Editor’s Note: "Beauty Queen" is a monthly column that sends fashion reporter Xazmin Garza out into the field to test the latest beauty products and services.
I’m in a slump. Not a Shaquille O’Neal kind of slump but more of a Quasimodo one, as in my upper back borders on hunch status.
It’s really only an issue when my spine starts to hurt which, as of three months ago, was every day around 4 p.m. Other than work out — a ridiculous notion — the solutions seemed sparse. Until Oprah came to the rescue.
During one of her Dr. Oz shows, the queen of daytime introduced the world to Rolfing. Say it aloud: Rolfing. Yes, it sounds like another name for vomit or the noise Arsenio Hall used to accompany his fist roll with but it’s neither. The name comes from its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, and it’s a "connective tissue manipulation technique" used to bring your body’s alignment back in order. Translation: it deslumps.
According to the official Web site (rolf.org) only three certified Rolfers call Las Vegas home. Some of them have "advanced" tagged to their title, like Steven Gorbet, who would have the honor of Rolfing me. Gorbet practices out of a modest office in a seedy business center not far from Chinatown. The exterior, especially after the sun goes down, will make you lock and relock your car.
Once I was inside, Gorbet quizzed me about the issue that brought me to his office. He told a few stories about Rolfing famous bodies — the stiff straight back of Johnny Carson being just one of them — and then he showed me a before and after picture of a non-famous client who also wanted improved posture. The difference looked a little like the famous images from the evolution of man series.
Let the healing begin.
Gorbet directed me to the second half of his office. The Rolfing room’s centerpiece was a table that resembles the ones you lay down on for a massage. Don’t be deceived. You won’t find candles, dim lighting or Enya music here. You will find pain. But Gorbet insisted it’s a release, not an infliction, of pain. I believed him, but my back didn’t.
Before we got started, I stood in my shorts and sports bra before the Rolfer. He squared my shoulders, took a few steps back and said, "Let me get a good look." It sounds a little creepy, but not after he immediately spouted off the body parts that were out of alignment followed by his impressive predictions about the cause. My right shoulder doesn’t balance out with my left. I must have been an athlete, he predicted. Affirmative, softball. "Were you a pitcher?" he asked. "Yes," I answered. "Fast pitch?" Another yes. Apparently, the pitching, coupled with my penchant for oversized handbags, left an overdeveloped, low-hanging shoulder.
My pelvis, he determined, had a twist to it that could have been caused by my almost completely flat right foot. Gorbet told me the twisted pelvis could also be a result of sitting at a desk all day with my legs intertwined, the position I’m writing this column in. I couldn’t argue with any of his observations. They all held true.
After I assumed my position on the table, he started with my shoulders. While he dug his knuckles under my shoulder blades, Gorbet explained that the part he manipulates is similar to the white lining you see when cooking chicken. It’s called fascia, the connective tissue that holds all the muscles together. When his hands couldn’t manipulate my fascia into proper position, Gorbet brought out the big guns.
His tools looked like they belonged in an auto body shop, which would make me the beater in need of a tune-up. The first tool he used, an adjustor, pops into the skin in a fast, hard motion. It’s used with stubborn areas. The second, a laser, strengthens muscles. (My right thigh was much weaker than my left until the laser evened them out.) The last one felt restrictions and unwound them. It also causes you to sound like you’re talking into a fan. It’s a percussor and it actually felt good. The shaking it caused was a wee bit uncomfortable, but it sent tingles through my entire body. When he wasn’t kneading me, the advanced Rolfer was adjusting, lasing or percussing me.
At one point Gorbet pushed on my lower body with such might he broke a sweat. "It seems easy, but it’s like moving a piano," he said through a grunt.
The next day my body felt as though the piano he moved fell out a window and onto my back. I felt trampled on. I woke up the same night and vomited until the sun came up. I called Gorbet that morning to find out if it might have been related. Indeed, it was. Gorbet called it a good sign, a purging of the system if you will.
For all the trouble I went through, the Rolfing had lasting results. Although serious clients will go through a series of 10 sessions, benefits begin after just one. Since Rolfing, I’m more prone to stand on both feet with even weight distribution. I used to shift to one side. For a good week, the breath I inhaled seemed to be deeper and easier. Lastly, the back pain has only paid a visit once in the two weeks it’s been since my session. My posture, however, still suffers. The good news is that it now suffers less. Instead of looking like the first ape shown in the evolution series, I’m closer to the second.
Steven Gorbet, certified advanced Rolfer, practices out of his office at 3111 S. Valley View Blvd., Suite A-215, 889-1850
Contact fashion reporter Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477.rolf rundown According to The Rolf Institute, Rolfing benefits the average individual who has likely shortened his body, changed the position of his buttocks, twisted his pelvis, misaligned his ankles and carries weight heavier on one foot than the other. And that’s just the average Joe. Add to the equation sports injuries, accidents and simple gravity and you have another laundry list. Your body gets out of alignment, however, through the way you walk, sit and sleep. Rolfing helps reverse these effects to rebalance, align and restore symmetry of the body through "sufficient force to stretch and move tissue." For more information about Rolfing, log onto Rolf.org