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,


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

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.

Want to Schedule a Session, Click Here