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So.  Session Six.  Let’s just dive right in, shall we?  With the start of Session Six, we are officially past the halfway point in the series, which always makes me nervous as a client, because I feel like there’s so much more to do.  But Session Six is also this lovely session where, for the first time in the series, we (as clients) are facedown, and we get oh-so-much work on the back.  Seeing as back pain (and hip pain and shoulder pain and sciatica, etc.) are so common, it’s a session a lot of people, myself included, look forward to.  The “territory” of Session Six is the back of the body.  More specifically, we work from the bottoms of the feet, up the backs of the legs, through the glutes, to the lower and middle back.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  In Sessions One and Two, we address the top and then the bottom.  In Three and Four, we work the outside and then the inside.  In Five and Six, we focus on the front and then the back.  It’s kinda genius, but it’s another reason why you might not want to start the 10-series if you can’t commit to finishing it.  I wouldn’t want you to have an open and flexible front without a matching back!

Dr. Rolf used to quiz her students about the goals of each session.  She’d ask, “What’s the goal of Session Three?”  And her students would hazard guesses such as “increase anterior-posterior depth” or “balance the body along a plumb line” or “transition the client from sleeve sessions to core sessions.”  And while none of those answers were wrong, none of them were the answer that Dr. Rolf was looking for.  Eventually, her students learned that whenever Dr. Rolf asked, “What’s the goal of Session (fill in the blank)?” the answer she wanted was “free the sacrum,” regardless of which session it was.  Apparently, Dr. Rolf thought freeing the sacrum was important enough to be the primary goal of every single one of the 10-series sessions.  However, in Session Six, we actually spend an entire session working directly to free the sacrum.  So, hooray!

Your sacrum, in case you were wondering, is that awesome bone at the bottom of your spine that’s comprised of five fused vertebrae, shaped in a curved triangle, between your last lumbar vertebra (on top), your coccyx (on bottom), and your two hip bones (on the left and right).  If you’ve ever had a session from me, it’s the bone I’m holding at the very end of every session.  It’s the Latin word for “sacred,” is considered our anatomical center and the keystone of the pelvis, and it’s tied to, in addition to your spine and hips, many muscles like the piriformis, one of your hamstrings, and a few of your pelvic floor muscles.  Your rectum is nestled right up against it.  So, nothing important.  Kidding.  I can see why freeing the sacrum would be so critical.  It seems like a bone you’d definitely want in the right position, and free to move how it needs to move.  The sacrum is held in a ligamentous bed, basically swimming in a sea of ligaments, and if any one of those ligaments is either too short or too long, you might have problems.  It’s a broad, annoying, and painful range of problems, too, from sciatica and constipation, up to headaches and TMJ problems, and down through plantar fasciitis, with many, many crappy options in between.  Freeing the sacrum is no joke.

Unfortunately, the sacrum is a bone (and an area of the body) I’ve found to hold trauma more than most.  I don’t know why.  I just see it a lot.  That time you drunkenly tried to do a high kick and and fell on your bum instead; that snowboarding tumble; that trip down icy stairs…if you injured your sacrum, it tends to give you trouble for 10, 20, or even 30 years, while your broken arm heals in a few months with no after-effects.  I’ve also found the back of the body to be where boundaries are established, maintained, and broken.  I’ve long felt that we give our energy out into the world from the front of the body; be it love, anger, support, or just our opinion.  Where we receive energy from the rest of the world is in the back of the body.  And the back of the body is where we make the decisions, conscious or not, around what we allow in and what we don’t.  I’ve often found with people who had boundaries violated in a big way at a young age, accessing and connecting to the backs of their bodies can be really challenging.  That might have something to do with trauma hanging around so long in the sacrum.  Perhaps.  But still, 20 years?  Come on, body.  Regardless of the reasons, Session Six can be a good one for beginning the process of reestablishing an awareness of that back body and learning where there might be more work to be done in establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries.

I had been looking forward to Session Six because I’m always looking for a little more attention to be paid to my hips and healthy boundaries are something I’ll probably be working on for the rest of my life.  But when it was time for me to get my Session Six, I had kinda broken myself and was very ready for a Rolfing session of any number, and I figured Six was as good as any other.  See, I’d been playing volleyball and I dove for a ball that I probably should have just let go.  I ended up feeling like I had whiplash, like someone had taken hold of my spine and given me a good shake.  From my left hip up to the left side of my head hurt.  I had a headache, rib pain, low back pain, as well as a charming inability to follow conversation.  My brain felt broken and swollen.  So, yeah, I was ready for some bodywork.

