WHAT IS ROLFING®?

What is Rolfing®?
The Rolfing® 10-Series
Post 10-Series Work
Getting Started

One individual may experience his losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in the back, another as the unflattering contour of his body, another as constant fatigue, 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 all at war with gravity.

-Dr. Ida P. Rolf



Ida Rolf
Dr. Rolf & baby - photo courtesy of Ron Thompson.

What is Rolfing®?

Rolfing® is a profound holistic system of body therapy, distinct from other forms of bodywork in both its style and approach to working with the body, and ultimately in its results for the client. More than a set of techniques, Rolfing® is an experience - the discovery of your own more spacious body. It's bodywork you take with you - for a lifetime - so you can feel better on an on-going basis, not just while you're receiving it. Oh, and yes, Rolfing® actually has been known to feel good!

Developed and pioneered by the late Dr. Ida Rolf, Rolfing® (or "Structural Integration" as she originally called it) addresses the constrictions within the fascial (or connective tissue) network of the body in a skillful and systematic way, ultimately working towards the goal of organizing and integrating the body structurally within the gravitational field. The Rolfing® logo, seen on the bottom left hand corner of the web page, could be understood as a symbolic representation of that goal. The before-and-after client photos, seen at the right, demonstrate actual change in client structures as a result of Rolfing®. Before and After Rolfing

Balance and alignment in gravity are the hallmarks of an integrated body, and improved functionality is certainly a by-product. However, when taking the intimate connection between mind and body into account, the implications reach beyond such simplification. Yes, clients typically feel more comfortable, more at ease in their bodies as a result of Rolfing® work, but its total impact will be ultimately experienced in uniquely personal ways.

So, how does this all work? Consider the structure of a tent - where does it come from? Sure, the tent poles provide support, but it's the balance of the tension in the guide-wires that determine its overall structure. Similarly in our bodies, the bones provide the support, and the balance (or lack thereof) within the fascial network will determine structure. Imbalance and misalignment in the body are the result of constrictions within the fascial network, the cumulative result of adaptations to the stress and strains of physical existence, which is to say - the body's stored trauma.

Before and After Rolfing
To help illustrate, consider two muscles side-by-side asked to do the same job again and again (ie. stressed); the fascial "stockings" around the muscles will tend to glue together. Typically, we experience this as a "knot." In the case of a golfer or a violinist for example, repeatedly stress is placed upon entire "trains" of the body's myofascial anatomy, and whole patterns of fascial constriction can develop. Now consider all the accidents, injuries, surgeries, falls, sports injuries, poor posture, psychological and/or emotional stresses of all kinds, the stress of repetitive motions of all types, that we as humans are all subject to in the course of life, and you can begin to glimpse the bigger picture. By releasing the constrictions in the fascial network, muscles can slide or move the way they were originally intended, and then the body can naturally begin to come into a better balance and alignment.

To release fascial constrictions, the Rolfer works hands-on with the tissue in very specific ways, working closely with the client, their breath, and guided movement, to assist them in releasing the fascia. At first glance, some techniques utilized by Rolfers may bear some resemblance to various "Myofacial Release" techniques. However, where we work, when we work, and which direction we take the tissue - and the subsequent results - are the big differences. The skillful Rolfer is gradually guiding the tissue towards better balance and alignment, and the client towards a new, more rewarding relationship with their body. The process is very much one of collaboration between Rolfer and client. For best results, find a Rolfer that feels right for you. (top)



The Rolfing? 10-Series

If you've never experienced Rolfing® before, what is generally recommended is a sequence of ten individual sessions collectively called the Rolfing® 10-Series. Dr. Ida Rolf called the 10-Series "the recipe." The 10-Series is designed to address the entire body in a systematic manner, basically working from the outer layers in, and from the feet up, to make change available for the deeper structures of the body. Each session builds on the previous session, and prepares the body for the next. While the 10-Series provides a general framework, naturally each 10-Series is tailored to address the particular needs of the each client.

Here's a quick overview of the Rolfing® 10-Series:

The first three sessions are considered the "sleeve" sessions:

Session 1: Free up the breathing, increasing the vital capacity of the lungs, begin differentiation of the shoulder and ribcage, ribcage and pelvis, and introduce the client to the work.

Session 2: Address the foundation, the feet, ankles, and legs, towards an improved connection with ground and relationship with gravity.

Session 3: Address the lateral or outside line (the sides) of the body from foot to head, easing the front-back dimension, and relating lower body to upper body.

The middle four sessions are considered the "core" sessions:

Session 4: Address the medial or inside line of the leg, particularly the adductor muscle group and the pelvis floor area, facilitating gravity's lift up through the center of the body.

Session 5: Length in the front of the body, work in the psoas is a highlight.

Session 6: Length in the entire back of the body, particularly around the spine.

Session 7: Address the head - the front of the neck, back of the neck, the face, the mouth, the jaw, and the nose (optional).

The last three sessions are considered the "integrative" sessions:

Sessions 8, 9, & 10: Having addressed the whole body, and given all the positive changes in structure achieved so far, we choose where to work to bring as much additional balance and alignment to the body as possible. Typically Session 8 has a lower girdle focus and Session 9 has an upper girdle focus. Rolfing® Movement Work (or movement reeducation) is introduced to facilitate more lasting results. (top)



Post-10 Work

For all clients, once the basic Rolfing® 10-Series is completed, it is recommended that clients allow some time to pass before scheduling more work. This allows the body to more fully integrate the work it has received.

For many clients, the basic Rolfing® 10-Series is a treatment for life and no further work is required.

For other clients, particularly those who use their bodies a lot, or whose work and/or extra-curricular activities require the body's highest level of performance, additional work may be elected. This work can range from occasional "tune-up" or maintenance sessions to more extensive work. Typically, there is no need for the entire 10-Series again. (top)



Getting Started

I offer a free initial consultation for all prospective clients. This is essentially my intake session. There's a form we fill out together to help us get a clearer picture of your body's history and where you're coming to the work from. I talk more in-depth about the Rolfing® process itself, and give you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. It's also a chance for us to meet, and to make sure it feels like a good fit for both of us. (top)