Rolfing® Structural and Movement Integration
By Greg Bishop, Certified Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner
Rolfing® is a method of bodywork and movement education designed to relieve chronic stress in the body by organizing its structure in gravity. Rolfers achieve this structural balance through lengthening of the myofascia or soft tissue in injured and compressed areas. Though many therapies have been successful in relieving chronic stress in certain areas Rolfing® is the first and only therapy to successfully achieve whole body organization in gravity.
Our bodies tend to compress into injury, over use, chronic tension or emotional holding. This throws our center of balance off and forces recruitment of tissues designed for movement to be used for balance. Continuous holding or stabilizing is interpreted by our bodies as an area of injury that needs reinforcement. This causes tissue to build up making it less mobile. An ankle injury can cause misalignment and knee, hip, back, or neck pain. A sore hip can influence legs, hips, ankles, shoulders, and neck. Years of poor posture or overuse can also throw the whole body out of alignment. Rolfers are trained to evaluate patterns and lines of stress to help clients find support, balance and freedom of movement.
Many people see gravity as an enemy. Rolfers understand that it is imbalance that is the enemy. Our body’s tissues are designed to absorb the energy of gravity. Take for example our feet. There are 26 bones and as many as 34 joints! These are surrounded by muscle, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. Why so many bones and joints in such a small space? One reason is to absorb the impact of our body weight as we move around on them. Another function is for the soft tissues to absorb the energy of gravity and redirect it into our body to propel us forward as we walk and run. So our feet and much of the rest of our bodies are really very sophisticated springs. We need gravity to keep our bodies healthy by allowing it to travel through our spring-like tissues to keep them alive, fluid and resilient. Our bodies must be open and balanced to allow this gravitational energy to flow through.
Soft tissue or fascia is a continuous web that runs around and through every structure in our bodies. If you were to remove everything but the fascia you would be left with a perfect blueprint of your entire body including muscles, bones and organs. If your were to pull on one small part of this webbing your pulling would not only be felt there but throughout the entire structure. After injury or even slight changes in movement patterns it only takes a few days to see differences in the organization of fascial fibers under a microscope.
Imagine your body is a liquid filled balloon. The liquid is in various stages of viscosity thin to very thick. The “skin” of the balloon also dives deep and in and out of every part separating parts and giving them shape. The bones are spacers. They provide some support and help maintain shape. Now imagine the balloon sitting or standing on a surface. The support provided by gravity is spread throughout the balloon. As this balloon body moves though life; walking, running and jumping the force of gravity effects every structure traveling through the continuous web of “balloon skin” or soft tissue.
Rolfing® Structural Integration involves ten sessions of bodywork. Each session focus on specific areas of the body and is designed to support the changes of the next session. Rolfers use fingers, hands, elbows and even knees to apply pressure to soft tissue structures and create space and flexibility in areas of lost mobility and flexibility. Rolfing® has had a reputation as being very painful. Rolfing® technique has evolved over time and though some momentary discomfort can still be felt, most clients are pleasantly surprised by the subtlety and gentleness involved
Rolf Movement uses the same principles and concepts developed by Ida P. Rolf Ph. D. the creator of the Rolfing Series. Rolf Movement Practitioners help clients find support, balance, and free open movement through exploration of current movement patterns and the options available for a new and healthier interaction with gravity. Techniques combine gentle touch, verbal interaction, active and passive micro-movement, and deep sensory awareness. Benefits include increased grace, efficiency of movement and relief of physical stress.