Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by “long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. It also has been linked to prolonged or chronic bouts of fatigue, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and headaches.” Fibromyalgia is a diagnostic term created to objectively define symptoms but each person experiences this syndrome quite differently.The cause of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) remains unclear without any stout and effective solutions. Therefore, the efficacy of existing therapies varies widely from person to person.
The role of connective tissue, specifically fascia, can contribute to relieving the chronic pain and tenderness in the entire body. Our fascial system dutifully locks in our outward appearance and shape. It is believed that FMS is triggered by physical and/or emotional trauma, and in turn, causes structural imbalances due to the chronic pain felt in various parts of the body. Structural Integration is beneficial in slowly realigning these structural imbalances at a depth and speed the client is comfortable with.
FMS clients experience a plethora of tender points along the body and feel pain in the joints. It is highly important for a Structural Integrator to work fascial planes at a slow pace while simultaneously treating localized pain sites and aligning the whole body as one unit all at once. As a rule of thumb, working cautiously and lightly on the client’s tissue is significant for pain relief. Being open to the results is advised, as response to deep tissue treatment is often highly unique to the individual. FMS clients can be more susceptible to flare-ups, so a lighter touch will often feel significantly deep enough for the client. Generally, I will suggest NOT to participate in any extraneous stretching and exercise that would cause extra soreness 24 hours after his/her session.
It is believed that the issue is related to the nervous system, and not so much in the fascial tissue system that Structural Integrators (aka Rolfers) are known to especially manipulate, lengthen, and reorganize. I find that it is helpful to calm and detune the nervous system into parasympathetic (rest and digest ) ease. Once anxiety wanes, the body will be more receptive to deep tissue work. Usually, as the client progresses through the series, the body is ready for deeper work.
I always recommend an integrative approach for a client, which entails paying attention to and investing the time into determining what the possible root cause of their disease might be. The healing process for the client requires that he/she find relief and support from many arenas such as nutrition, stress management, counseling, homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, lifestyle changes, and perseverance. The beauty in the difficulty experienced is an opportunity for great self-growth and discovery. The Rolf Method of Structural Integration contributes structural and functional optimization, increased body awareness, and the space to ground and relax the overstimulated mind and body of a FMS client.
By Minki Kim, Structural Integration Professional & WholesomeONE Health Advisor
image source: flickr.com/photos/cosmic_bandita/1145076265/