Monthly Archives: February 2013

Coccyx… The Seat of the Soul

Dr. Ida Rolf called the coccyx “the seat of the soul“.  Please take a look at this extraordinary article written by Erik Dalton explaining how the coccyx or “tailbone” functions, the pain that can result from coccxy trauma and various treatment options to stabilize and eliminate pain resulting from a damaged coccyx.

by Erik Dalton

spine with coccyxCoccyx pain was first documented in 1588, and Simpson coined the term “coccydynia” in 1859. The word coccyx comes from the Greek word for cuckoo, which resembles a cuckoo’s beak. The human coccyx is composed of approximately 3-5 individual segments or coccygeal vertebrae. Ida Rolf called the coccyx “the seat of the soul” (Fig 1).

Coccyx pain commonly results from trauma such as a fall or a direct blow during contact sports. This type of injury can result in a fracture or dislocation at the sacrococcygeal joint causing abnormal movement during sitting and significant pain. It is also seen in bike riders, rowers and computer junkies due to prolonged pressure to the area.

Childbirth is another common cause of coccyx injury. During the last trimester of childbirth, the coccyx becomes more mobile, allowing for greater flexion and extension. This can cause damage to the attached musculoligamentous tissues, an inflammatory response, and osteoarthritis of the sacrococcygeal joint.

A common client complaint many of you have heard, is that physicians minimize, dismiss, or belittle the client’s symptoms. Indeed, many MDs may have a bias against patients with coccyx pain, which has been referred to as the “lowest form of low back pain.” But, tailbone pain is often relatively severe and persistent, causing significant compromise of the client’s ability to perform or endure various activities.

pelvic floor trims

FUNCTION

In humans, the coccyx serves important biomechanical functions and is an attachment site for various muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Muscles inserting on the anterior coccyx include the levator ani, which is sometimes considered as several separate muscle parts, including the coccygeus, iliococcygeus, and pubococcygeus muscles (Fig 2). This important muscle group supports the pelvic floor (preventing inferior sagging of the intrapelvic contents), plays a role in maintaining fecal continence, and aids in proper diaphragmatic breathing. Muscles originating on the posterior coccyx include the gluteus maximus and strands of biceps femoris, which is often continuous with the sacrotuberous ligaments.

Multiple important ligaments attach to the coccyx but the ones I feel are most important for treating a “hooked” coccyx are the sacrotuberous, sacrospinous, and anterior and lateral sacrococcygeal ligaments (Figs 3 & 4).

ST & SSThe coccyx serves somewhat as a weight-bearing structure when a person is seated. In a fully functioning body, the coccyx acts as a shock absorber by flexing forward during sitting, thus completing the tripod of weight bearing composed of the coccyx and the bilateral ischial tuberosities.

The coccyx bears more weight when the seated person is leaning backward; therefore, many clients with coccydynia sit leaning forward (flexing at the lumbosacral and hip joints), which shifts more of the weight to the bilateral ischium rather than the coccyx (try this and feel the increased sits-bones pressure). Alternatively, clients with coccydynia may sit leaning toward one side so that the body weight is exerted mainly on one ischial tuberosity or the other, with less pressure on the coccyx. Such side leaning may lead to concomitant ischial bursitis in addition to the coccydynia.

Typical symptoms to look for during the assessment phase:

- severe localized pain in the coccyx region
- visible bruising in the coccyx region
- pain upon sitting and/or direct pressure to the coccyx
- pain moving from sitting to standing
- pain during bowel movements or straining
- pain during sexual intercourse

A possible factor in persistent coccydynia is muscle dysfunction. It is common to find taut bands that are very painful when palpated. These fibrous bands are thought to be strongly contracted muscle fibers within an otherwise relatively normal muscle. They may result from protective guarding due to a calcified and crooked sacrococcygeal joint. Those most affected are the levator ani, sphincter ani and coccygeus muscles. Other muscles that can influence coccydynia are the obturator internus, gluteus maximus and adductor magnus. A hooked coccyx may cause inhibition in any of these connective tissues resulting in muscles imbalances, pelvic floor pain and aberrant breathing patterns.

