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  What is Rolfing®?

Ida Pauline ROLF, Ph.D.,
Rolfing is the original method of Structural Integration. It is a holistic and scientifically proven technique that is based on deep tissue manipulation and movement education. By contacting and adjusting the system of fascia (connective tissue), tension is released in the tissue and the body gets rebalanced and realigned with the earth’s gravitational field. The result can be more energy, increased breathing capacity, elimination of chronic pain and a restored sense of well-being.

Rolfing was developed by Dr. Ida Rolf, a biochemist at Columbia University in the early 1940's. With a profound understanding of physics, she was interested in role and function of the connective or myofascial tissue that surrounds all our organs, muscles, bones and joints, lending the body shape and support. She discovered that symptoms of pain and stress are a result of the body's response to gravity. She found that by guiding the body's system with posturing and structuring that wholeness and balance can be restored, and emotional as well as physical stress can be reduced. Before she invented her own modality of Structural Integration, she studied osteopathy, yoga and chiropractic.

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How do we get out of alignment?

Gravity is the essential shaper of our bodies. From the moment we are born, gravity is affecting and impacting our structure. Over time, our bodies get pulled into unnatural positions which results in chronic patterns of tension, stress and pain. Since physical and emotional injuries, repetitive habits, stress, or other traumatic events are also being recorded and stored in our connective tissue, they create additional layers of complex holding patterns in our bodies. As a result, we get more and more out of alignment and are at war with gravity!

After an injury, we usually compensate by shifting our bearing in order to avoid and alleviate discomfort. The adjustment seems to work at the time, and we move on. We heal, but a remnant of the compensatory pattern remains in our bodies. Those newly developed movement and holding patterns use preferred “grooves” of neuromuscular connections, and as they become familiar, they fall outside our zone of consciousness and we move with comparatively little awareness. Over time, our resilient and elastic connective tissue absorbs and responds to this “misaligned posture” and together with the forces of gravity, stress, trauma and illness, the fascia continues to shorten, dehydrate and thicken.

As a result, the movement of the muscles and joints become more and more restricted, and consequently rearrange the original position of our bones. While certain muscles remain overly contracted and stressed, others stop functioning. This leads to impaired movements, reduction of mental clarity, increased emotional stress, and more pain and tightness in the soft-tissue network.

What Rolfing can do!

Whenever there is an injury or tension in a specific body part, the strain is communicated through the fascial system to the rest of the body, which has to compensate for the misalignment. Therefore, the entire body needs to be addressed and adjusted, in order to integrate the change, and to achieve lasting results.

Much like a sculptor works with clay, a Rolfer works with the body's living malleable, myofascial system by lengthening and re-shaping the fascia, releasing restrictions that create life-long patterns of bracing and tension. The combination of hands-on applied pressure by the Rolf practitioner, and synchronized movements by the client releases those fascial adhesions. This allows the body segments (head, shoulders, thorax, pelvis and legs) to realign and return to a balanced relationship, in both the resting state and in movement.

After a Rolfing session, people usually report spaciousness, lightness and fluidity in their body, which ultimately leads toward pain and stress relief, increased body awareness, improved range of motion, as well as an overall feeling of well-being. Rolfing enhances the body’s self-organizing capabilities and the changes can be sustained indefinitely.

For more information, about the theory and principles about Rolfing, visit the website of the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration at: http://www.rolf.org/

What is Rolfing Movement?

The purpose of Rolfing Movement is to work with the client to help identify movement patterns that promote strain and asymmetry in the system. Once the patterns are identified, the Rolf Movement practitioner does not seek to change those patterns, which have served the client well, but rather to offer more economical solutions which promote greater balance and efficiency in the gravitational field.

Like the structural ten-series, Rolfing Movement is taught as a sequence of sessions devoted to specific structural and movement themes. In a classic movement series, the first session is devoted to exploring breathing patterns and using the breath to promote ease and release holdings in the ribs, lungs and respiratory diaphragm. Subsequent sessions address movement patterns in the foot, ankle and knee joints, the hip joint, the arms and head and neck. These sessions are normally repeated to access deeper holding patterns and achieve higher levels of order just as structural Rolfers return to the extremities and upper and lower girdles (the shoulder and pelvis) in the latter sessions to more fully integrate structure and function. Rolfing movement can be explored by clients who have completed a structural series and can serve equally well as an autonomous tool for achieving higher levels of self-awareness and coherence.

Bettina Schneider Certified Rolfer and CMT San Francisco California 415.359.5139