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How releasing the fascial system can aid in seasonal allergy relief

Updated: Apr 15

The New Art of Gentle Rolfing

by Vanessa Sychak Cert. Adv. Rolfer

illustration of the sinuses behind the eye

Image from Macmillan’s Textbook of Anatomy and Physiology 13th edition, illustrating the sinuses' placement behind the eyes. page 101.

Our fascial system is an intercellular matrix that exists all through the body. This clear sticky membrane weaves and connects all the systems within us. Fascial tension in one area can create restrictions in seemingly unrelated areas due to its intrinsic interconnection.

Image from Macmillan’s Textbook of Anatomy and Physiology 13th edition, illustrating the interconnectedness of the sinuses to the visceral compartment, page 60

diagram showing continuity of the gastropulmonary mucous membrane

People who suffer from repeated colds, sinus infections, asthma, seasonal allergies, or chronic inflammation may also find the fascial network stiffening in these areas. Areas that hold tension also have difficulty managing inflammation and processing fluid. 

As a Rolfer, I think about the anterior visceral compartment when I hear someone has allergies and sinus imbalances. This structure links the sinuses, throat, stomach, and visceral space. Although many of these areas cannot be reached directly, as a Rolfer, I always think about relationships within the body. By contacting the nose, hyoid attachments around the mandible, fascial relationships around the trachea, and sternal relationships to the pericardium, deep fascial structures related to the sinuses and throat can be released. Through this, I can create more fluidity for the body to move while processing inflammation and fluids through these areas. 

a practitioner demonstrating a breathing technique

Caryn McHose, Advanced Rolfing Structural Integrator and Rolf Movement specialist, often talks about the gut-body, which she describes as the primordial vessel that the rest of our cells orient around. The idea is that when we develop in the womb, the cells organize around the inner structure, forming a tube similar to a sea cucumber or jellyfish. In a human, this tube has two openings that later form the mouth and the anus. McHose believes that through subtle intrinsic movements and deep inner awareness, we can tune into the various tensions along this path to learn to open and release these deep fascial connections. For more information on these movement techniques, I highly recommend “How Life Moves, Explorations in Meaning and Body Awareness” by Caryn McHose and Kevin Frank. 

Image from How Life Moves by McHose illustrating the gut body as a vessel, page 45.

illustration of the gut body as a vessel.

As this connective tissue matrix develops and complexifies, the tube that starts at the mouth then forms the sinuses, throat, lungs, stomach, and organs and ends at the colon and anus. As a Rolfer, we address these deep spaces through the fascial relationships of the body. The Rolfer may start at the superficial layers of fascia, addressing shoulder and neck tension, then moving to the deeper layers around the tongue, jaw, sinuses, and the anterior aspects of the throat. Through these releases, people often report being able to breathe deeper and easier. Easing these restrictions can decrease allergy symptoms' severity and reduce snoring. 

A recent client, we'll call her Sam, who is a 40-year-old active female with scoliosis, acid reflux, seasonal vertigo, and joint inflammation, came in hoping to feel relief from her chronic back pain and to experience more restful sleep. She reported that she often woke up in the middle of the night with GERD and acid reflux and was having trouble sleeping. She also mentioned that she had seasonal vertigo due to allergies and, every morning, was unable to see out of her sticky, dry eyes. When asked how long she recalled having these symptoms, she stated that it had been as long as she could remember, about 30 years. She had received two 10-series of rolfing in the past from various rolfers, and we decided to do an advanced 5-series dedicated to spinal and visceral ease. We began gently addressing her feet and legs for support, her upper body addressing her neck and shoulder tension, her rib cage and diaphragm to ease her breath, and her hips for mobility. Then, in the fourth session, we focused on her anterior visceral compartment. When she came in for her 5th session, she reported that she had slept the whole night without waking, and for the first time, she could remember she could see out of her eyes in the morning. Her gerd seemed to have decreased significantly, but she could breathe better. We had her closing session integrating all the work she had received and touching up on any last areas that needed to be addressed before our closure. It has been about 6 weeks since her appointment, and she is continuing to feel improvement.

Rolfing is an experiential practice that often leads to unexpected epiphanies and profound releases. I encourage you to explore rolfing if you seek seasonal allergy relief and suffer from chronic symptoms. You might just be surprised at the connections you find in the body and the ease available within you.

Article written by Vanessa Sychak, Advanced Rolfing Structural Integrator.   


Textbook of Anatomy and Physiology by Macmillan.

How Life Moves, Explorations in Meaning and Body Awareness by Caryn McHose and Kevin Frank.

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