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Session Seven is such a weird session. If anyone’s heard about the Rolfing 10-series from a friend, they’ve probably heard about Session Seven. This is THE ONE. The session where we work inside the mouth and INSIDE THE NOSE. Sure, it’s weird and not super comfortable to have someone else’s fingers inside your mouth, but we’ve all been to the dentist a time or two and gotten over that. As the joke goes: you can pick your friends; you can pick your nose; but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. Unless you’re a Rolfer. And Session Seven is where I get to pick other people’s noses. Well, not pick, exactly, but stick my pinky fingers in them. Close enough.

I should probably back up a bit. The goal of Session Seven is not simply to be a weirdo for the sake of being a weirdo, or for a great answer to the “what did you do today?” question. It’s not just to make my clients squirm, either. The goal of Session Seven is to differentiate your neurocranium from your viscerocranium. Your head (and my head, and everyone’s head) can be divided into two parts, based on the work that each half does. The back and top of your head houses your brain and therefore is in charge of your nervous system. Hence the title of neurocranium. The front and bottom of your head is connected to and works with your organs of digestion, or your viscera. Hence your viscerocranium. Your mouth, like it or not, is connected to your anus and everything along the way. Tension in your tongue can affect your small intestine. And the goal of Session Seven is to relieve excess tension in the whole neck and cranium and to balance your head on your body. We’re working here with the muscles of expression, be it joy, grief, or pride as well as perception, through sight, sound, smell, and taste. In the mouth, we’re working with muscles related to eating or not eating, and therefore all of our issues around food. And there are often physically traumatic experiences related to dental or orthodontic work, rhinoplasty, or a good old fashioned punch to the face to work on as well. Chronic sinus infections, migraines and headaches, and issues with vision are just a few of the reasons you might be excited for Session Seven, even if the thought of someone else’s fingers in your nose wigs you out.

Personally, I was excited to receive Session Seven because leading up to it, I’d had some issues with my first and second rib on the right side popping out of place. I’ve had wiggly ribs since I first dislocated one when I was 17. Thanks to lots and lots of Rolfing, I now experience rib problems once or twice a year instead of every day, like I used to, but it’s my thing. Some people get headaches or throw their backs out or have knee problems. I dislocate my ribs. And so, probably due to stress or some other such nonsense, I’d been having some discomfort with those top two ribs, the little jerks. Along with that, I’d been noticing that I’d been clenching my jaw at night, waking up with a sore face. Lastly, I’d been waking myself up by snorting and snoring, which is not my usual habit. Clearly, something, or several things, in the top portion of my body were out of alignment, and I was definitely ready for Session Seven.

A note about Session Seven: while yes, there is a portion of the session where, traditionally, your Rolfer will stick their fingers in your nose, it is a very small portion of the session. In a 90 minute session, it’s usually less than 2 minutes. And another 2-3 minutes of work inside the mouth. Almost all of the time during Session Seven is spent preparing all the surrounding tissues for that work. So, there’s work around the whole rib cage. There’s work through the shoulders and sometimes down the arms and into the hands. There’s a lot of neck work, as well as work on your skull and face. One of my favorite anatomy terms comes into play in this session as we try to loosen the galea aponeurotica, which is like a swim cap of fascia. Session Seven is the fascial face-lift session.

I’m not going to lie, though. Having Dave’s fingers in my nose wasn’t awesome. It wasn’t terrible, either. It was just uncomfortable. And it was over in less than two minutes, so I really couldn’t complain. Especially because when the session was over, I felt so good. It felt like there was more space in my head and my jaw felt a lot looser. I stood up and felt taller and more balanced top to bottom. Like there was a force, exactly opposite to gravity, that was pulling me up as gravity pulled me down. I also noticed that I was more aware of my periphery, as if someone had pulled a big hood off my head and suddenly I could see to the sides again. My chest felt lifted and open while my feet, oddly enough, felt grounded and strong and stable. And while I got the hiccups three times that afternoon, I haven’t had that jaw tension, or rib problems, or snoring issues since.

