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Tag Archives: posture

As part two in our sleeping series, let’s talk about pillows.  Everyone wants to know what kind of pillow they should use.  Cervical pillow? Body pillow? Memory foam pillow?  Buckwheat hull pillow?  And how many? One? Two? Three?  Six?  Here’s where I’d like to reiterate that getting a good night’s sleep is more important to me than what sort or how many pillows you’re using.  So if you’re sleeping well and happy, keep doing that.  But ya’ll keep asking for my opinion and now you’re going to get it.

I’m anti-pillow.  I know, this is hard to believe, given that I’m anti-flip-flopanti-high heelanti-shoeanti-arch support, and anti-bra, but it’s true.  I’m anti-pillow.  And I’m pro-hugs, pro-goat, pro-sunshine, pro-hiking, pro-nap, pro-chocolate, and pro-garden, just so you don’t define me by the things I’m against.  But when it comes to pillows, I like to sit on them, but not sleep on them.  Let me tell you why.

I have been one of those lucky people who never really gets headaches.  And by that I mean I get about 2-3 headaches a year and each time I think I’m probably dying because it’s the worst pain ever and how do people go through life getting headaches all the time and I can’t even imagine what a migraine must be like oh my god just kill me now.  And after a few hours it goes away and everything’s fine again.  For my whole life.  Until a few years ago when I got a headache that wouldn’t go away.  It was dull, and low-grade and annoying.  I didn’t want to die or anything, but it was still weird because I so rarely get headaches.  And then I still had it the next day.  And the day after that.  And three weeks later I still had a headache.  And I was exhausted and cranky and no fun at all to be around.  And then I listened to a podcast from Katy Bowman about how she’s always suffered from headaches, but then she stopped using a pillow and now she has way less headaches.  And so I thought, I should give that a try.

Over the next few months, I weaned myself off pillows.  I have to say that I had a distinct advantage here over a lot of people in that I’ve always been a one-pillow kind of girl, and a fairly flat, thin pillow at that (as compared to my husband’s 3-4 pillows a night habit).  So I only had so work down from one, thin pillow to a folded towel, to a less folded towel, to a sweatshirt, to a t-shirt, to nothing.  And now sleeping with a pillow is pretty much not an option for me, unless I’m super sick and fall asleep while reading.  And even then I tend to wake up after 10-20 minutes and toss the pillow aside.

What I noticed in the weaning process and since then is that my neck had to become more flexible to accommodate my new way of sleeping.  I sleep in all the positions and initially, sleeping on my side with less of a pillow was challenging.  But now, my neck is flexible enough that side sleeping is comfortable and in fact, is where I get my best neck stretching done, reducing the tension in my head.  Oh, and I’m back to not getting headaches almost ever.  Which is my preferred way to go through life.

So, to answer your question, in my opinion, no pillow is the best pillow.

I came to Rolfing out of curiosity. I didn’t really know much about it before my first session. I’d heard it was deeper than the deepest massage I’d ever had. I’d heard there was something about 10 sessions. I’d probably heard something about realignment or restructuring, but truth be told, maybe not. And that was about it. So, I didn’t have many expectations for going through the 10-series the first time. I didn’t know what was possible to hope for. And honestly, I thought I was doing pretty well. My body felt good, for the most part. I saw my chiropractor about once a week. I hiked and danced and ate reasonably well and got plenty of sleep and had a fairly low-stress life. I didn’t have any major complaints. I just wanted to learn about what Rolfing was.

However. I had no idea how much better my life could be after getting Rolfed. And here I am, almost 9 years after I first tried Rolfing and, looking back, there is so much I gained besides knowledge about Rolfing. So I made a listical. If I get in the habit of writing listicals, please stop reading this blog.

