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It may be hard to believe, but sometimes I forget about Rolfing and how helpful it can be.  It’s especially hard to believe considering I am a Rolfer.  This is what I do all day, every day.  But you see, I have this weird thing in my brain about Rolfing: I think it can help just about everything, for just about everyone.  Except me.

Someone tells me how their knee’s been bothering them; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Someone tells me how they feel out of whack and off kilter; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Someone tells me how they get headaches a few times a week; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Someone’s freaking out about work and their house and their boyfriend; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Then, I break my toe, sprain my shoulder, get emotionally wrapped up into a giant-multi-colored-extra-knotted ball of string and I think to myself, “Whatever am I going to do?!?  Who could possibly help me with this!?!”

And so, last week, I found myself with said broken toe (my first broken bone!), and sprained shoulder (thanks for nothing, yoga), and emotional ball of knots and I finally (finally!!!) remembered that Rolfing might be able to help me.  So, I called up my bud, Dave Sheldon, a Rolfer in Boulder, and asked if he could fit me in.  He said yes and I walked into his office with a laundry list of complaints.  It was one of those sessions (do you do this?) where you go in, planning to mention just those two or three things that are really bothering you, and by the time you’re five minutes into the session you’ve listed 23 things instead.  “AND my roommate’s dog is driving me crazy!  AND my sister’s coming to visit next week and it’s stressing me out!  AND my sacrum feels all wonky!  AND I’ve been wearing flip-flops for two weeks now and I’m sick of it, but I can’t wear any other shoes without my toe hurting and I can’t exactly walk into the bank barefoot, can I?”  And so on, and so forth.

Then, the funniest (and at the same time the most natural) thing happened.  I got on the table and closed my eyes, and Dave started working.  All of a sudden, it felt like all these layers were falling away from me.  Like I’d been wearing a suit made out of 23 layers of tissue paper.  So light that I hadn’t thought to take it off, but enough that it was affecting the way I looked and that rustling noise was really getting to me.  And one by one, Dave gently cut each layer away, and let it fall to the ground.  Some layers were wrapped tightly around my foot, keeping it stable, but I didn’t need those anymore.  Some of them were wrapped all around my shoulder, all the way down to my wrist and around my ribs and spine.  I didn’t need those anymore either.  Most of them were wrapped around my heart, or my solar plexus, or my throat, or my head, getting me caught up in unnecessary worry and fear and distress.  I didn’t need a single one of those tissue paper layers.

And I realized there, on the table, why it was that I fell in love with Rolfing in the first place.  Dave wasn’t taking away anything that I needed, or anything that was inherently me.  And he wasn’t adding anything to me, either.  He was simply uncovering the real me, and giving me permission for that to be enough.  I didn’t need any of this tissue paper to make me stable or pretty or to cover anything up.  I was perfectly me, without all that other stuff.  He was reminding my shoulder and my toe that they already knew how to recover from an injury quickly and with ease.  He was reminding me that worry and fear were good intuitive signals to listen to, but there was no reason to walk around spinning in them all day.  And the greatest part was that he did all that without saying a word.  He worked with the physical tissues and the energetic patterns and gently unwound them until there I was, just the way I should be.  And when I came from that centered, more-me sort of place, I realized, my sister and I had shared a house (and usually a bedroom) for 16 1/2 years.  We could probably figure out 3 days just fine.  Oh, and my sacrum felt better, too.

It was funny.  When I walked into his office, I didn’t feel like someone other than myself.  But when I walked out…the change was drastic and clear.  I’d walked in like a papier-mâché doll of myself and walked out as me.  And that right there is some good shit, yo.

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.