And if you’re still worried about Session Seven, you don’t have to get the work inside your nose or mouth. There are actually several reasons your Rolfer might choose not to work inside your mouth or nose. One of those perfectly legitimate reasons is that you simply don’t want them to. So, not to worry.

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.

 

You guys.  I can’t tell you how excited I was for Session Four.  Actually, how excited I was for Sessions Three, Four, Five, and Six.  I mean, there was the armpit dread with Session Three, it’s true.  And I usually fall asleep through most of Session Six (even though it’s super important!).  But about 12 years ago I slipped on some icy stairs and fell HARD on my butt and ever since then I’ve had this “hip thing.”  My sacroiliac joint pops really loudly on the left side.  And sometimes I can’t get it to pop and it just aches for days.  And my pelvis has just felt “off” since then; not quite balanced; not moving as freely as I think it should.  And when I’m tired or stressed, I can feel myself collapsing around my left side, like I’m weaker over there.  So I really thought this time through the series might be the time I finally got to let go of all that.  This might be my chance to resolve my “hip thing.”  And sessions Three, Four, Five, and Six are the sessions that most directly address the fascia of the hip.  Sessions Four and Five, addressing the core structures of the pelvis, in particular, were the ones I was super duper hopeful about.

Session Four, being the first of the “core” sessions is where we start to ask “Who Am I?” and we begin looking at evoking the authentic self.  Which is the real meat and potatoes of what I love about Rolfing.  The good stuff.  Obviously the good stuff is to be found in the pelvis.  Ida Rolf said the difference between massage therapists and Rolfers was that Rolfers had the courage to go for the pelvic floor.  And Session Four is where we do that.  Session Four, just like in Session Three, has the client lying on their side.  But this time, instead of working on the top leg (or the right leg if you’re lying on your left side and vice versa), we’re working on the bottom leg; the one on the table.  The main territory of Session Four is the inner line of the leg, from the inside arch of the foot all the way up to the ischial tuberosity (or sit/sits/sitting bones) and the pubic bone.  Hello, nice to meet you.  We don’t actually work directly on the pelvic floor.  But we work on a lot of fascia that goes up into and through and around the pelvic floor.  The goal is to “evoke balanced span in the pelvic floor.”  Which is important if you want to avoid things like pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence and pain with pregnancy and low back pain and sciatica.  Other Session Four goals include evoking increased horizontality at the arches, the ankles, and the knees; differentiating the lower leg relative to the upper leg and the upper leg relative to the hip; and freeing the legs from the pelvis.  We’re trying to bring the support we started to create in Session Two up through the pelvis as well as further clarifying the definition between core and sleeve.  One of the diagnostics we use that you can try at home is simply to stand in your natural stance (probably in your underwear) facing a mirror.  Look at your kneecaps.  If your kneecaps were headlights, where would they be pointing?  If you need a little more help, do a shallow knee-bend.  Do your knees come straight forward, or do they point out to the sides or in towards the middle?  Kneecaps pointing forward (and ankles, and toes, while we’re at it) is the goal.  Imagine if the wheels on your car were aligned like your knees.  Would you take it on the highway?

So, like I said, I was super psyched to receive Session Four.  And I was not disappointed.  Just moments into the session, I experienced some of that crazy Rolfing magic, where Dave was working on my lower left leg and all of a sudden, I felt my right shoulder open up.  Like there was more space and flexibility in there.  And he was about as far away from my right shoulder as he could be!  Soon after that, I found my back straightening and my head pulling back, because that felt better than being hunched.  I hadn’t even realized I’d been hunched.  Magic, I tell you.  After doing the standard Rolfing stuff, Dave did some straight SourcePoint, setting the Guardian Points and doing an Extraction.  I felt my pelvis relax and my chest open.  I noticed my left nostril open, my left ear release, and my left jaw relax.  What?  I’m still awed by how this stuff works.  I don’t get it, but I sure do appreciate it.  When the session ended, I stood up and felt very solid, tall, strong, and balanced.  It felt like everything was in the right place.  And I looked down to see that my right foot, which loves to turn out to the side, was pointing straight ahead like a champ.

