It’s now been three weeks since my last session of Rolf Structural Integration (SI) with Nick Pavoldi, the only Advanced SI practitioner in the Capital Region, and owner of Bodywork Professionals at 11 Spring Street in Saratoga Springs. During that session, we worked on my body’s relationship with the ground, and I learned how important feet are in determining how the body stands, moves and functions in gravity.
Nick knew from my health history that I had recently developed plantar fasciitis. Anyone who suffers from this painful syndrome will understand when I say that it has a negative impact on virtually every aspect of your life. Things we take for granted – like walking barefoot, jogging, exercising – even just putting weight on your feet each morning as you rise out of bed – become excruciating ordeals that are barely tolerable.
Are Orthotics the only answer?
Prior to my SI therapy session, everything I read and everyone I spoke to about plantar fasciitis said that it couldn’t be cured, only managed, and that I would need to wear orthotics for the rest of my life. (“Oh, no!” I thought to myself, thinking about all the beautiful shoes in my closet and dreading the image of hideous, clunky clodhoppers I’d now be relegated to wearing!)
Some people even told me that walking barefoot was the worst thing I could do for my feet (something I had a really hard time believing). I was planning a trip to Nantucket this coming July. Did that mean I wouldn’t be able to walk the beach??
So, I was somewhat skeptical that SI would help relieve my plantar fasciitis symptoms, let alone alleviate the problem altogether. And, I said as much to Nick before we began my SI session. He just smiled and said, “I think I can help you out a little.” As he began the SI therapy, he explained the important role played by the feet.
“The feet provide the balance for the entire framework of the body. If they are not functioning properly, or if they are experiencing pain, they can’t communicate effectively with the ground. As a result, the entire structural framework of the body is compromised and not moving freely through space.”
Yes, but what happens after the SI session ends?
Fast forward to the end of that second SI session. I got off the treatment table and was able to place both feet firmly on the ground, in the way feet were intended to be. To my shock and delight, the intense and ongoing pain I had been suffering with for months was virtually gone! (For those of you who would like more details about that second session, you can read the entire blog post.)
In spite of how great I felt, I continued to be skeptical about how long the effects of the treatment would last. Would I wake up the following morning, once again unable to plant my feet on the bare floor without experiencing any pain? After standing for hours at my part-time job, would my pain return?
I will tell you honestly, that the results of my SI session have endured and been transformative. I walk barefoot every day without pain; I have resumed exercise routines that I had been forced to stop; and recently, I spent an entire day visiting my daughter in Manhattan, doing one of the things I love most: walking all around the city. I am not wearing orthotics, and I still wear strappy heels when I go out to dinner or to a cocktail party (something I will never give up!).
It’s also up to you to take charge of your wellness.
Of course, along with the SI therapy, Nick was very informative about how and why plantar fasciitis occurs and some of the things that I could do on my own to help keep my feet feeling good and functioning properly.
Having experienced the techniques that make up SI, I know how to massage and knead areas of my feet – but just as important – I also know how to treat the other areas of the leg that are so crucial to the proper functioning of the feet.
In addition to working on the layers of fascia that span the bottoms of the feet, Nick isolated and worked on areas of the ankle, the tops of the feet, the Achilles, and several areas of the calf and surrounding muscles, that all contribute to the proper – or improper – functioning of the foot.
These are therapies I now practice and perform on my feet and lower legs on a daily basis. Of course, there are times -particularly after I have been standing on my feet all day, that there is some recurrence of pain. But, it is now easily managed by the application of ice, along with the treatments mentioned above and stretching exercises for the feet and leg muscles.
So, before you give up on ever walking barefoot in the sand again, or wearing those high heels and dancing the night away, you owe it to yourself – and your feet – to give SI a try. You just might end up loving the feel of the ground beneath your feet!