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1. What is Rolfing Structural Integration?
Our bodies react to the constant influence of gravity like every other physical structure in the universe. When we are out of balance, gravity drags us down, just as it drags down a building that has lost its structural integrity. Whether from poor posture, injury, illness, or emotional distress, an unbalanced body is in a constant tug-of-war with gravity. The result is an accumulation of tension and strain within the body’s muscles and surrounding connective tissue that gives rise to pain, rigidity of movement, and depleted energy.
The primary aim of the Rolfing process is to permanently release this tension and to overcome deeply ingrained physical restrictions–balancing and realigning your entire body in relation to gravity. Dr. Ida P. Rolf called her revolutionary bodywork approach Structural Integration. Unlike every other form of contemporary bodywork, Rolfing bodywork is the only manipulative system whose ultimate goal is to evoke highly integrated and efficient ways of moving that enable your body to remain effortlessly balanced in gravity.
2. How does Rolfing realign the landscape of the body?
The Rolfing Method releases the tension, tightness, and restrictions that are held in the connective tissue — called fascia — which surroundsa and penetrates the muscles and every other structure in your body. If you have ever cut into a piece of steak, you have seen the fascia close up — it is the white filmy substance binding muscles together.
Dr. Rolf was the first scientist to recognize the critical role played by the fascia, which gives the human body its specific shape and orientation. While the fascia’s remarkable plasticity enables us to adapt to stress and injury, it also thickens and rigidifies in response to the strains pulling our bodies out of alignment with gravity. Slouched backs with heads too far forward, knock-knees or bowed legs, flat feet or high arches, excessive spinal curvature — these are all the telltale signs of complex patterns of strain and tightness resulting from the thickening of the muscles and fascia.
Dr. Rolf’s deepest practical insight was to recognize that this very same plasticity could be harness to literally reshape the body and bring about a fundamental structural transformation. Through highly refined techniques of applying pressure with the hands, A Certified Rolfer can soften and lengthen the fascia, which in turn frees the body from constrictions and enables it to right itself effortlessly in gravity.
3. What results can you expect from Rolfing?
For over four decades, Rolfing integration has brought lasting relief from chronic conditions of all kinds while promoting an enhanced sense of vitality and well-being in people of all ages and walks of life. Not only does this Rolfing process help you avoid the degenerative effects that arise when you are out of balance with gravity, it also enables you to let go and experience a new sensitivity toward yoru body and the physical world. Rolfing clients also frequently achieve greater psychological and emotional well-being. It has helped people in psychotherapy gain a more direct connection to their emotional life. And for many, it has deepened the practices of meditation, yoga, tai chi and other mind/body disciplines.
As years of old postural habits, injuries and the physical manifestations of emotional traumas give way to new patterns and experiences through Rolfing structural work, your body begins to take a new form and shape. At ease with your body and balanced in gravity, you experience and enhanced sense of flexibility and freedom. And best of all, your body is better able to adapt to life’s demands and stresses in a way that doesn’t result in physical constriction, tension and injury.
Most people come to their Rolfing sessions with a list of complaints, aches and pains, some minor and some symptomatic and indicative of deeper structural trouble. While they are aware of the discomfort associates with their troubles, they are often unaware of the more subtle body sensations that would give them an ability to consciously alter their physical co-ordination and relieve some of their aches and pains.
During the Rolfing series, as restricted tissues are released and new movements become possible, greater body awareness is accessed. You can expect that the combination of freedom from physical restriction and greater self awareness will result in new patterns of co-ordination and reduced strain at the sites of the pain.
4. How does the Rolfing integration feel?
If you can imagine how it feels to live in a fluid, light and balanced body, free of pain, stiffness and chronic stress, then you can begin to appreciate the depth of the Rolfing experience. While every Rolfing session is unique, addressing your specific physical problems and patterns, it involves the manipulation of fascia at varying depths in the body. Thus, the sensations can vary from mild to strong and range from pleasurable warmth to momentary discomfort. At times there may be little sensation at all. Early in your first session, your Rolfer and you will establish a level of physical intensity with which you are comfortable. Often, within the first few sessions you will notice a palpable release of tension and tightness. Many people report feeling lighter, taller and more balanced. Sometimes the effects build more gradually, with an increasing fluidity of movement, a greater sense of ease as well as increased alertness and energy.
The Rolfing series typically begins with ten, one-hour to one-and-a-half-hour sessions (a week or two apart) that are designed as a comprehensive approach to integrating your entire body. Special interventions to treat specific injuries can often be accomplished in fewer sessions. Post-Ten sessions provide you with an ongoing way to mitigate the damaging effects of stress, to enhance performance and to support a wide variety of personal growth practices.