Grant Ernhart, certified Rolfer
providing Rolfing and Therapeutic massage to the Minneapolis and St.Paul Metro Area
t short though the front of their bodies, it is I just finished working with the United States Biathlon Team at their annual Fall camp, which was held this year up in Canmore, Canada. I have been working with the Biathlon team for over 7 years now! Traveling with the team let's me get out of my office and work with a group of people with very specific needs. The elite level athletes on the Biathlon team use massage and Rolfing regularly to help recovery from tough workouts and to prevent injury.
During my career as a massage therapist and Rolfer I have worked on many high level athletes and other people with demanding physical jobs such as professional dancers and performers. While their daily routine may look different from a typical 9 to 5 desk job, high level athletes have issues that can be very similar to that of the desk jockey. For example, many of my clients that are 9 to 5ers have some lack of mobility from sitting at the desk day after day and they need help in order to increase their movement, find options and relax the short tissues as a way to find balance. So, even though the athletes I work with are not typically sitting at a desk for long periods they are often repeating the same postures and same motions over and over and over in their training sessions and that repetition can have a toll on their bodies causing imbalances. For example, nordic skiers and biathletes are often short and need length through the front of their bodies. This pattern emerges from the thousands of crunches they do in a typical training session as a result of the poling motion required for skiing. This tendency to get short in the front can promote a posture that looks a bit like a question mark over time if the athlete does not stay vigilant with stretching and regular body work. Of course if we are able to help keep the posture more balanced through both the front and backs of the body we are supporting a more functional posture and this will help with both performance and injury prevention over time.
Also, just like the majority of my clients, high level athletes benefit from the body mapping and enhanced proprioceptive capacity that Rolfing can help facilitate. Pain science shows us that if our body map is sharp, clear and precise then there is a high likelihood that we will have less or infrequent pain. But often in cases of chronic pain or prolonged discomfort there is some quality of what is called smudging that has happened to the body map. This means that the location of sensory input is not especially clear, that maybe our nervous system is confused about what part of our body is being stimulated and which may cause the nervous system to interpret that information as a threat, which will generally appear as pain. Check out this video by chronic pain scientist David Butler for more information on the body map and what I am talking about when I mention smudging.
Both types of clients, elite athletes and average Joes, well benefit from bodywork that helps maintain a clear and accurate body map. Desk workers will need help in feeling and clarifying areas of the body that do not regularly experience movement through out the day as a consequence of a desk job ie. low back and hips. While athletes could need help in clearing up and highlighting information coming from body parts and movement patterns outside of the very specific movements they practice all day every day. In the case of the biathletes this means looking for length through their abdominals and pecs and anterior neck muscles so that their body can remember to lengthen and relax when they are no longer on the ski track.
The Biathlon World Cup season is set to start on November 25th in Ostersund, Sweden and the team was looking positive and fit up in Canmore. So, make sure to tune in and cheer the team on, you can learn more about biathlon and watch the races live streaming from the International Biathlon Union's web page.
Grant Ernhart is a certified Rolfer based in Minneapolis who is continually amazed at the mystery of the human body and the miracle of being a sensing being alive in the world.
This blog provides a place for him to collect articles and share his thoughts on Rolfing, chronic pain science and anything else he finds inspiring.
Grant is available for Rolfing and bodywork at his private practice in Minneapolis.