I grew up, in Paris, France, in a household where Freud was a common name and his theories were bedside stories.
Well, it was probably not that bad, but that’s what it feels like today. I still have the highest respect for the father of psychoanalysis. No he wasn’t perfect but he was the first, the pioneer, like Ida Rolf in her field. Anyway I just assume I would go into psychology.
But as a teenager I met a wonderful osteopath, he was also a martial artist and, for me at least, a kind of guru. He studied psychology and felt like they were not talking about the body enough, then he studied PT and felt that they were not talking about the mind enough, then he studied traditional manual osteopathy. He mixed all of these modalities and became who he was. This calm, wise, older man with the kindest, bluest eyes you’ve ever seen.
Even his name was telling Mr Rocher or Rock in English. A session with him was half talk half bodywork, depending on what my teenage self needed. I didn’t see him that often, but his effect on my soul was profound. Somehow he steered me away from pure psychology and led me to pay more attention to my body. I had always had some sort of physical activity, without really paying attention to what it was making me feel like or why. So much so that I planned my higher education around my desire to move to the Alps since what I really wanted was to be in the mountains.
I finally moved.
I was happy as a clam, skiing (and as elegant on skis as a clam would be), mountaineering, climbing, working, socializing around
glasses gallons of beer. Well the honey moon with the little mountain shop lasted for a few years, then I tried to figure out what I would really do with my life. I just wasn’t cut out to sell pants and jackets, no matter how revolutionary they were, forever.
I thought about PT, but had had some bad experiences. Oh, he was more than handsome enough but he didn’t really help me.
I hurt my right shoulder climbing.
I didn’t do anything special, it simply started hurting at the end of a long and very hot summer. I had to stop climbing. I did some steroid shots, they hurt so much! The doctor said: “the more it hurts, the more it means you need them” (!?). I got 3 of them, the pain was gone, then I started climbing again
and guess what? The pain was back!
But I was able to climb. After another 6 months though, I couldn’t put my safety belt on with my right arm, I could barely change gears in my car (I was driving a stick, still in France), I couldn’t tie my bra behind my back, I couldn’t lift a bottle of water with my right arm, it woke me up at night. Most of the time, my right arm was just hanging, held close to my body.
I did some imagery, went to see a surgeon: rotator cuff injury. So common among climbers, he wanted to operate right away. I wasn’t so sure.
I did a lot of PT to strengthen my shoulder and try to seduce him, both to no avail.
I went to see another surgeon in Paris who told me I was too young to operate. This type of surgery works about 50% of the time, so I should wait until it was really excruciating… But he sent me to a nerve specialist, to see if it wasn’t “just” a nerve impingement. 300 Euros later, it wasn’t.
I was in Paris to see this specialist and my brother, who still lived there, made me go see his osteopath (not my guru who had retired by then).
I walked in in pain and walked out without pain.
My shoulder was in a constant state of subluxation, (out of place). Not enough that I had to resort to Mel Gibson’s technique in Lethal Weapon (Am I showing my age there?), but enough that I couldn’t really use it.
I could live again. I couldn’t climb, and it still hurt upon certain movements, but not constantly.
I was convinced I needed to go to osteopathy school.
But in the meantime I had met this handsome American, and I was about to marry him and move to the States. Well, osteopaths in the US are not like European ones, they rarely do manual therapy and the few I met killed my enthusiasm for DO school.
But my now husband had a good friend who was a Rolfer™.
I talked to her (Hi Lucca), she was so passionate that even though I had never heard of Rolfing®Structural Integration before, I wanted do it. So I enrolled as a model for a Rolfing class, what better way to be introduced to something than to hear the teachers and students exchange ideas, and receive great work.
I was hooked.
I received my Rolfing 10 series. I was used to good bodywork so there was no real surprise there. It felt good and right. Everything was still new to me in this country and Rolfing helped me find my physical and emotional balance on this side of the ocean.
It took me about 5 months to realize that my shoulder wasn’t hurting anymore, at all.
I did the series in 10 weeks, and my Rolfer had told me that the effects would take months to fully manifest themselves. Here I was 5 months later marveling at my painless body for the first time in close to 5 years.
Rolfing changed my posture:
it straightened my back, opened up and lowered my shoulders. The osteopath had put the shoulder back in place, but my bad posture was still allowing the acromion (bone on top of the shoulder) to grind on the tendon underneath it. My poor damaged tendon could not recover.
10 Rolfing sessions had finally taught my body to not hold my shoulders up to my ears
and had created space between the said acromion and ill-fated tendon, which was finally able to start healing, and stop hurting.
If I had not been convinced before by the theory of Rolfing I would have been sold by the practice of it.
So here I am trying to save Portland’s shoulders from more rotator cuff surgeries, and so much more.