About This Episode:
In this week’s episode, Hillary Allen interviews Levi Younger, Rolfer and Somatic Therapist. Levi and Hillary discuss the practice of Rolfing, treating Hillary after a textbook healed injury, components of injury recovery, covering the emotional process of recovering from injury and treating the body as a more holistic system.
- Combining Somatic Therapy, Clinical Counseling, and Coaching
- Injury recovery is more than just the physical injury healing
- How injuries take a mental toll
- You are not a machine, treating your body as one
Guest Bio – Levi Younger:
Levi comes to running with a background from college track and running 50K and mountain races after college in his home state of Alaska. In 2015, Levi broke his thoracic vertebrae playing men’s league hockey leaving him feeling debilitated. After trying so many different methods to help his pain he found Rolfing. Rolfing changed so much for Levi he opened his own practice in Boulder, Colorado in 2017. He has since been able to help athletes suffering from a wide array of pain and injury issues. Levi is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Clinical Counseling at Oregon State University to open a practice that combines Somatic therapy, clinical counseling, and coaching to help people heal from injuries and chronic pain who’ve tried varying treatment options. Rolfing is a proactive manual therapy system created by Dr. Ida Rolf as a diagnostic assessment for the body, utilizing physical touch and neuroscience principles. Instead of chasing symptoms, Rolfing alters the deeper sources of chronic injury and pain. Rolfing is not a massage technique and not another form of deep tissue massage or a way to stretch the fascia. Rolfing is a comprehensive diagnostic system that views the body in a structural sense and is not painful.
Read More About Levi Younger or his Clinic Levity Rolfing:
Website: Clinic https://www.levityrolfing.com/
This Week’s Sponsor:
This episode of the TrainRight Podcast is brought to you by Viome. Viome helps you take control of your health so you can improve your energy, inflammation, and immune system health.
Viome’s award-winning at-home tests Measure your cellular, mitochondrial, and microbiome health giving you powerful insights with over 30 health scores.
Then they help Nourish you by providing precise whole food and supplement recommendations based on your unique biology at a molecular level.
And finally, watch your health scores Improve over time by subscribing to your Precision Supplements, following your food recommendations, and retesting.
Viome has partnered with Mayo Clinic, UnitedHealth Group, GSK, and others; and is used by Olympic gold medalists and elite professional athletes.
Go to Viome.com and learn how you can get your unique insights for better health and wellness.
Use the promo code TRAINRIGHT at checkout to save $10 on your first purchase.
Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.
Speaker 1 (00:18):
Hillary Allen (00:19):
Hi and welcome to the train right podcast. Today’s guest. We have Levi younger is a, Rolfer a form of somatic therapy who lives in bend Oregon. He ran track and cross country at Portland state university and started running shorter ultra races, these 50 kilometer and mountain races. Um, his home state of Alaska after graduating his interest in Rolfing and somatic therapy started in 2015 after he broke his thoracic vertebrae and his back plane, recreational hockey, his search for a solution landed him in a raw offers office after trying countless other modalities to remedy his pain. Levi opened his practice in Boulder, Colorado in 2017. And he has worked with countless runners from elite level and ultra mountain runners to Elim to Olympians to average Joe’s, he’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical counseling from Oregon state university in bend, Oregon, and will be opening a practice there in 2022, combining somatic therapy, coaching and clinical counseling. So we’ll get into kind of how I met Levi. Um, but Levi, thank you so much for joining us and welcome.
Levi Younger (01:33):
Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be on here.
Hillary Allen (01:36):
Yeah. Yeah, I think so for putting up with the pain TRO, but, um, yeah, so, okay. So, I mean, I met you let’s see back in what, 2000, I think 17, 2018.
Levi Younger (01:53):
Yeah. Somewhere in there. I think like the winter of 2017.
Hillary Allen (01:57):
Yeah. So, I mean, we’ll get, we’ll get more into this and, um, and this is actually, this was my first introduction to, to Rolfing. So I guess that’s kind of where I want to start. Um, can you tell me what is Rolfing?
Levi Younger (02:10):
Yeah, so a role thing is a form of somatic therapy and, um, really the, the kind of the Genesis is, um, this, uh, doctor in the thirties and forties, fifties named Ida Raul, um, came up with this really ingenious way of looking at the body and working with the body that was very much hands-on, um, kind of doing, you know, what appears to massage, but it’s more focused on like tapping any nervous system working with kind of your fascia muscles. Um, and really like in her eyes kind of helping people with imbalances and helping them kind of live their best life in their body. So she kind of came up with this whole way of looking at the body that was kind of different than a lot of like the massage therapy or even rehab stuff that was going on, um, in kind of the fifties and sixties when she started to really put this together. And she just started a school of, of, um, what she called, uh, well, they ended up being called Rolfing, so that’s kind of where it started and, and that’s kind of how it entered the world.
Hillary Allen (03:19):
And so, I mean, I typically, when you first, I mean, we can get into kind of like how we met. Um, but when I think you came to me, I had this pretty bad accident and the series of injuries and, um, I was kind of going down the traditional route of, um, seeking physical therapists. And of course, I mean, I’ve talked, um, I talked very highly of the, of the PTs that I’ve worked with. Um, cause I felt like it was more of not only just working with the injuries and like range of motion, but it was also more psychological and all of the, all of these things, but I was still dealing a lot with, um, like pain management and these, I kind of met you a bit later into my recovery. Um, but I was still having a lot of trouble, like I was learning how to walk again.
Hillary Allen (04:07):
And um, I like like kind of inexplicable pain and favoring of one side, even though I technically didn’t kind of have a, an issue anymore. Like everything seemed fine from a medical standard, but I wasn’t, I wasn’t able to kind of work past this, um, this kind of this barrier that I had. And I mean, I remember I was just kind of like looking for more resources, but kind of coming up empty handed. And I, then I thought it was like me, and then you messaged me out of the blue and like told me about Rolfing. I was just like, what is this? Like, I honestly thought it had a bad reputation for like being super painful and um, yeah.
