke reflexive and synergistic activation of muscles and ensure that the bones associated with the joint travel in their prescribed anatomical tracks, prevent separation of the bones from each other, and therefore provide joint stability.

The Fascial Net

Photo courtesy of nypainreliefnow.com

“Fascia is the organ of posture…the body is a web of fascia.”–Dr. Ida P. Rolf

Fascia is the continuous connective tissue in the body that has been likened to a complex spider web, a fish net, or the yarn in a sweater. Fascia surrounds and permeates every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel, and organ, all the way down to a cellular level. A tight restriction (strain caused by an injury, trauma, improper posture, etc.) in one area of the body can create tension throughout the net, causing even more tension on distant structures or joints.Restrictions in the fascial net can pull the body out of alignment, compress joints and discs, cause pain, immobility or inflexibility, and create weakness in joints to the point that they are vulnerable to injury or re-injury.

A Rolfer’s Vision

Rolfing practitioners strategically weave their hands three-dimensionally, from superficial to deep, throughout the fascial web to soften the restrictions that can pull joints out of alignment. Rolfing Structural Integration seeks to rebalance the body’s structure by gently sculpting the soft tissues that pull on bones and joints throughout the entire body. Unless the tension and strain in the soft tissue (fascia, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) is addressed, the bones will continue to be pulled out of alignment (i.e. making it appear to have one leg longer than the other or one shoulder higher than the other). Rolfing therapy uses diagnostic methods, soft tissue techniques, and movement education to treat joint restrictions that are a part of the overall body pattern of the individual to restore structural integration. The goal is to achieve balanced tension throughout the entire body, which allows the bones to fall back into their proper relationships naturally.

Rolfers are highly trained therapists in structural alignment and functional movement of every anatomical segment of the body; they are able to see the whole picture by looking at the body as a seamless interconnected relationship of parts. They use diagnostic methods to scientifically identify if the joints are moving properly and gently and artistically lessen the connective tissue restrictions that impede normal joint function, providing pain relief. With this being said, Rolfing can help with joint inflammation and pain in its goal to re-balance and integrate the whole body.

References:

1. Solomonow, M. (2007, March). Ligaments: A source of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Structural Integration, 35(1), 18-28. Retrieved from http://pedroprado.com.br/cgi-bin/cont_ipr.cgi?backhome=1&ling=eng

2. Threlkeld, J. (1992, December). The effects of manual therapy on connective tissue. PhysicalTherapy, 72(12), 893-902. Retrieved from http://fasciaresearch.com

 

Gina Kilgus  |  Certified Rolfer  | 4412 Spicewood Springs Rd #402  |  Austin, TX  |  78759 |  Schedule a Session

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Rolfing in Austin: Common Types of Structural Misalignments

Image Credit: Erik Dalton

Here are just two examples of common structural misalignments that Rolfing® Structural Integration can help correct.

Forward Head Posture

Forward Head Posture (FHP) is the formal name for slouched, stooped posture of the shoulders where the head is forward from the line of gravity, or plumb line. If the back of your ears are not aligned with your shoulders in profile, or if your head makes it through a doorway before your chest does, chances are you have some degree of FHP.

Image Credit: Back Vitalizer

Common symptoms of FHP appear as tension in the jaw, upper back, neck pain, ”knots” in the shoulders, breathing difficulties, shooting pain down the arms, and various types of headaches.

“Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine. This can pull the entire spine out of alignment.”1.

Over a series of sessions, Rolfing works to systematically achieve balance of all the structures that create a stable, adaptable, and supportive spine. Since the body adapts to FHP by shortening and stiffening some muscles, and stretching and weakening other muscles, learning proper sitting mechanics in a Rolfing therapy session can also be very important to correcting and eliminating FHP in your everyday activities.

Image Credit: Health Blogger

Sway Back:

Also known as hyperlordosis, is when the pelvis is not horizontal to the ground in standing and is tilted too far forward causing excessive curve in the lumbar spine.

