“One individual may experience his losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in the back, another as the unflattering contour of his body, and yet another as an unrelenting threatening environment. Those over forty may call it old age; yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem so prominent in their own structures and the structures of others that it has been ignored: they are off-balance; they are at war with gravity.”
Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D (1896-1979)
- What Is Rolfing®?
- Who Comes to Rolfing?
- Am I too Old for Rolfing?
- How Does Rolfing Proceed?
- How Long Can I Expect the Effects of Rolfing® to Last?
- How Does Rolfing Work?
- How Does Rolfing Feel?
- How Does Rolfing Compare to Chiropractic Manipulation? Is It Deep Tissue?
- If I Am New to Rolfing, Is It Critical That I Experience the Entire Ten Sessions?
- Do You Have Any Reflections From Past Clients That May Serve to Better Orient My Understanding of Rolfing?
What Is Rolfing®?
Rolfing strategically addresses relationships within the connective tissue network (or ‘fascial system’) to integrate your body’s inner architecture™ structurally and functionally in gravity. A method of somatic re-education and manual medicine, it repositions connective, bony, and visceral tissues to permit a more effective and efficient postural pattern to emerge. Unique in scope, it will deepen your awareness of how your body works and re-educate your movement while improving biomechanical efficiency to allow structural changes to last a lifetime.
Who Comes to Rolfing?
People riddled with chronic pain and stress. Musicians, athletes, dancers, and yogis. Your everyday person with incorrigible postural problems and general stiffness. Those hoping to deepen kinesthetic awareness or to heighten their embodied experience. People from all walks of life and of all ages. The common thread of those that make their way to Rolfing is a readiness to transform in ways that extend beyond symptom relief to address the broader physical patterns that underlie them.
Am I Too Old for Rolfing?
There is no such thing as too old or too young for Rolfing. All bodies are capable of change, though how each of us does so is distinct and requires specialized input. My practice has included clients aged four months, clients aged eighty plus years, and everything in between. Contact me directly if you have questions about the appropriateness of Rolfing for you.
How Does Rolfing Proceed?
Classically, it begins with an initial cycle of treatment (otherwise known as the “Ten Series”). Each session of the cycle concentrates on a particular set of fascial relations in your body and builds upon the preceding ones. At the start of each session, a structural assessment in standing or walking is done to evaluate the relationships between your body’s segments, relevant lines of biomechanical transmission, and overall somatic patterns. This means that I do not assess a low back problem, for example, in isolation. Rather, I understand it with respect to the position of the thorax above, the pelvis below, and the grounding supports right down to the arches of your feet.
Treatment strategies are highly individualized. Just as no two people are identical, your Rolfing experience and its benefits will be organized to suit you, and uniquely you. Sessions last approximately one hour, and are typically scheduled to occur every one to two weeks. You can expect shifts to continue between sessions as your neurological and bony systems adapt to the new information and movement options. Your attention to these new sensations outside the sessions and any suggested exercises will serve to orient and extend the collaboration with your Rolfer™.
How Long Can I Expect The Effects of Rolfing® to Last?
Rolfing is progressive rather than merely permanent. We, and our bodies, are dynamic beings. For most people, the effects of an initial treatment cycle not only endure, but continue to create more possibility for awareness and movement over time. Shifting naturally continues as your body integrates all the new information – as you go out into the world and “use” your vital architecture in real time. These structural changes will make old patterns of sitting, standing, walking and moving no longer comfortable, thereby further encouraging new functional and structural patterns. In order to allow time for this evolution, we recommend a three to six month hiatus following an initial series for most clients.
For many, a classical series will be enough to suit their needs. Others desire to return for a more advanced process immediately after the recommended hiatus. Still others wait a year, or even a decade. Individuals regularly placing a heavy load on their system — marathon runners, body builders, those commuting hours daily in a car or doing intensive manual labor, for example — may find it valuable to have more regular maintenance than others. We will discuss the most appropriate route for your continued integration as we approach your graduation.
How Does Rolfing Work?