Session Six is the session that most people struggle to stay awake through, and I’m no exception.  I definitely drifted in and out of dreamland while receiving the work, but when I stood up afterwards, I felt tall, grounded, and clear-headed.  As per usual, Dave had worked his magic and gotten me all sorted out.  My pain and the headache were completely gone.  My left hip still felt a little off, but after a few days, that also seemed to sort itself out.  In fact, it’s been several months now since I had that Session Six and I haven’t had any problems with that left hip.  And that left hip had been bothering me for 13 years.  See what I mean about that sacrum trauma sticking around much longer than it’s welcome?

One more core session to go (and it’s a doozy!) before we get to the integration sessions!

Ugh.  Writing about Session Five has been Such. A. Struggle.   I may be guilty of some perfectionistic tendencies.  And I really love Session Five and want to do it justice, honoring its magic.  But it’s also this deep session, at the core of the 10-series that works on the center of the body, corresponding to central aspects of our emotional beings.  Which all leads to me not having the easiest time writing about this gorgeous session.  But I’m going to try.

In Session Five we’re hitting the reset button.  We’re awakening the core.  We’re asking “Who am I?” relative to the inside self, the center, to instinct and vulnerability.  This is a core/sleeve session.  This is a top/bottom session.  This is a front/back session.  In other words, this session is the motherlode.  No wonder I love this session.

The main focus of Session Five, structurally, is the psoas, a muscle I didn’t even know existed before I first got Rolfed.  But now, I know and love the psoas, and hopefully you will, too.  The psoas is this beautiful muscle, or really, there are two, matching beautiful muscles, the psoai.  They run from the front and sides of the lumbar vertebrae (and the last thoracic vertebra), down through the pelvis and connect to the tops of the femurs.  Here’s a drawing of the psoai with their partners in pelvis stability, the illiacus muscles, which also get attention in Session Five:

The psoai are strong, long, and luscious.  Or, at least they should be.  Most of us spend so much time sitting that we have shorter than ideal psoai and they tend to be locked and loaded all the time, without the ability to relax and lengthen.  When you lift your leg in front of you, to go up a stair, for instance, your psoas is one of the main muscles responsible for that action.  And when you swing your leg behind you, to take a long, graceful step, for instance, your psoas needs to relax and lengthen.  Did you know your legs start above your belly-button?  Because they do, and the psoas is the muscle responsible for that.  I’ve found in my practice that overly tight and shortened psoas muscles are responsible for almost all the low-back pain I ever see, and I see a lot of low-back pain.  Shortened psoas muscles can also lead to hip pain, groin pain, sciatica, neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, restricted breathing, and jaw pain.  It seems like a pretty important muscle.  Oh, and to get to the psoas, we have to work through 4 layers of more superficial abdominal muscles and around the majority of your viscera (organs), just for funsies.  Session Five is amazing, but I never said it was comfortable.

Session Five goals (beside simply loving the psoas) include:

  • increased anterior-posterior (front to back) depth; (remember that Double Stuf Oreo we started working on in Session Three?)
  • to begin helping the core space open from the pelvic floor to the roof of the mouth
  • balancing the relationship of the thorax (rib cage) to the pelvis
  • establishing the front of the spine
  • having the legs function from the lumbo-dorsal hinge (at the bottom of the ribs)

We are working here with the front of the back and the back of the front.  What’s more representative of the front of the back than a muscle that connects to the front of the spine, but is considered an abdominal muscle (as opposed to a back muscle)?  When I first learned about the psoas, this concept blew my mind.  I’d never thought about the front of my spine before.  I don’t think it had occurred to me that my spine HAD a front.  Obviously, it does.  I just hadn’t thought about it.  This is the core of the core.  This muscle is the physical embodiment of the place between future and past, between top and bottom, and is literally at our center.  This is the session where we ask questions like:  What is core?  What is surface?  Where and how do they connect?  Are they balanced in relation to each other?

