Tahoe Health: The Pain Free Body- Naturally


Millions of Americans are consuming billions of dollars worth of pain killers annually and will likely never get out of the loop of pain, inflammation and drugs unless they start thinking about the problem differently.  It is accepted as “normal” that as we age we should suffer increasing aches and pains and therefore reduction of activities, quality of life and increase need for ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, and even on into the prescription drugs.  But is there an alternative?  Is there a treatable cause for much of the pain so that you don’t have to go down that path?

Myofascial adhesions are the little known cause of the majority of pain people suffer. 

When we went to school we learned basic anatomy including muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones, but we were never taught about fascia or connective tissues.  So when we have neck, back, hip or shoulder pain we think- “what could be causing my pain?” and only think in terms of that anatomy we learned.  If we know we haven’t broken a bone, sprained a ligament, pulled a muscle or injured a joint then we are at a loss why we feel such discomfort, range of motion restriction and stiffness in the body and therefore we have no idea how to solve it except to take a pain killer.

But there is a structure in the body that is the cause of most of the pain and stiffness everyone is experiencing we just didn’t learn about it and most doctors didn’t study it either- it’s the fascia.  Fascia, also known as connective tissue, is the strong fibrous material in the body that surrounds the muscles and organs of the body giving them their strength and structure.  Connective tissue does just what it’s name implies- it connects everything together and to itself. 

With repetitive motions- computer work, many sports such as golf, tennis, skiing, cycling, as well as with activities which require long sustained contractions of the muscles- standing or sitting for long periods, muscle is contracted and connective tissue ends up forming adhesions to itself in the contracted state creating short and tight muscles.  Short tight fibers put a lot of strain on joints and tendons leading to inflammation and pain!

So even though you may have not experienced any injury you can think of, you experience chronic pain, aches and range of motion restriction or inflexibility and inflammation.  This is due directly to adhesions in the fascia which will not allow for your muscle fiber to return to it’s natural full length giving the joints and tendons a rest from being under tension and that leads to pain.This is why people are experiencing so much back pain, hip soreness, neck stiffness and even foot pain. 

A natural solution to pain

 PhD biochemist Ida P. Rolf in the 1940’s invented a therapy designed specifically for the release of fascia adhesions, which became known as Rolfing.  Practioners of Rolfing are known as Rolfers and they are specialists in the release of fascia or connective tissues of the body. 

With rolfing it is possible to cut back and even eliminate prescription drug usage, return to activities you thought you could no longer do, eliminate chronic injures and stress and I’ve even helped hundreds of people avoid surgery for back pain, shoulder problems and carpal tunnel syndrome. 

It is no longer necessary to accept the “normal” story of increased pain and decreased activities in life, Rolfing is a holistic manual therapy which treats the whole body, releasing the hips for dramatically freer movement, unsticks the low back returning proper flexibility, unwinds the hardened shoulders and neck which this stressful world tends to create, and restores people to a pain free body- naturally.

Joe Dunkley has a new clinic in Incline Village on Tahoe blvd and has been a practicing Rolfer for 15 years working with top athletes in the golf world, Ironman competitors, runners and bikers, as well as sports medicine doctors, business leaders of Fortune 100 companies, and the state of Colorado.  JDRolfing.comJoe@jdrolfing.com 

Rolfing for the True Golfing Advantage Tune the most important tool for the game-YOU!

When you are looking for the advantage in golf, when you want to genuinely improve your game the best place to look is not to new gear or gizmos, it is to the function and fluidity of your own body. Pain, tension, adhesions and past injuries are the nemesis of a golfer and the source of the biggest limitations in your game.  


When you have aches and pains, inflammation, back, neck and elbow problems there is no way you are going to be playing your best.  Taking medications to suppress the symptoms does not produce proper function in muscles and tendons but only covers the pain.   


For the professional and recreational golfer flexibility is the key to your best game.

Rolfing is a 50+ year old body treatment technique which removes adhesions in your muscles and connective tissues that cause glitches in your swing, reduction in your strength, instability in your stance, weakness in your drives, rigidness in your body, and pain and inflammation.  


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Drive Further


Being Rolfed has the unique capacity to increase your strength for longer drives.  One of the most important aspects of strength, which often is overlooked, is the effect the length of contraction of muscle fibers has upon your strength.  When our muscles are short and tight after many years of activity, training and repetitive actions many of your muscle fibers are at nearly full contraction while you are at rest preventing them from doing much work when called to act.


For example, many clients come to see me due to weakness in their arms or grip complaining they are having difficulty opening jars.  Many have seen physical therapists who have provided a precise measurement of the comparative strength between their arms and have noted one arm being, let’s say, 13.45% weaker than their other arm.  What that measurement is really saying is 13.45% of your muscle fibers are in full contraction while you are at rest!  That is the effect of chronic tension and fascia adhesions. And those adhesions are what Rolfing releases giving you a significant increase in strength for your drives.


