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Can I talk to all my ladies for a few minutes?  We need to talk about boobs, or more specifically, bras.  Gentlemen, if you’re a life-long bra wearer, please, read on.  But generally, I’m talking to my women-folk here.

Dearest bra wearers,

For years, I have held off on saying something.  Like, from the beginning of my career as a Rolfer.  See, one of the things that drew me to Rolfing was that you (the client) got to do whatever you liked doing.  I had had a chiropractor tell me when I was in high school, that I shouldn’t go into landscaping, because it would be too hard on my back.  I’d had a surgeon, a doctor, and a physical therapist all tell me to give up on running after knee surgery.  I don’t really like being told what I can and can’t do.  Just ask my mom.  Rolfing never asked me to stop doing what I loved just because it hurt.  Instead, Rolfing attempted to make the hurting go away, so I could just enjoy the loving of the thing.  And that’s a major, major thing I love about Rolfing.

But.

There are things I see in my office, over and over and over and over again.  Things that make me cringe.  Things that make me sad.  And at a certain point, doesn’t it become my responsibility to say something?  As part of your healthcare team?  I want to be a good Rolfer and all, and not tell you what to do or what not to do.  But at the same time, I feel like I gotta say something.  What if I just tell you what I’m seeing and you can decide for yourself what you want to do or not do about it.  Okay?  Okay.

What I see is this: bras are suffocating us women.  When I think about it from a fascia standpoint, I’m not at all surprised.  If I wear a restrictive garment around any other body part, the body will change accordingly.  It’s like how shoes change the shape of our feet (and everything above them).  If you know anyone who has worn glasses their whole life and you ask them to take their glasses off, you can see the indentations in their heads, just above their ears, and usually at the bridge of the nose.  This is the whole idea behind braces and why they work to reorganize our teeth in our mouths.  How many of us have indentations in one of our middle fingers from where we hold a pen when writing?

So I understand why bras, too, would leave their mark with a tight band around the rib cage, just under the breasts.  Just like with shoes shaping feet and glasses shaping heads, you can see the indentations a bra strap leaves on the rib cage.

But then I started wondering about the benefits of bra wearing.  What’s the reason we’re wearing them all day, every day?  I understand there are several benefits to shoes.  Besides warms toes, protection from broken glass, and fashion, they’re required by the health department in restaurants.  I’m guessing most people who wear glasses their whole lives do it because they gain a benefit from having corrected vision and that benefit is worth the cost of having a slightly dented head.  Straight, well-organized teeth are highly valued in our culture, and probably easier to keep clean and healthy.  I will take a dented finger bone for the pleasure granted to me by writing.  But bras?  The cost-benefit analysis gets a little murky.

Why do we wear bras?  What is the benefit, here?  Well, they hold boobs up and in all sorts of positions that boobs don’t naturally come in.  They hold boobs still (or more still) during exercise and activity.  They make boobs look bigger, higher, smoother, and less dynamic than they actually are.  They minimize the appearance of nipples.  And they provide any extra layer of protection from the elements.  So, what it comes down to is mostly looks, with a little bit of function.  When I really take a good look, it seems like the number one reason I wear a bra is because it’s expected that I wear a bra.  I wear a bra because everyone else (with boobs) wears bras.  You know what they say about jumping off bridges just because your friends jump off bridges, right?

Really breaking it down, I realized despite my relatively high activity level, I ‘needed’ a bra for less than an hour and a half a day, on average.  I don’t like my boobs bouncing around while I run because it’s uncomfortable and I have sensitive nipples.  Same goes for when I play volleyball.  That works out to be about 9 hours a week that I ‘need’ the support of a sports bra.  And if I hadn’t coddled the damn things since I got ‘em, my boobs would probably be fine unsupported while I ran and played volleyball.  In addition to these ‘highly bouncy activities,’ I’m active in many other ways (walking, hiking, dancing, climbing trees, stretching, cleaning), but it’s actually fine if my boobs move during those activities.  That’s what they were designed to do. And it’s super fine for my boobs to be unsupported, free-flowing fat-bags while I do stuff like write, cook, read, watch tv, drink tea, and eat meals.

So, if I’m wearing a bra most of my waking hours, let’s say for 14 hours a day; but only 1.5 of those hours do I need a bra; then we’re looking at around 12.5 hours a day, every day of wearing a restrictive garment for no reason other than everyone else is doing it.  If I asked you to put one of your arms (even your non-dominant one) in a sling for 12 1/2 hours a day, every day, just because, how would you feel about that?  If I asked you to do this starting around the age of 10 and told you to do this every day for the rest of your life, how would you feel about that?  Why did we all agree to do this again?

Here’s the thing.  Your life would be severely limited if you put one of your arms in a sling for 12 1/2 hours a day, every day, but people live without arms.  Your survival does not depend on you having two functioning, sling-free arms.  You know what your survival does depend on?  Breath.  You know what a bra restricts?  Yeah.  See what I’m saying here?  See why I can’t just be quiet about this?  We need to breathe.  Yet every day, for 10-16 hours a day, most women (and girls who are on their way to becoming women) wrap a strap around their rib cages and voluntarily limit their breath.  The thing that keeps them alive.  Because everyone else is doing it.

What.  The.  Heck.