Common symptoms can appear as low back pain, tension in the hamstrings or hips, sciatica, spinal disc problems, and fatigue in standing for long periods. This posture is also very common post pregnancy.

Strengthening the back muscles, abdominals, and hip rotators may improve their function and reduce the symptoms of sway back, but won’t necessarily improve your posture because strength training these areas cannot rotate a pelvis backward. Rolfing practitioners work with the muscles and connective tissue in the front and backs of the hips and thighs to correct this misalignment and free the adhesions to allow the pelvis to derotate back into alignment.

Image Credit: Body By Heather

Often times the two structural misalignment examples above are seen together, creating a host of structural compensations, stress-related illnesses, and the potential for injury.

The picture to the left is an example of before and after the 10-session series of Rolfing Structural Integration. Can you see Forward Head Posture and Sway Back in the “Before” picture? In the “After” picture?

Long term structural deviations and abnormal postures create muscle strain and chronic pain conditions leading up to disc herniations, arthritis, and pinched nerves. Rolfing Structural Integration can improve the structural misalignments that lead to the deterioration of your health with a gentle and intelligent touch.

Contact me today for a free consultation!

 References:

1. Dalton, E., Ph.D. (2011). Forward Head Posture The 42 Pound Head [Head Forward Posture].

Retrieved December 18, 2011, from Freedom From Pain Institute website:

http://erikdalton.com/media/published-articles/forward-head-posture/

 

Gina Kilgus  |  Certified Rolfer  | 4412 Spicewood Springs Rd #402  |  Austin, TX  |  78759  | Schedule a Session

Rolfing In Austin: 3 Ways To Recognize Posture Problems

Posture is a crucially important component to understanding what pain is and how it is created in the human body.  Since Rolfing® Structural Integration directly affects one’s posture, this article will help you recognize certain aspects of postural problems as well as some of the things Rolfers™ will do to help you with the pain relief and management.

What is Posture?

Most people think of posture as the body’s alignment or position when sitting or standing still (i.e. head up, shoulders back). However, it can also be described as a response, not a static or perfect shape, but an expression, a story.

“Your posture  is often a result from your interactions with the world around you. It emerges out of how you orient yourself to the events of your life, how those events feel in your body, and how you move toward or away from the people or things involved. In time, your responses program the way you stand and move.(Bond, 2007)

Dysfunction in the body

Efficiency, use, and posture of the body directly affect the health of the nervous system, circulation, digestion and other organs; it also correlates to an expression of mood, feelings, and personality. If we are not balanced in respect with the force and flow of gravity, as in an aligned and supportive relationship, as we age, these imbalances can become fixed. Fixed patterns of misuse drastically affect the fall of our health physically, emotionally as well as spiritually and creatively.

Mobility

Healthy posture is characterized by an easy fluidity, an effortless grace, and a lightness of being. How our joints limit or allow movement tells us a story of how capable our body is of a posture, such as being able to comfortably sit at our desk, or perform “downward facing dog” in yoga. Belief systems also play an important role in how we hold these restrictions in our unconscious ability to move our bodies. Rolfers look at the body in movement to determine patterns of dysfunctional mobility and to help clients move easier through life.

Awareness

“Many people think that their problems will be solved if they buy the right equipment and have it adjusted to the correct height and location. Unfortunately, even with the best workplace setup, bad posture often occurs.”(Mitchell, 2007) The activity of changing your felt perception with gravity and the world around you is what makes good posture sustainable. No amount of “sitting up straight” or positioning your shoulders back will correct your postural problems. Training is necessary for a person to experience what healthy posture feels like. In my Rolfing practice I focus on perceptual, spatial activities for my clients, in addition to manual Rolfing therapy. This creates options for growth and poise as a natural, lasting and comfortable expression.

