Rolfing® Structural Integration is a systematic approach to realigning the body so that it is supported by gravity instead of torn down by it.
Rolfers gently and deeply manipulate fascia, also called connective tissue, releasing tension and strain so that the body can come back into natural balance.
Until very recently, little was known about fascia. Dr. Ida P. Rolf, founder of Rolfing Structural Integration Structural Integration, pioneered manual manipulation of connective tissue, discovering that skillful application of myofascial release creates lasting changes in posture, alignment, and movement.
Fascia is the most abundant body tissue; it surrounds every muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, nerve, and organ. Also, it’s a plastic medium, meaning it can be molded and sculpted much like modeling clay, giving us the ability to reverse trauma from accidents and injuries.
This work is highly effective – in a word, it gets results! People struggling with both recent and older injuries have reported that Rolfing Structural Integration has allowed them to return to doing the things they need and love to do. They regain functionality and mobility, pain disappears, and some clients have even canceled surgery altogether!
Photos taken before and after client sessions show dramatic changes to posture and stance. People often report that their friends and family members notice a difference right away and comment that their shoulders are back and they look taller and thinner.
In my work, I always endeavor to help clients find a natural ease in their body and to move from a higher level consciousness when doing things. It is only through changing our daily habits that pain can be completely eradicated; therefore, I emphasize neurological reprograming and awareness of movement. This is what has helped my clients and myself to maintain the dramatic results of Rolfing Structural Integration.
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 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:
SESSION 1: Breathing, Hips and Thighs
- Sessions 1-3: Called the “sleeve” sessions, session 1-3 strive to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.
- Devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage and diaphragm.
- Opening is also started along the upper leg, hips, hamstrings, neck and spine.
SESSION 2: Organizing the Feet and Lengthening the Back
- Works with the feet, ankles and lower legs to give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg. Like the foundation of your home, the feet are the foundation and support for the rest of the body.
- Lengthen the Back
SESSION 3: The Sides and Shoulders
- 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 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 4: Medial Leg and the Inside/Outside balance
- Begins this journey, its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis.
SESSION 5: Arms, Ribs and Organizing Anterior Lumbar
- Opening ribs and arms
- Balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back.
SESSION 6: Heels, Hamstrings, and Sacrum
- Seeks to free the back of the legs and pelvis
SESSION 7: Neck, Head, Face and Arms.
- Turns its sole attention to the neck and head.
- Arms in relationship to the upper pole
SESSION 8-10: Integration
- “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 is free to decide 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.
What is the difference between massage and Rolfing Structural Integration?
From the Rolf Institute:
Rolfing Structural Integration is not a form of massage
One of the most common misconceptions about Rolfing Structural Integration is that it is a nothing more than a type of very deep massage. There are many varieties of massage, which are particularly effective for loosening tight tissue, reducing stress, detoxing the body and an increased feeling of relaxation and well-being. Since these benefits are also a byproduct of Rolfing Structural Integration, the general public experience confusion as to the precise difference between our work and the proliferation of effective touch modalities currently available.
Rolfing Structural Integration balances the body in gravity
Ray McCall, an Advanced Rolfer in Boulder and former student of Dr. Rolf, once said that what Rolfers do can be summed up in three words: palpation, discrimination and integration.
We palpate, or touch the tissue, feeling for imbalances in tissue texture, quality and temperature to determine where we need to work.
We discriminate, or separate fascial layers that adhere and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury.
Finally, we integrate the body, relating its segments in an improved relationship, bringing physical balance in the gravitational field.
Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, are quite good at the first two, but do not balance the body in gravity.
Rolfing Structural Integration reshapes and reorganizes
As Dr. Rolf used to say: “Anyone can take a body apart, very few know how to put it back together.” The true genius of her method is the art and science of reshaping and reorganizing human structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner.
Rolfing Structural Integration can teach you to help yourself function more effectively
In addition to our skill as structural integrators, Rolfers are also educators, a point Dr. Rolf stressed frequently in her training classes.
The role of teacher is something every Rolfer takes seriously. In each session, Rolfers seek to impart insights to clients to increase their awareness and understanding, to help the client make the work we do their own. Our job is to make ourselves obsolete, by empowering our clients to take charge of their own physical and emotional health. Influencing the structural evolution of man on a global level was Dr. Rolf’s fondest dream.
For more information on the Rolf Institute visit www.rolf.org.
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