Rolfing: When pain in the neck is more than an expression.

rolfing for neck pain

We’ve all experienced it. The pain in our neck that isn’t going away. With Rolfing, the first step is to find out what’s causing the neck pain. Is it whiplash? TMJ? Or is it coming from some area of the body that you’d never guess would make your neck hurt? Let’s find out.

When I’m working on a source diagnosis for where the pain is originating, I’m typically looking for an imbalance. Keep in mind that pain from an imbalance can be from any number of issues:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Pinched or trapped nerve
  • Abdominal organ that shares a common nerve with one in your neck (it happens)

I know. Sometimes it’s as if you just opened your eyes one morning, went to jump out of bed, and suddenly, “Owwwww!” My role is to (1) find the source of that OW and (2) get your body in the best position to heal itself so the hurt goes away.

When you come to me, don’t be surprised if I watch you walk, look at the different ways you move your body, or interview you on recent exercises or home activities. I use all kinds of diagnostic methods to discover the imbalance. All of it is to determine where the neck pain starts, not just to treat where the symptoms show up.

Getting Rid of Neck Pain

Re-educating Your Body

The important thing to remember is that we’re not going for a temporary fix. Yes, I want the pain in your neck to go away – as soon as possible. But I also want to know how we can keep it from coming back. That’s the other thing the source helps tell us. Imbalance can be because of some nutritional issue, everyday movement that needs to be corrected, or because you’re unconsciously compensating for an old injury.

Your health history – that includes exercise, athletics, work and play, too – feeds into a roadmap. The roadmap provides guidance on what you can do to help keep the neck pain from returning. Together we’ll teach your body, re-educate it, on how to keep you moving freely and without discomfort.

Christopher Horan’s Rolfing practice helps clients find freedom of movement, without pain. He uses Rolfing to treat neck pain, sciatica, back pain, TMJ, athletic injuries, as well as to improve posture and gait. Schedule your Rolfing session with Christopher today for either his greater Tacoma or Bellevue location.


Back Pain and Rolfing = Problem and Solution

back pain problem rolfing solution

Did you know that the NIH says ~80% of us experience back pain? In fact, it’s the top reason that people contact my Tacoma Rolfing® practice. The good news for you is that whether it’s debilitating or an ongoing discomfort, generally back pain is fixable, and often without surgery.

The trick to treating back pain effectively is in knowing how to find the pain before just diving in. Knowing “Where’s does it hurt?” doesn’t necessarily mean knowing the source, but it’s always a clue. Did you know that even a simple stubbed toe can throw off your gait enough to cause your lower back to hurt? That’s why it’s important to know where the back pain originates, and there are lots of possibilities. To name a few:

  • Sedentary lifestyle, aka sitting too much
  • Pinched nerves from a herniated disk
  • Lack of core strength
  • Off-balance gait or walk, a limp
  • Injury from a workplace or car accident

Luckily, all of the above (and more) causes of back pain typically respond really well to Rolfing.

What’s different about how I, as a Certified Rolfer©, treat back pain?

To begin with, I look at the whole you. Like I mention above, the thing that’s making your back hurt may not originate where you think it does. That’s where the initial assessment comes in. I’ll take you through a short process that lets me examine your alignment, how you move and how you stand.

Each client is unique, so how we move forward will be unique, too. Say that I determine part of your back pain comes from lack of core strength. Part of your treatment regimen may include simple core exercises. But if it looks like your case is more complex or severe, you may need to see a physical therapist, too. I know several practitioners in the greater Tacoma area (Seattle metro, too) and can refer you.

Back pain doesn’t just hurt, which is bad enough, it also limits your movement. That’s packs a double whammy to any lifestyle. Because I’ve been a Certified Rolfer for more than a decade, I know just how all the muscles, fascia tissue and nerves need to work together.

