Could rolfing give you a marathon edge?
Around this time of year, there is a tribe of people for whom every twinge of discomfort in their body plants a seed of worry and doubt.
Physiotherapy is the established course of action for anyone dealing with the fallout of putting your body under this level of pressure. Rolfing is a less well trodden path to increased lung capacity, pain-free glutes and knees that can take on the gruelling 26.2 mile run, but one which has served this marathon runner rather rell over the years. A rolfer won’t just work on the injured part of the body, they adopt a holistic approach.
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My own wont is to book in for a few sessions on the legs and diaphragm pre-marathon and, if time and money allows, for a few follow-up sessions post-marathon so I can capitalise on the fitness gains made in time for cross-country season.
“I played a lot of sport, particularly hurling. I played underaged hurling for Dublin but I hurt my back when I was 20 and I went to chiropractors, bone setters, physios. I went to see several surgeons — I even had a spinal manipulation done in 1994, but I was worse afterwards,” says Joe.
“Every now and again, I had a bit of back pain but it was nothing like it was and my posture improved a lot and my body was better aligned. I guess I wasn’t leaning, standing or sitting the way I used to, so I wasn’t putting pressure on my lower back anymore and that helped a lot.”
This year, he also began studying to be a craniosacral therapist with the Upledger Institute in Ireland, broadening the scope of his work, and recently qualified as the first Irish graduate in Sharon Wheeler’s ScarWork. Sharon was trained directly by Ida Rolf. “ScarWork is a gentle and powerful way of working with scars and scar tissue,” explains Joe. “I work with surgical scars, caesareans, friction and heat burns, dog bites, cuts, laparoscopies, etc.”
“At a very basic level, what we do is use a manual therapy — people lying on a table, we put our hands on them and work on the fascia of the body. This is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscle, muscle fibre, organs, bone, blood vessel and nerves.
Joe can still remember his first client, an opera singer in Munich. Emotionally she ‘fell apart’ after the third session. “She was in her 40s, she was a freelance opera singer who managed all her flights, bookings etc herself. It was a lot of stress for her, plus she was seeing all the younger singers coming up behind her. But she gradually noticed an uplift and that she was feeling a little better after each session and at the end, told me she felt like an egg — as in whole again. Her voice coach had also noticed an improvement in her singing as the sessions progressed.”
I know from my own rolfing experience over the years that changing spatial relationships within the body can help a person change the relationship they have with themselves and, ultimately, with other people for the better.
The KBC Dublin City Marathon takes place on Sunday, October 27 at 8.45am. Joe O’Kelly practices in The Rathmines Collective, 183 Rathmines Road Lower, D6, Tel: 086 8045218. Sessions are an hour and a half (€90 each). See okellyrolfing.com/scar-therapy; email@example.comRead more: Independent.ie
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