Naturally, on a personal level, I was interested to see if and how this session, with it’s deep abdominal focus would effect my ‘hip thing.’  And I’m always down for a little exploration around “Who am I, really?”  So I was excited to receive Session Five.  It did not disappoint.  As per usual, Dave worked his magic.  Some standard, structural Rolfing with a nice mix of SourcePoint to clear out some fear I didn’t know was hiding in my abdomen.  I got up from the table after receiving Session Five and started singing “I’ve got no strings” from Pinocchio.  Seriously.  My joints all felt so smooth and loose, without being floppy or sloppy.  And I felt a lot taller, and longer along my whole front, as if I’d been unzipped from a too-tight casing.  This is what I felt like:  I took a little walk around Dave’s office and felt so upright and tall, with my shoulders effortlessly back behind me, instead of rounding forward.  My feet were contacting the ground well and comfortably.  It was amazing.  And two weeks later, I still had no trouble with my ‘hip thing.’  Since Session Five, though, I have had a lot of internal and emotional upheaval.  A lot of questioning around what’s really important to me and whether or not my life reflects those things.  Questions around integrity and long-term happiness and fulfillment.  Again, this session is amazing (and obviously important), but not necessarily comfortable.  I’m grateful for the experience.  Session Five rules.

 

Can we talk about shoes (oh my god, shoes) for a minute?  I know, I know, we’ve talked about them before.  I don’t care.  It’s my blog and I do what I want.  Shoes keep coming up, so we’re going to talk about shoes again.

You know how we evolved running through the savannas of Africa?  You know how we evolved climbing trees and mountains?  You know how we did that without Doc Martens on our feet?  Yeah.

Your feet (and my feet, or any feet, for that matter) are awesome.  Not only are they strong enough to hold you up and carry you around all day, but they are so magnificently flexible and adaptable.  You can wiggle your toes.  You can flex and point.  You can supinate and pronate.  You can rotate left and right.  You can tell, even with your eyes closed, so much about your environment, just from your bare feet.  Is the surface you’re standing or walking on level, tilted, or uneven?  Is it smooth or textured?  Is it slippery or grippy?  Is it hot or cold?  Is it soft or unyielding?  Is it wet or dry?  Is it constant or constantly changing?  So much information!  Feet are like the wikipedia of human existence!  They might not tell you everything you need to know, and you might want to fact check what they tell you, but you can still learn an awful lot from your feet.

And what do we do with them?  We put them in casts.  We put them in their little leather (and canvas and rubber and plastic) casts as soon as we wake up and don’t take them out until it’s time to go to sleep, when, let’s face it, they’re not good for much besides regulating temperature.  Can you imagine?  (I’m sure you can because you’ve probably been doing this to your feet most of your life, or at least know someone who has.)  It’s like taking a well-trained, super-fit border collie and putting it in a crate all day.  Every day.  For it’s whole life.  Not cool.  And it wouldn’t be super-fit for long, would it?

We’re missing out, people! And the bottoms of our feet are connected to the tops of our heads, obviously.  When we stimulate, stretch, and move one, we stimulate, stretch and move the other, and everything in between.  Did you know there’s a huge correlation between foot function and pelvis function?  Don’t want to be incontinent as you age?  Keep your feet healthy and active.  Did you know that pelvis function is related to head and neck function?  No interest in headaches or TMJ?  Keep your feet fully functional.  And can we just pause for a minute and consider how important it is to feel steady on our feet as we age?  How often have you heard of an elderly someone who seemed to be in great health, but they fell, and broke their hip, and then they were hospitalized, and then they got pneumonia…and that was the beginning of the end?  I’m not saying that you’ll never fall again once you restore your foot health.  But functional, vibrant, healthy feet will not make you fall more.  Guaranteed.

I know, I know, we can’t all be barefoot all the time.  I get it.  We live in a place where winter happens.  We (some of us at least, myself not included) go to real jobs, where shoes are expected to be worn every day.  And quite frankly, for most of us, suddenly going all barefoot all the time would land us with tons of injuries and the accompanying pain.  Think about it like this: if you kept your hands in casts from your fingertips to just above your wrists, starting around age two, until now, and then decided to take them off today and go play a two hour piano concert, do some light carpentry, knead a double batch of bread dough, and write a five-paragraph essay, by hand, how do you think that would go?  Yeah.  Not super great.  Let’s think about our feet the same way.  Yes, the goal is to do light carpentry with our feet.  No, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  (I’m kidding about the carpentry.  Come on.)

