Rolfing’s Holistic Approach: Optimal for Pain Relief & Body Maintenance

holistic rolfing

If the pain is gone, why keep up Rolfing treatments?

Rolfing is a holistic approach to bodywork. It’s not only a treatment for pain relief, it’s also a whole-body method that restores balance. If you’re interested in not just treating the symptoms, but the cause, then consider that Rolfing may need to be part of your body’s  “health maintenance” plan.

Think about the whole-body connection. Something going on in your foot can give you shoulder pain. Why? Because your body’s musculature, connective tissues, and nerves don’t exist in silos. Everything is connected. That’s not to say you don’t celebrate the pain going away! Just be aware that unless the underlying causes are treated and resolved, symptoms return.

Holism: (from the Greek term holos “all, whole, entire”) is the idea that various systems (e.g. physical, biological, social) should be viewed as wholes, not merely as a collection of parts.

Wikipedia

Rolfing looks at the holistic picture.

You likely called me because you want to get rid of pain. And I became a Certified Rolfer to help people recover from pain. But it’s essential that we get your body back into overall alignment, not just chase pain symptoms. That’s why I try to remind my clients that no one can “heal” your body for you. Your body – if it’s in a healthier state – heals itself. My goal is to help your body get to the point that its natural healing capabilities kick in.

When I look at your body’s problems, I look at the whole body. That’s what Rolfing is all about. Yes, pain is how our bodies tell us something is wrong. What pain isn’t so great at telling us is the issue, or source, of the discomfort. The jammed big toe that “heals” can still throw off your gait enough to cause low back pain. Those painful bunions? Blame your abdominal organs as much as you do bad shoe choices. Yep, sounds nuts but it’s true.

So, when you begin a Rolfing series with me, know that we’re going to look at your situation holistically. That’s what Rolfing structural integration is meant to do, not only to look at where changes can be made but also how your life-use of your mind/body could be causing or exacerbating discomfort.  After all, you want permanent healing, and that’s what I want for you, too.

To get a holistic view of what’s going on with your body, and get to the root of pain, contact Christopher via his website or simply schedule your Rolfing session with him directly here


Fingers tingle or go numb? May (or may not) be Carpal Tunnel.

Think you have CTS? (Carpal Tunnel)

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) tends to be the go-to self-diagnosis for anyone who’s feeling persistent pain, tingling, or numbness in their fingers. That’s unsurprising when you consider all of the attention on ergonomics, pain from bad computing habits, and so on. A true carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis is a little more specific because it has to do with the median nerve.

Your median nerve is also called the “laborer’s nerve.” While it’s only one of three main nerves that send and receive information up and down your arms, it’s the main nerve for the front of your forearm. You may assume that because you do a lot of repetitive motion at work, you’re suffering from CTS. While that can be the case, CTS can stem from many causes: oral contraceptives, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes, trauma, obesity, and lipomas.

Median Nerve Compression

What’s happening is that that median nerve is being compressed right at the wrist, causing disease or damage. Think about all the nerves that have to get down to your fingers – all go through the “tunnel” of your wrist (carpal) bones. You’ll notice numbness, pain, and tingling in your fingers and thumbs and think,

“Oh, I must have carpal tunnel syndrome.”

Oddly enough, when I go through the diagnostic process before we dive into a Rolfing treatment program, I discover that all the issues are actually happening in areas not fed by the median nerve, but others.

They’re surprised to learn that the nerve entrapment most people believe to be CTS is actually coming from much further up the arm. It can even be from nerves weaving their way through the collarbone on the way to our necks, the most common place nerves get entrapped.

Right now, so many people have been in unusual work-from-home setups that I’m seeing more nerve compression and muscle issues than I have in a while. Carpal tunnel is a really familiar term to most people, so when I get a call saying, “My CTS is acting up” I’m not immediately going to suggest anything that’s specific to CTS. Because it may or may not be carpal tunnel.

Are you wondering now just what that pins-and-needles or numbness is? Let’s schedule a Rolfing appointment either in Tacoma or Bellevue so we can find the real culprit and get you moving freely again.


