Thursday, March 03, 2011

Would You Recommend Rolfing? DH Does.

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A guest post from DH, who continues to be a glutton for punishment. Or seems to have turned a corner when it comes to rolfing.

In December, he described rolfing as an American-pioneered therapy that offers a sort of an uber-massage that delves past the skin and muscle to the fascia bags that hold muscles together and the tendon/ligament structures that anchor our skeletal-muscular systems. Some have likened rolfing to yoga, only instead of bending yourself into impossible contortions, someone else bends you.

I’ve returned several times to my rolfer (still sounds funny to say that word) and my opinion is shifting toward highly recommending the process. While the sessions are intense, the recent ones have not ached as badly as the first one did.

The short-term results have been impressive. A session that was devoted entirely to one arm and shoulder left me with a noticeably wider range of motion than in the other arm. A session devoted to my upper back made me conscious of how slumped my shoulders had been just prior. The rolfing isn’t relaxing, per se, but the one-hour sessions feel more productive than any massage I’ve had previously.

The recent pains in my lower back have gone away, although that may have been just from the passage of time.

I don’t get the sense that the changes from rolfing are long-lasting, and my therapist acknowledges that without maintenance, proper posture and a change in habits, my body will fall back into the same bad positions it’s grown accustomed to over the decades.

Only at the last session—my fifth—did he introduce me to exercises I can do at home or a gym. Balancing on a dreadfully shaky Bosu® ball to expose the weaknesses in my smaller muscles and an improper rotation of my hips was enlightening. He encouraged me to acquire one and perform squats on it.

Nintendo’s Wii Fit has an exercise similar to this, where you balance on the board and shift your weight to position a dot within a moving circle or keep it in the space between two closing doors. A Bosu ball, however, punishes you with the ever-present threat of falling over, and my leg muscles were quivering in an attempt to keep me upright. When I stepped off the rubbery half-sphere, my body was unstable as if I’d spent a week at sea. Instead of laying the flat part of the contraption on the ground, the rolfer lay the rounded side down and instructed me to stand on the flat bottom and steady myself.

While the rolfing therapy in itself has benefits, it’s the well-rounded focus on a variety of exercises (even though I don’t realistically have time to do them all) that has convinced me this is the real deal.

Kim's note: I think I need to dig up my copy of 168 Hours for DH.


Michelle said...

I'm still intrigued. And the Bosu ball? My chiro has me doing squats on them before getting adjusted. And apparently they were getting "too easy" for me (ha!) so now I have to hold a medicine ball out to the side while doing the squats on the upsidedown Bosu ball. Wheeeee! Glad it's going well :)

Jen said...

I may need to do this. My neck is so chronically stiff that it's affecting my whole life. Badly. :/ Deep tissue massage just ain't cuttin' it anymore. I know Alexander Technique would help, but there's no one out here. Gotta look into Rolfing.