Levi Younger (04:51):
Yeah. Well, uh, you know, that’s, that’s a lot of stuff you said that is really kind of jogging my memory because it’s been awhile and, uh, you know, it, it is it’s, I think one of those things that I hear, you know, um, key points of your story, I hear in a lot of other people’s stories too. And, and, you know, that can kind of boil down to like, well, you know, everything’s fine. According to, you know, like my x-rays, those are all good, you know, like my PT says, I’m looking really good. Um, but I’m just not feeling good. Like there’s just this kind of inexplicable something and it does, it starts to kind of make you think like, is there something wrong with me? And you know, and people can do that. They go to a chiropractor or a PT and nothing against them, but, you know, maybe they’re like, okay, this, you know, this is going to fix your hip and we’ll make it better, this drill.
Levi Younger (05:44):
And when it doesn’t, you can have this kind of like, well, maybe I’m the person, you know, this injury is so big or so it’s something so wrong that like it’s unfixable and, you know, like, I, I think I kind of heard a lot of that. Um, you know, I was, I watched a video, you did. And I was just like, man, like I’m here. Like why don’t I try to, you know, take a stab at it? And I was like, really amazing message to me that you’re like, yeah, that sounds great. Like what? So I was excited. I was like, Oh my gosh, you know, this, this, this, you know, like high level athletes willing to take like a chance on this kind of fringe thing. And I think even that kind of points to like, you know, maybe to where you’re at with, you know, your injuries and stuff that you were willing to kind of just like, I don’t care what this is. Even if it sounds kind of like my might be painful, I’m going to, I’m going to go for it. So that was interesting to me.
Hillary Allen (06:36):
I mean, I think we’ve always had a pretty good, um, balance. I think you come, maybe this is going to sound funny, but I come more from a hard science background and you come more from this, like we gooey like Hilary, like actually listened to your emotions and what they’re telling you and not like what the science says. So like you actually challenged me in a good way, but I think the reason I was able to come to you is because yes, I have that hard science background. I have a master’s degree in neuroscience and physiology. I understand how the body works, but then I also have this understanding of human psyche and like the injury really taught me that that emotions are real and pain is real. And a big part of pain is psychological, meaning that we don’t completely understand the mechanisms behind it. And a lot of it. And like I come from, you know, like I learned a lot in neuroscience that like, what you think, like thoughts can be real and you can like manifest it into like a physical thing in your body. And so I think that’s actually, um, kind of what allowed me to be like, okay, like this is real, like, let’s figure out a way I might not like it, but like, let’s figure out a way to, to work through this and, you know, on your, your, your table.
Levi Younger (07:57):
Well, you know, I think that that, that really points to some of the, the areas of, you know, and again, this isn’t really in so much like Rolfing, as you know, we’re starting to talk about just, um, do general, like the era, like the frontier of like rehab and PT and all that kind of stuff. Um, what we’re looking at is like pain is this kind of crazy thing that, honestly, not a lot of people understand, you know, if you listened to some of the, the best and brightest, uh, pain researchers, and for some reason they all seem to come out of Australia. Um, a lot of will tell you, we don’t really know, you know, and again, you have a master’s in neuroscience. Like, so the idea of me being able to teach anything at first to me, it was like nuts. I’m like, there’s no way that I can possibly say anything that the person doesn’t already know, you know, heaps more than me.
Levi Younger (08:48):
Like she could just like, and yet, you know, as we’re talking here, it’s, you know, it’s clear that like I had something to offer. I think the piece of that is exactly what you just said. Like, you know, not only do thoughts and feelings, you know, like have like a physical component, they always do that. There’s always a physical component. You know, I think this may be, I mean, as an example to people, some, you know, pretty often, and it’s, um, if a really good example of this is a sexual arousal, right? You can go from having this thought in this cascade of stuff happens sometimes very quickly and suddenly your body is like doing stuff kind of outside of your control. You’re just like, huh. Well, and that’s just what I thought, wait, that’s something that’s you literally imagining something in your brain that doesn’t exist.
Levi Younger (09:40):
And suddenly you have your entire body is doing stuff outside of kind of conscious control. And you’re just like, huh. And that’s just like, that’s like, you know, the most obvious example, but that happens literally all day 24 seven, there is no time that you can kind of like step into your brain only, or just in your body. There’s always, they’re communicating. Cause they’re the same unit, you know, just different we’ve labeled them different things. So yeah. I mean, that was the thing that really intrigued me. It was like getting into that kind of study and being like, huh, we should probably focus on this little bit. So
Hillary Allen (10:15):
Yeah. But, um, so I mean like, okay. So I mean, I, I guess we, so for me particular, I mean, I guess we could share a little bit about my story if, if you think that that’s like relevant. Um, but again, I just like to kind of like discuss this relationship between psychological and physical pain. And I think for, from your perspective, it’s like, it’s really interesting. Like what, like what is pain, um, chronic or other, because I feel like, um, I mean, as a runner and athletes, I think you running necessarily isn’t, I mean, it’s, it’s a little bit painful, right? Like pain management is kind of part of this idea of getting more fit, um, you know, intervals aren’t comfortable running. Isn’t always comfortable, like running uphill. Certainly doesn’t feel like I wouldn’t describe it as feeling great. Um, but like, I guess the more comfortable you are with it, it does become that way. But then if you’re dealing with a kind of a little injury, there’s always this, this push pull between pain and yes, I guess to kind of like, just like talk about this, like what, what is pain and what is chronic pain from your perspective?
