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Tag Archives: knee

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.

 

Hey there, SassyPants, I’ve got a question for you.  When you have an injury, or a painful spot on your body, how do you talk to it?  When you sprain your knee, does the conversation go a little something like this?  “Stupid freakin’ knee.  Always gotta be hurting and twisting all funny-like.  Why can’t you just work right like other people’s knees?  Why can’t you just do what you’re supposed to?  Man, how long are you going to take to heal?  Does this mean I can’t play basketball on Wednesday?  Great.  Thanks a lot, you stupid knee, you.”

Or does the conversation go more like this?  “Oh, hey knee.  Well, you certainly got my attention.  Is there something you need?  Something you’ve been trying to tell me lately, that I haven’t been listening to?  Do you just want some time off?  Take a little break?  That’s cool.  You got it.  I love you, knee.  Let me know if you want some ice or gentle stretching or anything, okay?  You’re awesome.  Thanks for everything you do for me.  I know we’ll get through this just fine.”

I know my first instinct is to go the first route and be angry when I get hurt, or when something hurts.  But I think it makes a difference when we go the second route and send love towards the pain instead.  I can’t prove that it speeds the healing up.  But I know that whatever you think about all day trains your brain to keep thinking about that same thing.  It’s like when hundreds of people take the same shortcut across the grass in the park and pretty soon there’s a path worn through it.  From then on, it’s easier to take that path than to cut a new one through the grass, so you probably walk the path.  Your brain works like that.

If you spend your day thinking “my knee is so stupid and weak,” then your brain starts to believe your knee is stupid and weak.  So your knee behaves as if it’s stupid and weak.  But if you spend your day thinking “my knee is so healthy and strong,” then your brain starts to believe your knee is healthy and strong.  So your knee behaves as if it’s healthy and strong.  I don’t know about you, but “healthy and strong” sounds better than “stupid and weak” to me.

Now, I try to send my injuries love instead of hate.  Compassion and patience instead of frustration and anger.  So, SassyPants, what’s ailing you these days?  Wanna try sending it some love?