What can Rolfing do for a pulled muscle?

pulled muscle relief rolfing

How do your muscles get pulled in the first place? Muscle fibers stretch too far past normal working length, tearing muscle fibers. That causes what we’re most familiar with as a “pulled muscle.” It can be severe enough to keep you from working out like usual for weeks at a time. Let’s talk about recovery and Rolfing – because you definitely want to recover properly to get back to 100%.

How can Rolfing help you recover from pulled muscles?’

Usually, the first thing we want to do is try to stretch it out. The assumption is that we pulled it because it was too short. Here’s where understanding how one part of the body’s musculature and myofascial affect another part is so important.

For example, did you know a pulled hamstring may not have anything to do with your hamstring being short? Yep. It could be that a short quadricep is pulling your pelvis into a front tilt. Because your hamstrings attach to the back of your pelvis, your hamstring is actually being pulled too long! That means the last thing you want to do is stretch your hamstrings. Instead, you need to stretch – or lengthen – your quads.

Other reasons for pulled muscles: Poor habits & dehydration.

You may be thinking, “How could my quads get too short?” It all depends on how you’re using your body, from how you sit to how you work out. If an injury or a bad habit makes your muscles misfire – the sequence is off – then it’s a lot easier to pull a muscle.

Another reason for a pulled muscle is dehydration. You’d be amazed at how much it matters to your muscles that you’re well-hydrated, because there’s simply no elasticity in dehydrated soft tissue. Here, test yourself:

Pinch the skin right behind any knuckle on your hand. Did it flatten out right away? Excellent. Way to keep hydrated. Did it stay pinched for any time at all? You’re dehydrated – drink water now!

Remember, as little as 2% dehydration affects your mental alertness and physical performance. Get into the habit of checking your non-diuretic fluid intake. Caffeinated coffee, sodas, even green tea, causes more frequent urination. If you’re not balancing that out with healthy hydration, you’re placing your muscles – and your mind – at a disadvantage.

We’ll explore all possible reasons for your muscle pain during your initial examination when I evaluate your body mechanics. Our Rolfing sessions together are focused on getting your body – and how you use it – back into balance for the long term. That often means creating new habits and patterns. Let’s get started!

At Horan Rolfing, my goal is to help you move pain-free again. We’ll work together to restore your body’s ease, balance, and strength. Schedule a Rolfing appointment with me in the Tacoma location of Horan Rolfing or in the Bellevue office.


Got a Pain in the Butt? Could be Sciatica.

It’s true – you’d be surprised at the number of Rolfing clients who walk in and point to their butt, complaining of sciatica. My first step is to determine through diagnostics which nerves are causing problems, like if the visceral system is even involved.

Here’s what happens with sciatica. The sciatic nerve (root of sciatica) begins in L4 – S3 (L meaning Lumbar vertebra and S meaning Sacral segments) and goes down the back of your leg, continuing into your feet. If that nerve is “pinched” anywhere along the line, you’ll feel pain. It can cause issues walking, standing, lying down – in fact, sciatic nerve inflammation can be a pretty miserable situation.

Nerves can be tricky.  They talk a lot amongst themselves, sharing irritation. They’re reliable in that you know when something hurts. Yet getting specifics on where the hurt begins isn’t always as obvious. One compressed nerve tells all the connected nerves, then the brain, that things aren’t right. Well, then the brain gets involved and suddenly you feel like lots of areas are inflamed. Say, for instance, your toe hurts. That doesn’t necessarily mean your toe is injured, just that the nerves in your toe feel pain. The origination point could be somewhere way up the line.

I’m 2/3 the way through the series with Mr. Horan and it’s been incredible to see my posture improve and my long-time sciatica go away completely. – M. Fish, Horan Rolfing Client

What happens when you tell me, “I think I have sciatica.”

I’m going to look at the potential sciatic nerve compression points – spinal, muscular and organ. This is why the ability to discover the start of sciatica imageyour discomfort is so important to resolving it. Every potential cause needs assessment. If you have damage to an intervertebral disc in the spine, protrusion into the nerve area can irritate the sciatic nerve. Or say the nerve is perfectly fine in the spine, but then the rectum or the sigmoid colon (both organs that sit right in front of it) compress the nerve causing pain. Then there’s the deeply seated piriformis muscle, a common source of sciatic nerve pain, tingling, or even numbness that runs down the leg or into the foot, as in piriformis syndrome.