In no particular order, here is my personal list of 10 unexpected results of being Rolfed:
1. I can stand for hours at a time without pain. Once upon a time, I was a freshman at CU, and, as was customary at the time, I camped out with my friends to get season tickets to the football games. It’s not my thing now, but I had a blast going to those games as a freshman, with one small caveat: it killed my back. In the student section, we stood for the entire game and I remember watching the game clock desperately wishing for half-time when I could sit down without being taunted. And then again for the end of the game. My back and shoulders would ache after the first 20-30 minutes and so the remaining 2-3 hours would be torture. A few years ago, a friend of mine invited me to a CU football game and for the fun of it, we stood in the student section. It wasn’t until the game was over that I realized I was perfectly comfortable. I had stood for at a tailgating party before the game and I was happy to continue standing at the continuation of the same party for another hour after the game. I hadn’t even needed to sit down during half time.
2. I no longer see my chiropractor. Which is a shame on an emotional level, because I really like my chiropractor as a person. I just don’t feel like I need a chiropractor anymore. There was a time in my life when I was getting adjusted 4-6 times a week. I had been getting adjustments since I first “threw my back out” at 17 years old. I’ve worked for 3 different chiropractors. I love chiropractors. But I don’t need one anymore, because I don’t “throw my back out” anymore. And my ribs stay where they belong most of the time. And if anything’s out of place, I go see my Rolfer, not my chiropractor. So, in the last 6 or 7 years, I think I’ve been adjusted less than 10 times.
3. I have better posture. This one, I should’ve seen coming, as improved posture is one of the main goals of Rolfing. But again, I didn’t know much about Rolfing and I didn’t know that was one of the goals. Having been told to “sit up straight” and “stop slouching” my whole life, I now feel like I have pretty decent posture. It’s not perfect or anything. But I can look back on pictures of myself from high school and college and see my head 6 inches in front of my shoulders. Whereas in more recent pictures of me, my head is actually over my shoulders. And my shoulders aren’t rounded forward as much. Without even trying, or my mom nagging me.
4. I stopped spraining my ankles. I used to sprain one ankle or the other a couple times a year. I mean, I’ve had 2 or 3 ankles braces as well as two ace bandages in my medicine kit since the beginning of college, when I “borrowed” them from my parents’ medicine kit. A few months ago as I was konmari-ing my bathroom, I realized, I haven’t used those ankle braces since I first got Rolfed. And into the garbage they went. To be fair, this is not just because of Rolfing, though I attribute it largely to Rolfing. But it’s also because I’ve transitioned to minimal footwear and spending as much time barefoot as possible. I’ve helped my ankles get stronger and more adaptable through regular use in challenging situations as opposed to trying to always keep them protected in supportive, inflexible shoes and boots. But still, Rolfing started me on that journey and thinking differently about my feet and ankles.
5. I’m a runner. A trail ultra runner to be exact (I run longer than marathon-length races on trails, not roads). I used to hate running. Hate. Dread. Despise. And again, I can’t give Rolfing full credit for my current love of running. But as a combination of a few of the above surprises (better posture, stronger ankles), running is a lot more comfortable than it used to be. And as a direct result of Rolfing, I can breathe so much better now than I used to be able to, which is somewhat important when you’re running.
6. I can kneel and squat without pain. I had knee surgery in 2007 for a torn lateral meniscus and after months of physical therapy, I was frustrated that I still couldn’t kneel or do a full squat without pain. When I asked my doctor and my physical therapist about this, they both responded with some version of “You just shouldn’t do those things anymore. And while you’re at it, you shouldn’t run.” I was 26 and being told that I might never be able to kneel or squat again was beyond maddening. Since being Rolfed, I often forget which knee I had surgery on. I have no problems whatsoever with kneeling or squatting. And see above about the running.
7. My eyesight has improved. This is such a weird one. But it’s undeniable. I first got contacts as a freshman in high school and every check-up with the eye doctor since then, my prescription got a little stronger. Until I got Rolfed. Now, they downgrade my prescription with every check-up. At this rate, I won’t need glasses or contacts by the time I’m 45.
8. I have more confidence. I feel like getting Rolfed helped me understand who I am better. And helped me express that core, true self more clearly. With less apologizing, less accommodating of other people’s expectations for who I should be. I just am. This is me. And knowing, in a deep way, with a felt-sense, that who I am is just fine. Who I am is great, actually. I had no idea bodywork could bring me confidence. But it did. And with this confidence, I’ve been better able to navigate the world in a manner that’s congruent with my values. Having a better understanding of who I am helps me make choices that support me.
9. Along the same lines, I have better relationships. Maybe this is just a side-effect of getting older, and of having more practice at being in relationships, or of having more confidence. But I really think that Rolfing, in helping be have a better understanding of who I am, helped me relate to other people differently and in a clearer way. I think it has also helped me be a better communicator and if there’s one way to improve a relationship, it’s better communication.
10. I have a career. I was not supposed to have a career. I got bored after 6 months at any job I ever had. The longest I ever held a job continuously was 14 months. I just couldn’t imagine myself doing the same thing every day for 40 years. I couldn’t really imagine myself doing the same thing every day for 3 years. So a career was out of the question. Until Rolfing. Because with Rolfing, I never do the same thing every day. I’ve never done the same session twice. Even if I do the same session of the 10-series 4 times in one day, that session looks completely different with each client. So I don’t get bored. And I don’t even feel like I have a job. And please don’t ever make me retire. I love this work so, so, so much.

