By Anna Lynn Sibal
Rolfing is a system of bodywork that involves the manipulation of soft tissue. Developed by Dr. Ida Pauline Rolf in the 1950s and originally referred to as structural integration, Rolfing is aimed towards the realignment of the body so that its harmony with the pull of the Earth’s gravity is restored.
The theory behind Rolfing is that when a person is born, the natural state of his body is aligned to the Earth’s gravitational pull. In this state, the body is relaxed and moving with comfort. However, as time passes, the movement patterns that a person develops as well as the stresses he experiences in his daily life make the body adjust to these stresses and movement patterns. The movement patterns that a person forms go against the body’s alignment to the pull of gravity most of the time. This misalignment causes the connecting tissues of the body, called fascia, to adjust and compensate.
Oftentimes, the fascia in the body overcompensates, leading to the fascia becoming stiff and even fuse together. When this happens, the body experiences varying degrees of pain and discomfort. The fascia and the muscles they connect are not the only ones that are affected by the body’s misalignment in relation to gravity. The misalignment also causes stress to internal organs and makes them function improperly.
As noted above, the goal of Rolfing is to bring the body to a more relaxed state in relation to gravity by realigning the body. Though technically Rolfing is not a massage technique, it does make use of forms of massage in order to bring the body back to its most optimum state possible.
Ten basic sessions are recommended in undergoing Rolfing treatment, and sessions are often spaced one or two weeks apart. The first few sessions focus on treating specific areas of the body and then proceeds towards bodywork for the entire body. The therapist also teaches the client some exercises that will teach the client to become more aware of himself, his movements and his surroundings.
Pain is a given in Rolfing treatments. It is said that the more painful the manipulation of the body’s fascia is for the client, the more misaligned and injured the body is. Therapists always make their clients breathe more deeply through the more difficult and more painful portions of a session to minimize the sensation of pain. After the session is done, however, most clients avow a feeling of lightness and relief despite the pain they have experienced during the session itself.
How are Rolfing treatments good for the body?
It is claimed that after the first two sessions alone, the person begins to stand up much straighter and with a better stance and posture. But the benefits of Rolfing is said to go beyond a straighter back, a feeling of lightness and the relief of pain. It also improves the flexibility of the body and makes its movements more efficient and graceful. Another benefit is a more quiet emotional state, the treatment having minimized the pain and discomfort that the body is feeling.
If you are experiencing pain in your body, you may want to try out Rolfing. As they say, no pain, no gain.