Levi Younger (11:20):
Well, the first thing I want to kind of touch on is like one runners to me are some of the most resilient kind of like, yeah, it’s, it’s nuts. Like it seems like a lot of other sports like running is their punishment. Yet we have an entire sport where people do this for fun. Um, and I’ve gone on way too many runs with you where I’m just like, how is she that far ahead? Like, she must really enjoy this on a level that I can’t even begin to understand. So there, yeah, I think it’s worth noting that some of the, at least in America, some of like the, you know, the pioneers of, of the ultra running world where like former meth heads or, you know, these people that have these like just wild stories. And so like their concept of what hurts, what feels good, what very skewed I would say, you know, like, so it’s, it’s kinda, I think that’s worth noting is because we have this heritage of like, it’s kinda nuts.
Levi Younger (12:18):
Um, but I mean, what, what is pain? I mean, first of all, say like, you know, you, you, you are asking me, which is kind of nuts. Like I would say like, um, I feel wildly under qualified to answer that question, but what I, what I’ve gathered at least from, from what I study when I’ve listened to, and kind of what I’ve seen working with people is, you know, yeah. If I, if I, you know, break my leg or not, I guess I’ll tear a muscle, it’s going to be pretty painful. Right. And we assume that like, anytime we feel pain, something has to be broken or have to be injured. And what a lot of like the pain neuroscience research shows us is that’s not necessarily true. And I want to say that, you know, it doesn’t mean that like, you know, there was no such an injury.
Levi Younger (13:07):
I mean, I’ve, you know, my dad ruptured his Achilles tendon. When he, when I was in elementary school, that’s a real injury. Like, you can’t just walk that off, you know, but what’s crazy is he said it wasn’t actually that painful, which to me is like, what, like I’ve talked to him recently. And he was like, yeah. I mean, it was just uncomfortable. Cause I tried to stand up and I couldn’t, he was like, it was actually more painful after all these surgeries and stuff, but the injury itself didn’t really hurt. Um, and you know, you get into stuff where certain people will also, um, you know, they have excruciating pain and there’s not anything that we can like find on like imaging or testing, or that shows why they’re in pain. And there was this kind of a cool study. I think, I can’t remember it’s out of a university in Canada, but they looked a lot of people with no low back pain and, or no low back pain, you know, both groups.
Levi Younger (14:00):
And then they looked at the imaging up in their backs and, you know, they assume to be pretty ordered, like everyone was an exclusion, pain’s going to have some, you know, like lots of like degenerative discs and herniated disc and all that stuff and vice versa. And what they found is like, there was not a very strong correlation. You had people that were like old and have like horrific looking images. And they were like reported feeling fine and super active. And then you had on the flip side, like really young people who, you know, the imaging of their back was like, yeah, maybe they have like a little bit of a weird curve here, but they’re in like excruciating pain all the time. And so like, the researchers were just like, uh, what do we do with this? Like this, this, this doesn’t make any sense.
Levi Younger (14:43):
And you know, they’ve tried to study that a little more. And like I said, there’s some pretty good pain science research going on in Australia. But yeah, to me, that kind of points that are like, you know, no one really knows what pain is. No one really knows what chronic pain is. I would say chronic pain tends to be stuff that sticks around, uh, you know, three, four weeks in and beyond where it becomes this, this cycle of, of something that doesn’t really seem to go away. And doesn’t really seem to match like a healing. Like, you know, if you injured yourself after about six weeks, a lot of things can heal themselves in your body. And so if it’s still painful after six weeks, that kind of points to, even to me like that doesn’t make sense. And I think, you know, that might kind of ties into like your story too, of like you were pretty much healed technically and had a lot of time and yet still stuffed didn’t feel very good.
Hillary Allen (15:33):
Yeah. And this is the interesting part, and this is kind of like what you taught me a lot. Um, and like conversations I had with my PTs of like, you know, I would look to the literature and be like, okay, bone healing or ligament healing, like takes X amount of time. So technically this stuff is, is, is quote unquote healed. That would give me options. Technically it’s good. But then I was still having these like, especially on my right side where I had broken my foot and like ruptured a major ligament, like psychologically, I hadn’t used that limb for three months. And so walking, starting to walk again, I was favoring that side. Like psychologically, I still had an injury. Like I was like timid on that side and time and time, again, many people that I’ve, that I’ve run into, um, you know, like, you know, who, who told me about injury stories that they’ve had or injury recovery, they always talk about this idea of confidence.
Hillary Allen (16:28):
And they talk about this idea of, okay. Like I feel not confident anymore. It’s like, uh, jumping’s hard for me if they’re, you know, dealing with like, you know, something with their feet or their knees or their ankles in particular, they’re like, I’m having trouble with confidence running downhill. Like, and that’s not because they’re still injured physically it’s because mentally there’s this block. And I was dealing with a lot of that because I feel like, especially as runners and with injuries, um, like you, you get this, like running can be your release, right. And when you, when you can’t do the thing that you love, there’s all of this like psychological blockage there. Um, because like you associate, at least for me, like, as, you know, as a professional runner, I was, you know, my, a lot of my self worth was tied up in being able to run and to compete.
Hillary Allen (17:17):
And so then when I was having trouble with just walking within a normal gait, like there was a lot of like psychological blocks there. And, um, I mean, yeah, like I’m a neuroscience and neuroscientists, but like the, um, psychological aspect of like, kind of like the, I describe it as like the goofy side of like, not the hard science side of, of neuroscience, like chemistry and biochemistry, but the, um, like how you feel and like the emotions behind, um, you know, the neuronal circuitry, um, that’s, I feel like where you can actually get blocked the most and then therefore make the, like the most gains when you kind of work through this stuff. Um, and so it’s like what I was working with with you, um, you know, this, I would describe it as pain cause I didn’t really know what else to describe it as, but it was more of kind of like this psychological block. And I think that’s actually really important, um, for injury recovery. And so is this kind of something that’s like, how do you propose? Cause I mean, now with your new, basically you’re going to combine Rolfing coaching and clinical counseling. And so like how do you propose to manage both sides of, of kind of this injury recovery managing the, um, I don’t know, the, the, the, the science with the actual psychology.
