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Unlocking Balance: Understanding Pelvic Health through Rolfing

Understanding support within a system that's in continuous hormonal change.

Inside the pelvic bowl

Image from An Atlas of Anatomy, Grant. 1947. page 172

Rolfing is all about the relationships within the body. One area of interest is the pelvis and how it relates to the rest of the structure. The pelvis houses many body functions, such as elimination, movement, and reproduction; places with functional transitions tend to experience more dysfunction due to the extra load and requirements in those areas.

In the pelvis, we have the legs (femurs) meeting the hips (ilium). Here the elephant ears of the hips coordinate with the sacrum. The sacrum which is the keystone of the pelvis and also the last bone of the spine has a dual function. The sacrum supports the movement of the ilium in walking while transferring movement up through the spine. It also houses many sacral attachments that weave and connect to form the pelvic bowl.

In Rolfing, we think a lot about the horizontal relationships within the body. These would be any planes of fascia that run horizontally. An example of this would be the plantar fascia and the discs in between the vertebrae. These horizontal planes communicate with one another by way of hydrostatic pressure systems within the body. These hydrostatic pressure systems are like balloons that stack on top of one another and allow for vertical balance without the sensation of crushing or sinking. This is why we don't feel the weight of our organs. However, birthing, surgery, endometriosis, and other pelvic imbalances can throw off this delicate balancing system.

In understanding pelvic health and Rolfing, an imbalance in the hydrostatic pressure chamber within the pelvic floor can result in additional weight being placed downwards into the bowl. This can result in incontinence as well as prolapse. In addition to imbalances within the pelvic floor, imbalances can be felt throughout the entire body as all the hydrostatic systems adjust to the various incongruences around them. Therefore it's not uncommon for people who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction to also have TMJD, migraines, or plantar fascitis as the body begins to feel the stress of these pressure changes throughout.

Mary Bond, Advanced Rolfer, Rolf Movement Practioner, and Author has a wonderful book titled The New Rules of Posture, How to Sit, Stand, and Move in the Modern World. In this book, she describes many of the common imbalances and provides movement, breathing, and meditative techniques for rebalancing our systems.

One area of interest she discusses is the core connections of the body and the unique challenges women have to establish core balance. Bond says,

"Women have special needs for a healthy approach to core support because women's bodies are naturally more prone than men's to fluctuations of weight and pressure in the abdomen and pelvis. From the monthly menstrual cycle to pregnancy and menopause, women's bodies are continuously bombarded by their hormones. Many women respond to hormonal fluctuations by developing chronic tension in the wrong abdominal corset. They pinch themselves in at the waist, trying to look thin. The result is that millions of women suffer unnecessarily from poor breathing habits, reduced sexual responsiveness, and urinary incontinence." (p. 93)

As Rolfers, we work to address these whole-body relationships. We address scar tissue and begin to rebalance the fascial planes within the body by establishing connection and coordination throughout the whole system. Working with an Advanced Rolfer specializing in visceral manipulation, craniosacral, or somatic movement, can greatly benefit re-establishing balance in the system. While severe cases of pelvic floor dysfunction may result in the need for additional outside interventions such as surgery or working with a pelvic floor PT, working with a Rolfer can be a great additional resource in addressing whole-body imbalances as well as providing educational resources to bring balance to oneself.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact Vanessa at South Slope Acupuncture and Wellness!

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This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.

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