Welcome to Lesa Pensak

Lesa Sol Pensak is an Advanced Board Certified Structural Integrator, certified from The Guild for Structural Integration in Boulder, Co. Lesa is also a Holistic Health Practitioner and Massage Therapist, certified from Mueller College of Holistic Studies in San Diego, Ca. She has 25 years of private practice and lives at Lake Tahoe and Sayulita, Mexico.Lesa Telluride Jane1

Various structural and movement imbalances may be blocking you from reaching a more stable state of body and mind. The Rolf Series’ goal is the physical and emotional evolution of an individual through the lengthening and integration of the body. Lesa has helped many people discover how Rolf Bodywork can dramatically enhance their posture and movement possibilities, allowing them to function with greater ease and awareness. Rolf Bodywork is a powerful combination of manual therapy and movement which may be complemented by Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Yoga and other disciplines.

Pensak was on the Board of Massage Examiners, Massage Instructor and National Exam Writer and is a Full Cert Ski Instructor. Contact Lesa at (775) 443-8500  lesapensak@gmail.com


Yogis Discover Rolfing Enhances Their Practice

Lesa Sol Pensak is a Board Certified Structural Integrator,

 Graduate of The Guild for Structural Integration with Peter Melchior and Emmett Hutchins.


Yogis are discovering that the intense yet stimulating movements of Rolf Structural Integration can enhance their practice.

 Did you know that Ida Rolf developed her work in part inspired by yoga? Rolf Structural Integration and Yoga seem to be variations of a single theme: both working towards the physical and emotional evolution of an individual through the lengthening and integration of the body. This is not surprising considering that Rolf Structural Integration has its roots in the principals of Yoga.

Many yogis are discovering it can help correct the various physical imbalances that keep them from reaching a more stable state of body and mind. A Structural Integration series can dramatically enhance your yoga practice by opening up new movement possibilities and when combined it is more beneficial than either alone.

Ida Rolf began studying yoga back in the 20’s in New York with a tantric guru named Pierre Bernard. She studied yoga for many years. At the time, yoga was almost unheard of in the U.S. so she never thought that there would be the kind of resurgence of yoga in the West the way there has been.

When she created Structural Integration (aka Rolfing), she was asking, “How do I create a yogic experience in a western way?” Structural Integration was aligned with the goals of yoga as “a physical system that enriches the student’s body, mind and spiritual well-being through an understanding of structural balance.”

 Everybody was thinking of fascia as simply the packing material that goes around the other tissues. Now, we’re finding out that it’s a powerful regulatory system. I’ve seen this in my practice…as we make changes to the body, the person often experiences changes mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

We’re looking at the potential offered by body work, Yoga, Structural Integration, Osteopathy, and so on—all these body therapies are contributing to this realm of wholism. Going forward, I think we may see these modalities unite into a very powerful combination of manual therapy and movement, where everybody is speaking one language.

 “STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION is about the whole person;

it is about the fascia and feeling.

The sensation of moving from weakness into strength,

the exhilaration of owning a new part of oneself,

the immediate and simultaneous re-education of ones being and action,

the joy of self empowerment, walking up;

these are the experiences of Structural Integration.” 

 by Emmet Hutchins

Contact Lesa Sol Pensak

ViaMassage  & Rolf Bodywork

775 443 8500



Discover the power of Rolfing

Discover the power of Rolfing

Special to the Bonanza
Jan 13, 2012
Updated Aug 27, 2012
Deeply transformational bodywork called The Rolf Method of Structural Integration is now available in Incline Village.
Rolf Bodywork sessions blend structural, energetic and manual therapies and are a complement to Acupuncture, Pilates, Yoga and other wellness practices. It’s a dynamic alternative to traditional therapies and the results can be profound: Significant relief from pain, enhanced range of motion, improved athletic performance and well-being.
The Rolf Method of Structural Integration is the result of hands-on manipulation and core movements developed by Dr. Ida Rolf that works on connective tissue to release, realign and balance the whole body with lift and length in the field of gravity. One’s posture and freedom of movement is enhanced, while pain from many causes, including back pain, trauma and repetitive motion injury may be resolved as a side effect.
Hands-on interventions with visual and functional assessments coupled with client education bring about positive and long lasting outcomes.
Lesa Sol Pensak, BCSI, HHP, MT, owner of ViaMassage & Rolf Bodywork, is a Board Certified Structural Integrator, Holistic Health Practitioner and Advanced Massage Therapist since 1989.

Learn more about Pensak at www.lesapensak.wordpress.com, (775) 443-8500.

Structural Integration Mission Statement

The Guild For Structural Integration

The dictionary defines a mission as “a continuing task or responsibility that one is destined or fitted to do or specially called upon to undertake.” Accordingly, the Guild offers the following mission statement:

The Guild is dedicated to the traditional teachings of Dr. Ida P. Rolf. The product of her life’s work and teaching is the “Recipe”; a ten- session sequence of structural, fascial and educational goals which establishes order in human structures. Due to its efficacy in symptom alleviation, both physical and emotional, there is little doubt that the Recipe will survive in various forms as techniques; it is not certain that it can endure as art and craft without the special dedication of those individuals who are inspired by the potency of intention and wisdom of process concealed within. The Recipe is not technique. The Recipe is more than a discrete succession of myo-fascial goals and intentions. The Recipe is, rather, a process, based on a set of relationships, which establishes structural balance and order. These relationships are based upon sound theoretical physics as well as some traditional metaphysical hypotheses. Relationships belong to the realm of art, they are non-linear. Technique is better suited to scientific and linear analysis. The Recipe, as taught in other schools, has been modified or, perhaps, specialized in several ways. Some of these modifications ignore the underlying priorities in Dr. Rolf’s teaching. The Guild is formed to insure that the Recipe does not lose its potency of intention, its expression as art, nor its comprehension as process.

