Walk this way

 

Published on Feb 28, 2014

 

“There is compelling evidence that over the past 100 years the populations of industrialized countries have drifted away from the somatic heritage of their forbearers. We have adopted postural habits which are dramatically different from those used historically and still found in non-industrialized peoples today. Modern “adaptations”, such as tucking the pelvis and S-shaping the spine have had detrimental effects on the biomechanics of our gait and structure, generating an epidemic of foot, knee and back problems. Restoration of healthy and sustainable functioning requires a return to natural alignment, our Primal Architecture. The Gokhale Method is a systematic and effective program for attaining this.

Esther Gokhale (Go-clay) has been involved in integrative therapies all her life. As a young girl growing up in India, she helped her mother, a nurse, treat abandoned babies waiting to be adopted. This early interest in healing led her to study biochemistry at Harvard and Princeton and, later, acupuncture at the San Francisco School of Oriental Medicine where she became a licensed acupuncturist.

After experiencing crippling back pain during her first pregnancy and unsuccessful back surgery, Gokhale began her lifelong crusade to vanquish back pain. Her studies at the Aplomb Institute in Paris and years of research in Brazil, India, Portugal and elsewhere led her to develop the Gokhale Method®, a unique, systematic approach to help people find their bodies’ way back to pain-free living.

Gokhale has practiced acupuncture and taught posture, dance and yoga in her Palo Alto wellness center for over twenty years. Her Gokhale Method Foundations course is now taught by qualified teachers all over the world. Their offerings, her book, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, DVD, posture-friendly cushion, and chair are all available on her website at gokhalemethod.com. In May 2013, The New York Times featured Esther in an article giving her the title, “The Posture Guru of Silicon Valley”.”

 

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Sometimes healing hurts

I’ve always had low-back issues since high school and when my daughter was about 2, I couldn’t take it anymore and invested a chunk of money in getting Rolfed.  Rolfing, or Structural Integration, is a far distant cousin to massage, think deep tissue, very deep.  You have to commit to 10 sessions and during each session, the therapist stretches and works the fascia that connects to the bone and muscle in a particular body section.  Each section and session builds upon the next and at the end, you are supposed to be freed from any former myo (muscle) fascial (connective tissue) restrictions.  Your body realigns itself naturally without needing any structural adjustments.  Sounds good in theory, but in reality, it hurts.

It did work for me though.  I added yoga to the regime to speed things along and after the 3rd session, I no longer had crazy debilitating back spasms.  My therapist told me that my main problem was that my abdominal muscles were not engaged and my back muscles were doing all the work.  This was before pilates made it out of the dance studios and into mainstream.  I still think it was a good investment in self care and promote Rolfing/Structural Integration, as an alternative to chiropractic and deep tissue massage for back pain.  I was treated in Houston 17 years ago, but there are an abundance of therapists available in Austin.

Massage me

I’m a big softy, actually I’m a little softy, since I’m only 5’3”. Maybe I should say, I’m a big baby. I need massages. Since healing my back post-baby, through Rolfing, yoga, and excercise, my body has become accustomed to getting worked, stretched, and massaged. During the last 20 years, I have learned that I don’t like deep tissue, nor do I like getting a lotion application. There’s a happy middle for me. My muscles need just the right amount of getting worked without being beaten to death.

The importance of finding a good massage therapist cannot be overstated. But where do massage therapists go to get massages? I’m pretty picky and not very loyal if the little details like aromatherapy, hot towels, hot packs, and topical analgesics are overlooked. Of course, if the massage is done by a rock-star, all that is trumped by the winning combination of intuitive touch and knowledge of anatomy.

Some of the better massages I have received were from Terri at milk + honey (downtown); Ginger at Massage Envy (in Westlake); Katia and Delmi at Viva Day Spa (on Lamar).  I’ve had also had noteworthy massages at the Woodhouse.