Using Rolfing and corresponding deep touch body work, I can help free spasming nerves, loosening the tissue that locks you up movement-wise. I’ll get to the root of the pain and help correct what’s causing it. Because ultimately, the goal is to get you moving well again, free from back pain.  

Christopher Horan is a Certified Rolfer practicing in the greater Tacoma, Washington area. His Puget Sound Rolfing clients come from Tacoma, Puyallup, Newcastle, Gig Harbor, Fircrest and University Place, as well as the Seattle metropolitan and Bellevue areas. You can schedule your appointment here.


Rolfing Bellevue, Seattle & Tacoma: Deep Tissue Massage

It doesn’t get any deeper than at my Rolfing practice in Bellevue, WA.  There are many different forms of massage, but predominantly the intent for a massage therapist that practices deep tissue massage is going to be to try and work with muscle tissue.  They will mostly likely work slowly with their hands, forearms, or even tools directly on the muscles to try and get them to release or lengthen.  They will probably be attempting to “break up or eliminate” scar tissue and hydrate the muscle tissue.  Which is a bit of a misnomer by the way as you cannot eliminate scar tissue with manual therapy, what you can do is make it less fibrous and more flexible.  Working on the muscles will in deed help hydrate them as well as help move toxins out of the muscle tissue and nutrients in, all of which are good things.

 

Is your deep tissue massage therapist asking themselves why?  Why is the muscle overly contracted, why is the tissue not hydrated.  Is the muscle just trying to protect an injury to a joint; if so, relaxing/lengthening the muscle could be detrimental because there is now no protection to a joint that is compromised.  Is the muscle contracted because of poor posture and body habits throughout the day; if so, the poor habits need to be examined and changed.  These are just a small sample of some of the questions I ask myself when someone comes in to my office.

 

If you looking for a deep tissue massage in Bellevue, you might consider Rolfing.  My primary goal is to bring better balance to all of the tissues in your body and improve your overall alignment so that you can move with more ease and without pain.  At my Rolfing practice I am not limited to working with just muscle tissue (although I am an expert at that as well), but also tendons and the tissue they connect to around the bones called the periosteum.  I have extensive training and experience working with entrapped arteries, pinched nerves, ligaments, biomechanics, viscera (organs), and how the bones articulate with each other.  I also work with your functional nervous system.  You will only be fixing some of the issues if you receive a deep tissue massage that only works on the muscles, as your muscles are only doing what the nerves tell them to do.  I can test your nervous system and get the muscles to start responding appropriately as well as lengthen the muscle tissue if need be.

 

Deep tissue massage can definitely hurt good.  However, at my Rolfing practice in Bellevue, WA you’ll be getting someone that is looking at and understands the larger picture of how all of your body’s tissues work together.  As necessary, I’ll work even deeper than the muscles, to the tissues that they attach to and even further down the chain.

Want to Schedule a Session, Click Here


Rolfing Bellevue, Seattle & Tacoma: Pulled Muscles

A pulled muscle is when you over-stretch muscle fibers past their normal working length.  Sometimes, if the muscle fibers are stretched too far, there can be tearing of the muscle fibers.  Often the pulled muscle will keep you out of your sport from anywhere between 2 – 6 weeks pending on the severity of the pull and the quality of your recovery program.

Ok, so how can Rolfing help with pulled muscles? Often, the tendency is to think that the reason the muscle was pulled in the first place was because it was too short.  So, stretching it should lengthen it and problem goes away right?  Well, not so much.  Let’s assume for a moment that the pulled muscle is your hamstring.  What if the opposing muscle (ie your quadriceps) is too short, which pulls your pelvis in to an anterior tilt.  Your hamstrings are attached to the back of your pelvis; so, if your pelvis is being pulled into an anterior tilt, then the hamstring is being pulled too long.  In this scenario, if you try to lengthen the hamstring, you are only exacerbating the issue.   In fact, you would want to lengthen the quads which allows your pelvis to sit in a more neutral position and takes the excess strain off of the hamstring.  You would then want to strengthen the hamstring to bring tensional balance back to the system.