Putt more Precisely

Precision in golfing is a result of muscular differentiation.  What that means is that each of your muscles are able to act, contract and release individually.  One of the lesser-known causes of poor performance is a muscle group acting as a block.  Adhesions in the body do not form only in individual muscles causing weakness and tension but they also can adhere muscles to each other.  This means that when you want to, say contract only your index finger that your pointer finger contracts along with it because the fibers of one muscle are adhered to the muscle right next to it.  Rolfing re-establishes muscular differentiation allowing muscles to slide against each other again that creates significantly improved precision in action.  


Swing more Accurately


A golf swing is made of a series of complex mechanical body movements.  A perfect golf swing is considered the holy grail of the sport.  So how in the world are you going to have a perfect swing when you have pain, tension, restrictions, adhesions, poor differentiation, and weakness in your body?  Answer- you aint.  


If you watched the way that Tiger Woods used to swing the club, one of the defining aspects was his incredibly smooth and easy motion.  These days with his back and neck problems he isn’t doing nearly as well.  I worked on Hank Haney, Tiger’s coach for many years, recently helping him with tendonitis in his arms to help him with his game because adhesions in the fascia/connective tissue of your body are the number one cause of the herky jerky swings of golfers.  When you can move smoothly and the body is not trying to protect painful muscle groups your accuracy will be at its best.



Rolfing can extend athletic careers


Presently I am working on local legend Bill Ledson and immediately got rid of two painful areas in his back from an injury and eliminated his sciatic nerve pain down his leg in just two sessions.  Bill is turning 89 this summer and just went out for his first day of golfing this season.   Many people give up the activities they love like skiing, tennis and golfing because they have too many aches and pains in their bodies.  Until Rolfing came along in the 1970’s there was little that could be done for the incredible tensions in the hips and low back that form over time and so it was accepted as part of getting old and aging.  This is simply not necessary any longer with the power of Rolfing to get deeply into those muscles and release them making people feel 20 years younger.  


Free the fascia, free yourself!



Joe Dunkley is a certified Rolfer in Incline Village. Visit www.jdrolfing.com or email joe@gdrolfing.com to learn more.

Hurt so good: Rolfer brings alternative bodywork practice to North Tahoe


INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Joe Dunkley’s home office resembles the look and feel of a massage studio or day spa.

But his practice isn’t exactly a jasmine-scented-aromatherapy-drool-on-the-pillow type of experience most people associate with alternative bodywork therapies like massage and chiropractic.

“It’s the deepest of all types of bodywork,” said Dunkley, a practicing Rolfer for 15 years. “It sometimes has a reputation for being very painful, but it’s not overtly painful, it’s just very intense — like a good hurt.”

Named after its founder, Dr. Ida Rolf — a biochemist from New York City who began studying the practice in the 1920s — Rolfing is a type of bodywork that digs deep into the connective tissue known as the fascia, allowing the muscle fiber to realign, thereby restoring the body’s proper range of motion.

“Before Rolfing came along, you had to just accept stiff hips and a sore neck and all other aches and pains as a normal part of the aging process, but that’s simply not true anymore, and that’s the most exciting thing about Rolfing,” Dunkley said at his home office for JD Rolfing in Incline Village’s Tyrolian Village subdivision. “It’s a completely different way of thinking about the body as a whole.”




The fascia tissue is the connective tissue that surrounds, stabilizes and locks muscles together, Dunkley explained.

Over time, the fascia forms adhesions due to things like bad posture, injury, chronic tension, and prolonged stress.

“It’s kind of like when you peel back an orange,” Dunkley said. “The layer of white skin underneath the orange peel is similar to the body’s superficial layer of fascia, and as you peel away each section of the orange, there’s even more layers of tissue that hold the orange together, just like there are deeper layers of fascia that hold our muscles together.”

By releasing the underlying tensions of the fascia, Rolfing (also known as Structural Integration) is believed to improve posture, strength and flexibility, while significantly reducing or eliminating minor to extreme aches and pains.

Though the practice of Rolfing has been around as long as the first “Peanuts” Cartoon strip — or roughly 1950 — it didn’t land on Dunkley’s radar until a half-century later.

“I was in a car accident that caused some pretty severe injuries,” Dunkley said. “I tried going to a chiropractor, an acupuncturist and a massage therapist, but nothing was really doing it for me and that’s when I heard about Rolfing.”



The only thing Dunkley had to lose was the excruciating pain he was suffering, so he sought the help of a certified Rolfer near his then-hometown of Whidbey Island, about 30 miles outside of Seattle.

“As soon as he sunk his fingers into my back and my neck at that deeper fascial layer, I said ‘that’s it — that’s where all the pain is coming from,’ and I immediately began to feel better,” Dunkley said.