Dr. Rolf’s teaching emphasizes the concept of the personal line of vertical intention, the “Line.” The Line passes through the centers of gravity of the body’s vertical blocks. The Line, in our concept of the Structurally Integrated human, does not pass through bone, except at the top of the head. In actual fact, this weight-bearing line does pass through bone in all but the most exceptional human structures. Indeed, it was Dr. Rolf’s observation that our species had not yet successfully completed its journey to uprightness. The Recipe is designed to offer personal assistance in this evolutionary voyage. The emergence of the unstressed vertical, the Line which passes only through soft tissue is evidence of progress toward this goal. The Line being defined as a set of theoretical points in space is not real, but experiential, and it can be, perhaps, must be, intentional. The horizon is the horizontal reference for the Line. The shoulder girdle and the pelvic girdle must contain true horizontal balance to define and support vertical extension. The Line goes through the top of the head and through the bottom of the feet to infinity. The Line forms a relationship between the field which is man and the field which is earth, the field of gravity. The Line is transcendental, it relates the realm of material particles, of basic physics to the non-material, the world of energy fields. While Dr. Rolf’s metaphysical hypotheses concerning the Line are not original, her use of the Recipe as a tool for exploring them is unique. The idea of using a vertical line of extension to integrate one’s personal energy field with the energy field of the earth is a compelling idea with both practical and visionary implications. The Guild recognizes the singular importance of the Line as raison d’ etre for the recipe. We believe that effort to clarify and develop a clear sense of vertical extension should be a path for personal growth. And further, that instruction concerning the Line is an essential educational aspect of the practice of Structural Integration.

The practice of Structural Integration is, clearly, a logical choice for traditional, holistic, and self-help professionals. However, many of Dr. Rolf’s oldest, most successful and well-known practitioners were not attracted to her work by professional considerations alone, but rather by the personal challenges which she believed were inseparable from the practice.

The practice of Structural Integration was presented as a path of personal growth and integrity, where personal alignment implies structure on all levels: physical, verbal, logical, spiritual, and emotional. The practice was also presented as a path of service, which “refines” the spirit of the practitioner, and assists in the development of true sight and compassion. The discipline of the path is the performance and understanding of the Recipe. Repetition of the Recipe disciplines the mind and clarifies the will. Awakening our consciousness of the Line becomes the personal goal and the Line our inner guide. Fanciful ideas of personal growth, life paths, service and the awakening of special sensory abilities may have little to do with professional competence but they have much to do with the exploration of human potential. Therefore, the Guild believes these extra-professional challenges are useful, even essential, and should be presented to all practitioners of Structural Integration.

The decision to become a Structural Integration Practitioner involves a lifetime of continual learning and intellectual challenge. But it further implies a decision to develop one’s inner knowing, the integration of mind, body and spirit.

Mission Statement

  1. Structural Integration is a method and a philosophy of personal growth and integrity.
  2. The vertical line is our fundamental concept. The physical and psychological embodiment of the vertical line is a way for BEING in the physical world. It forms a basis for personal growth and integrity.
  3. The teaching of Structural Integration is transmitted through a form called the “Recipe.” The “Recipe” is the tradition, the foundation, the essence of Dr. Ida Rolf’s teachings.

Could Rolfing be one Madonna endorsement away from becoming the next Pilates? posted by Lesa Pensak

Rolfing, Excruciatingly Helpful…

Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

Rey Allen tries to get a body in alignment.

Published: October 6, 2010

A FORMER dancer of 14 years, Anna Zahn is in touch with her body. To gain more flexibility, and to counteract some of the strain from dancing, she has tried a number of remedies: Reiki, acupuncture, yoga.

Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

Anna Zahn, 20, a former dancer, receives a Rolfing treatment.

But she still felt tight, her body tense. So she started getting Rolfed — a kind of deep-tissue bodywork that can be so intense that some jokingly liken it to masochism.

“It’s not going to massage and lighting aromatherapy candles,” said Ms. Zahn, a 20-year-old student at New York University, who gets a Rolfing treatment every week or so. “It’s tough to go to these sessions. It’s painful, very painful, emotionally and physically. But you feel such a relief when you leave that it’s just the most amazing feeling.”

Others are feeling it, too. Popular in the 1970s, Rolfing once evoked hairy-chested, New Age types seeking alternative therapies — perhaps most famously spoofed in the 1977 football movie “Semi-Tough,” starring Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson.

But today, Rolfing is experiencing something of a resurgence, especially among younger city dwellers for whom the novelty of yoga has worn off, and who are now seeking more intense ways to relieve the stresses of modern life.

“Back in the day, Rolfing’s growth was word of mouth,” said Rey Allen, a Rolfing practitioner in lower Manhattan, who has noticed an increase in its popularity. He attributes the rise partly to the Internet, which has introduced the treatment to a new generation.

