Rolfing® is one of those things that a lot of people have heard about, but they don’t always know what it actually is or how it might help. Many people have heard that it is really painful or pulls muscles off the bones. It’s amazing the misinformation out there! In this three-part series, I will share a little about what Rolfing is, give a bit of history on it, and hopefully clarify some of the many misconceptions about it.
Rolfing® is a type of structural integration. This means that we work with helping the various structures of the body integrate into an easier relationship with the rest of the body. Let’s use the shoulder girdle as an example. Some people don’t have an arm, but, rather, an “armshoulder.” You’ve probably seen people like this…when they walk, it looks like their entire shoulder is swinging back and forth with the arm. Or, conversely, some people have an arm that swings like a marionette’s, with no involvement from the shoulder at all. Most of us are somewhere in between those two examples, with arms and shoulders that would feel better if each segment was functioning independently yet coordinated with the other, like nature and anatomy intended. That’s what Rolfing® does: it differentiates each part of the body from the other, and integrates it all back into a more cohesive and better-functioning whole.
Working initially in a ten-session series, Rolfing® creates a body that is more efficiently organized, can stand up straight more easily, and can recover more quickly from injury. Those first ten treatments address the entire body from the big layers of surface tissues to the deeper core structures. Each session has an underlying intention that is the same for everyone, but the territory covered might be different for each person. For instance, the first session is always about increasing the ability of the breath to move freely through the body. Dr. Ida Rolf, the founder of Rolfing®, realized that the body changes most easily when there is more breath available. The majority of us chronically hold our breath, or only breathe using one part of our ribs and lungs. For one person, this might indicate work on the front of the rib cage, whereas, for another, the work might be focused on the back of the ribs or the diaphragm area. Wherever it looks and feels like breathing is being restricted, that’s where the Rolfer works. Each session’s territory and level of pressure is adapted to the needs of the individual.
After receiving the first ten-session series, clients sometimes come in for mini-series as they feel the need.
by Jill Gerber, LMT, Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolfing® Movement Integration Practitioner
© copyright 2009 Jill Gerber all rights reserved.