Rolfing® Structural Integration
What is Rolfing?
Rolfing, also known as Structural Integration is a holistic approach to bodywork developed more than fifty years ago by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, PhD. The Rolfing method recognizes that pain and dysfunction are frequently indicators that something is not aligned or not moving well elsewhere in the body. Rolfing uses a combination of precise, slow and sometimes deep soft tissue manipulation and movement education to realign and heal the body.
What brings us to Rolfing?
Over the course of a lifetime we endure a wide variety of stresses that throw us out of balance. Like any other material structure when we are out of balance gravity tends to drag us down and diminish our structural integrity. We become “disorganized” in gravity.
Our structures are highly adaptive in that we have a connective tissue system (also known as fascia) that constantly rebuilds itself in keeping with the patterns of strain and stress throughout our bodies. Where integrity has been lost we see adaptations and compensations in the form of rotations, collapse, poor posture, thickening of tissue, and loss of movement.
We feel the evidence of this disorganization in a number of ways, from mild discomforts and irritations to more pronounced patterns of pain, depleted energy and emotional distress.
We all have weak links in our systems that ultimately cannot tolerate the shifting demands placed on them. As resilient as we are we are still subject to the enduring demands of gravity and of our modern lifestyle. We walk on hard, flat surfaces and wear shoes that frequently inhibit the natural adaptive and shock absorbing functions of our feet. This puts strain on our ankles, knees and lower backs. We now spend more hours sitting in chairs than at any other time in human history. This weakens and unbalances the muscles that support our spines and promote healthy posture. We are designed to move. We thrive when physically active yet we spend more time being still than ever before. Many of our activities are highly repetitive in their movements and frequently have little to do with training our bodies to stand and walk comfortably as they were designed to.
It is not that we cannot adapt to our modern world, but the degree to which can enjoy our bodies and feel good in them can be greatly enhanced with a little preventative maintenance and intervention.
How does Rolfing work?
“Gravity is the therapist.” As this enduring Ida Rolf quote suggests, the very force that can exaggerate our dysfunctions over time can also heal us. What holds us upright in gravity is a balance of tensions. Muscles connect to bones via tendons and bones to bones via ligaments, creating a system of equal and opposite tensions that hold us up in gravity.
The degree to which these tensions are equalized reflects the degree to which we are aligned and balanced. The poorer we are aligned the greater the muscular effort and energy expenditure required to hold us up.
Carefully applied pressure softens, lengthens and separates our layers of fascia. As balanced tension is restored the body rights itself effortlessly in gravity. In much the same way the balanced tensions in the nylon sheets of a tent give the tent its shape, resilience and integrity. By targeting areas of the body that have become stuck, thickened, or misaligned Rolfing can take the strain off of our weak links elsewhere–the parts of us that hurt.
If we take the impediments out of the way the body does a wonderful job of healing itself.
What makes Rolfing unique?
Rolfing is characterized by its unique quality of touch, its capacity to provide a person with more complete and enduring changes, and its recognition that changes in the structure will impact the whole person, physically, emotionally and energetically.
Rolfing recognizes that the individual’s own internal experience of the work is of primary importance. The internal “sensation” experiences are central to the transformational quality that Rolfing can offer.
The ways we move through space, the pleasure with which we do so, the very qualities these movements have, the degrees to which we support ourselves efficiently and comfortably; all these things are in a reciprocal relationship with the richness of our perceptions and sensations. It is the richness of these perceptions and sensations that Rolfing intends to enhance.
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