“Over half of my clientele are in their 20s,” he added. “Since I opened my practice in the city a few years ago, the average age of my clientele has always been 35. But that has drastically changed since the summer.”

Could Rolfing be one Madonna endorsement away from becoming the next Pilates?

Rolfing is named after its creator, Ida Rolf, a biochemist from New York City who studied alternative methods of bodywork and healing beginning in the 1920s. She died in 1979 at the age of 82.

Dr. Rolf developed a theory that the body’s aches and pains arose from basic imbalances in posture and alignment, which were created and reinforced over time by gravity and learned responses among muscles and fascia — the sheath-like connective tissue that surrounds and binds muscles together. Rolfing developed as a way to “restructure” muscles and fascia.

The focus on manipulating fascia is part of what distinguishes it from chiropractics, which deals with bones, and from therapeutic massages, which works on muscles.

That also explains why Rolfing has a reputation for being aggressive, even painful at times. Fascia is stubborn material, particularly if it is marked by knots and scar tissue. Rolfers gouge with knuckles and knead with fists, contort limbs and lean into elbows to loosen tendons and ligaments. Patients, meanwhile, need the fortitude to relax and take it during the hour long sessions.

Russell Poses, a 39-year-old international equities trader on Wall Street, who started getting Rolfing treatments after injuring his back, likened the experience to “paying $150 an hour for an Indian burn.” But the benefits, as far as he’s concerned, are well worth it. Chiropractors and years of physical therapy couldn’t accomplish what two or three Rolfing sessions did, he said.

Plus, he said he could still feel the results two weeks later. “It’s something that actually lasts,” he said.

It is hard to find reliable statistics on the prevalence of Rolfing. But the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, which was founded by Dr. Rolf in 1971 to educate and certify practioners, says it has noticed a rise in student enrollments at its Boulder, Colo., headquarters.

Kevin McCoy, a faculty member at the institute with a practice in Milwaukee, said he had seen annual class sizes swell to 100 from 75 students in recent years. In the mid-1980s, he said, the school graduated fewer than 50 a year. Despite the bad economy, he said, “our numbers have been maintaining or growing.”

An endorsement in 2007 on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” by the cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz certainly didn’t hurt. Now the host of the syndicated daytime program “The Dr. Oz Show,” he says he sees the growing popularity of Rolfing as “a general perception by the public that taking medications for discomfort is not giving you the panacea benefits that you would desire.”

In that regard, he said he viewed the treatment as an extension of practices like yoga, which also offers relief without drugs. “Yoga is in many ways analogous to Rolfing because it takes tendons and it stretches them into a position of discomfort,” Dr. Oz said. “They’re just doing it for you without your doing it yourself.”

Rolfing practitioners say they have also noticed a shift that may explain why younger clients are seeking out their services. It’s not just to treat injuries, but also stress. “Health is one area where we can find a sense of control,” said Mr. Allen, who has been practicing for about nine years. “The real trend is that people are starting to look within the boundaries of their own skin for meaning in their lives, and to find a sense of security in the world.”

As with other holistic practices, Rolfing seems to leave the door open for a certain mysticism. Even those who have little use for New Age-type practices like meditation can verge on the metaphysical when discussing Rolfing.

Beau Buffier, a 35-year-old partner at a corporate law firm in New York, says he started Rolfing treatments after he injured his neck and shoulder in a fall. Despite three M.R.I.’s, surgery, physical therapy, a chiropractor, acupuncture and deep massage, the pain remained. Stress from his high-stakes job didn’t help.

But somehow Rolfing did the trick. “It’s dealing with the physical manifestations of something that’s kind of emotional or spiritual,” Mr. Buffier said.

He has since gotten in touch with his body in other ways. He began exercising more and eating better. He lost 20 pounds. His blood pressure dropped. “It’s almost as if your body locks up emotions,” he said.


Lesa Pensak Receives 2014 Best Businesses of Incline Village Award

Lesa Pensak Receives 2014 Best Businesses of Incline Village Award

Incline Village Award Program Honors the Achievement

Incline Village, February 27, 2015 — Lesa Pensak has been selected for the 2014 Best Businesses of Incline Village Award in the Massage Therapy category by the Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program.

Lesa Telluride Jane1

Each year, the Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Incline Village area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About the Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program

The Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Incline Village area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Best Businesses of Incline Village Award Program

Runner’s World: Is It All In The Hips?


It’s All in the Hips

Foot strike, the darling of minimalism, is overrated. Good form starts with the pelvis and the glutes.
By Jonathan Beverly; Image by Peter Crowther Published March 31, 2014
hip illustration of person running

Watch a video of Kenenisa Bekele winning a 5,000m or 10,000m, and it is quickly apparent that he and the rest of the world-class pack with him are doing something different from what most of us do every day. They float around the track, hardly seeming to touch it. They accelerate smoothly and effortlessly. Their legs seem to spin beneath weightless bodies.

We want to run like them, but too often we feel like we’re muscling our bodies along, pounding the ground and working for each forward push. What element of their stride creates the difference? Where should we look?

For the past several years, we’ve been told to focus on their feet. Elite runners are different, form experts have said, because they land on their midfoot or forefoot, and we should do the same to run more smoothly, faster and with less injury. Where your foot makes contact with the ground became a litmus test of running prowess. Among some runners, the label “heel-striker” attained the stigma of “learning impaired.”