Why were your quads too short in the first place?  This is something we would discuss in your Rolfing sessions to get an idea of how you are using your body, as your body is only responding to how you are using it.  We would take a look at how you sit throughout the day and your workout regimen to see if your muscle groups are getting balanced workloads.  If there is an imbalance in your system, it’s important to do an evaluation to see how you are contributing to it with how you are living your life.

Another reason you can get a pulled muscle is if your “wiring” is off.  When we are toddlers, crawling around the house we establish our “wiring” by moving opposite arm and leg to propel yourself forward.  Occasionally, we can have an injury or a poor habit that will disturb the sequence of when muscles are supposed to fire or relax (ie. our wiring).  You’ll then have muscles that are not firing when they are supposed to and they don’t have the capacity to contract to keep them from overstretching and you get a muscle pull.

Hydration can also be a key factor.  Without proper hydration, your soft tissue won’t have the proper elasticity to lengthen as much as it is capable.  Here’s a simple test to find out if you are dehydrated: Pinch the skin directly behind any knuckle on your hand. The skin should flatten out right away when you release it. If the skin you pinched stays pinched for more than a second, you are dehydrated.

  • 6 Signs of temporary dehydration: It only takes 2% dehydration for athletic performance and mental alertness to decline. Look for these 6 symptoms:
    • Hot, red, skin with no sweat *
    • Confusion *
    • Thirst
    • Dry, chapped lips
    • Salty, white residue around lips
    • Fatigue

There are many ways you can get a muscle pull.  At my Rolfing practice in Bellevue, WA we’ll do a thorough examination of your body mechanics, movement patterns as well as talk about body usage to get a better idea of the true source of the issue.  We’ll then talk about and execute a treatment plan.

Want to Schedule a Session, Click Here


Rolfing Bellevue, Seattle & Tacoma: Sciatica

Sciatica is a pain in your butt…literally.  The sciatic nerve has its roots from L4 – S3 (L standing for Lumbar vertebra and S standing for Sacral segments) and continues all the way down the back of your leg and into your feet.  If the nerve gets compressed or pinched anywhere along the line, it gets irritated and you feel pain.  I get a lot of clients coming in to my Rolfing practice pointing to their butt and complaining of Sciatica.

Nerves can be tricky little suckers.  They’re really good when telling you that something is wrong, but very frequently can be a bit misleading as to the where something is wrong.  Often the symptoms will show up further down the line of the nerve.  And to make things even more confusing, nerves communicate with one another, so if one nerve is compressed and irritated often one or multiple nerves around it will try to communicate to the brain that something is wrong.  The brain then interprets the info and tells you that those nerves should “hurt” as well and bingo you have multiple areas that seem inflamed.  For a really good explanation on how pain works, you should check this This Blog out.

Compression points (spinal, organ, muscular).  There are a few areas that are common compression points for the sciatic nerve.  One is right at the spine; if you have damage to one of the intervertebral discs, it can protrude into the nerve area and irritate it.  You can have a narrowing of the opening at the vertebra.  The nerve can be completely healthy coming out of the spine and then get compressed by one of the organs that is sitting in front of it (ie. the Sigmoid colon, Rectum, etc).   One other common compression point is when your piriformis (a deep lateral rotator of the femur) is too tight and compresses in on the space where your sciatic nerve comes out of the pelvic bowl and heads down into the back of your leg.

At My Rolfing Practice in Bellevue, WA I see clients quite often with sciatica type symptoms.  Using a few diagnostic tests, I discern which nerves are involved and if the visceral system is involved or not.  I then free up the affected structures.  We might then need to balance some of the other surrounding structures.  We might also need to take a look at your movement patterns to see if we need to retrain how you are moving.  I also often have to talk to people about how they are using their body that might have gotten them here in the 1st place and see how we might be able to alter some of the habits and/or patterns.

