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Chronic pain

How can Rolfing SI help so many different conditions and individuals with acute or chronic pain?

Lu Mueller-Kaul
May 1, 2024

A Powerful Combination:

Manual therapy and movement education are two approaches to orthopedic care that aim to reduce pain and improve mobility. This type of treatment is used to help with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, low back pain, sprains and strains, headaches, and rotator cuff injuries. 

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy that focuses on the use of hands to reduce restrictions in the musculoskeletal system. This approach is based on the evidence that soft tissue manipulation can improve mobilization and pain relief. The goals of manual therapy may vary depending on the condition being treated, but in general, the goal is to improve movement and reduce pain.

One of the main benefits of manual therapy is that it can reduce pain and stiffness. Many individuals dealing with orthopedic conditions and chronic pain report that their pain is reduced after manual therapy. This includes conditions such as arthritis, low back pain, neck pain, tendonitis, and rotator cuff injuries. By increasing range of motion and decreasing muscular restrictions, manual therapy can help improve the overall mobility of the body and reduce pain. Manual therapy can also help individuals achieve better posture. Poor posture is linked to a variety of orthopedic conditions and can be caused by mechanical imbalances that arise from both age-related degeneration and other sources. Manual therapy can help to improve posture by releasing muscular tension, restoring balance and stability to the body, and relieving joint restrictions.

Caveat: Acute Injuries Need Time to Heal -- Print this Protocol or watch this to avoid re-injury. 

Movement Education

Movement education is an approach to physical therapy that emphasizes the importance of proper biomechanical alignment, posture, and movement patterns. This approach focuses on teaching patients how to move in ways that promote improved body mechanics, which can lead to improved posture, flexibility, and pain relief.

One of the main benefits of movement education is that it can help improve body awareness. This is particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with chronic pain, as being aware of how the body is moving and how it feels in certain positions can help to reduce pain and improve posture. Movement education can also help to strengthen certain muscles and improve the coordination of different muscle groups. Learning these new movement patterns can help to improve overall mobility and reduce pain.

In addition to the physical benefits, movement education can also be used to improve psychological well-being. By learning proper movement patterns and improving posture, individuals with orthopedic conditions can have an increased sense of bodily control and empowerment, which can help to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Rolfing Structural Integration® is a powerful approach to help with most painful problems in the musculoskeletal system.

Manual therapy and movement education are combined in one cohesive system during a Rolfing® Series, and their benefits are well documented (see references below). They are now standard approaches to orthopedic care that can be beneficial for individuals dealing with acute and chronic pain, as well as problems with movement, range of motion, posture, balance. Manual therapy, which takes most of the time in a Rolfing session, can  reduce pain and stiffness, improve joint movement, and restore balance and stability to the body. Movement education, which Rolfers use before and after the manual therapy, can improve balance, coordination, and posture, and promote a sense of bodily control and empowerment. Both approaches are most  beneficial when combined in Rolfing® and so help most  individuals dealing with orthopedic conditions and chronic pain.

How can Rolfing® help heal injuries?

Rolfing®, which is a form of structural and soft tissue therapy, is an example of manual therapy that can be used to adjust posture and increase mobility, flexibility, and range of motion in muscles and fascia. This can help to reduce pain and increase tissue healing in sports injuries, sprains, and strains.

What else has been proven to be helpful for sports injuries, sprains, strains?

Non-pharmacologic interventions have been shown to effectively promote tissue healing and reduce pain and inflammation. 

Acute Injuries Need Time to Heal -- Print this Protocol or watch this to avoid re-injury. 

The evidence for these interventions depends on the type of injury and the stage of healing, but some of the most commonly used approaches include: 

1. Exercise therapy and physical rehabilitation: Designed and supervised exercises can help to improve range of motion, strength, and function of injured tissues, and they can also reduce pain and improve tissue healing. 

2. Manual therapy: Various techniques, such as massage, manual stretching, joint mobilization, and spinal manipulation, can be used to promote tissue healing, reduce pain, and improve function in some cases. 

3. Heat therapy: Heat can improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation, and it may also help to reduce pain and improve tissue healing in some cases. 

5. Ultrasound therapy: High-frequency sound waves can be used to improve blood flow, increase tissue elasticity, and promote healing of injured tissues. 

6. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT): Also known as cold laser therapy, LLLT uses low-intensity laser light to stimulate cellular repair processes and reduce inflammation, pain, and tissue damage. 

7. Electrical stimulation therapy: Different types of electrical stimulation, such as TENS, NMES, and microcurrent therapy, can be used to reduce pain, improve circulation, and promote healing of various types of tissues. It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine which interventions are appropriate for a particular injury, as well as to ensure that any treatment plan is safe and effective.

Evidence for Rolfing SI ®:

According to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, Rolfing® was found to be effective in improving movement patterns and pain levels in individuals with musculoskeletal pain. Furthermore, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that combining myofascial therapy with movement education can be beneficial in improving pain, range of motion, and overall body functioning. Both of these studies provide evidence that incorporating movement education and myofascial therapy into one therapy can be effective in reducing pain and improving mobility.

1. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, 2017, 10(3): 17–22.

2. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2011, 23(3): 283–286.

More General References:

-. Rui Z, et al. The Effect of Early Exercise on Acute Ankle Sprains: An Evidence-Based Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of sport rehabilitation. 2019;28(7):681-688.

-. Malliaras P, et al. Achilles and patellar tendinopathy loading programmes : a systematic review comparing clinical outcomes and identifying potential mechanisms for effectiveness. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). 2018;48(8):1887-1900.

-  Park J, et al. Effects of various exercise programs on pain and function in patients with rotator cuff tears: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of hand therapy : official journal of the American Society of Hand Therapists. 2020;33(2):218-228.e5.

-  Rubinstein SM, et al. Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low back pain: an update of a Cochrane Review. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018;43(8):E413-E422.

-  Shanshan L, et al. The Efficacy and Feasibility of Massage for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Technology in cancer research & treatment. 2019;18:1533033819873299.

- Santaella DF, et al. Manual therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2020;24(1):54-63.

-  Alnaqeeb MA, Almangour WM, Almuqbil AH, et al. Cold therapy effect after knee or ankle joint surgery: a randomized controlled trial. European journal of orthopaedic surgery & traumatology : orthopedie traumatologie. 2017;27(8):1117-1122.

-  Beltrão NB, et al. Ice massage decreases pain and swelling, but does not restore muscle function, after eccentric exercise. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness. 2015;55(7-8):691-7.

-  French, Simon D., et al. "Thermotherapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis." The Cochrane Library (2015).

-  Othman NH, et al. Effectiveness of ultrasound therapy on postoperative pain management and wound healing: A systematic review. JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association. 2020;70(5):902-906.

-  Yousefi M, et al. Low-level laser therapy in chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Lasers Med Sci. 2020;11(1):67-75.

-  Webb AN, et al. Microcurrent electrical therapy: a narrative review and insights into the mechanistic basis of efficacy. Expert review of medical devices. 2020;17(5):429-441.

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