And yet, many of those who adopted a forefoot strike and the minimalist shoes that accompanied the movement didn’t see an improvement in times and continued to get injured. So much so that the movement has all but disappeared.

A wide range of experts–from kinesiologists to physical therapists, orthopedists to coaches–agree that the extreme emphasis the running world has put on foot strike is misplaced. Daniel Lieberman, the Harvard scientist who gave scientific credence to minimalism with his seminal 2010 article in Nature, says, “Frankly, when we published that paper, I never expected everyone to obsess about it as much as they did. Had I realized that, I would have added a sentence to the effect that while foot strike is important, there are many other important aspects of form as well. I have learned over the years that the worst thing to tell anyone is to forefoot strike.”

Grant Robison, an elite runner and coach whose Good Form Running program was adopted by New Balance to educate runners on how to move into the company’s Minimus line, says that while teaching runners to land on the midfoot was an emphasis a few years ago, he now considers it the least important of the four points he teaches: Posture, Mid-Foot, Cadence and Lean. “I draw people’s attention to it, showing that if you can use more of your foot, things don’t get stressed as much, but then I kind of let that be,” Robison says.

But the minimalist movement wasn’t wrong in suggesting that most of us need to improve our form if we are to run like Bekele. Trying to change how we land, however, didn’t address the big goals of shifting our balance forward and moving our stride more behind than in front of us–essential elements of those effortless elite movement patterns we desire.

The emphasis on foot strike missed the mark by putting the attention on the end of the chain, rather than the beginning. We need to shift our focus upward to our hips and glutes, where the stride begins.

“More often than not, I see foot strike as simply being the end result of so many other things that are happening farther up the kinetic chain,” says David McHenry, physical therapist and strength coach for Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project. “The foot is really just the end of a big kinetic whip–the leg. Core and hips are where every runner should be starting if they are really concerned with optimizing their form, maximizing their speed and minimizing injury potential.”

Jay Dicharry, physical therapist and director of the REP Biomechanics Lab in Oregon, agrees that foot strike is an effect, not a cause. He’s measured heel-strikers who touch down with zero force and forefoot strikers who pound the ground. “There are many ways to move correctly,” Dicharry says. But he sees similarities in all who move efficiently and powerfully. “If you can keep your posture in check and keep your hip drive up, you’re going to run really, really well.”

In sum, the experts say, mind your hips and your feet will take care of themselves.


What is it we want our hips to do? The key elements are balance and drive. Ourtorsos balance on our hips, and the hips are thefulcrums of the leg levers driving our bodies forward. If they are not working properly, the legs are unable to provide optimal power and speed. And many of us have trouble using them properly, resulting in all sorts of inefficiencies. The most common isoverstriding: reaching forward and landing in front of the torso.

We don’t overstride, however, simply because we wear overbuilt shoes and have learned poor running habits. We do it because our lifestyles outside of running create inflexibilities, weaknesses and poor balance. These are reinforced while running, such that now many of us are physically incapable of striding out naturally, with our legs behind our center of gravity. “We are not living the lives our bodies were designed for,” says Irene Davis, a professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Spaulding National Running Center. Bobby McGee, a Boulder, Colo.-based running coach who led Josia Thugwane to gold in the 1996 Olympic marathon, says the goal is to get back to how we moved as 9- or 10-year-olds, before environmental circumstances changed our patterns.

Heading to the gym to attack these weaknesses often doesn’t correct them, however. Strengthening exercises will do little good without changing how we move and recruit our muscles. “Research has shown that strengthening alone–without retraining movement patterns–does not alter mechanics,” Davis says. “The individual must own the new pattern, or it will not be durable.”

Before we can own it, we need to feel it.


It all starts with proper posture, the experts say. Proper posture is what makes some athletes look graceful and light on their feet, balanced and agile. McGee calls it “getting connected.” GP Pearlberg, an author and online coach, calls it “running tall.”

Whatever we call it, learning it takes more than trying not to slouch or sucking in our guts. Good posture is not the stilted, rigid position we adopted when our mothers yelled, “Sit up straight!” We cannot imagine maintaining this pose for long while sitting or standing, let alone running, so too often we dismiss calls for better posture.

To get away from old ideas of posture, it might help to think of it as “hip proprioception,” a fancy term that Trent Nessler, a physical therapist and the CEO of Accelerated Conditioning and Learning, uses to mean our awareness of what is going on with our hips, both the position of the bones and the muscles that are firing around them. Dicharry’s book Anatomy for Runnerscenters around this concept. “It comes down to awareness and feel,” Dicharry says, noting that people who have habitually poor posture “don’t respond to cues like ‘run tall’ and ‘keep your spine in neutral.’ They pretty much have no idea they have a spine, or a hip, or any muscles that control them at all.”

How do runners learn pelvic proprioception? The first test is vertical compression. Try the test below now.


HIP TEST 1Vertical compression

While standing, have someone behind you put their hands on your shoulders and push straight down. If your body buckles at the back and hips, you know your hips and balance are off.

You can correct this buckling by changing your balance and posture. To find this new balance, one method is to reach up as high as you can as if trying to get something off a high shelf, then lower your arms without changing hip and back position. Another method is to place one hand on your belly button and one on your sternum, then, without moving the belly-button hand, bring your sternum forward until your weight is balanced over your hips and equally distributed between your forefoot and heel. Now have someone push down on your shoulders again: You should be able to withstand considerable force comfortably.

