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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!

Hey SassyPants, I know it’s been a while.  I’m sorry about that.  I’ve just been so quiet and introspective this winter, ya know?  But it’s starting to feel like spring, and I think it’s time for me to speak up again.  Today, I want to talk about getting shit done.

Here’s the thing.  I love the drama (and the minimal commitment) of drastic changes.  Phrases like “go big or go home” and “I’m all in” and “just do it” are my kind of phrases.  I have been enthralled with cleanses for a long time now.  The Master Cleanse; the apple juice and olive oil Liver and Gall Bladder Cleanse; the Crazy, Sexy, Diet adventure cleanse…you name it, I’ve tried it.  They seem so much more manageable than eating healthy, good food every day.  I’d rather do 200 squats a day for 5 days than something long term like 20 squats a day for the rest of my life.  But I’m learning a lot about the other end of the spectrum lately, and it turns out, I kinda like the slow and steady route, too.

See, I’m training for a marathon, for the first time in my life.  All you super-runners out there, I don’t want to hear about how many marathons you’ve already run.  Really.  This is a big deal for me.  Before I started this training program, the farthest I had run was 7 miles and that was back in college and it was miserable every step of the way and I probably walked at least half a mile in there somewhere.  Two weeks ago, I ran 19 miles.  And it was pretty fun.  I was definitely smiling through most of it.  Weird.

I started training for my first half marathon back in August, so you can see what a long and slow journey this has been.  When I drew up the schedule to train for this marathon (which is in April) in the middle of November, it looked so huge and daunting.  Months and months of running.  But the thing is, every day, I just have to do what the little box for that day tells me to do.  Sometimes I have to run 3 miles.  Sometimes 8.  Sometimes I don’t have to run at all! And sometimes, I have to run further than I’ve ever run before.  But magically (or, exactly how all advice ever given on exercise would predict) things got easier with practice.  Who knew?  And while those first 3-mile runs in August were awful and hard and full of thoughts that I wasn’t going to make it, I now find myself looking forward to the challenge of those longest runs.  20 miles this week and I’m pretty excited.  I know I can do it, which in and of itself is bizarre.  One of my colleagues, Meg Maurer, always says, “You have to eat the elephant one bite at a time,” and I think she might be right.

I’ve watched myself start to apply this lesson in other areas of my life.  Cleaning the whole house once a week (or worse, once a month) is exhausting and overwhelming and daunting.  But if I draw up a schedule and just give myself 1-2 chores every day, the bathroom stays cleaner, the fish tank gets scrubbed, and the kitchen floor gets mopped on a regular basis.  I never have to devote a whole day to cleaning, and the fish never have to suffer through a green tank.  Taking a dance class, I learned that practicing the new moves for 10 minutes a night every night was way more effective than an hour once a week.  Slow and steady wins the race.  I feel like I’ve heard this before, maybe once or twice, but it never really clicked until now.  Better late than never, I suppose.  Also, let’s see how many clichés I can use in one blog post, eh?

So, yeah, I’ll probably still do a cleanse every spring.  I still think there are times for taking giant leaps of faith and making drastic, sweeping changes.  But I can finally see how taking itty bitty baby steps everyday can add up to giant accomplishments you never thought were possible.  Like running for over 4 hours.  I hope we can all continue to learn new tricks as we age.

On the bulletin board today:

Want to host a Demo Day at your workplace?
A few of you have mentioned an interest in introducing me to your coworkers.  I love this plan!  If you want me to come to your workplace and do a little intro talk and/or set up to do some demonstration sessions, just let me know.  We can figure out what will work best given your workplace situation and go from there!

Meditation/Bodywork Retreat
The Posture of Meditation:  Breathing Through the Whole Body in Crestone, CO.  This event was amazing last year!  It’s being offered again this spring, and once again, I’ll be one of the Rolfers on the bodywork team.  The dates are May 30th through June 8th, and registration is currently open.  There is a cap at 40 participants, and it’s expected to fill rather quickly.  More information can be found here: http://www.dharmaocean.org/events and I would be happy to answer any questions about last year’s event, if you’re at all interested.

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.