My hips (both of them) felt great there in the Rolfing room, but I have to admit, I still noticed some inflexibility and some imbalance in them over the next week.  And I still had the popping now and again.  But I have high hopes for Sessions Five and Six.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see where this 10-series takes me!

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.

Guess what I did this past weekend.  You may have gone skiing.  Or snuggled up in front of a fire with a good book and a cup of tea.  Or done keg stands and sung karaoke.  And while those would have been lovely activities for this weekend, what I did was cooler.  I promise.  Well, at least from my point of view; but I’m kinda weird.  I went to a four-day workshop on visceral manipulation!  That’s right.  Four full days of moving abdominal organs around.  Awesome.  Just like I said.  (Though maybe not cooler than keg stands and karaoke, I’ll admit.)

I spent four days with 21 other students ranging from nurses and physical therapists to Rolfers, acupuncturists, and massage therapists.  We drew our livers, stomachs, sphincters and secums (with eyeliner) so we could see where they are and just how huge our livers are.  5.5 pounds for the average liver, people.  Ginormous!  We learned all about listening to those organs (and others) to see if they are functioning optimally.  We learned to release restrictions and to reset normal motility to encourage ideal functioning.  We learned how to drain the gallbladder!  What?!?  Craziness.

More importantly, we learned why we might want to do all of those things.  I mean, obviously, you want your digestive system to work well.  And obviously having a restriction in your small intestine might be problematic.  But did you realize that a restriction in your liver can cause right shoulder pain?  Did you know that a restriction in the ligaments supporting your stomach can cause your neck to hurt on the left side?  Or that appendix or right ovary irritation can make your right knee unstable?  A restricted small intestine can exacerbate scoliosis.  Who knew?!?  Certainly not me.  Not until this past weekend, at least.

But now?  Now I know.  And I’m so excited to share these techniques (as it’s appropriate) with you!  So get ready to have your viscera manipulated.  I promise it won’t hurt.

 

Announcements:

Demo Day is Friday March 15th.  $10 for a 30-minute teaser session.  New clients only.

YIAW (Yoga Instructor Appreciation Week) is March 11th-17th.  $60 sessions for any yoga teachers.  Spread the word!

Alright.  It’s all about me today.  Sorry.  But not sorry, ’cause it could be all about you, too.

Here’s the deal.  I’m looking to update some of my marketing and promotion materials.  Get some higher quality videos up on my website and get some before and after pics.  You know what I’m talking about.  Here’s where you come in.  I’m looking for two people to be models for said materials.  I need one person to go through the standard Rolfing 10-series, and one person to go through a less-traditional non-formulaic 5-series.

This is what you get for your time and willingness:
Better posture (Yay!)
Less pain (Whoo-hoo!)
33% off your sessions so they’re $80 instead of $120.  That’s a savings of $200 for 5 sessions or $400 for the 10-series.
My best work, ’cause I’ll be showing off for the camera
To be famous (at least for a moment on my website and in my promo materials)

This is what would be required of you:
You must commit to all 5 or 10 sessions, at my Denver office, to be completed in a minimum of 5 or 10 weeks respectively and a maximum of 6 months.
You must be able to start your 5 or 10 series by February 5th.
If you’re interested in the 10-series, you can’t have had a 10-series in the last 5 years.
You must be willing to be photographed in your underwear (or short shorts and a sports bra/tank top).
You must be willing to have those photographs used on the interwebs and in my promotional materials.
You must be willing to be video taped during all 5 sessions or the whole 10-series.
You must have the same willingness for those videos to be used on the intertubes and in promo stuff.

So, what do you say?  Are you interested, SassyPants?  Or do you know someone who might be interested?  Shoot me an email with why you’re interested and when you would be willing to get started we’ll go from there.  If you have any questions, let me know those, too and I’ll get back to you asap.

Yay!  Videos!  Yay 10-series!  Yay 5-series!  Yay photos!  Yay!

Housekeeping stuff:

Demo Day is tomorrow (January 16th) and there are only a couple spots left if you or someone else wants to give this Rolfing/SourcePoint thing a try.  $10 for 30 minutes.  New clients only.

I’m now open on Fridays in Denver.  How exciting!

 

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?