In adjusting your posture to achieve a balanced state, you likely noted your pelvis position rotated. A second test can help you feel this rotation better.

HIP TEST 2Hip extension

Stand in front of a doorway with your back against the right side of a doorjamb and your left leg in the doorway opening. Kneel with your left knee on the floor inside of the doorjamb and your right knee above your right foot in front of you. Your left thigh should be vertical beside the doorjamb, with your back resting against the front of the doorjamb. In this position, you’ll naturally have a bit of space between your lower back and the wall. Tilt your pelvis backward so the hollow between your lower back and the doorjamb disappears. Your pelvis should rotate up in front and down in back.

Form Fixes
Should You Work on Your Form?


If you think of your pelvis as a bowl, hinged at the hip bones and controlled by the muscles in front and in back, your goal is to keep the bowl neutral and not “spill” either way. (Most of us spill out the front.) The image helps keep the pelvis aligned so you can ride better above it with the hips more “stacked under the torso,” McHenry says, describing the goal of his recent work with high school phenom Mary Cain. When you are able to keep the bowl from spilling–even while working hard on a run–you begin to feel the connected power as your leg drive pushes your body forward, rather than twisting your hips forward, arching your back and losing energy in the torquing.

If you have trouble completing the rotation in the hip extension test (above) or feel tightness in the front of your hip and down the front of the thigh, your hip flexors are too tight. You are not alone. Dicharry says 85 percent of runners have tight hip flexors. McGee names it as the first issue to address in improving form. This tightness contributes to the pelvis “spilling” forward, throws off the balance and prevents the leg from driving backward.

Our hours of sitting–at our desks, driving, relaxing–shorten and tighten our hip flexors on the front of the pelvis and turn off our glutes on the backside. When we stand up, we never fully open up, retaining some of a sitting posture in our hips. Running optimally, however, like elite track stars, involves driving the leg back from the hip, requiring a full hip extension. The faster we want to run, the more important this is.


To have a hip drive like the elites requires not only mobility, but also strong, activeglutes. Experts agree thatglutes are the most powerful, efficient movers for running, and failing to use them creates serious problems. “A strongbutt is the key to a happy life,” says JordanMetzl, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Runners with weakglutes fall into the “toilet bowl of doom–a beautifully engineered screw-up of epic proportions,”Dicharry says. Posture falls apart, the stride has to move in front of the torso, and other muscles compensate until they fail.

Like balance and hip position, however, the first thing we need to do is to learn to feel the glutes and know that they are firing.

GLUTE TESTS – Three ways to get your butt in gear:

GLUTE TEST 1: The bridge

Lie on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground. Hold your arms straight out above you. Lift your hips up to make a straight bridge from shoulders to knees. Where do you feel it? If you feel stress anywhere but your butt, you aren’t activating your glutes. Rock your hip angle and change your back arch so that you don’t feel the effort in your back or your hamstrings but in the center of your butt. One way to ensure this is to have someone push down hard or place a weight on the front of your pelvis. You won’t be able to hold it if you aren’t using your glutes. If you have trouble isolating the glutes, try first pulling one knee to your chest, which locks out the back’s ability to arch, then do a single-leg bridge.

GLUTE TEST 2Pigeon hip extension

Get on your hands and knees. Reach one leg straight back, then lower that knee to the ground while dropping your upper body to your elbows over the other leg tucked beneath you. Clench your butt cheeks together, then raise the back knee to straighten the leg without lifting your toes. Feel the glute on your back leg.

GLUTE TEST 3: Standing hip extension

Stand on one leg with the other held so the calf is parallel to the ground. Hold your hands on your hips, wrapping around the front. Drive the lifted foot backward into an imaginary wall, without allowing your pelvis to rotate forward or your spine to tip. Feel your glute activate and your hip flexor stretch as it extends.


After learning what it feels like for your glutes to contract, start noticing if they are working when you’re running. Tom Miller, an exercise scientist and author of Programmed to Run, calls the feeling when you get it right a “glute goose” or a “hip flick” with every stride. Others call it running “from the butt.” When it clicks, you can feel the glute pulling your thigh and knee back while your hips remain stable and connected, channeling the energy of the leg drive into forward motion.

You can strengthen your glutes with numerous exercises like the bridge (or advanced options like one-leg bridges and marching bridges), donkey kicks, single-leg dead lifts, and squats. But you should only advance in doing these when you are confident that you are using your glutes, to ensure that they are the muscles working and not the muscles around them. If you are feeling the stress in your back, hamstrings or quads instead of your butt, you are likely reinforcing the imbalances you hope to correct.


McGee says that while duration creates strength, frequency makes skill. To improve your skill, you must work at it often. The good news is that you can work on many of these skills all day, every day. You can play with your balance and hip proprioception while standing in line at the coffee shop, cue glute activation when walking, and do hip extension stretches, glute strengthening exercises or one-leg balancing while reading email, on a conference call or watching TV.

Dicharry has seen many runners learn to use their hips in exercises but then instantly revert to old patterns as soon as they start running or when they speed up. It requires focus and frequency to instill new patterns. You may have to back away from hard training and racing while specifically working on form improvements (as Mary Cain recently did). After these habits and motions have become ingrained, however, every run works to improve your skill, flexibility, strength and ability to maintain a more effective stride longer.

