Rolfing re-emerging as solution to pain, tension-related ailments
By Kelly Frances
Got a headache or sore throat? Aching muscles? Before popping one of the many commercial remedies available, you might consider a trip to your chiropractor for a little “Rolfing” action. As a chronic pain sufferer and post surgery patient, I decided to try out the technique, which is swiftly gaining popularity with the yoga-Pilates-acupuncture crowd as a healthy alternative to pill popping.
Admittedly, organic solutions and “well-being” brands may e in ogue, but it’s tough to compete with an affordable promise of “instantaneous results you can achieve anywhere,” especially while recovering from a late night of samgyeopsal and soju or facing a deadline.
Dr. Dan Jin, a certified rolfer and registered chiropractor at Sky Wellness Center, explains that Rolfing Structural Integration is a type of deep – really deep – massage that was last popular during the post war era.
Well, Rolfing is re-emerging as liver-friendly solution to pain and tension-related ailments. THink of it as a 30 to 90 minute massage during which the patient does a little work, following prompts as a therapist concisely stretches and manipulates the elements of the body in a highly controlled fashion, re-establishing balance while targetting a specific region.
Rolfing was named after its founder, an American biochemist named Ida Rolf. Rolf’s own health issues led her to believe that deep internal tension, digestion issues and anxiety and many of the aches we complain about daily – even mild physical deformities in children, like pigeon toes and growth impairment – could be relieved by pressing into a type of tissue called fascia. Fascia is the material that fuses skin to muscle and muscle to bone, and itacts as the glue that keeps our bodies in place.
Numerous activities in daily life can tighten and shorten muscles, and with them, the fascia cinches down, causing imbalance and pain. Rolfers, like Dr Jin, believe stretching out the fascia and reinstating balance can improve posture and strength, and over time,
reduce aches and pain throughout the entire body.
During an era of “a pill for every ill,” consumers absentmindedly take more and more medicines, even as we criticize the potential harm of the ingested chemicals and smugly comfort ourselves with virtues of a kimchi and soy-rich Korean diet.
Dr. Jin is one of just a handful of chiropractors to practice Rolfing in Korea, making him somewhat of a pioneer and contributing to the growing medical tourism climate of South Korea.
“Balance is the main concept; think of your head as a bowling ball and your body as a tent whose central point is that ball,” explains Dr. Dan. “If that ball is off balance, a number of problems are created, and the potential for health issues is extensive. It is a beginning, but without a healthy lifestyle, the equation isn’t’t complete”.
Dr. Sean Kim, clinic owner and advocate of Rolfing, says he’s seen some pretty encouraging changes in attitude as a result of Dr. Dan’s care.
“We see a lot of chronic pain sufferers who have run the gauntlet here in Seoul and swear they simply can’t be cured. Many suffer from a past injury. They’ve spent hundreds to thousands of dollars and seen numerous specialists and have found no relief. They leave here feeling like they’ve experienced a miracle. Rolfing is truly that effective.”
Rolfing isn’t’t just for common ailments, according to post injury patient Shawn Hupka, who shared his own experience. “I seriously injured a muscle in my lower back and it caused me to appear lop-sided. In fact, it was freaky. I chose a combination of massage and Rolfing.
Because my injury was so severe, I’ve been in for 7 sessions in the last two weeks.
Although I still have some back pain, I’m convinced that Rolfing was instrumental in my recovery.”
His before and after pictures show say it all; he displayed a virtual Quasimodo and as of May 1st, was sporting textbook perfect posture by July.
“This is a new direction of chiropractic care in Seoul; results that can be seen through before and after photos and patients should understand the root of their conditions and enjoy the potentiality of the therapy,” notes Kim.
According to a Kim, 60 to 70 percent of patients complain about headaches behind the eyes combined with shoulder pain, often caused by stress.
These symptoms, particularly if they are minimized while the patient is lying flat, are hallmarks of posture issues and can be corrected instantaneously by Rolfing.
By the completion of my own 10 week program, I noticed that the pain I had become so accustomed to while pounding away at my keyboard or hunching over my crutches was virtually absent. I’d gone a month without hitting the pharmacy and wondered if my pharmacist might worry I’d been in an accident.
As of today, it’s been 100 days without a Tylenol and I’m a believer.
To find a chiropractic clinic that offers rolfing, contact The Korea Medical Tourism Information by dialing 1330.
The writer is a freelancer from Ontario, Canada, and is currently living in Seoul, where she co-owns a Korean lifestyle website.