The most surprising part of that initial experience was not only the immediate relief, but the fact that the results lasted — that is, for a couple of weeks anyway.

“I had fully recovered from my injuries, and then I was rear-ended again about two weeks later,” Dunkley said.

The second accident caused his injuries to once again rear their ugly head, and Dunkley went back to the Rolfer for more treatment.

At his last appointment, it finally dawned on him to inquire about a career in Rolfing.

“I was always interested in natural health and healing,” said Dunkley, who had founded a natural health education company in 1995. “Two weeks after that final session, I moved to Boulder and began my studies at The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.”



From there, Dunkley opened a practice on Whidbey Island, where he helped countless clients reach their full fascia potential through Rolfing’s most famous process, the 10 Series Postural Realignment.

“When people come to see me they tell me almost the exact same story every time, which sounds something like, ‘I have this pain, I went to the doctor, I was given anti-inflammatory medication or pain killers, but that didn’t work, so I went to chiropractor, which helped a little bit, but it didn’t go away entirely, so I went to a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and a physical therapist, but nothing stuck, so now I’m here to see you,’” Dunkley recounted. “There is simply no other therapy that produces the kind of results that Rolfing does.”

Alongside his sister and co-owner, the duo of siblings operated a successful practice in the Pacific Northwest for 15 years, until an unspeakable pain struck Dunkley and his family in a way no form of bodywork could possibly heal.

“After my sister passed away from cancer about two years ago, I knew I needed to get the hell out of Whidbey for a while and take care of myself,” said Dunkley, who also lost his mother and other sister to cancer a few years prior.

And, after a short but sweet stint working as a Rolfer to the rich and famous in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Dunkley was ready to replant his roots on U.S. soil — more specifically, the northeast shores of Lake Tahoe.

“Tahoe is absolutely stunning, and the people here are so friendly,” Dunkley said. “I already feel more at home here than I’ve ever felt anywhere else in my entire life.”

Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at jennyanngoldsmith@gmail.com

Nerve Impingements: The overlooked cause of the numbness & tingling

If you have been experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of your arms going to sleep, pain down the leg or numb fingers you know how irritating it can be.   The cause of these symptoms is usually presumed to be in the spine where the nerves emerge but it isn’t always the case and in fact it is quite often something all together different. 


Fascia/Connective Tissue restrictions.


Fascia is the tough fibrous material that holds our body and muscles together like the thin membranes in the wedges of an orange hold it together.  These tissues when they are contracted for long periods by the muscles adhere to themselves shortening the muscle fiber and in the process will often put pressure on a nerve causing pain and numbness.


Lets look at a couple of common examples, if one of these describe you, the solution can actually be quite rapid. 


Numbness in the arms and hands

Emerging from your spine at the neck are a group of nerves (a plexus) that pass in-between the scalene muscles in the front of the neck.  This nerve then passes under your collar bone, then beneath the pectorals muscles then into the arm itself.  On the journey of this nerve group it continues down the arm past the elbow through the wrist then finally into the hand.  At every one of these locations is the possibility of compression on that nerve group and that is where the trouble lies. 


Even though your outer fingers might be what is going numb the problem may actually be in the wrist, elbow, shoulder, or the neck and not only the spine.   While it seems fairly obvious as to how the discs and vertebrae could be pinching the nerve the other locations are a little trickier to understand but equally common and the treatment is completely different. 


You most likely have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, that is the name given to the nerve impingement when it is happening at the wrist and affecting the hand; all it really means is that your wrist is really tight.   Surgery is a common solution for this problem but there is a proven safer, more effective and less costly solution to carpal tunnel syndrome than surgery: instead of cutting the fascia/connective tissue in surgery to release it, a trained therapist can manually stretch and release that tissue providing the same relief.


Do your arms fall asleep at night?

When the origin of the nerve impingement is around the neck region it has another fancy name- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome., which really just means you have fascia adhesions and tight scalene muscles in the neck.  Many times you will see a person rubbing their numb hand trying to relieve the symptoms while the problem is actually a nerve being compressed up in the neck.  When you lie on your side while sleeping it is easy to compress the scalenes making this condition often worse at night.   So what option is there?  Once again a trained therapist in releasing fascia adhesions can often quite quickly correct this otherwise complicated problem by releasing the scalenes and their pressure on the nerve group (brachial plexus).




Sciatica or nerve pain down the leg

One of the other most common nerve impingements I see in my practice is called Sciatica named after the sciatic nerve that is being compressed.  Sciatica is usually caused by one of two impingement sites.  Though it is usually presumed to be stemming from a bulging/compressed disc, herniation, or stenosis in the low back lumbars it is perhaps even more common for the nerve to be compressed by a muscle called piriformis which attaches from your sacrum to your femur.  This painful condition can be alleviated quickly by deep fascial work in the hip and piriformis muscle.


