Approximately 80% of North Americans experience low back pain at some point in time. As well, the number of aging boomers who need hip replacements is increasing. Many sufferers depend on muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs to cope with their chronic pain.
I’ve found that virtually everyone with low back and hip pain has misaligned pelvic and sacral bones. These bones are the linking mechanisms between our torsos and legs. If they don’t move smoothly and symmetrically, muscles surrounding the dysfunction tighten up to splint the area that is distressed. This tightening creates symptoms of pain and stiffness. Contracted muscles around the hip joint compress the ball in the socket and can worsen osteoarthritis.
Pelvic bone misalignment is most often a forward twist (torsion) of one side relative to the other. The other common dysfunction is an up-slip (shear) on one side. In both cases, the sacrum, which lies between the two halves of the pelvis, gets stuck in a side bent and rotated position. Additionally, the sacroiliac joint jams on the misaligned side. These crooked areas in the pelvis, as well as tightness in surrounding muscles can result in a shortened leg and a scoliotic (side-bent and rotated) spine. (And you wonder why you feel like you’ve been hit by a train!) See my SCOLIOSIS PAGE for further discussion of the pelvic girdle.
In order to get the pelvis and sacrum back into alignment, contracted soft tissue surrounding these bones must be lengthened. (There are about two dozen muscles attached to the pelvic girdle.) Then the bones can be gently straightened, and affected joints in the lumbar spine released. As soon as the bones are aligned and joints are mobile, surrounding muscles can relax. Without proper alignment of the bones, relaxation of the muscles will not last long. Dysfunction in the pelvic girdle can also disturb its visceral organ contents. This intra-pelvic tension can be lessened by restoring alignment and mobility of the boney structures.
Beyond pain relief, Rolfing aims to restore balance and symmetry to the body, which results in improved posture. For example, tight and shortened ham string muscles usually push the pelvis forward, so it’s no longer directly above the knees and ankles. To maintain balance, the torso compensates by extending backwards, and your profile resembles a banana.