As a Certified Rolfer, my aim is to 1) diagnose the actual pain source, and 2) free up the affected structures. Here’s also where balance is so important to the surrounding areas. It may call for evaluation of your movement patterns. It’s common for habits in gait, stance, or sitting to affect our bodies. Exercise routines could be exacerbating an issue. We’ll look at how retraining those habits or adjusting routines could help.

Christopher Horan’s Rolfing therapies help alleviate issues from sciatica. His mission is to help restore freedom of movement without pain. You can schedule a Rolfing appointment with him in Horan Rolfing’s Tacoma or Bellevue office. Sciatic nerve pain relief is only a call away!


Does Rolfing Hurt?

does rolfing hurt christopher horan certified rolfer

No, Rolfing does not hurt you, at least it doesn’t when I do it.  You may have heard that Rolfing® Structural Integration is painful. It doesn’t need to be. Yes, I’m pushing your system so we can help your body change, but the more you relax, focus on what the sensations tell you, the more receptive to change your body will be.

In my experience, results come more productively when I work with your nervous system. I believe that positive body change is more likely to happen that way than if I work tissue while completely disregarding your comfort level.

Rolfing executed too deeply, too fast can cause your system to tense up.

That’s your body’s natural response as it tries to protect itself.  I don’t want to fight against bodily instincts, but to work at a level that keeps you relaxed on the table, working with me.

My clients typically report Rolfing as feeling like a satisfying deep pressure or a really nice deep stretch.

Every session is a little different. There’s a broad spectrum of what you can expect or will feel. For instance, if the pain source is an organ or entrapped nerves, the work feels incredibly gentle. Resistance usually surfaces when we’re trying to change entrenched patterns, like compensating from longtime pain or an injury. Or even correcting bad posture. Tissue “pushes back” vs simply accepting change.

That’s why I encourage communication throughout every Rolfing session.

Everyone has a different level of sensitivity. Is the manipulation too intense? Let me know. I do not take offense at your feedback about your body. Persistence is necessary, but not at the cost of progress or comfort.

It’s true that there are practitioners who tend to work from a “no pain, no gain” perspective. That works for some. Personalities and beliefs differ. All Rolfers go through essentially the same training yet each of us develops our own approach to Rolfing. You’ll want to choose the Certified Rolfer who most aligns with your needs and personality.

At Horan Rolfing, my sole aim is to restore your body’s ease, balance, and strength. To help you move pain-free again. You can schedule a Rolfing appointment with me in the Tacoma location of Horan Rolfing or in the Bellevue office.


Do you have “good posture”? Does it matter?

good posture vs bad posture

How important is good posture to your body, really?  Some people believe that if you don’t have great postural habits, then you’re always going to hurt. Yet there are some people who slouch through life with little to no pain.

What healthy or good posture does is help in our fight against gravity. Here’s how.

The head is heavy. If it’s lined up correctly, your neck and shoulder muscles can work as they should; if not, you get a tight neck, tight shoulders, and eventual pain.

What’s the proper position for healthy posture? Your ears should line up with your mid-shoulder, as viewed from the side. That places your head and torso in proper position to support your head’s weight. Then your neck muscles can perform as designed, stabilizing and mobilizing to let you easily turn your head, nod, etc. That’s “good posture.”

Posture vs Gravity

What happens when your head is out of position, or “turtled” forward?  Tight neck and shoulders, leading to pain.  Those back-of-neck and shoulder muscles weren’t designed for that kind of counterbalance.  When your positioning is off kilter, the muscles are literally fighting gravity all day long.  They over-contract, can’t work as designed, meaning you can’t rotate and extend your head without pain or limited range-of-motion like you should. That’s not “good posture.”

Your posture can tell me a lot about how your body is doing.

I look to see if your posture is “correct” and if not, why?  Postural imbalance and resulting pain could come from a usage imbalance, genetics, a muscle misfire due to an entrapped nerve, or an irritated organ. From a Rolfing Structural Integration (Rolfing SI) standpoint, I know that the most common reason for your bearing to be off is that your body’s compensating for the pain or discomfort these can cause.

