Rolfing® Structural Integration

What is Rolfing® Structural Integration

 

Named after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body.

More than fifty years ago, Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.

Essentially, the Rolfing process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and your freedom of movement.

 

What are the benefits?

 

Rolfing Structural Integration has the ability to dramatically alter a person’s posture and structure. Rolfing SI can potentially resolve discomfort, release tension and alleviate pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body. The genius of the work rests on Dr. Rolf’s insight that the body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is balanced in gravity.

Athletes, dancers, children, business professionals, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing SI. People seek Rolfing SI as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities. It’s estimated that more than 1 million people have received Rolfing work.

Research has demonstrated that Rolfing SI creates a more efficient use of the muscles, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. Research also shows that Rolfing SI significantly reduces chronic stress and changes in the body structure. For example, a study showed that Rolfing SI significantly reduced the spinal curvature of subjects with lordosis (sway back); it also showed that Rolfing SI enhances neurological functioning.

The term “Rolfing” is the nickname that many clients and practitioners give this work. It is now a registered service mark in 38 countries.

What to wear to a Rolfing® Session

 

During a Rolfing session clients may change position on the table several times, there is often seated work during a session and the practitioner may include standing movement assessments during the session as well. For this reason traditional massage draping is not done during a Rolfing session. A sheet and blanket can be used for temperature comfort. We ask our clients to remain partially dressed for the inter session.

Women may wear a sports bra and full backed underwear or a full coverage bra and work out shorts, a two piece bathing suit or cloths you would wear for yoga.

Men may wear underwear or work out shorts, swim trunks and an undershirt if you desire.

The main concern is that the client be comfortable during the session well wearing cloths the practitioner can work around or through. We call this the Rolfing uniform.

 

How does Rolfing Structural Integration work?

 

Rolfing Structural Integration strives to align and balance the body’s components until the entire system is a smoothly functioning coordinated whole. For example, the legs are aligned to the hips, shoulders to rib cage, the body is positioned over the feet, and then all of these joints and related tissue are integrated to one another. A few of the many benefits people have experienced are reduced pain, increased flexibility, an enhanced sense of body awareness, and improved posture.

These wonderful transformations are possible because Rolfing SI addresses the body’s internal system of flexible support, otherwise known as fascia. These connective tissues surround ever muscle fiber, encase all joints and even have a role in the nervous system. Think of the fascial system as an intricate internal guide-wire network for the body. If one set of support wires becomes tight or out of place, the excess tension may appear as nagging joint pain, muscle soreness, or a postural shift.

To correct internal misalignments, a Rolfer uses mild, direct pressure to melt or release facial holdings and allow the body to find health through the re-establishment of balance. It is currently believed that the slow, deep strokes of Rolfing SI stimulate intra-fascial mechanoreceptors (sensory neurons of the muscle nerve), which in turn trigger the nervous system to reduce the tension of the related muscles and fascia.

Put another way, Rolfing SI allows the brain and nervous system to “re-boot” areas of the body that are receiving too much electrical stimulation (chronically tight or sore muscles). Once a healthy level of muscle contraction is established, the person’s entire structure is free to express a pain-free form.

 

What is the 10 Series and why is it important

 

The 10 series is a set of 10 sessions that incorporates the entire body form the head to the feet. Our bodies are complex interconnected structures. When one part of the body is under stress or out of balance the rest of the body will compensate. Often clients will have pain in one part of the body, but that area may be the symptom and not the cause. One example is the wrist. Pain in the wrist can come from the carpel tunnel tendon, or as far up as the neck. If only the wrist was worked on, and the tension came from the neck, the problem would come back. By working the entire body with sessions that build on each other these kind of problems are less likely to be missed. This is just one process that sets Rolfing® apart from massage.

 

The Rolfing® Ten-Series

 

The hallmark of Rolfing Structural Integration is a standardized “recipe” known as the Ten-Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten Rolfing sessions.

Each session focuses on freeing restrictions or holdings trapped in a particular region of the body. A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client’s entire system during each session, thus ensuring the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.

 

The Ten-Series can be divided into three distinct units:

 

Sessions 1-3:

Called the “sleeve” sessions, session 1-3 strive to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.

Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage and diaphragm. Opening is also started along the upper leg, hamstrings, neck and spine.

The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg.

The third session typically involves a “side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionaly related to one another when standing under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.

 

Sessions 4-7:

Sessions 4-7 are referred to as “core” sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head. The idea of core also includes the deep tissue of the legs for its role in support.

Session four begins this journey, its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis.

The fifth session is concerned with balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back.

Session six seeks to enlist more support and moment from the legs, pelvis and lower back, while the seventh session turns its sole attention to the neck and head.

 

Session 8-10:

“Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as session 8-10 provide an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements, and ones yet to be made, into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.

During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner determines how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual.

The tenth and final session is also one of integration, but more importantly, serves to inspire a sense of order and balance. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.

 

 

Graphics courtesy of Matt Hsu, Certified Rolfer™

The Rolfing® Ten-Series from https://www.rolf.org/ten_series.php