Levi Younger (18:39):
Sure. I mean, you know, I think one of the biggest things that I, I, you know, I think if anyone talks to me or, you know, read some of the literature that I’ve put out, you know, like I do a lot of like, uh, social media stuff. It, the biggest takeaway is that, you know, this concept that there’s like body pain and their psychological pain, I think, or even that there’s a body and then there’s a mind and they’re like these very distinct, separate entities toss that out, that idea there’s black and white, nothing’s black light. It’s very much all shades of gray. So, and, and, and I find myself talking like that all the time, you know, it’s, it’s part of our culture. We’ve kind of accepted this very, like my body’s over here. And then I live up my mind and not just kind of become more cultural stuff.
Levi Younger (19:25):
So understanding that it’s ingrained in us to see ourselves as these very distinct entities and we need to kind of overcome that. And that’s huge. That’s great. And to overcome, you know, years of training in cultural like messaging, um, but something that, that, you know, like kind of, you just mentioned that is really important is yeah. Like that idea of, Oh my gosh, like I’m a runner and specifically for you, like, I’m a professional runner, like this is my livelihood. This is my identity is wrapped up in this injury. And that’s important because, you know, not only does it, like we’re saying, like, you know, there’s a psychological component, but again, there is a physical component to psychological stuff all the time, every time. Right? So as we kind of dive into what is pain, you know, it’s not just like, Oh, I have this, this cut.
Levi Younger (20:18):
The nerves are kind of sending signals in my brain of like, this is pain. Really those nerves are sending signals of this is dangerous, you know, and it’s interpreted with the big soup of everything that’s going on in your brain and your history identity. And then it comes out and that’s where we can have people who are like in the middle of a race. Like my body hurts so bad. Oh. And then I just flipped the switch because I imagined winning the race. And I really want, wanted to do that. And suddenly it felt like it all went away, you know? So it’s cool. It’s when we start to understand how intertwined our body and our mind are and help pain arises out of that relationship together, we start to see that like, it is vitally important to understand that your identity is being compromised because of this pain, like this, this injury in the sense of whatever in it’s fostering more pain.
Levi Younger (21:09):
So a good example of that is, is someone who, um, you know, who comes in with, okay, I’ll give you this. I went to my, at my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving a couple years ago. And you know, she’s, she’s old, you know, and she’s been told for years that her back is terrible and that she, you know, she’s just like a, basically she’s an old crippled lady and she’s telling me this story and I’m sitting there kind of like, okay. And, you know, she can barely move in her table. And I put this like pin down cause I was writing them down. It falls off the table in a fraction of a second in between telling me how it should on mobile. Actually, she can’t do anything. She bends over from a seated position, picks it up off the ground and puts it back on.
Levi Younger (21:49):
And he goes back to tell me how much he can’t move. It’s like, she doesn’t even realize how incredible and how mobile she is. She just did it and then put it back. I just want to be like, so you grab it, you can’t move. But like, what was that? You know, like these stories that were told by, by, you know, the medical professionals who are just, you know, maybe they’re having a bad day and just kind of let something slip, they become ingrained in us. And the story we tell ourselves comes ingrained in us. And that has like a, uh, you know, kind of a flowing relationship with her pain. So as you’re talking about kind of how you couldn’t move on your side, how much of that is like, yeah, maybe in the beginning it did hurt. Like you’re like my bright side really does, you know, like it does have this kind of like a mobilized feeling.
Levi Younger (22:35):
Cause you know, you were in cast and had pins and needles and you know, just all stuff like keeping you mobilized. But you know, I think something we talked about at the end, it was like, you know, like, have you, have you tried using it? And like, yeah, I did it, but no, like have you like tried and had success and then felt that confidence restored in that area of your body and you were like, I don’t know, what, what are you talking about? But you know, I can remember you being very like, you’re, you’re nuts. Like what confidence like, and so it’s one of those things where like, I think that combination of, you know, some of the stuff we were doing to just like, you know, like having conversations while doing a lot of like, you know, like physical hands-on work, like I was saying like that massage. So looking thing, but also having these conversations around how you’re actually feeling and connecting, you know, that sense of feeling inside you with what’s going on. I think again, almost like in some ways it’s like fostering that reconnection of the mind and the body together and realizing that it is a cohesive unit. And to me, I think that’s kind of what really excites me. Not only about golfing, but, but any of these emerging, uh, you know, PT and chiropractic schools that are like, we should probably
Hillary Allen (23:46):
Do better at this. Yeah. I mean, and this is also something I felt like, um, ironically, it’s like one of the reasons why I get along, I’ve gotten along so well with my, with my PT people is like, they would point me to the, um, they didn’t want me to like the physical thing to do right. The exercises. But then there was also a personal connection there. And so like, and I actually, so I think I was able, so I could like, you know, they would ask me how I was doing and like, you know, like I could, you know, this is the kind of the counseling aspect of it. And like I cried many times in your office, anytime I tried to like, uh, I was, it was probably started as like angry crying. I was like, no, I’m not gonna do it. And then I was like because I was crying and then like, okay, like Hillary what’s really going on here, you know?
Hillary Allen (24:38):
And I think you encouraged, um, you encourage that part of me to be able to kind of show up in like, regardless of how I was feeling like whether it was angry or sad, um, and show up in those emotions and have those be just as valid as the pain that I was going through. And that helped me in other kind of like the physical rehab of my injuries. Um, you know, like actually doing the exercises, like the traditional PT stuff, but that became more powerful because I was able to also acknowledge the psychological stuff that was also going on, like, um, these kinds of like barriers that I had. And I mean, I think with you when I was on, when we were actually going through like the therapy, like I was having a lot of, um, you did a lot of manipulation with like kind of like the skin, it’s almost kind of like this like pinching because, um, there’s a ton of your sensory neurons.