My dad’s parents were born in the same small town in northern Italy and until the day she died, my nonna would swear at my nonno in that Italian dialect and speak to us grandkids in strongly accented English.  I grew up knowing that “Santa Maria!” was the appropriate way to respond to spilled milk or outrageous prices and that “Ciao, bella bambina!” meant I was about to get my cheeks pinched.  I also grew up hearing “Con chi la ghettu?” quite a bit from not only my grandparents, but my mother, who loves this phrase more than all the others she’s learned over the years married to an Italian.

“Con chi la ghettu” isn’t standard Italian.  It’s all-the-way dialect, so it’s not something I learned in years of Italian classes, nor something I heard studying in Italy, as I wasn’t in that region.  I actually had to call my dad and ask how he thought it might be spelled, since my Italian dictionary has nothing resembling the word “ghettu.”  But the meaning was always apparent in my household: who are you mad at?  Literally, I think it means “with whom do you have it?”  But it was always used to ask the rhetorical question of who was to blame.  Mad that you got a “C” on that paper?  Con chi la ghettu?  Upset that you burned the pancakes?  Con chi la ghettu?  Pissed about the rain today because now you can’t mow the lawn and you knew you should’ve done it yesterday?  Con chi la ghettu?

And when I sat down to write this post, immediately, the phrase “con chi la ghettu” came to mind.  Because here’s the thing (in the words of Danielle LaPorte):

Everything that’s on your plate is there because you said “yes” to it.

Consciously or unconsciously, out-loud or in your head, you agreed to today.  You may have felt you had no choice, but there’s always a choice.  And so, if you’re not thrilled with how things are going, con chi la ghettu?

I was so thoroughly reminded of this on Friday, as I sat in agony on my couch, with every movement bringing more agony.  See, my sacrum was in open revolt.  Sitting hurt; as did standing; as did lying down.  And anything that made any part of my spine move, say like walking, or sneezing, or well, anything, made it hurt worse.  It was a pretty wild way to spend a Friday, let me tell you!

Also, it was my choice.  See, I’ve got this weird hip-popping thing ’cause my right sacro-illiac joint is stuck, since I fell down some icy stairs 8 years ago.  It’s not that big of a deal.  It’s loud and mildly uncomfortable, but on the grand scale, it’s really nothing.  But when I found myself in a yoga class Monday morning with only one other student, and the teacher asked if there was anything we wanted to focus on, I remembered that sticky sacrum joint and I said “I’d like some hip openers, please.”  And open those hips we did.  Which was great at the time.  Tuesday was a little sore; Wednesday, moderately uncomfortable; and Thursday night was awful.  But nothing compared to Friday.  I felt like I’d just fallen down those stairs the day before.  Groaning like an old man with every movement.  Wincing as I sat down.  Shuffling through the house at a snail’s pace.

And I thought to myself, “con chi la ghettu, Theresa?”  I had literally, out-loud, asked to open that hip up.  Unsurprisingly, there was some trauma stored in there.  At the time I fell, I was at a really low point in my life and there was a lot of anger, and shame, and hurt, and loneliness around that slip on the ice, not to mention the postcard-sized bruise on my butt for 3 weeks.  When I asked to open it up, the universe said, “Sure, if that’s what you want.  Have fun with that.”  So I tried to do my best and just be present in the process.  I looked at the anger and shame and hurt and loneliness that I had been feeling and welcomed each emotion, then reminded myself of how far I’ve come.  That heartbreak didn’t end me.  That loneliness didn’t kill me.  That shame was self inflicted and undeserved.  That anger was justified and has since been transformed into love.  And now this pain wasn’t going to end me either.  I could take a day or two to move slowly.  I could get some bodywork for myself.  I could practice energetic clearing on my own traumas.  No biggie.

So now I want to open it up to you.  What’s on your plate right now that you’re not thrilled with?  Can you figure out when you said yes to it?  Or how you continue to say yes to it with your choices every day?  Is that a choice you still want to make?  Ultimately, con chi la ghettu?  Pain isn’t the enemy.  But knowing why you’ve allowed that pain into your life can go a long way towards healing.