Monthly Archives: July 2014

Rolfing for Low Back Pain, Could Be a Tight Psoas

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Low Back Pain Could Be a Tight Psoas

If you find yourself sitting at a desk for hours at a time in this age of personal computers, you may, like so many others, experience some back pain. Most of us would probably blame bad posture (slouching) for the discomfort and in many cases you’d be correct.

But there is an often forgotten cause of back pain that can be treated successfully with some simple stretching exercises. It’s caused by a tight or shortened Psoas muscle (pronounced: So-as). The Psoas is located deep in the abdomen and attaches the femur (thigh) to the pelvis and lumbar spine (low back). Its job is hip flexion; pulling our thigh up towards our chest. We use is when we walk, dance or kick a ball.

Prolonged sitting and lack of exercise can, over time, shorten the Psoas. When we stand up after sitting for a while, the shortened Psoas pulls the lumbar spine forward into increased lordosis (sway back). See diagram above. We often experience this as a stiff or achy low back.

If you have to sit for prolonged periods at a work station and experience stiffness when you stand up, here are a couple stretching exercises that could really help. These should be done twice a day initially until the discomfort starts to subside and then continued daily to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. Rolfing Structural Integration can help people with a tight psoas muscle to feel more comfortable.

1. Half-Kneeling Psoas Stretch
Half kneel on a pillow or folded blanket, one foot out in front. Raise your arm up to the ceiling, throwing your head back and arching your back while shifting your weight forward towards your front foot. You’ll feel the stretch in your stomach and thigh on the side on which you’re kneeling. Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute. This may be hard at first so work up to it. Alternate sides and repeat this sequence so you’re stretched both sides twice. This exercise is also good for your upper back and neck.

2. Thomas Stretch
Sit on the edge of a firm bed or table (if it’s strong enough) with only your buttocks on the bed (not your thighs). Pull one knee up towards your chest and allow the other leg to hang over the bed in an extended, relaxed position. Now slowly rock back to a lying position while holding your knee to your chest. You’ll feel the stretch on the front of the extended leg. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Alternate sides and repeat this sequence so you’re stretched both sides twice. This can sometimes be too aggressive for individuals who are very tight so start with exercise #1 until you can so the Thomas Stretch without pain.

If you’re not a very active person who sits for prolonged periods, there’s a good chance your Psoas is tight, so incorporate these exercises into you day and look forward to feeling better with less back pain and stiffness.

To learn how Rolfing can help with lower back pain, click here to visit Denver City Rolfing website.

Rolfing for Emotional and Psychological Trauma

 

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People often come into my Denver City Rolfing practice asking about the benefits of Rolfing emotional well-being. If you’ve gone through a traumatic experience, you may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with the right treatment, self-help strategies, and support, you can speed your recovery. Whether the traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on.

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Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by single-blow, one-time events, such as a horrible accident, a natural disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can also stem from ongoing, relentless stress, such as living in a crime-ridden neighborhood or struggling with cancer.

 

 

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Following a traumatic event, or repeated trauma, people react in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond to trauma, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.

 

In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, you must face and resolve the unbearable feelings and memories you’ve long avoided. Otherwise they will return again and again, unbidden and uncontrollable.

Trauma treatment and healing involves:

  • Processing trauma-related memories and feelings
  • Discharging pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy
  • Learning how to regulate strong emotions
  • Building or rebuilding the ability to trust other people

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Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets stuck in overdrive. Successful trauma treatment must address this imbalance and reestablish your physical sense of safety. The following therapies are commonly used in the treatment of emotional and psychological trauma:

  • Rolfing or other Somatic experiencing takes advantage of the body’s unique ability to heal itself. The focus of therapy is on bodily sensations, rather than thoughts and memories about the traumatic event. By concentrating on what’s happening in your body, you gradually get in touch with trauma-related energy and tension. From there, your natural survival instincts take over, safely releasing this pent-up energy through shaking, crying, and other forms of physical release.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. These back-and-forth eye movements are thought to work by “unfreezing” traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma. While cognitive-behavioral therapy doesn’t treat the physiological effects of trauma, it can be helpful when used in addition to a body-based therapy such as somatic experiencing or EMDR.

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Recovering from emotional and psychological trauma takes time. Give yourself time to heal and to mourn the losses you’ve experienced. Don’t try to force the healing process. Be patient with the pace of recovery. Finally, be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.

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