Hillary Allen (25:29):
Like I like to say that, um, people think of like, you know, your central nervous system is like your brain and the peripheral nervous system, like encapsulated safely in your spinal column and cord, but really your sensory neurons are accessible in your, like, everywhere. That’s like touch your skin and that’s them, like you are full of sensory neurons. And so you’re actually, I like to think of your peripheral nervous system, like your skin, like that’s where all of these ion channels and these things, and these receptors are kind of like located there right there. And so if you find a way to kind of manipulate them, and I remember you were doing that a lot with then of just like touch you’re like, you know, like, I don’t know, creating more space between, um, I don’t even know exactly what you’re doing. You can, you can explain it to me it’s cause like I can think about it from like a scientific perspective, but like basically for me, how I thought about it is like on the scar side of my foot there, the, a lot of those nerves were dead.
Hillary Allen (26:24):
And so it was painful because they were growing and I was like kind of learning to, um, like reconnect, making those, those connections again. Right. There’s a lot of scar tissue there. So I feel like you, you’re trying to kind of like create more awareness, um, um, in order for those pathways to quote unquote, like opened up again, if that makes any sense. Um, and yeah, so for me it’s like, you’re kind of creating like micro stresses at those points, um, to tell my body like physically like, okay, like this area needs to be woken up again, but that’s like more of like the scientific way, but there also has to be like a psychological, um, pathway that’s opened up again. And for me it was important to kind of like bring awareness to this part of my body and be like, okay, like it was injured before, but like, you know, he does this and then you had me like rock around the room and like, it would feel differently because I was like aware of that part of my body in a different way. And that was just kind of mind blowing for me because it was like, I feel like I was just like reconceptualizing, like this idea of like injury and, um, like everything that I knew about like, you know, injuries and science and like how the body worked, I felt was just kind of like, like I knew it like the mind powerful, but it like felt different.
Levi Younger (27:44):
Sure. I, you know, I think that’s really, you know, that’s one high praise and I, so thanks. But, uh, one of the things that really interests me, you know, and something that really kind of stoked a lot of fires early on when I was going through my own kind of training and, uh, I, yeah, I guess I forgot to mention that like, yeah. Uh, I got into Rolfing cause I, yeah, when I broke my back, like I had the same thing. Yeah. I was, you know, I was a mess. I was kind of, you know, seeing a lot of my own self and kind of some of the struggle you’re going through and kind of getting it. I think that probably helped us kind of be, you know, I mean, that’s probably why we became friends anyway. It’s because we have similar ideas and stuff.
Levi Younger (28:28):
But one of the things that you just said that really like, I think is cannot be overlooked, is like, yeah, like the skin is this very, very, very important sensory organism, you know, like, or yeah, on our body, like right. Every, like I would argue that, that, you know, it might be the most important thing when it comes to like massage or any sort of like touch oriented stuff. You know, we, we think about, Oh, I need a break up scar tissue, you know, like you can talk to just about anybody who really works in like a hardcore medical way, scar tissue, you have to break that up with like a scalpel. You can’t just like scrape it with a tool and massage it. And it changes to me, the change that you’re seeing is really kind of, you know, you’re communicating with the nervous system in a very intimate way through the skin.
Levi Younger (29:18):
And then that’s changing kind of this, you know, maybe the way that the it’s allowing the last city of the, to work, you know, so it’s, it’s very much this communicative process and less this kind of like, I have this cold piece of Play-Doh that needed to like just smash out all the time, you know? And, and so that we could go down that path of, of, you know, what is rolling, do a stretching, do, what does all this stuff do? And, you know, to most of the things that we’ve learned, you know, in gym class, or even from metal in a medical vertical, like rehab professionals is, is not exactly correct. Um, but what’s more important to me because what you’re just mentioning is is this, this reconnection, you know? And, and so for me, when I go to get a massage or whatever, in my mind, it feels a good massage feels good, right.
Levi Younger (30:12):
I mean, it’s like, there’s a lot of this information. So imagine the amount of positive kind of like I have some clients who used to call like ooey, gooey, you know, I don’t really like those words cause it’s kind of weird to me, but that sense of like, it, it feels good to feel good. Like you go in and sometimes you just want someone to put hands on you and like an affectionate way, you know, not like a, you know, emotionally affectionate, but like just kind of like you feel comforted, you feel safe, you feel, and how much, if you’re having problems with your ankle, because, you know, you just got out of a boot and all this kind of stuff. How nice does it feel to have someone kind of take care of it and, and really put in these nice, like, uh, movements into your skin and into the kind of the underlying tissues that are kind of changes the relationship with that piece of, of, of your body.
Levi Younger (31:03):
Because not only are you getting more information, so you’re getting a punch of feedback, you know, from all of this contact and movement that they’re doing to it, but it’s also has like a positive connotation. And then at the same time, you’re allowed to talk about it. You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to like be off and be like, this sucks. Like I’m so frustrated right now if this ankle doesn’t work out, you know, like, what’s that going to do for my running? I’m not going to hang out with my friends who are also runners. Like you’re allowed to just kind of have this full on human experience while kind of taking in, like you’re saying very physical information. And to me that’s kind of the magic of, of any kind of body work or any kind of rehab where they’re, you know, they’re working on your bodies, it’s kind of getting to be human on that experience.
Hillary Allen (31:49):
Yeah. I mean, yeah. Cause I mean, I guess it’s kind of always have these like topics that, um, I could just wanted to discuss with you, but I mean, this is just, this is just kind of this whole idea of like, what is stress? And I think we define stress as like too often. I think we do. Do we define it as like objectively, um, I don’t, I’ve fallen guilty to that. Right. But like all of this stuff that like, I think, I feel like a lot of my injury recovery was subjective stress. It was like kind of like these emotions that I had, like attached to them that, um, led to even more stress and stress and then even more, um, um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Like even more, um, like an injured quote unquote, like, um, part of like you would, it would kind of like manifest itself in these other injuries because it was all of this other kind of psychological stress that I was putting on myself. And I feel like that’s an important part of the work that you do is to be able to kind of like, um, I dunno, reconceptualize stress and then how, like, you know, how you’re able to work through that and then get through these actually physical objective injuries, um, by dealing with all this, these like subjective injuries that are kind of like a part of it.
