So let’s take myself as a case study.
During our ski trip to Japan, on one of those amazing days of deep powder, on the way back to the car my right ski got caught under the branch of a bush while my left ski kept on going. Fortunately I was going slow on this toboggan like track or I would have popped my knee out. I didn’t feel a thing; sure it stretched my right leg but nothing noticeable. I untangled myself and kept on skiing.
The next morning I woke up and my right calf was tight, not painful but tight. I couldn’t really extend my leg. But I could ski. I had to be careful not to extend my right knee fully as I was going up, but skiing down wasn’t a problem.
Next morning my calf was a little tighter, but I stretched and was careful and kept on skiing. On the first way up I felt an unfamiliar and troubling sensation in my upper calf and thought I would have to turn around, but as I got warmer it felt fine.
The next day I rested, I could tell my leg was getting angry at me.
The last skiing day of our trip I went touring again, we had to turn around because of insane winds and as I was walking (!) back something popped in my calf. I don’t remember where, I just know it hurt. I limped back to the van.
The next day we were in Sapporo for some sightseeing, at least I was; none of my travel companions felt like exploring the city.
But I was in Japan and I wasn’t going to let a sore calf prevent me from visiting!
So I walked, fast, as I only had a few hours, all over the city, in the snow.
My right leg was achy, my left leg was exhausted from having to stabilize my whole body by itself in the snow, since my right wasn’t able to do it. My back was hurting from the twisting motion I had to do with every limping step, my SI joints were unhappy as well.
We flew back to Portland and I knew I wouldn’t be able to run for a while.
I was still limping everywhere, I couldn’t stop walking, or working and the kids were not going to let me lay on the couch all day, unfortunately.
But it was slowly getting better. My back was a little sore, my left SI was inflamed, I had headaches, not every day but more than usual. I didn’t think much of if though.
After a little over a month I went on a 30 minute run, just a test, slowly.
After 15 minutes I turned around and I knew I would regret even trying.
About an hour later I couldn’t sit or stand or lay down, my calf was tight but not very painful, my right sciatic nerve was on fire though. The next day the sciatic pain was lessened and the day after… it switched leg. Now it was on my left!
My body was so out of alignment from all the compensations and micro adjustments I was making to avoid walking through the injured tissue in my right calf that it triggered a cascade of other pains or soreness in my body.
I was able to get a Rolfing session shortly after and in an hour it was gone. I waited another week and started running again, without pain.
I work on compensating patterns all the time, usually they have been in place for years. Getting Rolfing quickly after my injury and as soon as I noticed that my body was adjusting to it prevented those patterns from getting ingrained in my body and really wreaking havoc.
What would have happened if I hadn’t received Rolfing?
My sciatic nerves might have decided to stay inflamed and I would be fighting sciatica. My headaches would have stayed and affected my quality of life. My SI joint would still flare up for apparently no reason. And I would probably get injured running again and again and again.
How many people do you know have sciatica and have no idea where it comes from? Random back pain? Hip pain? You name it, if there’s no obvious cause for it, it could be a compensating pattern. Rolfing is really good at getting rid of those, so give yourself a favor, don’t wait!