TREATMENT

Manual therapy can be used as a conservative treatment for a coccyx injury by aiming to relax and extend the muscles in the area. Once musculofascial balance is restored to the pelvic bowl and lumbar spine, the therapist can use ligaments as levers to help move the coccyx back into a correct position. This can be done in a sitting, prone or side lying position. The therapist begins by palpating the coccyx and pulling the attached ligaments in a posterior direction. After holding for a period of 10-60 seconds the tissues surrounding the coccyx should begin to release. A contract-relax method can be used in conjunction with this technique. As the coccyx is pulled posterior, the client is asked to do a gentle contraction of the pelvic floor muscles for 3-5 seconds. Upon relaxation, the coccyx can be moved further posterior

hooked coccyx LGenerally, the longer the history of coccydynia, the more joint adhesions and fusing occurs, as is the case of any joint injury where motion is not gradually reintroduced during the healing process. An important note to therapists treating coccyx dysfunction: Always ask the client’s permission to perform this technique due to possible physical and emotional hypersensitivity in the area. Before performing any type of coccyx work, take time to clearly explain what you’re doing and the desired outcome.

Addressing a misaligned coccyx can cause a client to become very emotional, due to the vertebra’s direct attachment to the dural membrane through the filum terminale—a long slender connective tissue strand that terminates at the end of the spinal cord. As the sacrococcygeal ligaments anteriorly flex the coccyx, it also compresses and overstretches the sensitive filum terminale (Fig 5). Many believe that low-back, hip and head pain may arise in those suffering a severely hooked coccyx. Always perform these ligament release techniques through underwear or draping and preferably in a supervised setting. 

To learn more about the benefits of Rolfing, click here to visit the Denver City Rolfing webpage.

 

Rolfing Structural Integration: A radical approach to change!

Check out this excellent article by Certified Advanced Rolfer  D.J. Cross on the ideas and vision Dr. Ida P. Rolf.

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“Fifty years ago, Dr. Ida P. Rolf’s conviction that the body structure can be changed was radical. It still is. We are not stuck with our genetic blueprint or the blueprint of our life’s experiences.

Gravity is the most fundamental force human beings must contend with. When not aligned with gravity, the body breaks down and complains through low back and neck pain, poor posture and balance, constant fatigue, tight and restricted muscles, limited movement, depression and aging. When your structure is aligned and integrated, gravity becomes a force that supports, uplifts, energizes and heals you. Structural patterns and dysfunctions dissolve to uncover balance, wholeness, new vitality and well-being.

People in alignment experience freedom from pain; more graceful movement; better balance, flexibility and coordination; enhanced performance; a softening of the aging process; and an opening to major life changes.

The rolfing process involves gentle, yet deep and intentional touch; movement education; focused breathing; partnership and empowerment, laced with good humor.

With hands-on manipulation, the rolfer releases tense and painful patterns held within the connective tissue. These strain patterns hold memories and emotions that distort and misshape the body. Traumatic memories can dissolve as you become more open and spacious. This allows the reorganization of your structure around its central vertical axis which creates a sense of being lifted and grounded.

The beauty of rolfing is the invitation to go beyond symptom relief into personal growth and development — uncovering a new you. The rolfing experience can transform your body, your behavior and your life. Your personal sense of alignment and structural integration will continue to guide and inspire you.

Dr. Rolf had a vision of using structural integration as an evolutionary tool to uncover our higher order of humanness. These inspirations are woven into the nitty-gritty of the rolfing sessions, so you can feel the stirrings of infinite possibility.

To learn more about the benefits of Rolfing, click here to visit the Denver City Rolfing website.

 

The Effects Of Dehydration

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Check out this article by Dr. Kevin Kita on the effects of dehydration on our bodies. I always encourage my Rolf Structural Integration clients to hydrate, especially when going through the Rolfing Ten-Series.

“When somebody comes in my office and they are in a lot of pain I know right away that they are not drinking enough water. I tell 95% of the people coming into the office that they need to drink more water. Drinking more water is very important and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just 24ozs of water low is considered being dehydrated. I have had some people come in my office as much as 100ozs low in their fluid intake.

The serious problems of dehydration can include disc problems. The discs between each vertebra in your spine is mostly made of water, so if your dehydrated the disc shrinks just a little and that can put added pressure on one of your spinal nerves and cause pain. About 99% of the people that come in my office with sciatic pain are dehydrated. The disc shrinks and presses on the sciatic nerve and the person will have excruciating pain. If someone is chronically dehydrated it can lead to herniated discs and bulging discs because their spine is less stable than normal a person.

A person who is dehydrated can have headaches all the time because the blood does not circulate as well to the brain which also can lead to dizziness, heaviness in the head, blurred vision, and hearing loss.

