What is Rolfing?
Rolfing is a form of hands-on manipulation that focuses on releasing strain and tension in the connective tissue throughout the body. This frees the body allowing for aligned posture and fluidity of movement. Overall, it brings a feeling of well-being and freedom to the entire body/mind.Rolfing was developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D., more than 50 years ago and was first called Structural Integration. She noticed that the human body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is in balance with gravity.The human structure is greatly influenced by the health of the connective tissue, which surrounds, supports and nourishes all of the tissue in the body, including bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and organs. The web-like connective tissue responds to trauma, habitual movement patterns, bad posture and poor nutrition by tightening, restricting and thickening to add more support to an imbalanced body. This can lead to furthering bad posture, pain and limited mobility. Over time, the human body becomes less flexible, tired and moves with less grace.
Dr. Rolf found that releasing these restrictions with an overall goal of realigning the body to optimize the affects of gravity and to increase structural integrity, the body was able to regain optimal function.
What are the benefits of Rolfing?
Rolfing has helped thousands of people to ease pain and chronic stress, and to improve performance in their professional and daily activities. Professional athletes, business people, performers, children, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing. It is perfect for anyone wishing to improve how they feel in their body and how their body functions.
Rolfing clients report:
- improved posture
- greater flexibility and range of motion
- decreased pain and tension
- improved coordination, balance, and athletic performance
- increased energy and sense of well-being
- improved body usage patterns
- greater awareness of body, mind, and heart
- psychological and emotional growth
How does Rolfing differ from massage?
While massage generally brings temporary relief from symptoms, Rolfing aims to address the underlying causes of pain and tension in the body, which often results in more significant and longer lasting changes. Rolfing is done in a way that empowers people to become more present in their bodies so that they can sustain the changes and integrate them into their lives.
Rolfers receive advanced technical training in anatomy, physiology and movement … Having a thorough understanding of how bodies function makes a huge difference in resolving structural issues.
Rolfers work strategically along lines of restriction or in areas that will most affect change, rather than doing a full body routine.
Rolfers don’t use oil. This allows us to affect the tissues at deeper layers instead of sliding along the surface. Patterns usually live in the deeper layers of tissue.
Rolfers work slowly and generally use firm, sustained pressure. This allows time for tissues to soften and lengthen.
Rolfers ask you to participate in the session verbally and through movement. This engages you in the process and ensures that we are giving you exactly what you need.
Rolfers aren’t focused on merely relaxing you. We are trying to help you find a place of ease and spaciousness that has been lost because of limiting patterns of movement or non-movement.
How does Rolfing differ from Chiropractic adjustments?
Chiropractic adjustments are usually fast, (high velocity) and move bone tissue directly, asking soft tissue to accommodate. Rolfing is done slowly with sustained pressure and addresses the soft tissue, which allows bone tissue to align itself within the matrix of soft tissue. Rolfing is very complementary to Chiropractic care, helping the adjustments to hold longer by freeing the soft tissue restrictions that are often the cause of misaligned vertebrae.
Who Gets Rolfed?
People of all ages come to Rolfing for help with neck pain, back problems, impaired mobility, and other difficulties that originate with internal strains or from trauma. Others seek to improve their appearance, to improve athletic performance, and to enhance personal growth toward a fuller realization of their potential.
Does Rolfing hurt?
Rolfing has a reputation of being painful and many people tell me they have not tried Rolfing because they are afraid of the potential pain. In my experience as both a recipient of Rolfing and as a practitioner, the “pain” that is experienced is what is typically called, “good pain.” This is because Rolfers contact the areas where the restrictions are, apply pressure and wait for the release. The result is freedom from pain and tightness which feels good.
Now many individuals have told me that they wished they hadn’t waited so long to receive their Rolfing Sessions. Rolfing has evolved over the years and now practitioners understand that the most gain in a session is gotten by not going beyond the comfort level of the recipient. Rolfers work very closely with the recipient in dialogand movement during the session. Clients report that the sensations during a Rolfing session are no more painful than a deep tissue massage, and in most cases it is less painful with more dramatic results.
Having a good diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, having a regular exercise routine, drinking water rather than soft drinks, and avoiding caffeine and sugar all help tremendously in decreasing the amount of pain experienced in a Rolfing session, which allows the Rolfer to affect deeper tissue where the restrictions occur.
What should I expect after each session?
Receiving a Rolfing sessions is similar to a workout in terms of how the body responds and what you would do to recover from a workout is also helpful after a Rolfing session.
I make sure that I drink plenty of water and perhaps take some extra vitamin C after I receive a session. Epson Salt baths, saunas, steam rooms or hot tubs feel good to me after a session.
Yoga is a good compliment to Rolfing but extreme exercise should be avoided. The nervous system needs time to reorganize so it is best not to have an important athletic competition a day or two after a session.
How frequently can I schedule sessions?
This varies from person to person. People have come as often as twice a week but usually they come once each week. Some space the session apart and come every other week or once each month. If your budget and schedule allow you to come once each week or every other week, you will feel the connectedness between the goals of each session more easily. But, you will still benefit greatly if you can not come that often. If you are a musician or athlete or have a job that requires repetitive motion you may desire a regular maintenance program but generally we ask clients not to receive Rolfing Sessions for a few months after the ten series. You may receive craniosacral therapy, massage or other bodywork, but changes in the body continue for a few months after the initial ten sessions.
What are the Ten Sessions?
The ten sessions can be thought of as one session divided into 10 parts. The human nervous system responds best to slow integrative change. The time between each session allows the nervous system and body tissue to adjust and pepare for more change. Dr. Rolf discovered an optimal sequence that the body allows for change. These are:
1. open the body to receive a full body breath
2. help the body find support through the legs and spine
3. allow for lateral openess and balancing of shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle
4. allow for inner openess and for the legs to be free
5. open up the front and continue freeing the legs and breath
6. help the spine and pelvis to find more freedom
7. help the neck and head find more freedom
8. and 9. help the core to find freedom and balance the upper and lower body
10. make sure all is integrated
Do I need to commit to the Ten Sessions and how often?
You will receive the most benefit from receive all ten sessions, but you do have to commit from the beginning. You can receive your first session and see how you respond. Even better, commit to at least 3 or 4 and then you will have a better idea of the benefits of Rolfing. Most people feel such positive changes after the first session that they complete the entire ten sessions. If you have been Rolfed before or practice yoga, we might discover that you require fewer sessions. If you have chronic pain, an injury or scoliosis, we may need more than ten sessions. If you are a musician or athlete, you may find a regular maintenance program of regular Rolfing Sessions helpful.
For the initial ten sessions, it is best to try to receive a session each week or every other week. Once a month is also appropriate, if the budget allows only that. For athletes, musicians, those with chronic pain due to scoliosis or anyone who engages in repetitive manual labor, may find a monthly or bi-monthly maintenance program helpful. Otherwise, after the initial ten sessions, recipients find that they can take a break from receiving Rolfing for months or even years. Many of my clients continue receiving bodywork from me in the form of craniosacral work sometime alternating with massage.