As Rolfers, we work with the relationship between gravity and your body’s connective tissue network, the primary organ of structure. Fascia divides the different tissues and organs into distinct compartments, attaches them into complex systems, and organizes them into functional groups. It provides a means of disease containment and intra-body communication, and transforms the tug of gravity and muscular contractions into coordinated, fluid movement of body parts. If all other elements were extracted, connective tissue alone would preserve the three-dimensional human form in all its details. It, uniquely, records the stresses and strains, patterns and preferences of our embodied form.
Of all the forces affecting the human body, gravity is among the most powerful. Our bodies, like all other material structures, must respond to and within it. Body misalignment in gravity results in chronic strain, lowered vitality, and impaired biological and physiological functioning. When we are out of equipoise, gravity drags us down, just as it drags down a building that has lost its architectural integrity. If the foundation sinks or the tensile supports deteriorate, a building will slowly cave in upon itself as its compromised structure can no longer collaborate with gravity but is forced to fight against it. When our body surrenders its architectural integrity, fascia shortens and thickens, adapting as best it knows how and, in the process, generally restricting the freedom, balance, and fluidity of the body it shapes. Pain, or discomfort “in one’s skin”, is a an all-too-common result.
Thankfully, human bodies are far more intelligent systems than a buildings! To a Rolfer’s trained eyes and hands, slouched bodies with heads too far forward, or hyper-erect bodies which bow backward, knock-knees or bowed legs, flat feet or high arches, spinal curvatures that don’t align with pelvic placement all display complicated patterns of strain, tightness, laxity, or thickening in the fascial matrix. Through Rolfing, we evoke your body’s natural adaptive capacity, and allow you to recover your own individualized blueprint for healthy, ease-filled structural integrity.
How Does Rolfing Feel?
Your experience will undoubtedly be filled with new sensations — tingling, pressure, slow burning, melting, liquefying, and more. At times, these sensations may feel intense — physically, and for some, emotionally — as does anything that leads to real change. There is a misperception that Rolfing is painful. This is not true. Pain implies harm. And a nervous system cannot properly integrate new information if it considers an experience to be harmful. You and I will notice if any intensity that you may experience crosses into the territory of pain — if your breath stops, or if other areas of your body attempt to compensate by tightening. I will work closely with you to ensure that our efforts happen at layers appropriate to your comfort. People commonly report feeling a sense of lightness, spaciousness, vitality, improved flexibility, and well-being upon completion of a session. If you could imagine how it would feel to have a balanced body, free of pain, stiffness, and chronic stress, then you already can glimpse the potential benefits for you.
How Does Rolfing Compare to Chiropractic Manipulation? Is It Deep Tissue?
Rolfers approach the body as architects might — carefully renovating to restore an effective blueprint, and perhaps building in some enhancements along the way. We may address your foundation as well as your third floor’s wiring, the view on the seventh floor and the ability to handle Chicago’s strong gusts throughout the structure as a whole. When we address bony relationships, we restructure the surrounding fascial environment relevant to a given bone or joint before encouraging a bone into its proper position. Our work involves no high velocity manipulation (“cracking”). We require no x-rays, just skilled palpation.
Structural integration cannot exist without balance between “deep’ and ‘surface’, ‘core’ and ‘sleeve’. Few people realize that much of what goes by the name of “deep tissue therapy” and “myofascial release techniques” have their origins in Rolfing. Because of the proliferation of deep tissue therapies, people may mistakenly consider Rolfing to be a deep tissue technique rather than a process. Most of these techniques are not intended to catalyze enduring structural changes. Those that do often ignore Dr. Rolf’s wise observation that the concept of deep tissue implies the concept of surface tissue. As every Rolfer knows, in the attempt to organize and integrate the body in gravity, one certain way to unbalance the body is to manipulate the deep tissue at the expense of the surface tissue, to “push hard” as an end in itself without a plan for organization.
If I Am New to Rolfing, Is It Critical That I Experience the Entire Ten Sessions?
You are welcome to schedule an initial session without making a commitment to an entire series. This is a good way to meet me, discuss your goals in more detail, and get a feel for the work and what it’s benefits to you might be. While it is not recommended, if life circumstances make it necessary for you to do fewer sessions than the full series, we will together come up with a strategy to get the maximum benefit out of the number of sessions you are able to do.
Do You Have Any Reflections From Past Clients That May Serve to Better Orient My Understanding of Rolfing?
Yes. You’re welcome to click here to read reflections from past clients.