The Science & Art of Rolfing®
Rolfing Structural Integration, developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, is a way of restructuring the physical body - stretching the fascial web of the body in combination with movement education.
Balance is the primary goal of the work. Our intention is to establish equal tissue tone from front to back, between the two sides, between the top and the bottom halves of the body and from the deepest layer of tissue, nearer the bone, to the more superficial layers nearer the skin. There is another balance that is needed: the integration of the physical body with lifestyles, family history, mental states, developmental background, etc. We are not working in a vacuum.
In order to understand what that means, we need insight into how our bodies are made and how they change. Individuality begins in the physical self. We recognize someone by a silhouette, a walk, a tilt of the head. Physical individuality is shaped by the forces of life, such as how we were born, when we learned to move, our goals, accidents, and mental and emotional sets. All of these leave a record in our mental and physical memories. The two are in many ways similar: bodies as well as minds bear witness to the puzzlement, accidents, and unfinished business in our lives. The accumulation of this record in the body can limit our physical range of responsiveness.
Unlike massage, Rolfing does not focus on the muscles. Rather our attention is with the "packing material" of the body known as fascia or connective tissue. Fascia is an ordered elastic web that starts just beneath the skin and unsheathes and positions the various elements of the body including muscles, bones, nerves, organs, etc. It is what Dr. Rolf calls the "organs of structure:" its properties of elasticity and plasticity (the ability to hold a shape and yet be malleable) are what make physical change possible.
The mechanism of fascial adaptation is contracting and bonding. In order to gain stability and ward off stress, fascial tissue will shorten, thicken and attach itself to neighboring structures. The result is that movement is no longer economical; we use too much energy for the simple business of living and shortchange ourselves of creative energy.
The Benefits of Rolfing®
Structural Integration is primarily concerned with physical changes in the body that affect the whole person. It is a very personal process. It is important to remember that because no two people are alike, their experiences and benefits will not be the same. Despite the individual variations, there is a general pattern of positive results.
Results can be:
• Conservation of energy
• Efficient and graceful movement
• Psychological growth
• Permanent, progressive changes on the physical and emotional levels
• Straighten, lengthen and integrate the body
• Release of chronic muscular tension and pain
• Freer joint movement and flexibility
• Improve circulation and respiration
• Increase body awareness