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Rolfing Bellevue, Seattle & Tacoma: Pregnancy & Rolfing

I’ve been asked by many women as to whether it is possible and/or safe to receive Rolfing sessions while pregnant and the answer is an emphatic YES!  Expecting mothers go through a myriad of physical & emotional changes while pregnant.  Outside of the obvious changes in their abdomen, expecting mothers also go through some additional physical changes in preparation for delivery.

During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone known as Relaxin, which is believed to help prepare the pubic area and the cervix for the birth. The Relaxin loosens the ligaments in your body, making you less stable and more prone to injury. It’s easy to overstretch or strain yourself, especially the joints in your pelvis, lower back, and knees.  A lot of different pains can show up in your body that weren’t there before the pregnancy. That’s why its even more important to have proper balance throughout your structure.

Rolfing sessions in My Office in Bellevue, WA will help ensure that you’ve got proper balance throughout your body.  This will help decrease pain and mitigate any pain you might have developed with a less balanced body.

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Clients receive Rolfing from me for while Pregnant from all over the Puget Sound, including: Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Issaquah, Tacoma, Puyallup, Newcastle, Gig Harbor, Fircrest, & University Place.


Rolfing Bellevue: Knee pain

Rolfing Bellevue: Knee Pain

Knee pain can be pretty debilitating.  It can affect your ability to play sports, walk without a limp, get up out of a chair, or walk up a set of stairs.  If not treated quickly, it can lead a host of issues throughout the rest of your body due to the compensations that take place.  The knee is a pivotal hinge joint, which permits flexion and extension as well as a slight medial and lateral rotation.  This means that you can bend & straighten your leg as well as rotate (ever so slightly).  It’s not designed to move laterally or rotate excessively; these movements should happen at the hip and the ankle.

At my Rolfing office in Bellevue, WA, I treat a lot of people with knee pain that can come from a multitude of sources.  Some of these sources could be:

  • Lateral knee pain stemming from a too short IT Band
  • Knee cap tracking issues stemming from overdeveloped lateral quads
  • Meniscus issues (pain behind the knee cap) due to a damaged meniscus or tracking issues
  • Medial pain due to an aggravated nerve that originates in the abdomen or an underdeveloped medial quad VMO

The list can go on and on.  My job as a Rolfer is to not only figure out where the pain is showing up, but figure out where it is stemming from.  Some of the questions I might ask myself when reviewing the client’s pain are:

  • Is there enough movement at the ankle
  • Is there enough movement at the hip
  • Is a nerve being aggravated by something going on in the abdomen
  • Is there proper balance between the ligaments on the inside of knee vs. the outside
  • Does the knee cap track straight and if not, why not
  • Is there a nerve or artery that is compressed on the back side of the knee

Again, the list can go on and on.  As a Rolfer looking at knee pain, I try to bring balance back to the tissues surrounding the knee as well as improve mobility of tissues up in the hip and ankle so that there is less strain on the knee to do movements it is not designed to do.  We would also take a look at giving exercises for the client to do at home that might help strengthen muscles that are currently too weak to perform their expected task.  Another item to look at is whether the imbalance is coming from a specific activity (i.e. cycling, running) and whether we should modify the clients form while they are performing the activity.  If we don’t change the behavior that is causing the pain, the imbalance and subsequent pain will continue to come back.

As always, my goal is not only to make the pain go away but to also find and address the source of the imbalance that causes the pain (which is often nowhere near where the pain actually shows up).

Want to Schedule a Session, Click Here

Clients receive Rolfing from me for knee pain from all over the Puget Sound, including: Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Issaquah, Tacoma, Puyallup, Newcastle, Gig Harbor, Fircrest, & University Place.


