Session One of Four
I am turning 30 in exactly two months, and nothing says “almost 30” like having low back pain for the first time in your life! My brother had flown in from Chicago to Santa Cruz, and we were getting in the car to drive 1.5 hours to San Francisco for the weekend. Whether the low back pain was from getting older, that time of the month, or stress wasn’t clear, but what was abundantly clear was that I was sitting in the back seat of the car in tears with a heating pad on my back. Three days and lots of ibuprofen later, I finally was able to see Rock.
At this point, I was scared to do any movement that would tweak my back. Rock advised that “pain is just pain.” Rather than try to avoid pain, as long as you won’t injure yourself, you can allow the pain to inform you about something that is happening with your body. The pain is teaching you a lesson about your body - what that lesson is doesn’t matter so much as long as you can slow down enough to listen.
It was serendipitous that we started the hip series just a few days after the pain started. I felt so much relief in my hips, and as Rock released various areas of tension, I could feel more mobility spreading through my knees and pelvis. After standing up off of the table, I had zero trouble bending over and squatting felt like a breeze! I’ve take pride in being able to put my shoes and socks on and off without holding onto anything, which I was unable to do after I tweaked my back. Post-hip series, I could do this again without fear! As always, I slept like a baby and woke up this morning feeling so much more freedom in my body.
Session Two of Four
Over the weekend, I did Peloton strength training sessions on both Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday evening, my lower back was throbbing with pain, which, as I mentioned previously, is not something that I have normally experienced. My only solace was that I knew I was seeing Rock the next day!
Luckily, my session on Monday was the second of four in the hip series. I know that hip and IT band tightness can contribute to low back pain, but it was hard to say where the pain was coming from… until Rock started to work on those areas. Whew, were they tight! At one point while I was on my side working through the fascia around my hip socket, I felt so nauseous. I tried to breathe through it, and suddenly, Rock and I both felt something shift and the nausea immediately dissipated. It felt as though there was something lodged in that area that needed to escape, and as they say, “the only way out is through.” Once I was able to feel that tension, it was able to release.
One aspect of structural integration that I’ve started to integrate (no pun intended) is that while these sessions are not designed to treat or address acute pain, if you are experiencing something acute, the sessions can address both the short term and long term issues. After standing up and walking around, I no longer felt the “tweaking” in my back (if you’ve experienced this, you definitely know what I mean!) and I truly felt my legs get longer.
I was pleased to find that this session ended with the neck. Since the spine is curved like a capital “S,” and the hip series starts at the bottom of the spine, it makes sense to end at the top. Throughout the session, Rock kept asking me, “What are you holding on to?” Clearly, I was holding onto so much physical and emotional tension in these areas. Later that night, I had a good, long cry - proving once more that releasing physical tension in the body can unearth mental and emotional tension that we’ve been storing for days, months, or even years - and allow some of that to finally let go.