Levi Younger (33:05):
Sure. Yeah. I mean, to me, I think we need to, to look at stress, uh, that’s kind of, to me is like the hot topic we should really be focusing on in a lot of our sport training and rehab and all this kind of stuff. You know, if we can get away from this sense of like, you know, the bodies and this machine, I can say pretty confidently, no one has a machine for a body and, and I’ve worked with some very high level Olympian runners. And I can tell you that their body is not a machine. Like they’re very capable of doing some very impressive things like times and in certain events where I’m like, that’s insane. I can’t even imagine running that fast for that long. It’s not right. Some of the stuff you do, I’m like, how in like, I’ll text you.
Levi Younger (33:52):
I didn’t like, are you kidding me? Like I ran like three miles today. I’m like a little tired cause I’m out of it. And you’re like dropping, you know, some crazy mountain run, you know, but you know, like I think we need to stop seeing ourselves as machines. We’re not, we’re not, um, we’re biological organisms, you know, we need to be taken care of. We need to have time for restoration where we can literally repair the damage that’s happened. You know, like I, one of the examples I like to give people is like, imagine yourself as a houseplant. You know, if you’re like planting machine, I’m just gonna starve it of water because it’s going to learn to that might work a little bit, depending on the plant you have, if you just treat like these things like crap and don’t give them food or water or sunlight or, or, you know, anything that needs eventually it’s going to start to get sick.
Levi Younger (34:45):
And if you blame like, Oh, it must be stupid. It’s not a good plant or, or all these things that we could tell ourselves for why we’re not succeeding. You know? And so I work with a lot of athletes who are, you know, they’re, they’re high end, you know, they’re very, they’re doing a lot of very intense stuff and a lot of them are like, yeah, I mean, I don’t, you know, female athletes especially, well, I don’t, I don’t have a period. I didn’t have a period for three years. And I’m just like, again, I don’t want to sit here and man’s lane this to you, but I gotta set pride. Doesn’t sound good. You’re right. Or, or, you know, I haven’t, you know, like I poop like once, once a week. And I’m like, what, you know, these kinds of things were, you know, like when you get into it, it seems, it becomes very normalized where it’s like these normal bodily functions are kind of getting thrown to the wayside.
Levi Younger (35:35):
Oh, I can’t digest food very well. I can’t eat. And they give you this list of things that can eat. Some of those may be allergies, but some of them you’re like, if you can’t, you know, eat like an Apple, like that seems maybe make something maybe up in their digestive system. And so what I’m kinda trying to point to is like, if we look at ourselves as this very complex system of systems, that’s all kind of like interworking and you know, everything’s going together. Like it’s, it’s like, how do you isolate the nervous system? You know, it needs always other things to do what it does. Right. It needs a vascular system for blood, you know, like all this kind of stuff. So trying to label like this one aspect of her body and isolate it, you know, it’s kind of nuts and stress impacts everything.
Levi Younger (36:21):
So when you start to see all these like symptoms of a system in disarray were really tells me the stress load of life is too much. And as runners, we like to be like, Oh, well running is, you know, like this good stress for me, or it’s this good thing. And then work as this bad, like psychological stress or like, you know, family stuff is bad stuff. But like, I don’t think it, I don’t, I don’t think your body and like, your person in general is very good at discriminating between what’s good and bad stress. It’s just load. So if you’re trying to train for the 5k, you know, like Olympic 5k, right. Or 5,000, that’s a lot of, of yes, very like physical stress associated with, you know, stuff on your joints, you know, just the general, like your cardiovascular system is being taxed immensely, like you’re saying, doing intervals, but then like that can’t be separated and boxed out and kind of like, well, it’s different than, you know, like my work stress or like my psychological stress or any that kind of stuff. It’s all stuff that your body is having to, to withstand and not fall apart. Cause that’s all really stress is it’s like that kind of thing.
Hillary Allen (37:32):
I mean, this is, this is like, I mean, as a, as a coach myself, I mean, this is something that I, I think I deal with more commonly than an anything it’s managing life stress. It’s managing these other stressors. It’s like, I feel like you, you know, people can go down a dangerous road. Um, eh, you know, if they’re trying to adhere to a certain diet train a certain number of hours, uh, you know, like, or run a certain number of miles, like they’re attached to this, like, you know, to this figure or, you know, they have to perform this well. And then they have to, you know, then they have family stress, they have work stress. Like all of those things are stressed and like half of those are kind of like psychological too. And again, it like kind of, um, part of my work with you, I think it helped me kind of sort out what was psychological, like what I could control and, um, or better ways to like manage the psychological stress and then reduce overall load on my body because you know, that, that way something, even though, you know, the chemist, the chemist side of me is kind of just like you say one to five,
Levi Younger (38:38):
This is a great point though. It’s like, you know, as we’re talking here, you know, the chemist side of you is, is, you know, very much interested in, you know, like, okay, when I have a thought though, there is a physical component to that, right. I mean, if I am thinking about, so I had, you know, this is something I was kind of playing around with the other day. It was like, okay, when I’m looking on Instagram, for example, you know, and I see someone’s doing this really cool run and it’s really awesome place. And I’m sitting in my office and I’m getting FOMO, right? What does, what does FOMO? We can say, it’s all psychological. But I was like, there’s a F I can feel something like a Nikka, almost like a nine sense of, of something in my stomach when I get FOMO or like, kind of like, there’s a physical component.