But even after the new skills have become habit, the environmental factors that predispose us to a perpetual sitting position are still all around. We all need to keep improving flexibility and strength. “There is really no magic in any one hip flexor stretch or one collection of glute-strengthening exercises versus another,” McHenry says about his work with Mo Farah and others in the Oregon Project. “The magic is simply in the consistency in doing those things. You can’t stretch your hip flexors every once in a while and do some glute-strengthening stuff on occasion and really expect any significant change to occur.”

Many other elements combine to make a runner smooth and efficient. But, given their importance in the stride and the lifestyle factors that weaken how we use them, the hips are a great place to start. When we start to run taller, become more balanced and feel the float of an efficient hip drive, we are one step closer to running like the elites.

Fascia & Stretching: The Fuzz Speech

An Exercise to Help You Find Your Butt Muscles

An exercise to help you find your butt muscles!

woman's butt

Are these the butt muscles you were looking for? (photo by Titus36 via Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t think I go a single day in the office without seeing someone with a set of butt muscles that have punched out and decided to just let the spinal erectors and/or hamstrings do all the work. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart (and butt) because I’ve been in the same situation and can sympathize with the sense of knee weakness/pain; foot pain; hamstring cramping; and aching stiffness in the back that can result.

One term I’ve heard for this that I like is “gluteal amnesia.” It’s like your butt has forgotten how to work and like your brain has forgotten that you have butt muscles that can work.

One of the recommendations you find all the time on the internet and from a lot of trainers is to do lots of squats and lunges. While these exercises may help you get your glutes going eventually, I’ve found that exercises are just too demanding for most people to do  in a way that actually activates the glutes. It’s like telling someone who can’t activate their biceps to help you lift a heavy suitcase into the trunk; they’ll be able to do it, but they’ll be using any other muscle they can recruit to do it. With squats and lunges, which are generally more quad dominant exercises to begin with, the glutes stay dormant.

That being said, I know it’s possible to feel squats and lunges in your butt eventually if you can gradually reestablish a connection between your butt and your brain.

One exercise that I find quite useful for awakening your glutes is an Egoscue exercise called Prone Ankle Squeezes. It is pretty simple but for many people can be remarkably illuminating.egoscue prone ankle squeezes

Here’s how it goes:

Lie on your stomach with your hands interlaced and your forehead on your hands. Place a pillow between your ankles/feet and bend your knees so there is a 90 degree bend at your knees and maintain this bend throughout the exercise. Squeeze the pillow with your ankles/feet and release.

Initially, it’s likely you’ll feel this in your inner thighs or hamstrings, particularly if your butt muscles are especially crafty sandbaggers. As you continue, though, you should gradually feel the adductors and hamstrings “butting out” (pun intended) as the butt muscles start waking from sleep. I would say that it usually takes around 30 squeezes before people really start to feel the compensatory contractions easing off and the butt muscles actually doing the exercise.

For some people, you may actually immediately feel one butt cheek firing and the other lying dormant. Keep going until you feel that snorin’ Norman working. Once you feel it working, do another 3 sets of 20 to really send a strong message to the those butt muscles of yours. Eventually, you want the glutes firing equally and in synchronicity. It can take a week or two of consistently doing this exercise before you feel your butt cheeks actually getting the picture on a consistent basis, but once you feel it, it’ll be time to move on to some harder exercises.

This is obviously not a Herculean task; it’s a low-key exercise that helps rebuild that neuromuscular connection before you start trying to do harder, more challenging exercises. It’s like laying the foundation for the house that butt built.  You’ll be better able to find the right muscles when you’re doing bridges — a pretty good next step — squats, lunges, or those Bret Contreras hip thrusts.

Fascia May Be The Missing Piece For Your Lingering Injury

Understanding Your Fascia


By Julia Lucas Published June 10, 2011

You’ve got this injury you just can’t shake.You take time off. You ice and stretch and do all the right things but you’re still limping home. You spend too much time trying to articulate your particular brand of hurt to those loved ones who still put up with you. You follow referrals to physical therapists and massage therapists and you’d go to an aromatherapist if it’d help you run again, but nothing does. You diagnose yourself on WebMD: You’re a structurally flawed human being for whom recovery is impossible.


The answer may be right under your fingertips. About 2mm under your fingertips, to be precise. Under your skin, encasing your body and webbing its way through your insides like spider webs, is fascia. Fascia is made up primarily of densely packed collagen fibers that create a full body system of sheets, chords and bags that wrap, divide and permeate every one of your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. Every bit of you is encased in it. You’re protected by fascia, connected by fascia and kept in taut human shape by fascia.

Why didn’t anyone mention fascia earlier? Because not many people know that much about it. Fascia’s messy stuff. It’s hard to study. It’s so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up and named for textbook illustrations. Besides that, its function is tricky, more subtle than that of the other systems. For the majority of medical history it’s been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging.

In fact, the convention in med-school dissections has been to remove as much of the fascia as possible in order to see what was underneath, the important stuff. That framed Illustration hanging in your doctor’s office of the red-muscled, wide-eyed human body is a body with its fascia cut away; it’s not what you look like inside, but it’s a lot neater and easier to study and it’s the way doctors have long been taught to look at you. Until recently, that is.