Getting Started:  So what can you do, today, to start restoring your feet to high functionality?  Let’s get rid of the shoes once in a while to start.  Can you walk around your house without shoes on?  I’m guessing most (if not all) the walkable surfaces in your house are flat, level, in a narrow range of comfortable temperatures, not too slippery, and not very texturally interesting (ooh! carpet! how exotic compared to hardwood floors!), but also pretty gentle on your fresh-out-of-their-casts feet.  This is like going from a cast to a sling.

Other sling-like options include switching out your hard-soled shoes for more flexible-soled shoes.  Sure, there are lots of companies nowadays making ‘barefoot’ shoes and minimalist shoes.  Which is awesome.  And most of those shoes are hideously ugly.  (I still own them.  Stop judging me.)  And some of those shoes may just be too much for your recently-back-from-the-dead feet.  So, instead.  Next time you go shoe-shopping, try this.  Walk around the shoe store for a minute or two in just your bare feet, or with socks on.  Yes, you will look weird.  Who are you trying to impress? You can do this at home, first, to get a feel for it.  While you’re walking around, pay attention to how your feet feel.  How do they move?  Do your toes spread as your weight transfers forward over them?  How long is your stride?  How fast do you comfortably walk?  Where does your foot contact the ground?  Heel first?  Mid-sole?  Starting at the toes?  Really feel your feet as you walk.  Then, try on a pair of shoes.  Go for another walk.  Really feel your feet again.  What changed?  If the answer is “nothing,” this is probably a good shoe for you.  In fact, this is probably a great shoe for you (but is also probably imaginary, as even ‘barefoot’ shoes still feel different from actually being barefoot).  If the answer is “everything,” this probably a terrible shoe for you.  Try to get as close to “nothing changed” as possible within your style/budget/patience-for-shoe-shopping constraints.  See?  Easy.  If you do this every time you go shoe shopping, in 10 years, you will have totally different, and significantly healthier feet.  I promise.  (They’ll also probably be bigger.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

With your new and improved choice of footwear, you can now start mixing up the terrain you walk on.  Start with walking through the grass at the park instead of on the sidewalk or path.  This will help build up the stabilizing muscles in your lower legs and feet (and all the way up through your pelvis and back) that might have atrophied from always walking on flat, level surfaces.  Go hiking (not in thick-soled hiking boots, in your new, more flexible shoes).  Climb trees.  Scramble up rocks.  Go out in the rain and the snow and the ice.  Teach your feet to be good at handling as broad a range of experiences as possible.  This is also good advice for bodies in general.  Flat and level is for sissies.

Another option for improving foot health and slowly restoring function to your feet is taking shoe breaks.  We all know by now that sitting for four hours straight is bad for us, right?  Right.  We all know that even if we can’t be moving all day, we’re supposed to get up every hour (or 20 minutes) and walk around/stretch/just stand.  Same thing applies to shoes.  Can you slip them off at your desk and wiggle your toes?  Can you pad around in your socks while you’re on that phone call?  Can you go stand barefoot in the grass in your backyard for five minutes while you’re waiting for the water to boil?

Next Level Shit:  Once you’ve gotten your feet out of their casts, and comfortable in slings (and this could take several years), it’s time to take things to the next level.  Go ahead.  Take the slings off.  You might want to consider some of those ugly, but awesomely functional ‘barefoot’ shoes.  Work up to spending as much time as possible barefoot.  Strengthen the skin of your feet by walking barefoot on as many different textures (and in as many temperatures) as you can.  Strengthen the tiny little muscles in your feet and the big strong muscles of your core by walking on different terrain, at all sorts of angles.  You can even do some of this in your house!    Throw the couch cushions on the floor.  Throw the kids’ building blocks and Lincoln Logs (Do they still make Lincoln Logs?  Please tell me they still make Lincoln Logs.) on the floor.  Walk over it all.  The couch cushions will make you work harder to balance.  The Lincoln logs will challenge your skin strength and flexibility.  Rolled up towels, wooden spoons, pencils, a rolling pin, a candlestick holder, a bookend, heck, crumple up your junk mail and throw it on the ground.  The list goes on.  Throw it on the floor and walk on it.  (And you’ll get bonus movement points when you have to pick it all up and put it away!)  Keep seeking new and different challenges for your feet.  Don’t let them get bored.

You can get those border collies back in top shape.  It’s a long process, but you can do this.  I know you can, because I’ve done it.  And my feet continue to get stronger and more flexible.  And the rest of my body continues to thank me for it.  But we’ve got to start with the shoes.  For the love of your feet, please stop it with the high-heels and the flip flops and start letting your feet be the magnificent beings they are.  Oh my god, shoes.

