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What is Rolfing?
The Rolf method of structural integration, commonly referred to as Rolfing, is a systematic organization of our physical structures designed to optimize our functioning. It is accomplished by soft tissue manipulation and movement education. (Top)
Why do we need to get Rolfed and how does it work?
Throughout our lives we encounter injuries, both physical and emotional, that leave their marks on our structures. Even small things like falling off our bikes as children take a toll. If we can get up and are not bleeding or have an obvious injury, we assume nothing has happened. However, even a small movement in a joint or slight rotation of a bone can have significant effects at other sites in our bodies. We adapt to these traumas and stresses by twisting and shortening. If these conditions are severe or repeated, our tissues lose their plasticity and we become stuck in alignments that are not harmonious with gravity. Through the pressure and warmth of the
Rolfer’s hands and arms, energy is transmitted to the client’s tissues releasing the stuck places and, with specific movement cues, allowing the tissues to assume a more appropriate relationship in the body. (Top)
Why do people go through the Rolfing process?
Better posture: When we want to make a good impression entering a gathering, we tell ourselves to stand up straight, hold our head erect and move as gracefully as possible. However, as soon as our minds wander from concentrating on good posture, we find ourselves literally falling down or apart. We have assumed our old posture that we were trying so hard to avoid. What really has happened here is that our bodies have assumed the posture that our underlying structures actually support.
Rolfers make a distinction between posture and structure. One of our goals is to organize your underlying structure so that it will support good posture naturally and easily. Many clients come to me already with a sense that this more optimal alignment will contribute significantly to their overall well being. This more optimal structural change makes possible changes in the more specific reasons people seek my assistance.
Relief from chronic pain: People come in with specific areas of chronic pain, lower backs, necks and shoulders, sore hips, legs and feet, TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome, and others. In all of these conditions, I do address the specific structures involved, but I do not stop there. In order to keep the condition from returning and to address the compensations that have occurred throughout their bodies, I must organize their overall physical structure.
Support in the healing of injuries: Throughout our lives we experience injuries of all types, participating in sports, car accidents and occupational accidents to name a few. Even surgical interventions leave scar tissue that can contribute to the misalignment of our bodies. In addition to affecting the tissue in the area of the injury, we compensate for the injury by using our body in a way to protect the injured site. In doing so, we create other imbalances that need to be released.
Enhanced athletic performance: Many professional athletes. Olympians, serious and not so serious athletes have been Rolfed. Professional musicians also benefit greatly from Rolfing. Research has shown that bodies with Rolfed muscles fire more completely and rest more completely. There is a less “noise” in the system. This usually has a very positive effect on performance. (Top)
Why do the ten session series?
The goal of Rolfing is to balance your body's structure with respect to the earth’s gravitational field. To accomplish this, a
Rolfer will observe your body in several positions and in movement to determine how your structure has compensated, shortened, and adjusted over time in response to your life experiences. The ten-session format allows us to work comprehensively with those compensations to rectify your body's entire structural pattern, not just to fix a local problem. (Top)
Do I have to do all ten sessions to benefit from Rolfing?
No, but I believe that you get the biggest "bang for your buck" by completing the ten series. (Top)
Do people ever come back for additional sessions?
Sure. Although the ten session series is a process in and of itself, many people want to build on the benefits that they have received from their initial series. Some structural patterns are deeply held and are not fully resolved in the initial ten sessions. Also, if you engage in activities or situations that are unusually stressful, you might find additional sessions supportive. (Top)
Does Rolfing hurt?
You might experience a light burning sensation or soreness at times during a session, (similar to the soreness that you might feel when tight muscles are manipulated. At other times, the contact might feel neutral or pleasant. Often when a client experiences discomfort, they realize that there is an emotional component to their pain, and the release of tears or just acknowledging the pain brings relief. The comment I most frequently hear from my clients is, "It hurts, but it's a good hurt. Don't stop." In short, most clients who are worried about Rolfing being painful cease to have that be an issue after experiencing a session. (Top)
How is Rolfing different than massage?
Traditionally, massage has focused on improving the circulation in our bodies thereby relaxing and releasing short-term tension or stress.
Rolfers focus on creating order in the body through integrating and organizing the body’s structure. This creates long term structural changes that shift chronic patterns of tension. Also, massage has traditionally focused more on the muscular system, and the type of touch has been consistent with relaxing muscles. Rolfing is working on another type of connective tissue, fascia. Fascia is distinct from muscle and responds best to a different type of touch. The pace and feel of a Rolfing session is quite different than a massage. (Top)
Is Rolfing "deep tissue therapy", or "myofascial therapy"?
Currently more and more manual therapists work with fascia. "Deep Tissue Work", "Myofascial Release", and "Myofascial Therapy" are a few of the names given to such work. What distinguishes Rolfing from these modalities is not the medium in which we work, but the goal of our work - organizing the body in gravity. Releasing tight tissue is a method we use, but not the goal itself. (Top)
How is Rolfing different than chiropractic?
Traditional chiropractic has had as its focus the skeletal system. Dr. Rolf was most interested in the system of fascia, a connective tissue on our bodies. Fascia envelops and is interwoven throughout our skeletal muscles, surrounds our organs and lies adjacent to our skin. She believed that a majority of the time the skeletal system was being pulled out of place by soft tissue, muscles and fascia (the myofascial system), and so she focused her attention on this system. It has been my experience that Rolfing and chiropractic care can complement each other very well. (Top)
I've heard that people sometimes experience emotions during Rolfing sessions. Is that true?
Yes, that is not uncommon. One of the ways in which we defend ourselves against physical or emotional trauma is to contract and pull in. This accomplishes two things. It makes for a smaller target and diminishes the intensity of the experience. Think about being startled. The muscles in your face and neck contract and your breath stops in mid cycle. These are muscular contractions. If the traumatic experience was severe enough or repeatedly experienced, these contractions become fixed in our bodies. When the Rolfer frees up the contracted tissues, it is not uncommon for the client to experience the emotions associated with the traumatic incident. After the feelings are experienced, there is often a feeling of release and relief - a letting go. Other times, clients realize that the feelings they experience need to be worked through and seek professional help in that effort.
Since I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, many clients seek my services or are referred me for the express purpose of helping them to work through both the physical and emotional contractions in their bodies. (Top)