So there’s my list of 10 unexpected benefits of Rolfing. What about you all out there? Any surprise results since you’ve been Rolfed? I’d love to hear about them!

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.

 

Truth be told, I hated Session Three.  Both the first time I received it and while learning about it in Rolfing school, I hated it.  Like, with a fiery passion, I hated it.  Not that it was Session Three’s fault.  It was my armpits’ fault.  But the hatred toward Three was real and deep.  Allow me to explain.  

I have the most ticklish armpits of anyone I’ve ever known.  And I’ve known a lot of people.  And just in case you’re one of those people who isn’t ticklish and thinks it soooo funny to tickle people, it’s not.  Just because I’m laughing does NOT mean it’s fun for me.  Having my armpits tickled is (thankfully) the closest I’ve come to being tortured.  And getting back on topic, Session Three deals with the armpits.  Or axillary region if you want to get technical.

I have been told that Session Three deals with a lot more than just the armpits.  It deals with the sides of the body, all the way from the head to the toes, with the goal of making more space from front to back.  My teacher said, we’re making the Oreo into a Double Stuf Oreo.  But all I could focus on was the armpit, and I really like Oreos.  That first time I went through the 10-series, I had no idea what was coming and I probably still owe apologies to the 7 other people getting their Session Threes at the same time in that classroom.  The shrieks and yelps that came from me were certainly not health inducing for the others made to listen.  And my poor Rolfer probably just wanted to pin me to the table to get me to stop squirming and jumping away from her. 

It turns out that the tickle reflex is mostly protective.  At least, that’s what I’ve found with my clients and myself.  Just beneath the tickle is the pain, if you can get there.  So while my worst nightmare was my Rolfer working on my armpits, what I needed most was also my Rolfer working on my armpits.  Go figure.  But with every Session Three I’ve received, the process has gotten easier.  I’ve since made my peace with Session Three.  And this time through, I actually loved it.  I didn’t think that was even an option!

While I had my usual dread regarding receiving Session Three this time, I also knew that I could really use some armpit work, specifically on my left side.  I’d noticed in the last few weeks that my left shoulder was slowly but steadily getting less mobile.  I couldn’t remember injuring it, but my range of motion was shrinking to the point where I could no longer reach my arm up overhead or behind me.  I was starting to feel like the Tin Man searching for his oil can.  By the time Dave was done working with me (only one little yelp per armpit!), I was ready to get back to climbing trees and swinging on the monkey bars.  Hooray!  And after the session I had the deepest sense of vertical I can remember ever having.  As if every cell in my whole body was suddenly organized around a plumb line dropped from the center of my head.  It was super cool.  

Many people who are not me find Session Three to be an incredible session, even on their first go around, as we really start to get into the structures that aren’t addressed in a typical massage.  One of the assessment tools, looking at a profile view, is something you can do yourself with a full-length mirror.  Stand with one of your profiles to the mirror, preferably wearing clothing that shows your body pretty well.  See that ankle bone sticking out?  Draw a vertical line up through that bone.  Is the center of your knee on that line?  What about your hip joint?  What about your shoulder?  And your ear?  Which ones are in front of the line?  Which ones are behind?  That’s the stuff we’re addressing in Session Three.  (If you’re perfectly lined up, I want to see it.  And we can probably just call you done with no need to finish the 10-series.)  During Session Three, the client is lying on one side or the other for most of it and we get to work (in addition to the armpit) on the rib cage, the relationship of the shoulder to the neck, the ribs, and the arm, and the pelvic girdle and how it relates to the ribs and the leg.  There’s a big focus on the tiniest of our ribs, number 12, and the quadratus lumborum, a nifty muscle in the low back.  In Session Three, we’re wrapping up the “sleeve” or “superficial” sessions and prepping the body for the “core” sessions to come.  When I could finally stop focusing on the horrors of the armpit work and see the session as a whole, I realized that Session Three might be the coolest session of the whole 10-series, in that it does a great job of addressing the whole body, from a really interesting position (side-lying), something that I can’t find a comparison to in any other session.  Neato.

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!