Bothell Rolfer has just right touch to ease stiffness, pain / New Year, New You
By MATT PHELPS
Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
January 27, 2010 · 4:22 PM
Sterling Cassel of Bothell had chronic back and hip pain from his commercial freight job and the normal wear and tear of life. Then, a car accident when he was in his 30s made his condition worse. Cassel turned to a technique that altered his life forever — Rolfing.
"I was doing various things to try and get relief, but then my wife reminded me about trying Rolfing," said Cassel. "It was the first time in my life I had no pain."
Cassel, who bikes to work, also noticed a significant increase in his athletic abilities and not as many persistent injuries. The relief made Cassel look at his life and he decided to go to the Rolfing Institute in Boulder, Colo. The institute was started by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, who came up with the structural integration technique in the early 1970s.
With an office in Kirkland, he is now one of the only certified full-time Rolfers on the Eastside.
"There are a lot more massage-therapist schools (than Rolfing) and there is a lot of training involved for Rolfing," said Cassel.
There is a big difference between Rolfing and massage therapy. While massage therapy targets the center or belly of the muscle, Rolfing targets the connective tissue.
"It helps things move as they ought to. People use it for everything from improved posture to flexibility to enhancing athletic performance, helping with nagging injuries," said Cassel. "It is done on a massage table and it is hands-on work with the connective tissue."
The structural-integration technique, as it is called, works to make sure a person is in alignment.
"People can become out of alignment much like a car's alignment," said Cassel. "If you are not in alignment, things will wear unevenly."
The technique is also useful for anyone who works on a computer and can help with posture. Cassel said that bad posture is more work for the body to hold the head up than it is to have good posture with the head properly balanced.
"Most people leave a work computer to work on their home computer and they start to see neck and wrist pain," he said. "The technique can be individualized to meet specific needs."
The specialist said that he has begun to see more and more people come to him for help this time of year thanks to new-year's resolutions.
"People hit those workouts hard and get injured," said Cassel. "It really does reduce injuries and helps to maintain a good workout regimen."
One of the big stigmas about Rolfing is that it is painful. And while athletes have a tendency "to do what it takes to get better," average people have been shy about the technique thanks to the stigma. But years of development have made certified Rolfers aware of how intense or non-intense to apply the technique on different people.
"It has a reputation for being painful," said Cassel. "But I try to work within people's comfort zones. A lot of people leave feeling taller, have better flexibility and can actually turn their head instead of their entire body to see. I like to think we are creating safer drivers."Contact Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).