We have established that posture is not just a static shape, but a dynamic expression of our health, feelings, and functional mobility. With help, you can move past the back pain from sitting at your desk all day, or improve your running technique for that upcoming 10K. Rolfing therapy can help release joint restrictions and create an everyday awareness of how to improve your posture for better health.

References

1. Bond, Mary. (2007). The New Rules of Posture How to Sit, Stand, and Move in the Modern World. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

2. Mitchell, Tamara. (2007). Posture for Health. Retrieved November 26, 2011, from http://www.working-well.org/articles/pdf/Posture.pdf

Gina Kilgus  |  Certified Rolfer  |  4412 Spicewood Springs Rd #402  |  Austin, TX  |  78759 | Schedule a Session

Rolfing In Austin: Why Rolfing? How Do I Know I Need It?

RolfingSI - little boy logo - Gina Kilgus Certified Rolfer™ - Rolfing® SI Austin, TXPeople seek Rolfing® Structural Integration for a variety of reasons. The predominant reasons, for the sake of this article, have their origins in people seeking stress relief, pain relief (often experienced as back or neck pain in Austin, Texas), and structural alignment or improved posture. If you have reoccurring stress and tension, postural problems or concerns, injuries and/or chronic discomfort such as neck and/or back pain that interfere with daily activities, experiencing Rolfing therapy will help you.

Releasing stress in the body

We all experience stress and tension to some degree in life and many people tend to think it’s normal. However, a chronic condition may actually underline your most recent feelings of stress or tension. To relieve the emotional stress or tension of the recent onset, the chronic tension, or stressor needs to be released. Rolfing practitioners are trained to be able to address these long-held traumas as well as the more recent ones to restore and balance the body’s physiological and psychological capabilities to cope with stress.

Addressing chronic pain and injury

Many clients seek Rolfing to help alleviate their chronic pain or manage an injury.  Some examples of these types of injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome, neck or lower back pain, TMJ or headaches.  When addressing conditions such as these, Rolfing therapy practitioners work to balance client restrictions that are directly related to their complaint and also balance their entire structure in order to help prevent recurrence of the complaint or injury.

Stooped shoulders, sway back, knock-kneed, flat-feet…

People often think of their posture as the way they look.  What is key to further understanding posture- is that the body shows us the condition of its structure and how well that structure is supporting itself.  Faulty posture cannot be improved by simply trying to “stand up straight” because the second we lose this concentration, the pattern reemerges. Rolfing Structural Integration can create a foundation for lasting resolution to “poor posture” because the treatment aligns the structural components within a holistic view unique to the individual.

Why Rolfing? 

Throughout our lives we suffer from falls, injuries, sickness, surgery, and even repetitive motions on a daily basis; which are known causes for structural misalignments and restrictions in the body. Everyone experiences emotional stress, tension, pain, and injury- all examples of something that their body has had to compensate for. Rolfing can be an investment in one’s own future of health by releasing stress in the body, addressing chronic pain and injury, and creating a foundation of support throughout the body that withstands the constant force of gravity, for improved alignment, posture, and overall function.

If you have any questions about the information shared in this article or you want to know if experiencing Rolfing is something that can benefit you, please contact me.  Receiving Rolfing therapy treatments has changed my life and I am available to help positively impact yours!

 

Gina Kilgus  |  Certified Rolfer  | 4412 Spicewood Springs Rd #402  |  Austin, TX  |  78759 | Schedule a Session

Rolfing in Austin: How Rolfing is Different from Deep Tissue Massage

Gina Kilgus, Certified Rolfer, LMT, Austin, TXHaving been a Licensed Massage Therapist for over 13 years and now a Certified Rolfer™, I can say from experience that the difference between the two manual therapies is striking. Yes, they have similarities such as having the ability to loosen deeper, tighter tissues, reduce stress and promote relaxation and well being. However, Rolfing® Structural Integration can be defined as a systematic approach that attempts to restore balance and alignment to the whole body for long lasting pain relief. Deep Tissue Massage is different from Rolfing in that it tends to focus on techniques for each individual muscle strain, it is temporary relief, and does not address or release the system wide compensation patterns, or the root cause of your pain, dis-function, or “stress”.

