How Rolfing® Structural Integration Works
Rolfers™ assist people in becoming more aware of themselves and how they move through life. A great majority of the transformation clients experience happens outside of the clinic while they are exploring novel physical and perceptual options that were previously not available. Rolfers open up these options by releasing long-standing physical adhesions from deep within the body. They do this by working deeply with the body’s holding patterns, which are held together in the fascia, a form of soft tissue connected to viscera (the organs), bones, and muscles.
Connections in the Body
Everything in the body is connected in some way or another. Rolfers are experts, to varying degrees of skill and experience, in interpreting and understanding these connections and how they influence posture and movement. One way of doing this by “listening” through a single point of contact into the tissue that connects to that point. Not all Rolfers are made equal in this regard, and although it’s not the be-all end-all element that makes a Rolfer, it is an important tool that influences a Rolfer’s effectiveness.
Skeptics can confirm at least one of these connections by applying firm pressure to a wall with an open palm. By shifting pressure to the lateral side of the hand (the thumb in anatomical terms) a connection to the pectoralis major muscle should become apparent. Shifting the pressure to the medial side (the little finger) will reveal a connection to the lateral edge of the scapula.
This is just one simple connection between two perceptually unrelated body parts. An understanding of these connections and their many variations is what allows Rolfers to get to the roots of issues. So, in the case of pain in the hands, a Rolfer would work along the entire line of fascia connecting the thumb to the pec major, or the line connecting the pinky to the scapula, depending on where the client reports pain.
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes… and Pelvis
It’s incredible how much work most people put into holding their heads up. By stilling your mind and paying attention to the weight of your head, you can find deep connections between the head and the torso. Of course, the links between the two include the spine, the ribs, the neck, the scapula, and even the pelvis. A Rolfer’s job is to understand and elicit freedom from the complex act of “bracing” to which your body is accustomed. Again, it’s this sensitivity to connections that makes Rolfing such a unique and effective modality.
Deep Myofascial Work
Rolfing is nothing like relaxation massage, chiropractic, or most other bodywork modalities. The closest relative of Rolfing Structural Integration is Myofascial Release. But Rolfing is different in that it offers an organized formula called “The Recipe”. The 10-series is a way of re-educating the entire body about its restrictions and patterns of tension. Rolfers work deeply with the fascia in the body – no, not so much so that it hurts (see FAQs for more information)… at least not in a bad way. The pain is often a “hurts-so-good” kind of feeling, and anything beyond that is generally not a productive form of touch.