Correcting these internal misalignments are what Rolfing is all about. If postural imbalance is causing you discomfort or pain, my focus will be to restore your body’s balance. I’ll review your posture and take you through a diagnostic process to find the true source of the issue, and improve your posture, too!

Christopher Horan’s Rolfing therapies help to restore your body’s ease, balance and strength. You can schedule a Rolfing appointment with him in Horan Rolfing’s Tacoma or Bellevue office. Good posture is only a call away.


Is Knee Pain Taking You Down? Talk to Your Rolfer

knee pain rolfing helps

Did you know that what starts as knee pain can cause pain elsewhere? That’s because if you don’t treat knee pain quickly, your body compensates. “Making up” for the knee, which is a pivotal hinge joint, will send your body off track. Rolfing tackles the cause of your pain for a long-term vs a short-term fix.

Because you need the knee joint for locomotion, if the pain is debilitating, all activity suffers. Sports play, walking, running, even simple actions like rising from a chair or taking the stairs hurt. That one vital joint permits flexion and extension, as well as a slight medial and lateral rotation. In other words, a healthy knee bends and straightens, plus – ever so slightly – rotates. What it’s NOT meant to do is move laterally or to rotate excessively. Our hips and ankles are supposed to handle those types of movements.

“I’ve had limited range of motion in my knee for years and within a few visits he has restored the range to almost 100%.”

– Satisfied Rolfing Client

When you visit either my Tacoma or Bellevue Rolfing practice, we’ll discover the source of your joint pain. I treat a lot of people specifically for knee injury. While some knee problems are from familiar causes, others may surprise you.

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

6 Questions About Knee Pain

My job as your Rolfer is to not only relieve the painfulness, but also to figure out where it stems from.  To start, I ask myself these questions when I’m examining you:

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

As a Certified Rolfer treating knee pain, I aim to return balance to the tissues surrounding the joint, plus improve tissue mobility in the hip and ankle. Why are the hip and ankle involved? Because if they function correctly, there’s less strain on the knee to move in a way that it’s not designed to do. 

Keep in mind that as the cause of the imbalance is often nowhere near where it shows up, my goal is to not only free you from the pain, but also to find and treat its origin.  


As a Certified Rolfer, Christopher Horan uses Rolfing to restore your body’s ease, balance and movement. 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. Schedule your Rolfing session with Christopher today in either his Tacoma or Bellevue location.


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.


Now Scheduling: Horan Rolfing Reopens After COVID-19 Lockdown

Horan Rolfing reopens scheduling

First of all, I hope you and yours have – and remain – healthy. Secondly, I’m happy to announce that Horan Rolfing is open and scheduling clients for Rolfing appointments. You can visit the site here to access my online scheduling system, review availability, and schedule your sessions.

Thank you for loyalty - post COVID-19

As my Rolfing practice continues business operations, there will be new precautions and office safety measures implemented for the wellbeing of both you and me. I invite you to follow me on social media for updates on the practice, plus tips to keep your body moving well between Rolfing sessions. 

Before scheduling your appointment, please review the below to understand the new operating procedures at Horan Rolfing. And finally, my sincere thanks, for your support and loyalty over the years.

In health,

Christopher


Horan Rolfing Safety | New Operating Procedures

All hard, touchable surfaces are being wiped down with CDC approved cleaners in between every session, including chairs, stools, doorknobs, face cradle, tabletops, disk, my cell phone, lamps.

  • All sheets and linens are replaced between every session.
  • My hands are washed before and after every session.
  • I am wearing a face-mask during every session.

When Not to Come in for a Rolfing Session

Because people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness, for office safety, anyone experiencing the below symptoms should not come in to Horan Rolfing for a session.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Headache

Until we see each other again, if you’re feeling tight, try a stretch, like the Hip Flexor one below. Thank you for scheduling your next appointment, and for your continued support – see you soon!

Hip Flexor Stretch to Help Prevent Injury & to Relieve Tight Hip Muscles
Try my step-by-step instructional video on how to safely stretch your hip flexors. Your hip flexors are stabilizing muscles that let you bend from the hip. More video shorts to come, 
here. Keep moving safely – Christopher