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Rolfing: An Introduction

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 33   |   Comments: 0

As an alternative method of treatment, Rolfing involves manipulation of soft tissues in a method they term as structural integration. Simply put, Rolfing applies physical pressure in stretching the connective tissues, guiding them to allow more flexibility in the body's movements. The treatment includes re-educating the patient in breathing as well as moving techniques.

Rolfing works directly on the myofascial system which is composed of the muscles and the fascia. Located underneath the skin, the fascia is the sheath of connective tissue that covers, separates and binds together the muscles, organs and skeletal structure of the body. It is responsible for the shape of the body.

Rolfing releases restrictions in the myofascial system to restore order to the body's structure and align it with gravity. The results include less anxiety and depression, less pain, better coordination, and more energy.

Most often patients use Rolfing to seek relief from stress-related pains or injury caused by accidents, athletics, or repetitive motions. It is common for people holding physically demanding occupations or jobs where they maintain one position for long periods, like computer work or other desk jobs, to experience neck and back pains.
People who want to pursue harmony and balance in their lives use Rolfing too.  As they

seek total integration in their physical life and emotional life, these people employ Rolfing as a supplement to their yoga practice.  Rolfing is for everyone; it can be done on infants and the elderly.

Rolfing was founded by Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979), an American biochemist with a doctorate degree. Dr. Rolf discovered the fascia (connective tissue) could be manipulated with the goal of strengthening it. According to her, gravity can pull the body out of shape and that to maintain good health and achieve balance, it is necessary to re-sculpt the muscles and connective tissue.

The treatment method Dr. Rolf developed is not like connective tissue massage therapy.  Her approach covers ten progressive sessions geared toward reaching the body's deeper layers, and the patient learning better posture and control of the invisible line that keeps them grounded and connected to earth.

The Rolfing treatment program is prearranged so that each session builds up on the results of the previous session, from the manual manipulation of the connective tissue, to the lessons that relate man to gravity.  The cumulative results help the patient develop more efficient habits so he can attain balance in both physical and spiritual dimensions. The end result is a healthy body that has the ability to heal itself.

The fascia or connective tissue can easily be dehydrated because of the daily stress, or shortened and twisted because of injuries from sports and accidents.  When this happens, the bound up fascia restricts movement of the muscles creating various bodily pains. 
Rolfing loosens up the tension and inflexibility of connective tissue in the muscles to allow the body to function properly.  And, much like sessions during a Craniosacral therapy, it is common for patients to have emotional outbursts like crying in response to resurfaced memories.  Some have even reported feeling like a child again.

The whole Rolfing treatment is broken down into10 sessions which include the evaluation of a patient's body structure through questions and pictures, positioning and repositioning of the arms and legs, and application of pressure on different parts of the body to determine the location of the problems areas.

Rolfing teaches a patient a more efficient way to breathe as this is essential to healing.  The first until the seventh sessions are focused on manual manipulation to release pain and strain from the body. Lasting between one and two hours, these Rolfing sessions are scheduled about two weeks apart.

Many patients have realized the benefits of Rolfing that most elect to go on with the process even after the first 10 sessions.  These follow-up Rolfing sessions are meant to be a preventative measure as well as a holistic approach to wellness.

Expect pain or at the very least some discomfort during your first Rolfing session. You can compare the experience to that of a deep tissue massage. Pain is common when the muscles are being released and it is more pronounced in cases where the muscles have atrophied because of lack of movement. Usually, people stop moving a limb or any part of the body in a certain way if it hurts doing so. This causes the muscles to become stiff, and manipulating them during the Rolfing treatment can really be painful initially.

If you do not feel comfortable being touched, or if you have arthritis or cancer, you may want to consider other forms of alternative treatment as Rolfing may not be appropriate for you.

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