I Got Rolfed!

Rolfed Woman Cropped 300x127 I Got Rolfed!

Ever heard of Rolfing?

You read cor­rectly, Rolf. I cer­tainly hadn’t when my Cross­Fit trainer sug­gested I meet with his “Rolfer”. I was a bit wary mak­ing my first appoint­ment, as Rolf­ing sounded like some­thing that is ille­gal in most States!

A word that seems bet­ter suited to describ­ing the hurl­ing you do after work­ing out too hard, Rolf is the prac­tice of work­ing with the con­nec­tive tis­sue that sur­rounds our mus­cle sets. The prac­tice, named for its founder, Dr. Ida Rolf, works to help loosen and realign the con­nec­tive tis­sue, called fas­cia, that sur­rounds and pen­e­trates our mus­cles, bones, nerves, and even organs.

I have been hav­ing ter­ri­ble trou­ble with tight calves, espe­cially on my left side, fol­low­ing months of severe nerve dam­age from a her­ni­ated disc. I have made tremen­dous recov­ery fol­low­ing the days when walk­ing was painful and dif­fi­cult, but haven’t regained the abil­ity to run more than a few miles at a time with­out expe­ri­enc­ing near debil­i­tat­ing pain.

After months of com­pen­sat­ing for my very weak left side, I no doubt formed all sorts of bad behav­iors result­ing in my body align­ment being out of whack. After learn­ing more about the the­ory behind Rolf­ing I fig­ured I needed the help it would provide.

As my Rolfing-trained spe­cial­ist, Paul Fitzger­ald of Penin­sula Rolf­ing, explains, the ther­apy is pro­vided over 10 weeks. Each week focuses on another region of the body, such as legs, core, or back. I’m about half-way through. While I can’t say that I feel like a new per­son, I do feel a dif­fer­ence in my abil­ity to move my body. Just the other night at Cross­Fit I noticed that I was able to go much deeper than usual into my hip flexor stretches.

A few things to know before you get Rolfed:

  1. Rolf­ing is best described as a “dry rub” – like a mas­sage with­out any lubri­cant. This means it hurts. And in a weird way. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  2. Since Rolf­ing gets at areas of the body that often never get worked – such as your deep abdomen – you will feel a lit­tle sore for up to a week after each ses­sion. It’s not too bad, but does affect full range of movement.
  3. Deep tis­sue mas­sage or trig­ger point mas­sage loosens the mus­cles, but not the fas­cia which can still restrict mus­cle move­ment. It’s like squish­ing an orange – while the innards will turn to juice, the out­side is still rather stiff. (Ok, not the best anal­ogy, but you get the idea).
  4. The cost can be pro­hib­i­tive – often around $150 a ses­sion – since many insur­ance plans don’t cover it. How­ever, it can often be included in a Flex­i­ble Sav­ings Account (FSA) with a pre­scrip­tion from a doctor.
  5. Rolf­ing has been around since the early 1900s and grew in pop­u­lar­ity in the 1970s, so has proven itself. It’s not some­thing brand new with no sci­en­tific back­ing. More about the sci­ence behind the prac­tice can be found here: Link

Of course, Rolf­ing isn’t the answer alone. Noth­ing is. I still need to inte­grate more stretch­ing into my day, make sure I don’t sit for more than 30 min­utes with­out get­ting up and mov­ing around for a few min­utes, and keep up my strength train­ing. Yet I feel Rolf­ing is a sig­nif­i­cant step towards being healthy and active again.

Who knew some­thing that sounded so strange could be so good for you?

What do you think? Have you been Rolfed?

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