How do we express ourselves through our feet? We think of dancers being very connected to their feet-to the expression of energy and rhythm, and shape, spatial positioning. But all who walk upright live from the ground up, in how we relate to the earth, and how we support our spines, heads, and dreams.
Feet are not blocks of wood. They are lithe instruments of perception and action. Opening them up to a greater range of motion, responsiveness allows the whole person to feel as if they are ‘growing up out of the ground’, finding better balance, and helping us to feel more emotionally centered as well. For dancers, I would call on you to experiment with openings all through the foot; not just the ability to point or plie. How easily can you stand? Can you release through the heel and ankle? Can you allow the gentle spiral of balanced rotations, of balanced supination, in the standing part of gait, to pronation in the push off phase?
The hardest thing about this for many dancers is the act of venturing outside of the limits of the training that they have received, from ballet and many forms of modern dance and jazz. If nature had intended us to have feet like pointe shoes, we would be proportioned like elephants, who are so large in relation to their feet that they are essentially always “sur les pointes”-walking on an extremely small surface area. How many ballerinas can claim the softness of gait and agility of an elephant, really?
Bodies are a constant work in progress, for better or worse. They respond to how we move, in daily life, class, at the gym or whatever. One of the theories about bunion development, for example, is that the stress is going into that part of the foot because of an overuse of the big toe/first metatarsal joint, and usually in a laterally rotated lower leg. Worse, instead of a bunion,an arthritis can develop in this joint, possibly leading to a total fusion and immobility there.
What I wonder is; what important joints and muscles above this joint are being underused, to create overuse in this area? By opening movement through the heel and ankle, we can hopefully head off this kind of dysfunction and pain. I teach my clients how to work with balls to help with this, and movement coaching in gait. A positive byproduct of this work is increased sureness in standing and walking, and more ease and confidence. I think of a sense of joy that rises up from below, naturally, like the Asian concept of a ‘bubbling spring’ coming up from the ground and through the feet. What a great idea!
Note: I work with knee issues all the time. Often a knee problem can be resolved in 3 sessions! While the article below is a bit over detailed, I hope you get the idea that I enjoy working with the legs and feet!
I’ve been working lately with a string of people with really bad knee issues, ranging from recent injuries to chronic issues starting as early as at five years old. It’s amazing what hands-on work ranging from but not limited to normalizing motion of feet, ankles, leg including shin and calf muscle fascia, interosseous movement between tibia and fibula, circulation behind the knee at the soleal line, unkinking the popliteal muscle, balancing and mobilizing the IT band attachment at Gerdy’s tubercle relative to the pes anserinus attachments of sartorius, gracilis and semitenidinosis fascias, frictioning ligaments all around the knee, deep adductor/quad or hamstring differentiation, balancing the hamstrings (in eccentric, i.e. lengthening with load, function) normalizing the quads in function, deep work on quad attachments at the line aspera, releasing and lengthening the articularis genu in relation to the joint capsule and whatever else my hands remember that my post-writing brain forgets ( or wants to spare you from). After this work, my clients report feeling incredibly better ( especially since I always do back work, neck work and some type of sacrum listening like a good Rolfer™ should). They suddenly have more confidence to put weight through that foot, and that allows a sense of calm and ease through the body that had been lacking, unbeknownst often.
I also always figure out self care coordination and awareness homework as well as exercises, and these last will probably involve strengthening the muscles around the hip. These will probably be focused on muscles that have lost mass, tone and coordination because of their knee instability and pain, or were even perhaps the cause of your injury or condition. These are as important as anything we do that day for long-term improvement in that knee. They have a better chance of helping a more balanced leg and hip, attained by my hands-on work. The two together are definitely better than just the hands-on alone, or just physical therapy-like exercises alone, in my opinion. Do your exercises! Save you knee for the activities you love, like walking, hiking, playing tennis for a longer and happier life!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rolfing in Boulder, LLC Receives 2015 Best of Boulder Award
Boulder Award Program Honors the Achievement
BOULDER August 12, 2015 — Rolfing in Boulder, LLC, Robert McWilliams Certified Advanced Rolfer™ and Rolf Movement® Practitioner has been selected for the 2015 Best of Boulder Award in the Alternative Medicine category by the Boulder Award Program.
Each year, the Boulder Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Boulder area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Boulder Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Boulder Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About Boulder Award Program
The Boulder Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Boulder area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The Boulder Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.
SOURCE: Boulder Award Program
Boulder Award Program
Robert McWilliams Certified Advanced Rolfer, Rolf Movement Practitioner’s photo.
Robert McWilliams Certified Advanced Rolfer, Rolf Movement Practitioner
who you are,
where it all comes together,
what you are looking for,
when you feel more in synch,
doesn’t matter how.
Rolfing® Structural Integration and Rolf Movement Integration are a means.
When you feel tired…
-of being in chronic pain, like plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, low back pain
-of feeling like your body is “older” than it should be, with neck tension, tight shoulders, tight back, tight hips, tight ankles and more
-when everyday movements feel more clumsy and difficult than previously, and you just want to feel more like “yourself”.
Definitely consider seeing me ( if you live close enough in Boulder or Oklahoma City): when you want results in fewer sessions; for clear suggestions and feedback related to fitness and movement awareness practices to deepen gains made in Rolfing® Structural Integration sessions; to feel freer as well as more grounded.