When I first started my practice, I thought, “well, that’s just how it goes with women.”  And I am so done with that.  It may be how it goes with women right now.  But, it’s not how it has to go.  There is no reason I can see, from a health perspective, for women to wear bras all the time.  They’re not cheap, or easy to maintain, or super convenient.  It’s not like any of us accidentally fell into the habit of wearing them because it was so fun.  If wearing a bra is more comfortable for you during certain activities (like me and running, per esempio), then by all means, be my guest.  But watching Portlandia?  Sitting at your desk checking emails?  Almost any activity besides jumping and running?  Think about it.  If we free the boobies, we begin to free the breath and the ribs, the shoulders and the neck, the sternum and the heart.  Sounds ay-okay to me.

I don’t want you to think that I’m this shining example of braless living.  I’m not.  But I am trying to wear a bra less.  Putting one on later in the day, taking it off as soon as I’m home at night.  Seeing if I can just be a little more conscious around my bra wearing instead of automatic.  I’m not going to tell you what to do or what not to do; I still want to be a good Rolfer, after all.  But if breath is important to you (and it is, trust me), maybe you might want to bring a little more consciousness to your bra habits as well.

That’s all for now, ladies.  Breathe free and prosper.

-Theresa

Calling all yoga teachers! Hey there, you.  How’s it going?  If you’re not a yoga fan, and know absolutely nobody who’s a yoga fan, you can skip this paragraph.  Then again, if you don’t know anybody who’s a yoga fan, you either don’t live in Colorado, or you need to get out more.  I’m not trying to be harsh, but it’s true.  Anyways.  Back to the task at hand.  I’m celebrating yoga teachers for a whole week!  I’m calling it…wait for it…wait for it…Yoga Instructor Appreciation Week!  YIAW!  Karate kick optional.  These are the details:  March 1st through March 7th.  $50 sessions.  If you teach yoga, this applies to you.  If you have a friend who teaches yoga, this applies to them.  If you have a yoga teacher, this applies to them, too.  I think you’ve got the idea.  So, if you (or your friend or your teacher) wants a session during this special week, let me know.

Thanks for your help making both Demo Days last week a success!  Next month’s Demo Day will be on Wednesday March 14th.  And it may be the last.  I’m thinking about ending this whole Demo Day thing.  I’m feeling like it’s run its course.  At the same time, I have a lot of fun with them, and it’s not like it’s any trouble for me to host them.  What do you think?  Keep ‘em or let ‘em go?  Weigh in now or risk losing Demo Days forever.

Now, for all the lovely ladies.  Starting the day after YIAW ends (March 8th) is WISH.  Holy acronyms, Batman!  The Women’s International Summit on Health is  an online telesummit that I listened to last year and I thought it was so amazing that I’m sharing it with you this year.  It’s free.  It’s wacky.  It’s fun.  And it’s crazy informative.  It works like this: you sign up to listen to calls for 40 days (or you can listen to 3 in a row if you get behind).  40 different experts; 40 different topics related to women’s health.  The calls are between 30 minutes and an hour long, if I remember correctly.  The topics span a bunch of categories including wisdom, food, relationships, beauty, fitness, abundance, sensuality, health, and attitude.  And while I’m not saying I’ll agree with everything every speaker has to say, I do remember being totally excited about the summit last year.  It changed the way I think about a lot of things.  And, if you’re listening this year, we can talk about it when you come in for your sessions.  So, if you want to be a part of it this year, go here and sign up.  Again, it’s free, so if it turns out you hate it after the first week, you can just stop listening to the calls, with no loss to you.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, gorgeous!  Catch ya next time!

(Note: If you’re a pregnant woman, this is written directly to you. If you’re not, this is written to the pregnant women you know, so don’t get all huffy if you’re a guy or a non­preggo lady and I’m talking about your pregnancy. Thanks.)

Yes, and you probably should. Here’s why: Your body is changing and growing every day. Which is great, but can make a lot of things uncomfortable. Things like walking, standing, sitting, lying down, and breathing. Rolfing can help with all of these things, which makes you happier, which, in turn, makes baby happier. It also makes everybody healthier, and calmer when you can breathe.

Any time your body changes significantly, be it during a pubescent growth spurt, significant weight loss or gain, or pregnancy and post-partum, your body might struggle to find balance. I read an article a few years ago about how common it is for pregnant women to topple over. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was very common and the article went on to explain that this doesn’t hurt the baby. But what about the mom? I sure don’t like falling over, as it hurts my pride as well as my knees, and wrists, usually. That’s where Rolfing comes in. I generally recommend a Rolfing session every 3-5 weeks for expecting mothers so we can work with your body as it shifts and find a place of balance, ease, and comfort.

Also, there’s a specific “delivery session” I do to speed up and ease labor. I’ll do this up to a week before your due date and anytime after. The purpose is to open the pelvic floor to make the delivery smoother and less painful, as well as to induce labor. Even if you are planning to induce chemically, you can receive this session just before to augment and ease the process. And who doesn’t want a little more room in their pelvic floor before a delivery? So if you’re looking for a little help either with comfort during your pregnancy or with comfort and speed during your labor, give Rolfing a try. You, and your baby, are worth it!

P.S. Babies need Rolfing, too!

If you think labor is hard on you, just think how tough it must be for your little one. All that pressure on their heads, all the shock of suddenly having to breathe on their own; it’s no wonder babies sleep so much. I see children under 10 for free, so call me to make an appointment for your little one(s) to come in!