What is Rolfing®?
To understand Rolfing®, you must understand the body. Rolfing® is directed at the connective tissues rather than the joints or the muscles, so it can resolve problems that still occur after years of chiropractic care. The connective tissues we refer to here are called fascia, dense, fibrous tissue that surrounds and interpenetrates bones, nerves, blood vessels, individual muscles and also compartmentalizes groups of muscles. Essentially, it is the stuff that holds everything inside our bodies in their proper place.
Fascia is rich with sensory receptors that report pain to the brain, as well as changes in movement, pressure, vibration, temperature and more. Because of work and life’s routines, we put our bodies through repetitive motions on a daily basis that distort that proper alignment, which puts unaligned pressure on our fascia. Persistent undue pressure can cause fascia to thicken, shorten and tighten, thereby restricting movement.
That’s where Rolfing® comes in. Biochemist Dr. Ida Rolf discovered through her research that while the fascia’s malleability (or mold-ability) causes it to adapt to bad posture and restrict movement it can, through manual manipulation, also be restored to support good posture and flexibility. If the fascial web is properly supporting the body’s ideal alignment, many of the chronic pain and recurring issues related to muscle stress and tension can be eliminated.
The Rolfing® Ten Series
Rolfing® Structural Integration is often applied as a series of ten sessions known as the Basic Ten Series. Our Rolfer™ Lu Mueller-Kaul will determine in a free consultation (or before your first session) whether this strategy will best reach your treatment goals.
Each session targets a particular region of the body and has specific structural and functional goals.
Session 1 begins with diagnostics—including photographs for posture analysis—followed by work on the shoulders and rib cage, the back of the legs and around the hips. The structural goal is to enable the shoulders to fall back naturally so the subject can stand and sit with an open chest. The functional goal is to ease breathing and allow the subject to already feel their posture and mobility improving.
The following sessions also have specific goals, building from the progress gained in previous sessions. While they all include neck and back work and other areas as determined necessary by the Rolfer™, each session also has specific areas of focus as follows:
Session 2: feet and lower legs
Session 3: the whole outer sideline of the body with special focus on the hips and ribs
Session 4: inner legs and hips
Session 5: hip flexors and front side of the lumbar spine
Session 6: the back and back of the legs
Session 7: head, neck and shoulders
Sessions 8 and 9 are determined by the Rolfer™ based on the individual’s progress in previous sessions. Any additional work needed in previous areas will be addressed in these sessions.
Session 10: also determined by the Rolfer™ and based on any additional work needed, brings closure to all the previous sessions.
By the end of this session the subject should be well-anchored to the best alignment in both their structure and their neuro-motoric systems that they can achieve at this stage. With their newly enhanced body awareness and flexibility the subjects can now find better alignment themselves. They will know when they slip into old patterns of bad posture and can easily self-correct, thereby continuing to improve their own alignment without further treatment.
Want to learn more about Rolfing®? Read this New York Times article.