Book health & wellness appointments instantly

Structural integration (including Rolfing)

Structural integration aligns, balances and lengthens the body by pressing into the connective tissues of the body and maneuvering them back into place.

Is rolfing safe if your neck/back are in spasm and you are in a lot of pain?

Stephanie Grenadier (Hingham, MA) on Sep 5, 2012
I certainly will give no give no definitive answer without putting my own hands on you and seeing your medical records but I can say that I have used myofascial release on people in excruciating pain, and when the fascia is constricting the discs, my clients have found incredible relief from the treatment. Additionally, when very tense muscles in the neck and shoulder area are contracted, the vertebrae can get compressed, causing neurological symptoms. Although myofascial release is not particularly pleasant when tissue is stuck badly enough to be causing such pain, I have never had anyone say they felt worse because of it. (But again, that is in cases where I have access to medical records and have assessed the situation.) If you are in doubt or concerned, I would first try a new pillow. Then make sure you have a massage therapist that is skilled in myofascial release, responsive to your needs, and one that goes slowly, checking in with you throughout the session. Releasing stuck fascia should not cause damage if done well and with your feedback, but it can encourage your body to shift in every which way and that may not be comfortable at first. Generally though, after the initial session, people think they have experienced a miracle. Just an opinion based on my own experiences.
Richard Bartlett (Lansing, MI) on Sep 5, 2012
Your symptoms seem consistent with a pinched nerve, which can be caused by the muscle spasms you describe. It is good that you had your spine checked first, but many times nerve pain can be caused by impingement in the muscle tissue. Rolfing can be effective, but can be more aggressive than many patients want, for a painful condition like yours. I personally would recommend a more gentle deep tissue massage, or techniques like positional release, which can be nearly painless and give significant relief. It also sounds, although I cannot tell from here, that you might have myofascial pain syndrome, in addition to the nerve pain. Look online for a reputable medical site (WebMD or Mayo Clinic for instance) and see if the typical symptoms fit your own experience. I may be wrong here, but it is good to check it out. Massage can be effective for this as well. Good luck to you, and I hope you find some relief!
Brenda Breedlove (San Francisco, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
I am sorry to hear that you are in that much pain! I know what this can be like, as I suffered through the same symptoms for a few years before I attended massage school. I now specialize in these types of problems. I can tell you that through trigger point therapy and myofascial release techniques I have helped many people, including myself! The nerves and arteries that feed the arm follow a path from the neck to the fingers and there are several places, including some of the muscles in your back, that can become chronically tense and pinch the nerve, causing the numbness. Trigger point therapy should be useful in resolving your problem, since you have a nerve problem and trigger point is a neuromuscular modality. I'm not sure I would recommend Rolfing, however. If your in my area, please contact me and I can give you a free consultation, and we can do an assessment with several orthopedic tests to pinpoint where the impingment is happening. It is important to do this soon before any atrophy (muscle wasting) happens. Keep in mind that holding your thumb or elbow on a knot is not trigger point therapy. Trigger point therapy requires a full understanding of the nervous system, and you can do more harm than good if you don't know what you're doing. I trained for 6 months to become a trigger point therapist.
Vicki Mah (Sacramento, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
I don't believe in causing more pain in the area, especially when you are trying to get rid of pain. If Rolfing is going to create unbearable pain, I do not think it is a good idea to do it. I'm pretty sure my gentle myofascial release, orthopedic structural massage, craniosacral therapy, and Chi energy will help release the fascia and reduce the pain, while opening up the range of motion and release of pinched nerve.
Deborah Gilmore (Golden, CO) on Sep 5, 2012
I wouldn't recommend starting with Rolfing. I would suggest Swedish massage and increasing your water intake and stretching, then trying some neuromuscular therapy by a certified NM therapist, and only then doing Rolfing and structural integration to correct imbalances. You would receive tremendous relief from neuromuscular therapy and many Rolfers are trained in this modality. Just be sure to ask!
Matthew Schulman (Las Vegas, NV) on Sep 5, 2012
Rolfing is painful. It is a very aggressive massage where they realign your body. Sounds like to me you need a good medical massage from someone who knows what they are doing and can help you figure your body out.
Luis Rivera (Marietta, IL) on Dec 13, 2012
As long as the rolfer is responsible with the forces and is body aware they will help with chronic pain. Also look for someone like me who helps with major pain management and reduction through structural therapy. Hope you feel better soon.