In the last week I’ve gotten two very sweet texts from two very sweet women who have both gone through the 10-series with me in the past.  Both were saying ‘thank you’ for the experience because of the effect it had on their lives.  And so, I thought it might be time to once again rave about how awesome the 10-series is.

Luckily, I have a stockpile of before and after pictures from several clients I still haven’t shared with you.  So today, we’re going to talk about Dave and his experience with the 10-series.  When Dave came in, he’d been dealing with chronic back pain for about 10 years that had initially started with a football injury.  He also had occasional numbness and tingling in his leg and pain in his shoulders and arms.  While Dave is super active, the pain in his low back prevented him from moving with the ease and confidence he used to enjoy.  We went through the traditional Rolfing 10-series pretty quickly, averaging only 1-2 weeks between sessions.

Let’s take a look at Dave’s before and after pictures from the front and back, shall we?  (Before is on the left and after is on the right.)

Can we just start with Dave’s face for a second?  Because, seriously, his face just looks so drastically different in the two pictures.  The second one looks so open and clear and wide, if that makes any sense.  It’s almost as if in the first picture, his facial features are a little smushed together and in the second one, they’ve been set free.  Then we can move down to Dave’s neck, which seems to have lengthened by about an inch post-10-series.  Dave the Giraffe, we’ll have to call him now.  Then scan down to his shoulders, where Dave starts out with his left shoulder much higher than his right.  In the after picture, there’s still an imbalance, but it’s greatly reduced.  Next, check out that six-pack.  See how the right side and the left side of Dave’s six-pack don’t match?  We want them to match.  And while they’re not perfectly symmetrical, after 10 sessions, the horizontal lines are much closer to actually being horizontal than diagonal, don’t you think?  Lastly, let’s check out Dave’s feet, which are almost  pointing straight forward after the 10-series, instead of out to the sides a bit.  Yay!  In the pictures of Dave’s back, we can again see that long neck and those even shoulders.  Take a look at his shoulder blades.  In the first picture, his shoulders are rounding forward, making his shoulder blades flare out, like little wings.  But in the after picture, those shoulder blades can just lay flat on Dave’s back, giving him broader shoulders and more openness through his chest.  And check out the quality of Dave’s back as a whole, before and after.  Doesn’t the second one just look…better?  Smoother, straighter, and longer?  As we look at Dave’s legs we can see again that some of the outward rotation is gone, but also that Dave’s legs are more under him, not splayed out wide.  Just by changing his posture, Dave’s gotten taller.

Now let’s take a look at Dave’s profile to see if we notice any changes there.

Personally, I think this left profile of Dave’s shows the most dramatic changes.  Just look at him!  We’ve already talked about the face, neck, and shoulders and you can see all those changes here again.  But look at Dave’s low back in the first and second pictures.  See how he has that extreme curve in the first one?  See how long and tall he is in the second one?  Crazy!  And his chest over his abdomen looks so much more proportionate in the second (and fourth) pictures.  As we take a look at Dave’s legs, we can see that more length in his hamstrings allows even his legs to get longer and taller.

However, all of my excitement over Dave’s improved posture and structure is useless if Dave doesn’t feel any different himself.  So what did he have to say about his 10-series experience?  Here are just a couple phrases from a little exit interview we did:
“I would recommend it to anybody.”
“I don’t feel any pain.  Like, I don’t feel that constant, nagging, sharp pain every step, and every time I sit up, every time I sit down.”
“I used to only be able to use the elliptical at the gym…because it was easier on my back, easier on my knees.  Around the 4th or 5th session I was able to start running again, regularly.”
“It was just smooth, it was natural, there was no windedness, no tiring in any part of the body, it was just like a complete machine, working as it should.  It felt great.”
“Six months ago I was contemplating going to see an orthopedic surgeon because my back hurt so bad.  It was literally constant pain.  Sleeping, walking, sitting at my desk, anything, it hurt.”
“This past week at the gym I felt like Hercules, it was fantastic.”
“I feel fortunate to have been exposed to this, this early in my life.”
“I feel like I haven’t felt in ten years.”

So there you have it.  Two lovely women and one lovely Dave, all big fans of the 10-series.  And me, too.  I just keep coming back to how great it is.  That Ida knew what she was doing when she designed the thing, that’s for sure.

