My journey with chronic pain and how Rolfing® helped

Already as a child I was confronted with the topic of chronic pain. When I was about 11 years old, both of my Achilles tendons became inflamed. Over the following years, the pain spread to my entire feet and lower legs. I slipped from one relieving posture to the next and before long my knees, pelvis and back were hurting as well.

Exercise and sports took on a negative connotation and I felt frustrated because nobody could tell me where the pain was coming from and what I could do about it. I didn't have any prospects of improvement, but I didn't want to let my active life be taken away from me. So, my strategy was to suppress my pain, which worked very well for a while. From my mountain tours I only remembered the wonderful landscapes and beautiful moments at the summit, while over time I forgot the pain and the sleepless nights that followed.

At the age of 22, I very suddenly developed inexplicable pain throughout my entire body, which worsened over the next 2 months. It became increasingly difficult for me to provide the necessary performance for my studies at university and my work, and soon even everyday tasks became almost unmanageable hurdles. Every movement cost me an awful lot of effort.

My body felt like a prison to me, like a wetsuit that was way too tight and draining all my energy.

It even went so far that I didn't want to drive the car any more because I could hardly concentrate and lost the trust in my own body. I put all my energies into finding answers, until I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about a year later. Luckily, I got to know Rolfing® shortly afterwards. While the diagnosis at first put me off, Rolfing gave me hope right from the start.

Initially, I hoped that Rolfing would relieve my pain. However, I soon realised that Rolfing enabled much more than that. With each session, tension in my body released and slowly my inner space opened up, which allowed me to breathe again. While before I had always tried to suppress my pain, I learned to feel into my body and to consciously perceive every little bit of progress. I now started every day with 1-2 hours of yoga, primarily to relieve the pain that was worst in the morning and to gain strength for the day. At the same time, the gentle stretching and mindful physical exercises also helped to maintain the progress from the Rolfing sessions and slowly increase my range of motion. I also took advantage of the calming effect of yoga and meditation on the nervous system to slowly regain my ability to concentrate and to bring clarity to my very shattered mental world.

Already during the Rolfing Ten Series I wanted to learn more about Rolfing and fascia. On the one hand I read a lot of scientific articles and on the other hand I really enjoyed reading reports from both Rolfers® and their clients. During the sessions, I would pay attention to the techniques my Rolfer was using and then practice them at home on my own body. I was amazed by what I began to feel with my hands and the changes that were triggered in my body. In addition to my daily yoga practice, I now also included "Self-Rolfing" into my daily routine. I dived deeper and deeper into the world of Rolfing and only 7 months after my first session I started the training to become a Certified Rolfer®. At this point I was still struggling with a lot of pain, but my growing passion for this kind of bodywork gave me energy. At the end of my Rolfing training I was physically ready to slowly start running and soon afterwards I could enjoy my first mountain tour again. In addition, I have learned how rewarding it is to be able to trust in my own senses and my intuition.

Rolfing gave me the means to return to a pain-free life after 3 challenging years.

It is important for me not to forget that it is not taken for granted that the body "just functions". On the one hand I live according to the principle 'use it or lose it'. The body is a dynamic system and adapts to the current situation in life. Only those structures and skills that are in use are built and maintained. On the other hand, good self-awareness makes it possible to recognise pain, tiredness and other messages from the body early enough to react to them appropriately and take a break.

Rolfing helped me to find a balance between my very active daily life and times of regeneration. It has also given me the tools to find my balance again if something throws me off track. My initial curiosity about the human body soon became my calling and I am happy to be able to accompany my clients in discovering and developing their own potential.

Author: Certified Rolfer®, Romi Netzberger - Austria

Photo Credit: 'Wild Europe e.V.' and Matthias Amon

Learn more about Rolfing.

Find a Rolfer near you.

Train to become a Certified Rolfer®.