A person who is dehydrated can have headaches all the time because the blood does not circulate as well to the brain which also can lead to dizziness, heaviness in the head, blurred vision, and hearing loss. When a person feels weakness, fatigue, or energy loss usually they are dehydrated because the blood gets thicker making the heart have to work harder to circulate the blood around the body. That is a waste of energy which leads to energy loss and fatigue. When someone feels tired they are better off drinking a big glass of water than drinking a cup of coffee or some other energy drink. This also leads to a slow metabolism and stubborn weight gain. Most people if they just make a conscious effort of just drinking more water and only water they will drop some weight off naturally without seemingly doing anything extra physically. Dehydration can cause asthma and sinus problems. If you are not drinking enough water your sinuses and the lining of your lungs become dry causing it hard for you to breathe.

Chronic pains such as back pain, neck pain, and hip pain can be caused by dehydration because the muscle, tendons, and ligament tend to become tight. This causes lack of flexibility and joint stiffness. People will come in thinking they have arthritis, when they are only dehydrated. They will tell me how come my medical doctor doesn’t tell me to drink more water. I tell them it is because pills are much more profitable then drinking more water. I have had many yoga enthusiasts and instructors come in complaining of all of a sudden not being able to get into certain postures. I tell them to drink more and they can now get into postures that they were unable to get into.

waterbottleDehydration can actually cause water retention. You wouldn’t think that if you were dehydrated that you would have a problem with water retention. The body releases something called histamines when we are dehydrated. Histamines cause the body to hold on to water because our body is wondering when is the next time we are going to drink water and doesn’t want to release any water that it already has. Histamines can also cause chronic inflammation of the body, skin to become plump, and can also cause fake allergic reactions. There are a lot of times when someone comes in my office thinking they are allergic to something when all they are is dehydrated.

When someone doesn’t drink enough water their digestion is compromised. If someone is dehydrated they can’t produce enough acid to breakdown the food that they just ate. Most times acid reflux is actually lack of water causing indigestion because food is not being properly digested.

Now, in order to rehydrate properly you should drink room temperature water or warm water because the body can absorb that type of water faster. If someone is severely dehydrated they should add a pinch of sea salt in their water to make it even easier to rehydrate. Avoid distilled water because distilled water has no minerals in it and just goes right through the body without any of it being absorbed. Avoid cold water or ice water because that just shocks the body and you just end up going to the bathroom with very little being absorbed. People that are severely dehydrated from being in the desert they are first given warm water because they know that is the easiest way to quickly rehydrate a person.”  To learn more click here to visit the Denver City Rolfing website.

Find Balance and Better Health through Rolfing

Check out this short and clear video (2 min. & 30 sec. ) from America Now News about the benefits of Rolfing. Click here to see video.

Have you ever heard of rolfing? It’s a way of manipulating the body to bring relief and balance. It can be painful, but some say it’s worth the discomfort for the end result.

Rolfing, using gravity to open up the fascia and bring balance to the body. Dr. Barry Nutter explains, “The fascia wraps around your organs it connects one part of your skeleton to the other, so the fascia is the network that actually holds the body together. You work through a superficial fascia in the first three sessions and then the following sessions you work with the deeper connective tissues.”

Rolfing consists of ten sessions working with the body to bring balance in a holistic way. “We live in a world of flexing, holding ourselves together rather than finding our balance in gravity and letting go into it. That’s the real concept of rolfing,” said Dr. Nutter.

It’s recommended to balance people with habitual posture problems but also those that have endured injuries or accidents. Allan Brown was injured doing construction work and came to Doctor Nutter for relief. “You stand up straighter you sit up straighter you feel better you just everything about it just builds to the next phase. The end result is better health,” said Allan.

Monika Bogler Henry was dependent on pain meds for headaches. “Lots of pressure was put on some areas and it was just like you could literally feel that my areas would just open up and there was a flow all of a sudden, where like you turned the electricity on and all of a sudden wow,” she said. Monika no longer needs the meds. Her mother was due for knee surgery in Hawaii. “She stayed 5 weeks and she ended up with 11 rolfing sessions and she left here a changed person. She could walk, she had no more crutches on and her knee was getting rehabilitated,” said Monika. She never needed the surgery.

Dr. Nutter has worked with infants and those up to 96 year olds. “Everyone can benefit from rolfing I even work on my dog sometimes when I see him walking sideways. What we’re doing is we’re removing restrictions that are there in the body and gravity just takes over. It flows through that persons being and has that uplifting force,” he said. Unfortunately rolfing is not covered by insurance but if you need it, it is available nationwide. Just make sure that your practitioner is certified.

For more information click here to visit Denver City Rolfing website.

More about Rolfing

Rolfing Structural integration – Aligns, balances and lengthens the body by pressing into the connective tissues of the body and maneuvering them back into place.