The Therapeutic Process
A standard Deep Tissue massage session is usually a one hour, full body treatment. The results are immediate, and there is not a required specific number of sessions. The amount of sessions recommended really depends on the wants/needs of the client. The strategy of therapeutic process is determined by the client’s reports of symptoms of pain or stress.
Rolfing therapy requires a specific number of sessions to work the entire body. Treatment consists of ten 60-90 minute sessions, spaced one to three weeks apart, depending on the client’s needs. Each session strategically builds upon the other, and the results are cumulative even after the Ten Series process has ended. After a complete series of Rolfing Structural Integration, some clients return, after a waiting period of three to six months, for tune-up sessions that help to maintain the benefits of the body being better balanced and alleviating discomfort from emerging deeper issues.

Goals
What distinguishes Rolfing Structural Integration from Deep Tissue massage is not necessarily the medium in which we work, but the goal of our work – which is to reshape and reorganize the human structure. Using clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner, a Rolfer manipulates tissue in order to lessen the effects of the constant pull of gravity. In Deep Tissue massages, tight tissue and toxins are released locally, on a table, often with heavy, direct, stagnant pressure. The benefits are increased blood and oxygen flow, resulting in tissue repair and pain management. In Rolfing, systemic connective tissue patterns are lightly lengthened and loosened slowly-layer by layer, separating the layers that adhere to muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury. Rolfing therapy and education is also received in sitting and upright movement, which in terms help improve posture, flexibility, neural programming, self-awareness, coordination, and athletic performance. Since physical problems are actually the symptoms of chronic postural restrictions, compensations, and habitual patterns, clients can see long term improvement and pain resolution from old and new injuries, surgeries, neck pain, back pain, and other various disorders with Rolfing.

Movement Education
Rolfing is not just a therapy involving direct manipulation of soft tissue. Integrating the newly changed structures into a functional, moving holistic body is a unique, indirect and educational aspect of the work. Deep Tissue Massage often does not include movement education, such as working with the client in motion, let alone off the table. Benefits of integrating postural and anatomical cues with the client off the table, in gravity, can help the client bring the experience of their Rolfing sessions into their daily lives whether at the office, with their favorite musical instrument, or in their current sport, resulting in improvement in performance, posture, stamina with less chance of injury due to improper use of their bodies.

In summary, Deep Tissue massage can be therapeutic, relaxing, short in commitment and help aid in blood flow and localized muscle recovery, but it does not address the body’s overall alignment, movement, nor does it have a method to address structural and habitual compensations. Rolfing Structural Integration is a therapy quite different and unique in its process of evaluating the whole body, its anatomical segments, and integrating the improved relationships into physical balance with the gravitational field. Certified Rolfers are also postural educators, imparting insights to clients to increase their awareness and understanding of their bodies, for improved posture, flexibility, performance, aid in injuries and provide long lasting pain relief. If your body feels stuck, you’ve tried various forms of health care, stretching, etc. and are still experiencing chronic pain, or if you’d like to improve your game, or win the war against gravity, Rolfing is right for you. Try a session today!

“This is an important concept:  that [Structural Integration] practitioners are integrating something; we are not restoring something.  This puts us in a different class from all other therapists that I know of.  It takes us out of the domain designated by the word “therapy,” and puts us in the domain designated by the word “education.”  It puts our thinking into education: how can we use these ideas behind Structural Integration?  How do we put a body together so that it’s a unit, acting, energy efficient unit?  One of the differences between Structural Integration Practitioners and practitioners of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, etc., is that the latter are all relieving symptoms.  They make no effort to put together elements into a more efficient energy system.” -Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D.

 

Gina Kilgus  |  Certified Rolfer  |  4412 Spicewood Springs Rd #402  |  Austin, TX  |  78759| Schedule a Session

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