Greetings from muggy Chicago!  I’m here in my hometown spending some time with family and seeing a few clients, but mostly just sweating, despite the fact that everyone here keeps telling me it’s “so much better than it was!”  My sister and her boyfriend are fitness nuts and just went for a bike ride and it got me to thinking about exercise.  Clients ask me all the time, what exercise do you do?  What’s the best exercise?

I think the best exercise is the exercise you enjoy doing.  Period.  Sure, swimming is low-impact, but I’m a sneezy mess for days after I spend time in the pool and chlorine dries my skin out.  I love weight training and it builds bone density, but a lot of people find it boring (not to mention the stench that fills most weight rooms).  There’s a pro and a con to every form of exercise out there.  But if you exercise, your body is better for it.  And if you enjoy the exercise you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it again.  So I say, do what you love and skip the stuff you dread.  If you like to run, then run.  If dancing is your thing, dance the night away.  Pump iron, play tennis, bike to work; whatever gets your blood pumping and your limbs moving.

If you’re trying to achieve a specific goal, such as bulking up, slimming down, or preventing osteoporosis, there are exercises that may suit your needs better than others.  And if you have questions about that stuff, feel free to ask, as I’d be happy to help find something that works for you.  But what I’m really good at is helping you do the things you love, only better.  I want you to exercise pain free (except for that good feel-the-burn pain).  I want you to exercise without injuring yourself and without imbalances that may lead to injury down the road.  And I want you to be the fastest, strongest, bendiest you can be.  So go out there and sweat and call me when you want to take your workout to the next level.

If you’ve got plantar fasciitis, you know what a pain in the foot it is.  But do you know why?

Plantar fasciitis is an incredibly generic term: Your fascia is your connective tissue.  Rolfers can and will talk about fascia all day long as it is the focus of our work, so it’s probably best not to get us started.  You have fascia from your head to your toes, from your front to your back, and everywhere in between.  Every nerve has it’s own fascial wrapping.  So does every muscles fiber, every organ, and every bone.  That’s a LOT of fascia.  Your plantar surface is the bottom of your foot.  As you might imagine, there’s some extra fascia in the bottom of your foot ’cause it needs to hold the rest of you up all day, as well as maintain those pretty (and very useful) arches.  Your plantar fascia is simply all the fascia along the bottom of your foot, from toe to heel.

Plantar fasciitis, therefore, is simply an inflammation of the fascia in the bottom of the foot.  This fascia can be inflamed for a million different reasons and it seems that not many people care about any of them.  The only thing I hear people talk about is their plantar fasciitis, not WHY they might have it.  Which is fine…if you want to keep having plantar fasciitis.  But if you want it to go away, it might be helpful to know why it’s there in the first place.

There are some obvious places to look.  It’s common for us to look to an injury or an instance of overuse as the cause of inflammation.  And those are good places to start. Too much swing dancing?  Step on a giant rock?  That may have caused it.  From a Rolfing perspective, though, we have to keep in mind that all your fascia is connected.  And the plantar fascia specifically is connected to the fascia of your calves, which is connected to your hamstrings, through your glutes and lower back, to mid-back, to upper back and shoulders, through the back of your neck and all the way over your head, forming your skull cap of fascia.  And if there’s a problem in any of that fascia, you may see symptoms somewhere else along the train.

So, when dealing with plantar fasciitis, I may be working nowhere near your feet.  Do you get migraines?  What about low back or hip pain?  Are your calves tight and inflexible?  How’s your neck feeling?  Whiplash you suffered from a car accident ten years ago may lead to plantar fasciitis now.  Which may be confusing if you come in complaining about your feet and I work inside your mouth or around your ears.  That’s simply the crazy thing (well, one of them) about Rolfing.

This applies to pretty much anything in your body.  You may have noticed that no matter what you come in and report to be hurting, I’m probably going to work on at least one other area.  I may not even touch the area where you feel the pain.  As my favorite instructor, Ray says, “The good news is:  it’s all connected.  The bad news is:  it’s all connected.”  But please, if you came in with pain in your left elbow and want to know why I’m working on your right knee, just ask; I’m happy to explain the connections.  And if I don’t have a good answer, I promise to admit it if I’m making something up.