Rolfing for me is a search for new models of reality. Such concepts are “true” if they work and when they allow me to approach the body in anew way which gives results in terms of the objectives of the basic Ten Sessions. They can be a supplement to what I have learned or, perhaps, a re-placement, should they work faster and better for me to achieve the goals of the sessions.
When I entered the world of Rolfing, a great deal of emphasis was being given to Dr. Rolf’s “recipe”. Later in a six day workshop, I was introduced to Jan Sultan’s new model, the internal external concept. Since then, my Rolfing has been different, because I now have two models instead of only one.
Like many Rolfers, I too have been creatively defining and expressing refinements of these models as well as creating new concepts for my work which have been published in ROLF LINES. So it is with my model for working with feet.
We all know the importance of the feet to the whole structure. A tremendous amount of change in the feet, of course, comes from work between the knee and the ankle. But what do you see when you study afoot? How do you evoke a mom natural form for the foot from your work on the foot itself?
One model for understanding the structure of the foot is to compare a shoe to a sock. The sock is a single, continuous piece of the same kind of stuff. However, a shoe is markedly different, by virtue of its being divided into an upper and a sole, the two of which meet with a seam.
Like a shoe, the foot has an upper half and a lower half, and they meet in a “seam”. If you think in terms of compartments in models for the body, you can have an extensor flexor or a plantar-dorsal compartmenting.
If you think about the third session, your objective as a Rolfer is to balance the tension between the back and the front of the body by working along the midline. In working with the foot, what if your objective were to balance the tension between its plantar and dorsal aspects by working along the “seams”?
For example, when I work with a medial arch that is too high, I find there is more tension in the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot in relationship to the tension on the connective tissue on the top of the foot. This is when I determine if the tissue on top slides more easily towards the toes or toward the heels. I do the same with the tissue of the soles of the foot. Almost always, I find the upper will go one way; and the lower, the other. With one hand above the “seam” and one below, I hook both hands into the flesh and push in the direction of most resistance. I push into the resistance and hold for about thirty seconds until I feel the resistance melt.
In the third session of the basic series, when balancing tension front and back along the midline, I find that at one level in the body, the front is more tense than the back. Then a bit further up or down the midline, the tension pattern reverses. It is some what the same with feet. As I follow the “seam” up and down the medial and lateral edges of the foot, this work affects both the medial and lateral arches.
I have found I can also work the dividing-line between the tops and the bottoms of the toes (lateral and media ledges). The big toe is especially important in allowing and enhancing optimal movement in walking. The little toe is important for balance. The second, third, and fourth toes will also help the work done on the big and little toes.
For the transverse arch, I balance plantar and dorsal tension in the connective tissue above and below a “line” just behind the heads of the metatarsals.
In addition, I balance the tensions on the “lines” in the connective tissue over the joint between the calcaneus and cubodi bones on the plantar surface in a foot with a high medial arch and a flat transverse arch. When I am presented with this situation, I work the “line” in the tissue over the joint, between the calcaneus and the talus on the medial surface of the foot.
This is my new model for working on the feet. If, in addition to what you already do in the second session, you include everything described in this article, your first such session may take more than two hours! Yet, as you work with this concept, you will surely begin blending these techniques with those you already have found to be effective in working with feet.
Stanley Rosenberg is a Certified Rolfer in Silkeborg, Denmark.