In 2007 the first international Fascia Research Congress, held at Harvard Medical School, brought about a new demand for attention to the fascial system. Since then fascia has been repeatedly referred to as the “Cinderella Story” of the anatomy world, speaking both to its intrigue and the geekiness of those who study it. While you may not share the medical and bodywork communities’ excitement over mechanotransduction and the contractile properties of myofibroblasts, think of it this way: Fascia is a major player in every movement you make and every injury you’ve ever had, but until five years ago nobody paid it any attention. And now they’re making up for lost time.


What exactly does it do? It wraps around each of your individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to slide easily with your movements. It’s strong, slippery and wet. It creates a sheath around each muscle; because it’s stiffer, it resists over-stretching and acts like an anatomical emergency break. It connects your organs to your ribs to your muscles and all your bones to each other. It structures your insides in a feat of engineering, balancing stressors and counter-stressors to create a mobile, flexible and resilient body unit. It generally keeps you from being a big, bone-filled blob.

“Fascia is the missing element in the movement/stability equation,” says Tom Myers, author of the acclaimed book Anatomy Trains. Myers was among the first medical professionals to challenge the field’s ignorance of fascia in the human body. He has long argued for a more holistic treatment, with a focus on the fascia as an unappreciated overseer. “While every anatomy lists around 600 separate muscles, it is more accurate to say that there is one muscle poured into six hundred pockets of the fascial webbing. The ‘illusion’ of separate muscles is created by the anatomist’s scalpel, dividing tissues along the planes of fascia. This reductive process should not blind us to the reality of the unifying whole.”


What rocked the medical community’s world was this: Fascia isn’t just plastic wrap. Fascia can contract and feel and impact the way you move. It’s our richest sense organ, it possess the ability to contract independently of the muscles it surrounds and it responds to stress without your conscious command. That’s a big deal. It means that fascia is impacting your movements, for better or worse. It means that this stuff massage therapists and physical therapists and orthopedists have right at their fingertips is the missing variable, the one they’ve been looking for.


Grab hold of the collar of your shirt and give it a little tug. Your whole shirt responds, right? Your collar pulls into the back of your neck. The tail of your shirt inches up the small of your back. Your sleeves move up your forearms. Then it falls back into place. That’s a bit like fascia. It fits like a giant, body-hugging T-shirt over your whole body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and crisscrossing back and forth and through and back again. You can’t move just one piece of it, and you can’t make a move without bringing it along.

Now, pull the collar of your shirt again, only this time, hold onto it for eight hours. That’s about the time you spend leaning forward over a desk or computer or steering wheel, right? Now, pull it 2,500 times. That’s about how many steps you’d take on a half-hour run. Your shirt probably isn’t looking too good at this point.

Fortunately, your fascia is tougher than your shirt is, and it has infinitely more self-healing properties. In its healthy state it’s smooth and supple and slides easily, allowing you to move and stretch to your full length in any direction, always returning back to its normal state. Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that your fascia maintains its optimal flexibility, shape or texture. Lack of activity will cement the once-supple fibers into place. Chronic stress causes the fibers to thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. Poor posture and lack of flexibility and repetitive movements pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibers like snags in a sweater, and once they’ve formed they’re hard to get rid of.

And, remember, it’s everywhere. This webbing is so continuous that If your doctor’s office were to add a poster of your true human anatomy, including its fascia, fascia is all you’d see. Thick and white in places like your IT band and plantar fascia, less than 1mm and nearly transparent on your eyelids. And within all that fascia you have adhesions and areas of rigidity. You likely have lots of them.

But, this isn’t bad news. Every bit of the damage you’ve caused your fascia is reversible, and every one of the problems it’s caused you were avoidable. You take care of your muscles with stretching and foam rolling and massage. You take care of your bones with diet and restraint. You never knew that you needed to take care of your fascia, but now you do. You may just shake that nagging injury after all.

How to Care for Your Fascia

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT: Sticky adhesions form between fascial surfaces that aren’t regularly moved, and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to roll around in bed and really stretch out, head to toe, just like a cat after a nap.

STAY LUBRICATED: Just like every other tissue in your body, your fascia is made of water. It works better, moves better and feels better when it’s wet. So, drink!

STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES: When your muscles are chronically tight the surrounding fascia tightens along with them. Over time the fascia becomes rigid, compressing the muscles and the nerves.

STRETCH YOUR FASCIA: Once your fascia has tightened up, it doesn’t want to let go. Because the fascia can withstand up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, you’re not going to force your way through, so stretch gently. Fascia also works in slower cycles than muscles do, both contracting and stretching more slowly. To stretch the fascia, hold gentle stretches for three to five minutes, relaxing into a hold.

RELAX! If you spend all day tense and tight at a desk, ice baths may not be the best thing for you. Fifteen to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath can coax tight fascia to loosen up, releasing your muscles from their stranglehold. Make sure to follow it up with 10 minutes of light activity to keep blood from pooling in your muscles.

USE A FOAM ROLLER: Like stretching, using a foam roller on your fascia is different than on your muscles. Be gentle and slow in your movements, and when you find an area of tension hold sustained pressure for three to five minutes. You may practice self-massage with the same rules.

RESPECT YOUR BODY: If you’re attempting to run through an injury, or returning from one with a limp, beware: Your fascia will respond to your new mechanics and, eventually, even after your injury is gone, you may maintain that same movement pattern. That’s a recipe for an injury cycle. It’s better to take some extra time than to set yourself up for long-term trouble.