Rolfing Bellevue: Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is one of the number one reasons people come to see me at My Rolfing office here in Bellevue, WA  People have pain on the front of their shoulder, the back of their shoulder, deep in the glenohumeral joint, and along the border of the scapula just to name a few places.  Often there is no pain when the arm is at their side, but pain comes when they lift their arm above their head or try to reach behind their back.

The shoulder is an incredibly complicated structure.  There are tons of soft tissue structures pulling at it from many different angles and if just one is injured or not doing its job it can affect the tensional balance of the whole structure.  Then you’ve got muscles trying to do the job of other muscles and they get overworked.

Another issue you can run into is that nerves can get compressed when the shoulder tensions are off.  There are quite a few nerves that come out of the neck that send branches down into the arm to communicate with the arm structures.  The nerves weave in between soft tissue structures that are in close proximity to one another.  When tensions are off around the shoulder angles of the tissues change and the spaces that the nerves run through can get compressed and bruise or injure the nerve.   Suddenly, you’ve got pain.

So you’ve got pain, now what do you do about it?  1st off, make sure and continue to use your arm and shoulder.  There can be a tendency to stop using a joint if it hurts.  This makes sense on the surface level, except you’re doing more harm than good.  You’ll lose flexibility and decrease blood flow to the affected area which mitigates your body’s ability to deliver nutrients to the damaged area and move out toxic tissue.   Staying mobile is important.

At my Rolfing practice I look at shoulder pain from as many possible angles that I can.  Are there nerves that are compressed?  Are there muscles that are not doing their job?  Are the ligaments too tight and not elastic enough?  Are there arteries that are being compressed?  Is this an issue where the client has a poor work set up or are they too repetitive in their motions?  These are just a few of the questions that I look at when addressing shoulder pain.  All of which I can address with my work.  I work to bring balance back to the tissues throughout the shoulder so that they are all doing their job and are mobile enough to adapt to the stresses you put upon them every day.  I work to free up compressed nerves and arteries so that they can do their job.  Lastly, I work to educate the client on better ways to move and work to make sure the shoulder stays healthy and pain free in the future.

Click Here for a short video that demonstrates one of my favorite exercises to do for keeping shoulder mobility.

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Clients receive Rolfing from me for shoulder pain from all over the Puget Sound, including: Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Issaquah, Tacoma, Puyallup, Newcastle, Gig Harbor, Fircrest, & University Place.


Rolfing Bellevue: Raising Your Fallen Arch

Raising a fallen arch is not easy but it can be done in my Rolfing office(s) servicing Bellevue, Seattle & Tacoma.  This is assuming that we’re talking about a “fallen arch” not flat feet that you might have been born with.  There are a couple of things to think about when trying to raise your arch. The first being what exercises you can do to strengthen and hopefully “lift” your arch.  The second is opening up or lengthening tissue that might be keeping you in a fallen arch.

Two of the primary muscles that help raise support your medial (inside) arch are your Tibialis Posterior and your Abductor Hallusis.  The Tibialis posterior tendon (a leg muscle that crosses the ankle joint and inserts in the medial arch) is usually focused on during acquired flat foot deformities as a primary cause.  It however doesn’t kick in until the passive support of the arch breaks down so we will not focus on it here.

The abductor hallusis muscle starts at the inside base of your heel and inserts into the base of your big toe.  The best way to work this muscle is called the “short foot” exercise.  Here is a brief explanation on how to do it:

To perform a short foot exercise, sit in a sturdy chair, using good posture. Place both feet flat on the floor with your toes pointing straight forward.  Raise the arch of your right foot off the floor without curling your toes and lifting your heel. This is called the short foot position. Hold this isometric contraction for six seconds. Relax, and repeat with the left foot. Inch your feet forward and perform another rep with each foot. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions with each foot to strengthen and stabilize the muscles that comprise the longitudinal arch of the foot. Reposition your feet a little farther away from the chair each rep to target the muscles at slightly different angles. When this exercise is executed properly, you will feel muscle contraction in the foot and lower leg.  As quoted by, Dr. Nicholas A Campitelli – Podiatric Medicine and Surgery

Here’s a Youtube video that will give you a visual on how to do the exercise: Click Here

I’ve done this exercise myself quite a bit trying to maintain healthy arches.  It’s a bit awkward at first but you’ll get the hang of it in a few days as long as you are diligent about doing it a few times per day.  I also find it useful to do the exercise while standing since eventually you’re shooting for this muscle to support your arch while you’re standing and walking.

