Like most people, I feel the week has only truly begun once the Goop newsletter has dropped into my inbox.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site is now hurtling into its seventh year and during that time it has laid claim to many weird and outlandish cures and lifehacks. But a guide to getting longer legs? Please.
Earlier this month, Goop ran a piece about fascia, which it called The Secret Organ, explaining how its manipulation was the key to getting longer legs. Fascia, in case you didn’t know, is the thin membrane that covers all of our muscles, the white stuff that you get when you remove the skin from a piece of chicken. But due to ageing or injury or just sitting badly at your desk, this membrane has a tendency to get dehydrated and decompresses. Through treatment with a structural integrative specialist – something we call Rolfing and that we’ve mentioned before – it is possible to repair the fascia which, claims Goop, may lead to longer muscles or, in this case, longer and leaner legs.
But is there any truth in it? I asked an expert called Alan Richardson who runs Rolfing London.
“Whether from injury or ageing, the muscle tissue can become dehydrated and decompress,” explains Richardson. “The objective of rolfing is to realign that muscle which we can do in somewhere between 10 and 12 sessions.” While he isn’t keen to suggest you can actually elongate your legs by treating that area, he admits “it is not an unreasonable claim depending on what you do and how you do it”.
If, through correct treatment, the muscle tissue is treated (ie hydrated and released) “it will certainly give the sensation of elongating”. However, one thing you can do which is most likely to add a little length is work on “the head of the femur which connects to your hip socket. One of the objectives of rolfing is to release the muscles in this area, which may have the effect of pulling the femur out of the socket by anything up to a few centimetres.” Yep, that means adding two inches to your legs. One of the areas which gets less attention is the spine, however, and “people really do get taller when we treat the muscles in that area because Rolfing can have the effect of decompressing the spine especially in the case of Scoliosis”.
All that aside, he doesn’t have a vested interest in “the Hollywood cosmetic side of things” and is more interested in “improving people’s structure and bodily comfort” mainly because Rolfing is known to give patients a sense of grounding; they stand up for themselves when previously they may have been pushed around, they deal with stress better. Some even describe the Rolfing experience as catalysing a major life change or decision.” As for giving you longer legs, this may be possible “but it’s merely a coincidence.”
Sometime last year Richardson started treating a man who had hurt himself horse-riding. They worked together for about nine months after which he returned to the 10-day horse-riding event. Not only was he able to complete the full 10 days but he went up two notches in his stirrup ie, he had, to all appearances, “grown”.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010