SEE A FASCIAL SPECIALIST: If you have a nagging injury, or just don’t feel right lately, see if your area has a fascial or myofascial therapy specialist. There are different philosophies and methods, ranging from Rolfing, which is very aggressive, to fascial unwinding, which is very gentle. Some methods are similar to massage, while others concentrate on long assisted stretches. Talk to the therapist to see what you need and want. Some osteopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists are beginning to embrace fascial therapies, so ask around.


Lesa Pensak en Espanol

Integración Estructural se trata a la persona entera. Se trata de la fascia y el sentimiento. La sensación de pasar de la debilidad en fuerza, la alegría de ser dueño de una nueva parte de uno mismo, de lo inmediato y simultáneo de reeducación del ser y la acción de uno, la alegría de auto-empoderamiento, el despertar … son las experiencias de integración estructural. “— Emmet Hutchins


La práctica de Lesa en Lake Tahoe se inició en 1989 y continúa en la actualidad con oficinas adicionales en Mammoth Lakes y Punta de Mita Sayulita, México.

Lesa creció en el sur de California y Puerto Vallarta, México. Asistió a Santa Monica College y UCLA. Después de la universidad vivía en Mammoth Lakes y Lake Tahoe, donde disfrutó de una sólida carrera de 17 años a esquiar con logros notables: Nivel 3 Certificación de Instructor, Esquí Escuela Técnica Trainer, Entrenador Carrera, Certificación de la Academia Nacional de Instructores de esquí en Austria, Internacional de Esquí Campos Racing, Instructor Senior, representante del Dynastar, Lange, Kerma y e
lla apareció en la portada de la revista llamada Ski America.

En 1989 asistió a Lesa Mueller Colegio de Estudios Holísticos en San Diego, California. Estaba fascinada con aplicaciones clínicas, energéticas y deportivas de masaje terapéutico y está versado en anatomía, fisiología, kinesiología, la estructura y el movimiento, que se convirtió en la construcción de bloques de su práctica carrocería. Impresionado por el potencial de cambio después de recibir una serie Rolfing, se entrenó en el Guild for Structural Integration en Colorado y Hawai.

Lesa era un instructor en el Punto de Conexión School of Massage en Telluride, Colorado, miembro del Equipo deportivo Masaje Colorado, miembro 3 término de la Junta de Examinadores de Masajes, recibió Certificación Nacional en Masaje y Bodywork, y es Board Certified Structural Integrator. 

Lesa Sol aporta 25 años de experiencia de su práctica carrocería. Personas de todas las edades y todos los ámbitos de la vida vienen a ella en busca extraordinaria carrocería, perfeccionado por tanto sus experiencias de ser curado por las terapias de bodywork de integración, así como sus profundidades acumulativos de conocimiento sobre la curación de toda la persona. LindaMarie Luna
Translation by Google
Some additional training includes:
International Fascial Research Congress at Harvard Medical, Boston; Structural Integration Symposium x2, Seattle and Boston; Anatomy Trains w/Tom Myers; Orthopaedic Winter Sports Injuries; Myofascial Release w/John Barnes; Biomechanics with Muscle Energy Technique for Pelvis, Sacrum, Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar Spine w/Upledger and NorthEast Seminars; Biomechanics and Onsen Technique w/Rich Phaigh; Aromatherapy; Clinical Massage w/Paul Chek;  Sports Massage; Structural Integration w/ Neal Powers x 2, San Francisco; The Rolf Institute Spinal Rotations and Scoliosis Training w/Jan Sultan and Michael Salveson, Berkeley; Advanced Body/Movement/Integrative Work of Rolf, Alexander, Feldenkrais, Laban-Bartenieff; Advanced Body Math w/David Malin PT, Boulder; Chronic Pain Management; Cranio-Sacral Therapy; Board of Massage Examiners; NCTMB Exam Writer.

Bienvenidos a Lesa Sol Pensak

Lesa Sol Pensak es un Board Certificado Rolf Estructural Integrador, certificadas por el Guild de Integración Estructural en Boulder, Colorado and Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii.

Lesa también es un Profesional de Salud Holística y Terapeuta de Masaje, certificado de Mueller Colegio de Estudios Holísticos en San Diego, CA. Ella tiene 25 años de práctica privada y la vida en Lake Tahoe, Nevada y Sayulita, México.

Lesa Telluride Jane1

Varios desequilibrios estructurales y el movimiento pueden estar bloqueando el alcanzar un estado más estable del cuerpo y la mente. El objetivo de Rolf Sessiones es la evolución física y emocional de un individuo a través de la prolongación y la integración del cuerpo. Lesa ha ayudado a muchas personas a descubrir cómo Rolf Bodywork puede mejorar dramáticamente su postura y posibilidades de movimiento, lo que les permite funcionar con mayor facilidad y la conciencia. Rolf Bodywork es una poderosa combinación de la terapia manual y el movimiento que puede ser complementada con la acupuntura, osteopatía, yoga y otras disciplinas.

Pensak estaba en la Junta de Examinadores de Masaje, Masaje del Instructor y Escritor Nacional de Examen y es un Certied Instructor de Esquí Completo.

Contacto Lesa:

USA (775) 443-8500

SKYPE:  lesa.pensak   Sign up @ http://www.skype.com

Viber   Sign Up @ http://www.viber.com

Email: lesapensak@gmail.com




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