Skip navigation

Tag Archives: flip

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.

And as we talked about two weeks ago, shortening your back line is no good.

Remember that conversation about plantar fasciitis?  Remember how your fascia from the bottoms of your toes is connected all the way to the fascia covering the top of your head?  That line of fascia, all along your back, is called your back line.  Let’s take that information and think about flip-flops for a minute.  ‘Tis the season of intense heat, trips to the pool, and picnics in the park and I see flip-flops everywhere I go.

When you wear flip-flops, your toes have to hang on tight, lest one (or both) go flying.  And once in a while, for a few minutes here or there, that’s just fine.  If, on the other hand, you spend all summer with your toes hanging on for dear life, well, the fascia in your feet will tighten up.  As will the fascia in your calves, and your hamstrings, and your glutes, and your low back, and your mid-back, and your upper back, and your neck, and the back and top of your head.  Yuck.  That’s a lot of tight fascia. Like, your whole back line.

Which is not exactly what we’re looking for.  In fact, we’re looking for quite the opposite.  What we really want is a bunch of loosey-goosey fascia that’s all fluid and supple-like.  Slippery, slidey, juicy fascia.  Not dry, stiff, stressed-out fascia.

If you want to feel the difference flip-flops can make, try this exercise:  Go for a small walk, barefoot.  Walk around your house a few times, or a park, or the block.  Feel your whole foot contact the ground, from the initial contact of your heel, to the final push-off with your toes.  Let your toes spread out and gather all the information they can with each step.  Notice how your legs swing and how your hips feel.  Notice your arms swinging, and your back and shoulders moving as you walk.  Notice your breathing and how easy it is.  Get a sense of how it feels to walk barefoot.  Now, put your flip-flops on and go for the same short walk.  How do your toes feel?  Can you gather the same amount of information with your feet?  How do your hips and arms feel?  Any change in your back or posture?  Any change in your breath?  Which feel more ‘right,’ barefoot or flip-flops?  And if you can feel a difference after a 5 minute walk, how do you think your body feels by the end of the summer?

I know flip-flops are convenient.  And really, what else are you going to wear to the beach?  But if you can wear them as little as possible, your body will thank you for it down the road.