This is a worthy investment in your ability to function and enjoy life. Let me be your ally!
I just took a wonderful workshop with Ron Murray, Advanced Rolfer, Osteopath, and Berry Method teacher. We explored the relationships in the ankle, knee and thigh between very mobile and less mobile but pivotal areas. These are termed lemniscate relationships. A lemniscate is a figure 8 and infinity symbol, and as such in the body describes a spirallic interrelationship of parts to each other and to the whole. When, in the body, the sacroiliac joint ( a much less mobile area) is out just a little bit, it has a major effect on the hip joint ( a much more mobile moment center). It can also be that the tissues that relate these elements can get stuck in a dysfunctional orientation ( like the fibers of the interosseous membrane of the leg after a sprained ankle). Focusing on these relationships is a way to resolve major muscle and orthopedic issues for clients.
It occurred to me that this way of looking at interdependent elements in a system, and how to identify fulcra for dysfunction and positive change could also apply to our emotional bodies, spiritual bodies, and how we relate to self and others generally. Food for thought, for me, and I believe that our body’s inner knowing responds to this by moving out of ‘stuckness’ in these primary relationships in our bodies and lives towards more freedom of choice and more awareness.
These posts are written for a diverse audience: potential Rolfing® clients who are trying to get a feel for what the work is like, and if it’s for them, as well as newer Rolfers™ looking for ideas for session work, and possibly even more experienced practitioners comparing notes and looking to get new ideas or insights. I do it all the time. Why not? If you’re a Rolfer, red the whole thing! If you’re a potential client, skim through it and see what stands out to you as interesting. It may not all make much sense. Contact me if you have questions. I love talking about this work.
There contemporary client is often like this. DS had major spinal fusions in her lumbar and cervical spine areas after a bad motorcycle accident that she had initially ‘walked away’ from with nothing except knee pain. MRI on the knee revealed no damage, but on the lower spine, later imaging revealed major problems which required surgery.
Today was my second session with her, the first being a month ago. In that one, I mostly ‘put out fires’ by easing peripheral nerves, but also gave her tools to strengthen the support around her lower back and sacroiliac area. Today I decided to start really working to improve her support from the ground. After gentle work to release the nerves in her neck for 15 minutes, I began the deep work into the legs that is one of the hallmarks of Structural Integration: work on the calves and feet to help the back ( we call it “Second Hour” type work). When I do any second hour, I always check the peripheral nerve involvement first, be it from the lower spine, abdomen, thigh or in the leg (calf region). I am also checking the basic shape (morphology) and axes of motion in ankle, knee and hip.
When you pay attention to the nerves, your hands get sensitized to problem areas. They just stand out to me as a tightness or a cable-like feel when they are inflamed or otherwise impinged. Joint levers don’t work normally, either, making a leg or arm feel unnaturally heavy in motion testing ( which I do constantly). Sometimes I focus on treating the nerve itself through slacking, pulsing or stretching it at the depth that I sense will do it some good ( often not very deep, including skin manipulation called dermoneuromodulation created by Diane Jacobs). Sometimes, though, I will work a complementary structure at the other side of a joint that I feel is pulling o that nerve and causing the problem ( ok, I probably will hedge bets and do both, but put more time and attention in one tan the other as appropriate). In DS’ case, strain in the tibial branch of her left sciatic nerve was markedly eased by working to ‘un-bow’ her left knee, including but not limited to rolling the quadriceps tendons medially, work at the back of the knee on popliteous and soles at the line of insertion.
To beginning Rolfers out there: when I do “Session Two” work, I also will ‘feather in’ work from related sessions such as four or six. Deep work along the adductors ( relating to session four) hamstrings ( after that sciatic nerve eased; from Sixth Hour in intent but in First Hour position), and even on hip abductors ( from Thurd Hour, lower body aspects).
It’s also important for me to just respond to the first thing I see. When DS walked, she held her arms very still at her sides. She had always had people remark on that, even before the accident, she said. She is small in stature at maybe 5′ tall, but her arms and shoulders are kind of large. I asked her if she and any feelings about how they looked, and she mentioned that she does feel self-conscious about them. Now this was actually the first stuff we worked on, before we did any “table work” today. I had her just stand and feel into the whole size of her body, and let herself occupy her whole space. I did not look at her while she was doing this, nor when she took that sense into walking, until after a minute of her own experimentation with that. “What is it like to breathe when you let your self fill your whole space like that?”” A lot easier!” “Do you notice you let your arms move more, too”” Yes!”
That ‘body image’ work at the beginning, combined with fascial (we were able to deep neck work in a seated position, opening scalenes and levator scapula through simple head rotations with deep contact from me in these areas), neural, joint release ( we did gentle yet effective osteopathy-derived techniques to release and balance the bones of the pelvis/lower spine) and reviewed her fitness goals ( walking; twisting exercises to cinch up the lumbodorsal fascia through waking up the internal and external oblique muscles). She has been doing lot better since the first time she came in a month ago, and was really happy about the progress, sense of ease and smoothness in gait and lack of lower back pain.
Basically, if you made it this far, you’re probably either another Rolfer or just naturally really curious. Great!!
What do you think? Let me know.