Recently I’ve been working with some interesting video material on fascial stretching techniques developed by a structural integration specialist named Lou Gross. If anyone is interested in adding some fascial release techniques to their stretching routines I highly recommend these tapes.
great thinking behind the rationale but other methods besides that type of work can interact with the fascial release…Andy Roberts was reading the The Endless Web at the level II school 5 years ago…I wonder how someone so well read can stand being in a school with little talent.
If you have not done so, checkout the ‘Anatomy Trains’ by Thomas Myers. He is one of the leading experts on fascia. I think you will find it quite interesting. Let me know if you need the link to his site.
I must have missed it. I did an interiew with Tom for a series on Functional Flexibility. I will be putting a portion of it in my newsletter this coming month. I would be glad to place the link here if you or others would like to hear it. He gives some fanstastic insight into flexibility and the body.
Well, I finally got Lou Gross into town yesterday after a short delay. He worked on me for four hours last night, and I have to say, this guy is GOOD. Last night was just the beginning “superficial” work, and already he’s gotten a deeper release than anyone else I’ve worked with. My body no longer feels like it’s wrapped tightly in cellophane.
His technique is different from traditional Rolfers. He uses short pulses rather than the long sustained strokes, so there’s little, in any, discomfort. In an aritcle years ago, Charles Poliquin described rolfing as being about as pleasurable as having your nostrils scraped with a mentholated potato peeler. Trust me, that is not the case with Lou.
If anyone is serious about clearing up their chronic soft tissue problems I highly recommend contacting Lou through his web site that I listed in the first post. This is also the best time of the year to do it, from a periodization point of view. Traditional massage won’t cut it for this purpose, and deep work just bruises the tissue, which was one of the reasons Mike Powell liked working with Lou; the deep tissue massge just made him feel “beat up”. As I stated before, he has extensive experience working with track athletes, and he’s anxious to get his athlete practice going again after a recent hiatus.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress over the next several days.
The second treatment last night was terrific. He really loosened up my adductors, which were a consistency slightly softer than granite. The difference is dramatic, not only in the local release of tissue, but also up through the torso. Most importantly, the releases are holding.
He also got deeper into the neck and axila of the shoulder joint, which was slightly intense, but the results speak for themselves. My shoulders are higher and wider, and move more freely from the rib cage.
My psoas have released rather significantly, and he hasn’t even done any direct work on them. It’s all been indirect release from the legs and torso. The calves and feet are considerably looser now, but there’s still a lot more to do. However, I can definitely say that my gate and posture have improved dramatically. My legs feel very light when I walk, and because of the improved alignment, my force application into the ground is much more efficient, which creates a sort of lifting feeling when I walk (greater reaction force from the ground). I feel very light when I walk. I can’t wait to apply it to the track next week.
Lou also did quite a bit of fascial release in my face, which was obviously pretty relaxing, but I could also feel the medial arches in my feet releasing from the face work. Wild.
Day three. Lou went much deeper into my adductors last night, and they’re starting to approach a consistency somewhat close to human flash. I’m actually having to relearn how to walk. My gate and posture are completely different now. With the adductors released, the psoas, hamstrings, calves, quads and abdomen are much much looser. And the walking motion seems to come more from my torso, just under the chest, rather than the hip. Essentially, I walk with the whole body. I can’t wait to try running.
He also went much deeper into the calves, especially along the inside of the shin bone, which was the number one pain center for me. The difference is pretty dramatic, to put it mildly.
With the tension in the legs reduced, Lou was finally able to begin releasing the scapulae, which I had been eagerly anticipating. The rhomboids and rotator cuff have pretty thick fascial buildup, and the difference after the release was extraordinary, especially as it relates to head movement. And that was only the early superficial work on the area.
The hamstrings, quads, and ITB also received some more direct work. Each day he gets to a deeper layer.
I really can’t stress enough how effective this work is. My body is literally being completely rebuilt. I’m really not exagerating that much when I say that.
Day four. Most of the work was on loosening the abs and beginning direct work on the psoas. Trust me, rock hard abs are not something you should strive for. It took Lou forever to work through the rectus and other superficial muscles. Lengthening the abs really improved my posture and improved my leg swing. Like I said in my previous post, I now walk from the torso, and the additional ab work, especially the psoas, has enhanced that effect. An interesting effect from having the abs and psoas freed and relaxed is that each stepping stride causes a liftng sensation up through the torso and head. My rib cage and head float now.
Lou also did a lot of work on my shoulder area and dramatically freed up the arms from the torso. In particular, my humerus is no longer glued to the scapula. He also freed up the scalenes, which further freed the shoulders from the torso.
Day five. I’ve had a total of 19 hours of work now. Today Lou really got into the psoas, which enhanced all of the effects I’ve described in the previous posts. You really have to experience it to appreciate the dramatic difference. My lower back has also released considerably from the psoas release.
He also got very deep into the hamstrings, hips and calves (especially peroneals). He was able to get in and pull apart the hamstring heads. The hamstrings are so loose now, I had to go through another round of relearning how to walk. I can actually feel the pelvic bones move when I walk. And with the hamstrings looser, he could loosen the adductors and psoas even more.
Now that I know what loose legs, hips and torso feel like, I’m trying to figure out how I ever walked, let alone ran, before. I can sit in a chair without feeling any pulling on the pelvis, and I can sit with my back perfectly straight without fatigue or feeling pulled down.
This is hands down, the single best investment I’ve made in my body. And it enhances the effects of everything else I do. For example, when I stretch now, the tissue gives way and loosens very easily without fighting me. And yesterday, I had a short chair massage, and the therapist was able to really get in and work the tissue and make a lasting difference, much greater than any massage work I’ve had to this point.
For the tire kickers out there reading this, Lou will give you free stretching coaching over the phone. Call his voicemail and he’ll get in touch with you.
Day six. Five hours. He spent about three hours just working on the iliacus, which I have to say is a very underappreciated muscle. Basically, the entire body opened up both above and below the hips. The upper hamstrings are further released from the hips, and the lateral hip muscles, including the ITB, are much looser. The rib cage is more elevated and the shoulders are freer as well.
Lou also went deeper into the shoulders and arms. That was intense. You have no idea how much tension is stored in the arms, and how painful it is to have it released. However, the release in the arms also released the upper back, neck, and abs. If you read the Endless Web, they illustrate the connection between the abs and upper arms.
Lou is charging me $80 an hour, which is pretty cheap for this type of work. However, you don’t necessarily have to have 20+ hours of work. But I really wanted to get everything resolved all at once, and my body was pretty screwed up, more than I realized. Feeling is believing.
Like I stated in a previous post, Lou offers free stretching coaching over the phone. You can get some release from his stretching methods, and if you decide to have him work on you, the stretching will make his job easier, so that he can get more done is less time.
If you’re interested, contact Lou and try to figure out a game plan that will fit your needs within your given constraints. He can do a lot in just a weekend. For example, Thursday night I had him work on a friend of mine. Even though it was only 5 hours of work, he managed to get quite a lot done within the short time constraint. And unlike massage, which does not loosen the fascia, this work will make a lasting change.
(Note: This is not a substitute for massage. Massage is still necessary, along with stretching, for recovery and maintaining the fascial release by preventing the muscles and fascia from becoming chronically tight again. However, once the fascia becomes chronically short, regular massage cannot release it. Not even deep massage, which really just bruises the tissue.)