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Structural integration is a form of bodywork that requires extensive training. It is based on the theory that many injuries and chronic pains are caused by a misalignment of the connective tissues (the fascia) that cushion your muscles and joints.

A specialized school of bodywork, structural integration acknowledges that the fascia can overreact or freeze up in response to injury, and that the pull of gravity on the body, stress or even emotional pain essentially traps trauma in the body. Structural integration, a form of hands-on manipulation, releases, realigns and balances the body through a combination of bodywork and movement education.

The result: greater mobility, decreased chronic pain and a sense of emotional well-being. Some long-term clients even claim that they become taller as the fascia relaxes.

Rolfing® is a registered service mark of The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration. The original form of structural integration, it is rooted in the notion that the source of human discomfort, both physical and emotional, can be boiled down to the internal connective tissues in the body. Only Certified Rolfers™ may perform Rolfing® structural integration.

The origins of structural integration (including Rolfing): Structural integration was developed by (and Rolfing® is named after) Dr. Ida P. Rolf, a female pioneer in the field of science and physiology. Rolf was a student and innovator of alternate forms of health, like yoga, homeopathic medicine and the Alexander technique, and aimed to explore and discover solutions to her own health issues as well as those of her children.

Rolf came to believe that manipulating the fascia, the layer of connective tissue that covers and connects muscles, nerves and bones, would unleash trapped stress in the body, allow better movement and relieve pain. She called this method structural integration. In 1971, The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration was founded to teach Rolf’s method. Click here to learn more.

Benefits Of Structural Integration (Including Rolfing)

Structural integration can potentially be very effective in relieving chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, scoliosis, tense or frozen muscles and carpal tunnel syndrome. Pupils of the practice learn to shy away from negative movement patterns known to cause physical, and oftentimes emotional, stresses on the body.

Some individuals who partake in this type of bodywork find that they experience an emotional release during structural integration as well. Click here to learn more.

What To Expect

A structural integration session involves the manipulation of fascia, ligaments, tendons and deep layers of muscle. Touch is slower than during a traditional massage, and pressure is deeper.

Some structural integration adjustments may be mildly uncomfortable. Clients with vascular or skeletal injuries or disorders should consult their doctor before commencing structural integration.

Specialized equipment: There are no special pieces of equipment necessary for structural integration. Clients normally wear gym clothing or underwear and lie or sit on a padded table or sit on a specialized bench. It’s important to uncover most of the body so your therapist can observe muscle alignment and work directly on the body. Click here to learn more.

Recommended sessions: Typically, structural integration sessions are done in packs of 10 (called the “Basic 10″) with about a week between sessions to allow the body to adjust, progress and heal. However, it is very common for professionals to offer a trial introductory session. Tune-ups can be performed as needed after the Basic 10. There are also movement-based sessions and exercises designed to bring the structural work into functional activity. Look for a Rolfer™ who is also certified as a Rolf Movement® Practitioner. Click here to learn more.

Preparation: Clients should inform their structural integration practitioner about any chronic pains or injuries, or if they are pregnant. Professionals who perform structural integration work directly on the body, so clients should not wear slippery lotions or perfumes to an appointment.

Risks

Some adjustments may be mildly uncomfortable. Clients with vascular or skeletal injuries or disorders should consult their doctor before starting structural integration.

Who wouldn’t benefit: It is best for potential clients to be weight-height proportionate. Most providers will do a free consultation session to assess fitness for structural integration.

Pregnant women can often benefit from structural integration, the bodywork which can help them adjust to their changing body. Individuals nursing broken bones should avoid structural integration until cleared by a doctor.

Celebrity Devotees

Athletes are attracted to structural integration. Some well-known athletes who have undergone structural integration include skater Michelle Kwan, NBA player Charles Barkley and tennis player Ivan Lendl. Other celebs include Courtney Love and Denis Leary. Click here to learn more.

Got Back Pain?

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. According to The American Chiropractic Association. What do you do for back pain?
Art by Joaquin MarKiley
Photo: Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. According to The American Chiropractic Association. What do you do for back pain? Art by Joaquin MarKiley

Got Back Pain? Rolfing can help!
You are likely to have less pain and tension in your body as it becomes more balanced and symmetrical. Rolfing allows bones and muscles to do their proper jobs. As the body opens and lifts with the support of gravity, chronic pain and tension fall away.  Click here to find out more.

Align Body, Mind And Gravity To Banish Pain

Please enjoy this excellent article by Dr. mark Wiley. Note the link to the European Rolfing Association for an in depth description on Rolf Structural Integration.

