What is Rolfing and how does it work?
Rolfing Structural Integration is a process of soft tissue manipulation and movement education designed to organize the body’s components in relation to gravity until the entire system is a smoothly functioning coordinated whole. For example, the legs are aligned to the hips, shoulders to rib cage, the body is positioned over the feet, and then all of these joints and related tissue are integrated to one another. A few of the many benefits people have experienced are reduced pain, increased flexibility, an enhanced sense of body awareness, and improved posture.
These wonderful transformations are possible because Rolfing SI addresses the body’s internal system of flexible support, otherwise known as fascia. These connective tissues surround ever muscle fiber, encase all joints and even have a role in the nervous system. Think of the fascial system as an intricate internal guide wire network for the body. If one set of support wires becomes tight or out of place, the excess tension may appear as nagging joint pain, muscle soreness, or a postural shift.
To correct internal misalignments, a Rolfer uses mild, direct pressure to melt or release facial holdings and allow the body to find health through the re-establishment of balance. It is currently believed that the slow, deep strokes of Rolfing SI stimulate intra-fascial mechanoreceptors (sensory neurons of the muscle nerve), which in turn trigger the nervous system to reduce the tension of the related muscles and fascia.
Put another way, Rolfing SI allows the brain and nervous system to “re-boot” areas of the body that are receiving too much electrical stimulation (chronically tight or sore muscles). Once a healthy level of muscle contraction is established, the person’s entire structure is free to express a pain-free form.
Essentially, the Rolfing process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and your freedom of movement.
Who can benefit from Rolfing sessions?
Athletes, dancers, children, farmers, business professionals, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing SI. People seek Rolfing SI as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities.
Rolfing may be beneficial for those who wish to improve athletic performance and for those that suffer from:
- chronic headaches
- back and neck pain
- repetitive use injuries
- muscle spasms
- restricted range of motion
- pre & post surgery pain
- carpal tunnel
What is the difference between Rolfing SI and massage?
One of the most common misconceptions about Rolfing Structural Integration is that it is a nothing more than a type of very deep massage. There are many varieties of massage, which can be particularly effective for loosening tight tissue, reducing stress, detoxing the body and evoking an increased feeling of relaxation and well-being. Since these benefits are also a byproduct of Rolfing SI, the general public experience confusion as to the precise difference between our work and the proliferation of effective touch modalities currently available. Ray McCall, a Certified Advanced Rolfer in Boulder, once said that what Rolfers do can be summed up in three words: palpation, discrimination and integration. We palpate, or touch the tissue, feeling for imbalances in tissue texture, quality and temperature to determine where we need to work. We discriminate, or separate fascial layers that adhere and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury. Finally, we integrate the body, relating its segments in an improved relationship, bringing physical balance in the gravitational field. Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, are quite good at the first two, but do not balance the body in gravity. As Dr. Rolf used to say: “It is easy to take a body apart, but it takes skill and understanding to put it back together.” The true genius of her method is the art and science of reshaping and reorganizing human structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner for long term results.
In addition to our skill as structural integrators, we are also educators, a point Dr. Rolf stressed frequently in her training classes. The role of teacher is something every Rolfer takes seriously. In each session, Rolfers seek to impart insights to clients to increase their awareness and understanding, to help the client make the work we do their own. Our job is to make ourselves obsolete, by empowering our clients to take charge of their own physical and emotional health. Influencing the structural evolution of man on a global level was Dr. Rolf’s fondest dream.
What is the 10-Series?
The hallmark of Rolfing Structural Integration is a standardized “recipe” known as the Ten-Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten Rolfing sessions. Each of the 10 sessions focuses on freeing restrictions or holdings trapped in a particular region of the body. A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client’s entire system during each session, thus ensuring that the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.
What is Rolfing SI’s approach to back pain?
Those dissatisfied with other back pain treatments often consult a Rolfer™, whose unique premises and methods are often effective in reducing pain and dysfunction when other approaches have failed. A Rolfer believes that many musculoskeletal problems can be mitigated or resolved by balancing the length and tone of soft tissues throughout the entire body. This view is crystallized in Dr. Rolf’s admonition, “Where you think it is – it ain’t”; in other words, the place where it hurts is not necessarily the source of the problem.
A Rolfer evaluates the client’s entire body structure, considering not only the low back as the locus of the symptoms, but also how other parts of the body may be contributing to the low back pain and vice versa.
Are Rolfing sessions covered by insurance?
While Rolfing is not typically covered by insurance, it is covered by HSA (Health Savings Account) and FSA (Flexible Savings Account) plans. If you’d like to submit claims to your insurance company, I am happy to provide you with receipts.