The second part you need to do is lengthen the tissue on the outside of your feet.  To do this you can stand on the outside of your feet and slowly bend your knees until you feel a stretch on the outside of your ankles.  You will probably also need to see someone who does structural integration Like Myself at my Rolfing practice in Bellevue, WA. Who can take a look at the bones of your feet to see if the bones in your feet are articulating against one another appropriately?

Want to Schedule a Session, Click Here

Clients receive Rolfing from me for flat feet from all over the Puget Sound, including: Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Issaquah, Tacoma, Puyallup, Newcastle, Gig Harbor, Fircrest, & University Place.

Here are a couple of links to other sites with exercises you can do IN ADDITION to, not instead of, the short foot exercise:

-http://www.livestrong.com/article/142341-what-exercise-can-i-do-my-fallen-arches/?utm_source=RELARTICLES_R1

-http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flat-feet-treatment/#axzz25hIOMaaQ


Rolfing Bellevue: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

At my Rolfing practice(s) servicing Bellevue, Seattle & Tacoma, WA I have a lot of clients coming in who think they might have carpel tunnel syndrome.  In fact, I have yet to have a single client who has had carpel tunnel syndrome.  A large majority of people get numbness or tingling in their fingers and have heard that that is a symptom of carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) and assume that’s what they must have without doing any research.  Let’s take a look at what carpel tunnel syndrome really is.

 

Wikipedia defines CTS as, “an entrapment median neuropathy, causing paresthesia, pain, numbness, and other symptoms in the distribution of the median nerve due to its compression at the wrist in the carpal tunnel”.  The median nerve is one of 3 main nerves that send and receive information in your arms.  It originates from a grouping of the nerves in the neck, called the brachial plexus, dives under your collar bone (clavicle) and extends all the way down into your fingertips.  Entrapment median neuropathy simply means that the median nerve is being pinched or compressed and it’s causing disease or damage to the nerve itself.  The carpal tunnel is as you guessed it, a tunnel that passes through your carpal (wrist) bones.

 

CTS is often thought to be caused by repetitive motion at work but in fact has many origins including lipomas, obesity, oral contraceptives, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes, and trauma.  The symptoms usually include numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the thumb and fingers, in particular the index, middle fingers, and radial half of the ring fingers (on the palm side of the hand).

 

To date, all of the clients that come to my Rolfing practice in Bellevue end up complaining of nerve numbness or tingling in fingers or place of the hand that are fed by nerves other than the median nerve.  Therefore, they probably have a nerve entrapment issue, but not of the median nerve through the carpal tunnel.  More often than not, the entrapment is happening further up the arm as the nerves weave their way in between muscles and ligaments or even as they dive under the collar bone on their way from the neck (which in fact is the most common place for entrapment).

 

As a Rolfer in Bellevue treating “carpal tunnel syndrome” like symptoms, I’ll look at your whole body to find out where the source of the issue is and not just chase where the symptoms are showing up.  Most of my training following the Rolf institute has been on working with nerve pathology & entrapment issues and how to resolve them non-surgically.   And, on the rare occasion that I can’t help I am in constant contact with a great team of medical professionals (both western and eastern philosophies) around the Austin area that can help you get rid of your pain.

Want to Schedule a Session, Click Here

Clients receive Rolfing from me for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from all over the Puget Sound, including: Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Issaquah, Tacoma, Puyallup, Newcastle, Gig Harbor, Fircrest, & University Place.