I get the same question all the time.  And it’s about time I just laid it out for you, Sassy Pants, plain and simple, once and for all.  The question is not, “How do you do that magic that you do!?” or “How did you get into Rolfing in the first place?” although that’s a common one.  Maybe next week’s post can get into that.  Unfortunately for both you and me, the most common question is not “Can I schedule ten more sessions right now?”  Wanna know what the most popular question of all time (in my practice) is?  Well, of course you do, so here it is:  Does anybody ever fall asleep during a session?

And the answer, of course, is yes.  Yes; a million times over, yes.  People fall asleep during sessions all the time and it’s perfectly normal and acceptable and nothing to be embarrassed about.  In fact, of the close to 50 Rolfing sessions I’ve received in the last four years since I first tried it out, I’ve probably stayed awake through three of them.  Possibly.  Maybe it was only the two.  I lost count with all the sleeping I was doing in between.

The thing is, I want you to be engaged during your sessions with me.  I want you to show up ready to meet me halfway.  I can only change what you’ve allowed me to change.  And you can do more from the inside than I can do from the outside.  Part of the whole point of this work is embodiment, meaning that your consciousness is in and related to your body.  If you’re hungover from a rough night, disassociation (the opposite of embodiment)  may be the most comfortable option for you, and that’s no good for me.  So, yes, I want you to be present and participating in the work we do together.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t fall asleep.

Huh?

Well, first of all, my goal is to bring about health.  And if you’re sleep deprived, like most people in this country today, then sleep may be the quickest way to bring about health.  So go for it.  More power to you.

Secondly, I don’t think it always has to do with sleep deprivation when you (or I) fall asleep on the table.  I still fall asleep during sessions and I use an alarm to wake up about four times a year, so I don’t think I’m sleep deprived.  I still fall asleep while getting Rolfed immediately after a large cup of coffee and I’m so sensitive to caffeine I usually don’t sleep well at midnight if I had black tea at 8am.  So I think there’s more to it than tiredness.  I think sometimes (often) with a good session of bodywork, big shifts can happen not only in the structure, but on the emotional, spiritual, mental, and energetic side of things as well.  And as we let go of certain traumas and blockages, the ego may try to get in the way, claiming it needs to hold onto that issue for whatever reason.  “I have a bad back” may be part of your story.  And if we shift things so that’s no longer true, your ego may feel a little frantic, wondering how you’ll define yourself in the future.  “I was abused” may be true, but if we let go of the painful trauma around that, will you still be you?  Your ego might not think so.  And so, when your body is making big shifts in the direction of health, it might be helpful to get your ego out of the way.  And so, you “fall asleep” or go into what some people call a healing trance.  You’re still conscious enough to stretch your right arm out, or roll over onto your stomach if I ask you to.  But you’re not conscious enough to fight what your body needs.

At least, that’s how I justify all the sleeping I do during sessions.  You can come up with your own excuses, if you’d prefer.  Regardless, know that, yes, plenty of people fall asleep during sessions, and I don’t mind if you snore.

Once upon a time I wrote an article about plantar fasciitisWhile I found it absolutely brilliant at the time, I have since realized it’s lacking in the practical application department.  Sure, you can get a great basic understanding of what plantar fasciitis is and why you might suffer from it.   And those things are very helpful and all well and good and a wonderful place to start.  In fact, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here and read the article now, before you continue on with this little ditty.  But then what?  Yeah, it hurts.  No, I can’t run anymore.  Theresa, are you ever going to tell me what to do about it?

The thing is, since any number of things can cause plantar fasciitis, it’s awfully difficult to give generic advice about.  But I’m going to try.  ‘Cause I’m an overachiever.  So, first things first, we need to figure out where the root or roots of your particular plantar fasciitis may be hiding out.  Let’s start with the most obvious.  Have you injured your foot lately?  Stepped on a big pokey rock while barefoot?  Gone a bit overboard with the salsa dancing?  If so, it’s probably best to use the RICE method for a while.  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation; just like you would for a sprained ankle.  And we all know that with ice we’re doing 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off, right?  After 20 minutes of icing something, you start to increase the inflammation, so don’t go pushing this, trying to be an overachiever, too.  After a week or so of the chowing down on your RICE, you can start pushing around in there to see if you’re ready for some soft tissue work.  If it’s still super sore to the touch, keep RICEing ’til it doesn’t.  If you can get a moderately deep foot massage without pain, you’re ready for deep work, if you need it.  If your pain’s gone completely, congrats! you just healed your own plantar fasciitis!  Otherwise, use a tennis ball, standing on it and rolling slowly, slowly over the owie spots to get them to loosen up.  You don’t want to bring back that inflammation, so be careful.