But even sciatica that is being caused by MRI proven disc problems can often also be corrected without needing dangerous back surgery.  How?  Think of a tall radio tower, it is supported in its’ height by cables maintaining a high tension on the tower so it doesn’t sway or move.  In a similar manner your spine is supported by strong muscles and fascia attaching all around it.  When these muscles and fascia are too tight they compress the vertebrae discs and can lead to compression issues. 


It takes very deep and intense work around the lumbars to release this incredibly tough tissue, but when done properly it can prevent surgeries in even rather extreme cases.

 Over the past 15 years, starting with my very first client, I have helped hundreds of people avoid surgeries and thousands eliminate painful nerve problems with the power of Rolfing Structural Integration, a holistic and natural deep tissue method of releasing fascia in the body.  Some chiropractors, massage therapists or physical therapists may have special training in working with the fascia and Osteopathic medical doctors do as well.  Free the fascia, free yourself!


By Joe Dunkley

Certifed Rolfer



The most important structure of the body you (probably) know nothing about

What is restricting your range of motion?  What is interfering with your precision of movement?  Why do you feel so stiff as you age?  Why won’t your muscles just relax?  What is affecting your posture so much?  The answer to all these questions is the vast fibrous network in the body known as the connective tissue or fascia. 

Fascia is what holds the human body together; it gives the form and structure to the organs and even the eyes.  Unfortunately many of us were never taught about the fascia so we know little about it and when we have pain in the body we immediately think we must have a problem with a joint, a bone or a tendon, when usually it is actually the fascia causing a restriction. 

You’ve seen fascia before when peeling an orange or cutting a steak.  It is the tough white/translucent material just beneath the oranges skin; that layer is called the superficial fascia.  Beneath that you can separate the orange into halves or even wedges. If you look you will see a strong thin membrane giving the wedge its shape and holding the juice in.  The human body is made up much the same way.

Just beneath our skin there is a layer of fascia (the superficial fascia) that surrounds our entire body.  If we look beneath the superficial fascia you will see the muscles, but if you look closely you will see that muscles are made of bands of tissue, and each of these bands are surrounded by their own layer of fascia.  If we look into this band of muscle fiber we will see it too is made of bands of muscle fibers also surrounded by fascia, and so on and so on down to the individual contractile fibers called actin and myosin.  The muscles and fascia are so interwoven you will sometimes hear the muscles called the myofascia. 

Now here’s the trick… Connective tissue does just what its name implies, namely, it connects to itself forming what are called fascial adhesions.  It is supposed to do that as it is what gives our body its structure and stability.  For example, a newborn baby can touch its toes to its shinbone- it has enormous flexibility but no stability so it can’t stand or walk.  Over time as the child crawls and practices standing and holding onto something, the contracted muscle fibers allow for the connective tissue to form adhesions in this new posture and soon there is enough stability for the baby to stand on its own but at the same time the flexibility disappears and the child can no longer touch their toes to their shins. So this formation of connective tissue adhesions through the hydrogen bonding sites in the fascia serves an essential purpose.

Pain and inflexibility in the body arrive later as the adhesions can become too numerous or form in too short of a position limiting our movement, range of motion and function. 

Myofascial adhesions are the number one culprit in chronic back pain, muscular tension, tendonitis, pain, misalignments, tmj, stiffness and soreness in the body but most people assume degenerative conditions like arthritis, bursitis, degenerative disc disease, tendon injuries, meniscus wear, etc.  Adhesions, once they have formed, will stay put for your entire life!  So, for example, an old back injury that caused a contraction in the muscles can still be felt 20, 30 or even 50 years later, if no one has worked out the connective tissue adhesions. 

Releasing the adhesions in the connective tissue, though not easy nor necessarily comfortable, has a profound affect on how you feel.   Vastly improved range of motion, flexibility and strength are just a few of the first things you will notice.   Strength is increased because many of the muscle fibers required for, say opening a jar, have been held in a fully contracted state by the fascia and cannot do any work thereby appearing weak and feeling painful.  The same goes for athletes who have extensive repetitive exercise routines.  You may gain more strength by releasing the fascia than doing another set of exercises. 

Typically, general practitioner physicians place less emphasis on the role of fascia in weakness, range of motion restriction and pain.  The doctors who specialize in fascia are called Osteopathic Doctors or D.O.’s and they can be a great resource for your pain or injuries.  In the natural and alternative health realm the specialists are known as Rolfer’s or Structural Integrators and they can make a profound difference in how you feel and move.

Free the fascia, free yourself!



-       Joe Dunkley is a Certified RolferÒ in Incline Village NV    www.jdrolfing.com

-       joe@jdrolfing.co