We are organized by tensions of our fascia system. Read why we need tension and only too much leads to wear, pain and inefficiency. And if you tensions are distorted? Why only a coordinated modification of many individual tensions can promise lasting improvement.
Our fascia system works like the rigging of a sailing ship, i.e. like the entire rope system around the mast. Differently strong pulls erect the mast and hold it there against lateral forces and winds.
The trap for back pain
You know the advertising “a strong back knows no pain” or the advice that abdominal training is good for the back. Sure, you can’t do it without strength. But what happens to too much power? And transferred to the sailing ship and the rigging. What happens if all ropes pull more and more at the mast? Hobbyists will say, after solid comes broken.
Back pain – I break through
One possibility is that the mast suddenly bends to the side like a walking stick that gives way under the load. In a ship, this would be particularly easy to achieve if the rear ropes leading to the top of the mast were to pull particularly hard, while the front ropes attached to the center of the mast were to hold against it vigorously.
In our back there are actually two muscle groups that can pull on our spine. These are the long back extensors and the psoas lying on the abdominal side of the spine. And these muscles have a lot of strength!
I see these tensions especially in athletic women, the spine lies deep between well formed, strong back muscles.
In addition, the knees are often stretched backwards. Relief of back tension is achieved for a short time by stretching the back to the rear by bending forward. A disastrous compensation can also consist in pressing the back a little straighter again through a permanent tension of the abdomen. The abdominal muscles thus work against the continuing tension of back extensors and psoas. Irritable bowel syndrome should then be taken literally. Because it irritates through excessive pressure and prevents the natural mobility (motility) of your “intestines”.
Back pain – I prefer not to move my back
What happens if the tension of the mast is very even? And the mast cannot break out to the side as above? At some point he’ll break through the hull into the water. Now our spinal column does not correspond to the one mast of a ship. Rather, many “mast pieces” are braced on top of each other. Between each “mast piece”, each vertebra, lies an intervertebral disc like a tensed ball.
This ball is now constantly subjected to too much load and will wear out more quickly. Back pain then develops acutely as a result of a herniated disc or creepingly as a result of gradual pressure on the nerves, which should be kept free by the intervertebral discs.
These back pains are mainly found in very straight backs and tend to affect men. A very straight back does not break out so easily. But it loses its ability to work as a shock absorber. I.e., each step transfers the impact of the occurrence directly to all intervertebral discs, without the curved shape of the spine being able to absorb part of the force. The intervertebral discs feel like a baseball that is always hit on the same spot. This results in faster wear, nerve entrapment and – as protection – more tension. This closes a vicious circle. Because the painful tensioning restricts the wear to always the same areas and thus accelerates it.
Compensating tensions in the fascia system
The aim of Rolfing is to balance tensions in such a way that there is less wear and tear and thus less pain. The trick is to very specifically release the tensions that have the greatest effect on the overall statics. Thus, a part of the holding work can let go. As a result areas of the fabric are stimulated that never had to perform their actual work due to high adjacent tension. The phenomenon of sore muscles can therefore occur, although “only” a targeted relaxation was aimed at.
The effect of Rolfing is partly the reduction of tension. In addition, tissue differentiation is also expected to occur, allowing the independent use of muscles and muscle components. Independent means that not all “somehow” involved muscles are used, but only those that are actually necessary. People with very straight backs therefore often have to learn to lift their legs when climbing stairs without using some of the muscles in and around their buttocks. Because it is this active tension that pulls the back straight.