Now, let’s say you have not injured your foot, but you still have plantar fasciits.  This is where it gets tricky.  Naturally, we’re going to be looking along your back line for a super tight spot that could be causing your foot pain.  Starting with your heel and using your fingers (or someone else’s) or a tennis ball dig into your soft tissue (not the bones) slowly working your way up your calf.  Be careful as you get to the knee ’cause there’s a whole bunch of juicy, yet delicate stuff right there in the open at the back of the knee.  In fact, just don’t press into the back of the knee.  It’s not worth the risks.  Then head up your hamstrings, which could take a while as those are some meaty suckers.  Speaking of juicy meat, head north through your glutes, going slow and savory-like.  Next up, low back, heading up to mid, then upper back.  Again, you should be able to manage all this while lying on a tennis ball on the floor, but having a friend do the work for you is extra nice.  If you still haven’t found your “ouchy!” spot, head up (gently!) to the neck, then over the head, all the way to your eyebrows.  If you haven’t found any especially tight spots, you’ve got a catch-22 to deal with.  On the one hand, you’re the only person in the whole country who doesn’t have a single tight spot along their back line.  You should get a prize!  On the other, you still have no idea where your plantar fasciitis is coming from and you’re probably going to require some help from a professional.  Can’t win ‘em all, I suppose.

If, instead, you have found a tight spot, or six, you now know where to focus your efforts.   Loosen up that fascia, nice and slow and easy-like, using that same tennis ball if your hands get tired or you can’t quite reach.  Little bits at a time; like 5 or 10 minutes a day.  Max.  Again, I’m the only overachiever allowed here.  I don’t want you doing more damage than good.  Don’t go pretending you’re a Rolfer.  Besides, when Rolfers work on themselves they tend to get all messed up ’cause they don’t respect their own boundaries and stop when they should.  Better not to go there.  Trust me.

After a week or so working on your trouble areas, you should start to notice a shift in your plantar fasciitis pain.  If not, reevaluate.  Retest your back line and see if maybe your tight spots have moved.  If you feel like you need the help of a professional, give me a call.  You may also have some energetic blockages that need to be cleared and we’ll go into that next.  But if you’re noticing a difference in the right direction, keep up the good work!  Remember not to overdo it, but consistency can go a long way here.

Energetic gunk and plantar fascia.  I don’t have a logical explanation for this, but I do have a story.  My mom called me and told me she had plantar fasciitis and she needed me to fix it.  Lucky for her, I was flying into Chicago the next week and I could take a look.  We did a session.  All went well, but I couldn’t find any outstanding tightness in her back line that pointed to causing this foot pain.  So after the session had a day to settle out I asked how her foot was feeling and she said the pain was still there.  I was heading back to Denver that evening and didn’t have time for another session, nor did I think that would help.  Instead, I asked her to do some energy work on her heel, whenever she could.  I told her to pretend to draw the stuck energy out of the bottom of her heel, as if she were pulling yarn out of a ball.  Just an inch or two at a time, over and over again.  Maybe only 3 minutes at a time, but several times a day.  I told her to do it whenever she sat down.  So she did.  And 2 weeks later, she said it was completely gone.  That was in November and she hasn’t had any problems with it since.  So, hey, why not give it a try?  It’s free, it’s easy, and at least for one person, it worked.

Yes!  I did it!  Practical tips for dealing with plantar fasciitis!  Done.  Bam.  Oh, and one more.  Call your favorite local Rolfer, if you don’t seem to be making much progress on your own.  She might be able to help you out.

Happy Tuesday!  Today I’ve got something super exciting for you.  I’m hearing echos of Video Killed The Radio Star because today, I’ve got a video for ya!  If you’ve ever had back pain or currently have back pain and would like to avoid that in the future, this video is for you.  In it, I demonstrate 6 quick and simple stretches you can do to keep your back feeling flexible, comfortable, and pain free.

Check out the Spinal Six by clicking on the pic below!  I hope you enjoy it.  And feel free to send any questions, comments, or feedback my way!

Spinal Six Video