Align Body, Mind And Gravity To Banish Pain

align-body-mind-and-gravity-to-banish-pain_300There are two factors that are unavoidable and wreak havoc on our bodies: stress and gravity. Gravity, of course, is not something we can change; but we can manage our lives to account for it. Stress is something that comes in physical, mental and emotional forms and also needs to be managed. Over time, stress changes our musculature and our physical form. And when the force of gravity encounters those rounded shoulders and hunched backs caused by stress, pain and discomfort are hard to avoid.

Working The Body

I’m a big fan of bodywork, especially when combined with mind/body practices. Having suffered chronic and debilitating body pain for most of my life, I make it a point to try as many bodywork methods as I can, both old and new. I even made the study of tui-na (from China), Thai yoga massage and hilot (from the Philippines) part of my formal education training. I also use muscle-energy technique, neuromuscular technique, positional release and many others to help myself and my clients.

There is a bodywork method developed in the 1930s that is less popular today, but should be revisited by pain sufferers. Originally known as “structural integration,” this method was developed by a woman named Ida Rolf. Now known as Rolfing®, this was among the first Western bodywork methods to address pain through posture and the quality of fascia (connective tissue) in relationship to the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Pain Theory

What make Rolfing special? Well, by the age of 25, Rolf had earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, then traveled to Geneva to study homeopathic medicine. She derived a theory about pain and discomfort that led her to look at the body’s connective tissue, or fascia.

Fascia is the web-like tissue that encapsulates individual muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Characteristically, fascia is designed to protect parts of the body but also to allow certain internal structures (like muscles) to slide or glide over others.

Connective tissue protects, but sometimes it is too protective. In many instances, for example, an injury causes more fascia to be made to shield the damaged area. When this new growth overcompensates and when the original injury is healed, the fascia remains like a fortress, not allowing free range of motion. But there doesn’t have to be an injury to make this happen.

Use It Or Lose It

When you don’t use your limbs in all the directions in which they are designed to be manipulated (think of the ball-and-socket nature of your shoulders), the fascia eventually adheres or sticks together.

In normal circumstances, the fascia should allow the musculature of the shoulder, neck and back to slide. But because of limited use of the arms by most people (by holding them fixed in place while typing, etc.), the fascia grows sticky and prevents the natural slide. This causes range of motion issues, stiffness, soreness and pain. This also happens with our hips and lower backs from prolonged sitting and a lack of walking and other exercise.

While this understanding is now common knowledge, back in the 1930s it was revolutionary in the West to think of pain in these terms. But Rolf had a eureka moment and made this argument: Every person has an optimal alignment of the body, an optimal range of motion for his body type, and, thus, an easier way for the body to interact with gravity. When this natural and optimal relationship is distorted with stressful actions, thoughts and behaviors and unnatural use of the body, the connective tissue adheres and causes internal stress and discomfort. It changes the way the body stands, sits, rests and lies. It causes pain. And this happens in relationship to the way gravity works to hold us down and pulls on us.

Gravity’s Toll

When we are hunched, tilted or crooked, gravity pulls us further out of shape.

Here is a description from the Rolfing website that says it better than I can: “Preventing discomfort is one of the objectives of Rolfing. By engaging with the self and the earth’s gravity and establishing the optimal individual alignment, the client has a greater capacity to function to the best of his or her individual ability. This is in line with Dr. Rolf’s belief that there is something of an inherent best individual alignment, realized through Rolfing.”

Rolfers (Rolfing practitioners) seek to correct the misalignment of the body during 10 sessions that realign the connective tissue to return it to normal function. This is done, sometimes with painful and sometimes gentle massage techniques, to eliminate or limit the body’s internal stress, to return the normal range of motion and realign the body so it can relate to gravity optimally.

When Rolf said “fascia is the organ of form,” she was spot on. And when she suggested that “deliberate, accurate and targeted movement of this tissue” could lead to instant relief of physical pain and increase well-being and quality of life, she began a bodywork revolution that continues to this day. In my estimation, the late Rolf was one of the originators of Western-based mind/body medicine, taking into consideration the combined role of stress, mind, body and gravity in health and well-being.

And while Rolfing is no longer called “structural integration,” that is its aim. All of you who have poor posture, visit chiropractors and massage therapists, and are looking for relief for chronic body pain should give Rolfing a try. Better yet, don’t try it, commit to a 10-session program and see how it can make you feel freer and happier.

For more information on Rolfing click here for Denver City Rolfing site.