October was Women's History Month in Canada, an opportunity for Canadians to celebrate the achievements and contributions women and girls have made throughout history. This month we are honouring the achievements and contributions of women in the holistic health field.
Throughout the last century, women have advanced the holistic health industry by developing new and innovative therapies to better serve their clients.
Dr. Ida Rolf was a biochemist and the creator of Structural Integration and or Rolfling®.
Rolf maintained a holistic lifestyle and was an avid student of yoga, osteopathy, and homeopathy. After applying those principles to her wellness routine, she became interested in the fascial structure of the body. She learned how to manipulate it and restore it to its optimal function.
Rolf worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She went on to develop Structural Integration and Rolfing® in the 1940s.
Rolfing® is a form of manual therapy that improves the biomechanical functioning of the human body. Rolf's main goal for developing Rolfing® was to organize the body in relation to gravity.
Bonnie Prudden was an expert rock climber, mountaineer, and author of several health and fitness books. She was an innovator in the physical fitness industry. When she contrasted the fitness levels of children in Europe and the United States in a report to the US President, the President's Council on Youth Fitness was developed in response.
Prudden maintained an active lifestyle and was even exercising in her hospice bed right up to her death at 97 years old.
Prudden became interested in trigger points when an old injury reactivated while on a hike with a Trigger Point Therapy researcher. The researcher was able to treat the injury with Trigger Point Therapy, and Prudden decided to learn more about it.
Following that experience, Prudden began working in a trigger point practice and learned that manual pressure could release trigger points. She created Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, which incorporated movement and remedial exercises with trigger point work.
Janet Mentgen was a registered nurse and the creator of Healing Touch™. She dedicated her life to enriching the nurse-patient therapeutic relationship.
Mentgen practised nursing for 43 years. After observing the benefit to many of her patients when they had their energy fields intuitively manipulated, Mentgen developed Healing Touch™.
In 1990, Mentgen's Healing Touch™ certification program was conceived, supported by the American Holistic Nurses Association. Practitioner certification started in 1993.
Mentgen played a key role in expanding the allopathic medical model to include energy-based therapy, and she advocated for using energy work to complement medicine.
Marion Rosen was a physiotherapist for over 30 years and the creator of the Rosen Method™ bodywork. She believed that breath work is an essential part of helping someone experience fuller and freer movement and breathing.
Rosen began to focus her work on lighter touch, somatic work, and range of motion movement classes in the late 1950s. She began to teach the Rosen Method™ to others in 1972 and formalized the technique in 1980.
Rosen believed that Rosen Method™ bodywork could bring peace to the world, one heart and one nervous system at a time.
Dr. Janet Travell was a physician, medical researcher, and the founder of Trigger Point Therapy. She was the first female personal physician to a President in the United States, treating John F. Kennedy.
Travell started to explore unusual pain-referring points when she used self-massage to treat a shoulder injury. This led her to develop Trigger Point Therapy to treat referred pain and musculoskeletal pain through identification, analysis, and treatment of trigger points. Her innovative treatment methods for myofascial pain also included dry needling.
There are thousands of women who currently work in holistic health or who have in the past. All of these women contribute to advances in the holistic health field.
Female practitioners have helped so many people overcome challenges in their lives through the holistic health modalities they practise. It is important to honour and remember all of these women too.
While this is not an exhaustive list of all of the women who have contributed to the holistic health field, it is important to honour all of the achievements and contributions women have made to holistic health. Take some time this month to thank the women in your life who have contributed to the holistic health field for everything that they do!