Levi Younger (39:27):
Like our body registers these feelings, these sensations, even when I’m getting FOMO, looking at, you know, you running in France and I’m like, you know, are you kidding me? Like, her life is sick. Like, that’s so sick after this. Like, no screw that. It’s like, so it’s not just, it’s just not this like abstract things are happening in our head. There’s always stuff. That’s, it’s, it’s having physical manifestations every single time in your body. And I think that’s important. Like if we can start to tap into that, you’ll, that will be like, there’s that, that component of like, Oh, like this is, uh, you know, I’m a real human being and I have thoughts and feelings, but I’m not a, a trainable machine who needs this exact diet and this exact thing to run this perfect race. It doesn’t work like that hardly ever. Yeah.
Hillary Allen (40:21):
Yeah. And actually, I think it’s so funny because, um, I mean, it was, I mean, it was quite painful, but not painful in the sense of like physical pain, like, you know, out, but like, it was, um, like this deeper, like how you just described this, like, you know, pit in your stomach or whatever sensation, it was just like deeper, painful awakening of self that I had to go through in order to, um, you know, and it’s a continual process in order to kind of like work through these injuries because it’s like, you know, I, I thought it was okay. I need to deal with the physical thing and then I can get back to it and it’d be fine. Everything will be fine. Right. But like, that’s not how it works. And I think that’s the kind of the interesting work of what you do.
Hillary Allen (41:02):
And also what I do as a coach, it’s like, that’s the actually fun part is kind of like piecing these things together to figure out like, you know, what actually is that makes us like ticking, complete human beings and that fostering that and taking care of that whole entity is quite difficult, but, and it’s not straightforward, but that’s actually what leads to longevity and PRS and all these kind of like tangible things that we’re looking for. Um, it’s kind of this like greater topic of like, you know, happiness, I think in, in a way. Um, and if you like, it’s like, you know what people are, what people are trying to figure out, like get their life back together. Um, like, you know, and they’re focusing on this physical thing, like an injury, but really it’s kind of this more, this more complex, um, right. This complex situation.
Levi Younger (41:54):
It makes me think of, um, the first thing is like, uh, this is kind of tangential, but like just when people ask me, like, okay, well, like I can’t find a wall from area or that’s not something I’m interested in. I’m like, Oh, cool. Don’t even focus on Rolfing. Right. I think it’s great, but there’s so much out there find a coach, find a rehab professional who treats you like a human being and not just like, they’re not a mechanic. So they talk about your body. Like it’s your body over there and bring your body in. And I’m gonna, you know, do some things here and this, this, and this, and then get you out of here. You’ll be fine. Go find someone else, find someone that’s like, who’s willing to sit down who has time to sit down with you and be like, okay, you know, why is this important to you?
Levi Younger (42:38):
And, you know, really treat you like a human being and the injuries and the pain, that kind of stuff. It’s kind of like, not secondary, but it’s, it comes with the territory of working with you first. So yeah. Have someone, you can find someone who’s just like, you know, like, yeah, you have some goals. Great. How can we get there? Great. No, like what are some issues that you have? What are this, you know, that treats you like you deserve to be treated. And I think that’s something that, um, there is a lot of really good. I’m not just saying there’s a lot of good research out there that points to why that’s important and how it positively affects outcomes. So it’s not just me saying that, cause I’m a goofy guy. Right. There’s the research out there is emerging. It’s great. It’s it’s points to yeah. Being like a good human being first is like super important. And I don’t know why it takes, it takes us like, you know, load the research and money to figure out something that’s so obvious, but we do, but okay. So one of the things that really strikes me is like the, I don’t know if it was your first or your second race that you did when you ran at, in, uh, in California at the what broken arrow.
Hillary Allen (43:46):
Yeah. So technically that was my first race back. I did the vertical kilometer, which is technically my first race. And the next day I did the 50 kilometer.
Levi Younger (43:52):
Hillary Allen (43:54):
Have to force me to do that. I remember talking with you and you were just like, Hillary, just rip off the bandaid, fricking do it. And I was like, no, I’m scared. I’m not ready.
Levi Younger (44:03):
Yeah. But think about you. You’d had, you’d had so much, uh, time and, and so many people were like, listen, like we literally can’t find anything wrong with you. And like I’d watched you crush workouts, not even just like hobble through them and like, that’s fine. But like you just annihilated some like very key workouts in and made me look like an idiot and a lot of different runs I’d be done. And I thought at the time I was in, I was in pretty good mountain shape, you know, like I was still had some things I was working on, but I had to like, I’m, I’m confident I might go keep up. And I remember you dusted me up the side of like shadow Canyon in Boulder. I was just like, yeah, no, that’s, she’s she’s back. And you didn’t want to, but you, you know, I think you had some, you know, some of your coaches, me, some really key individuals who were like, okay, just try it out.
Levi Younger (44:48):
You know? Even like, if you just go and we all kind of knew, like there is no just like, just go have fun, you know, just fun, run this for you. It’s like, you’re good into it. You may do that for the first 10 minutes. I’m like, screw this. I’m uh, I gotta beat this person. And you know, like that idea of, you know, like really in, in, in, I think I was excited to see how your perspective has changed, you know, less like I’m a machine you’d clearly been shown that you are not a machine. You have a lot of, of soft spots that if injured, you know, you’re you, so you’d been showing you were not machine you’re human. Um, but now you have this confidence and remember like looking at the finished photos and you’re just like bawling your eyes out. And to me, that was like such an important moment.
Levi Younger (45:34):
I was like, Oh my God, like, this is like, this is not just like, Oh, I want to be like, I got to like be in a race. It’s like, you got to do what you really enjoyed doing. And I think that’s the component to it. That’s so important is that if you’re not having fun and you know, running is fun is a very, very different word for a lot of people. But you have to have the joy as like a human being and have, you know, like connection and like purpose. You can’t just be like, I’ve got to win this race because that’s, then you just go down a weird path where you’re like addicted to it and like, you know, you’re running for, so it’s cool. Like you got to, I think make something you told me towards the end of our work was like, I don’t feel like I’m the same person anymore. And I think that’s a good thing or something like that, where it was just, it was like very touching to hear it. And also to realize that like, you’d kind of come through this, like transformed and into like a kind of a different person.
Hillary Allen (46:29):
Absolutely. And I think you love to hear that the most it’s like, it’s kind of, like you said, I think I kind of thought about it as like energy in energy out, like Hillary is robot, but like, you know, it’s like very like scientific, right. But at the end of the, I think like literally, um, that race in particular, like I had to like kind of like let go of any like expectation of like, you know, competition or results or these tangible kind of things, and really hold on to the emotional like process and the emotional journey. And that’s why I wanted to get back to running. And I feel like if you embrace more of this kind of like holistic approach to injury recovery, and, um, not even just if you’re recovering from injury, like holistic approach of being a complete human, um, you know, on the ups and downs that that always entails, um, through a training cycle or, um, whatever you can kind of tap into these different, um, experiences and it’s, um, can bring a whole new perspective and enjoy to the thing that you love doing.
Hillary Allen (47:28):
And I feel like that’s where I became this kind of quote unquote like new person, um, where I was able to, um, get in touch with more of a, uh, of an emotional side of things and not just kind of like the hard numbers and from a training perspective of, of running. Um, yeah. And I mean, I think, I think you already answered this question, but I mean kind of just like for, for closing, cause I think we like talked about a lot of different stuff and there’s a lot of good tidbits to kind of continue to think on here. Um, but like what is, what is your best advice for athletes who are recovering from injury chronic pain or, um, you know, just, I dunno, like it doesn’t even have to be from injury, but, or just like trying to kind of get through these, these hurdles in life.
Levi Younger (48:17):
Yeah. You know, I think you kind of already put a little bit of an answer to it. And so it’s nice because now I can say that this is officially sponsored. This message is, is officially sponsored by at least one professional athlete. Um, it’s just to listen to yourself, right? Like understand that you are not a, uh, a biomechanical machine, you know, like you have all of these very important components that are not, you can’t cut them out and be like, okay, well I’m not going to like think today, good luck. You know, it’s like, you have all this stuff. So if you’re looking to, to again, like, yeah, it doesn’t have to be get better. It doesn’t have to be faster. And just be like, if you want to feel more human, if you want to, uh, be healthier, you know, in the sense of like a general wholeness and healthiness to your body, isn’t going to go back to that house plant idea.
Levi Younger (49:12):
It’s that? How would you treat a house plant, you know, talk nice to it, give it what it needs as much as possible. Don’t stress it until it’s like withered and dead. Like, yeah. Now it’s really now it’s really happening an experience like, no, like treat yourself like that plant like water it, you know, give it sleep, don’t drink too much booze, drink enough to make you feel good. Uh, you know, have relationships with people, both, you know, intimate ones and very like, you know, like whatever you got, like don’t store yourself away and kind of this like athlete’s closet and only impact yourself for like races or training. And then go back to like that thing. If you’re, if you’re crushing Netflix, you know, and eating a very stringent diet, not talking to anybody, that’s probably not a good idea. You know, I want everybody to, I want everyone to have the same kind of joy that you have when you run in kind of, I think that’s why I point a lot of people in your direction. It just kind of like, Hey, look how much fun she’s having and she can take it seriously. But at the same time, she’s got this level of humility and kind of, she understands that she needs to be real first and then an athlete kind of come second. So that’s probably my best advice that I could give.
Hillary Allen (50:28):
Oh man, this is like throwing me down memory lane. Um, no, thanks Levi. I mean, thanks so much for, um, for talking today. I mean, I feel like this is just a good reminder. It’s just like, I mean, like you said, like we’re not robots. Um, and I think as, you know, as, as much as I was looking for like a tangible solution, when I walked through your door and like, you know, kind of like looking at Ruffin Rolfing, it was like, um, it was, I came across something that I just didn’t expect. And it was more of the whole like psychological, um, piece in the, um, that I still take with me today. Even if I’m, you know, whether I’m struggling through an injury or just kind of like a hard part in my life, it’s like opening up that part of me, um, to, uh, to kind of work through that whole process and kind of, um, I think that’s, it might be scary or at least it was scary for me at first. Um, but it’s like, it’s totally worthwhile. And I think it’s a good reminder for everyone to be able to like, you know, that that’s a super important part. If not, I would think a more important part of, of, of an athlete of a person is, um, paying attention to kind of like the non-tangible non quantifiable, um, parts of you.
Levi Younger (51:44):
Hillary Allen (51:47):
But yeah, thanks so much for taking the time today. And, um, I guess, uh, you know, I can include your info on like, you know, in the cliff notes of this podcast, but if people are kind of, I know you’re in school right now, but, uh, he, yeah. Like what were some things that, um, people can find more information about you or Rolfing in general?
Levi Younger (52:09):
Uh, yeah, I mean, uh, you can always football thing. You can always look at like the lookup, the Dr. IDP Ralf, um, Institute it’s in, it’s in Boulder. Um, there’s a lot of good information on their website. Um, for me, you can always find me as the best ways on Instagram, um, levity, Rolfing, um, and feel free to shoot me like a direct message. And if you have any questions I’m going to stop, there’s a lot of information on there and, um, I’m more than happy to direct people towards, you know, better information. I would say smarter people who have more comprehensive messaging and understand things a little better. So, um, that’s where they can find me. Awesome.
Hillary Allen (52:50):
Well, thanks so much Levi. And
Levi Younger (52:52):
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate that. It’s kind of surreal to be honest. Yeah,
Hillary Allen (52:58):
Absolutely. Um, yeah. And you have a good day, enjoy Oregon and hopefully see you soon in Colorado so we can crush the mountains together.
Levi Younger (53:05):
Yeah. I look forward to getting crushed by you for sure.