What is Rolfing®?
Rolfing® is a manipulative treatment systematized by the American doctor, Ida Rolf.
It is effective for correcting the bodily misalignment most people have accumulated as a result of their life styles and the imbalances caused by injuries or accidents.
Rolfing® is also useful for healing a variety of conditions ranging from psychological stress or chronic lethargy to sports related problems.
Many healthy professional and amateur athletes and musicians also find that it can help their performance.
In recent years, it has been becoming more and more popular with people having these sorts of needs.
About Dr. Ida Rolf,
the creator of Rolfing®
Dr. Ida P. Rolf developed the theory and the technique now called Rolfing® in the 1920s while studying various types of medical treatment such as osteopathy, homeopathy and chiropractic after earning a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Rolfing® works on the connective tissues to align the each part of the body and bring the whole bodily system into balance.
The theory Dr. Rolf developed was original in two respects.
By focusing on the fascia (connective tissue) which surround and support the muscles and internal organs.
By giving strong consideration about how to balance bodily movement and posture with the force of gravity.
Having studied yoga and been influenced by oriental philosophies, she also believed that, “people can develop in a holistic way, both mentally and emotionally, by unlocking the maximum potential of their bodies and making the best use of it.”
She called her system, “Structural Integration,” and designed a treatment manual based on it composed of ten sessions. Later, this treatment system also came to be known as “Rolfing®.”
What are fascia
When you hear the word fascia, you might think of it as a film-like substance surrounding the muscles.
Dr. Ida Rolf expanded this, however, to indicate the body’s whole system of connective tissues, not just the myofascial, but all the membranes surrounding the bones, organs, spinal cord, and even nerves.
Her visionary discovery was that this network of fascia is the system that supports our body in both functional and also structural ways; that it is the warp and weft that connects all the parts of the body together into a single whole. In fact, the muscles and bones, liver, lungs, and other organs, the brain and the endocrine system are all arranged as if they have been sewn into the tapestry of this fascia system.
We are coming to believe that the fascia network is not only responsible for each person’s individual physical posture, but that it also influences the development of their way of thinking and even their character, as body, mind and spirit are all connected.
The distinctive features of
a series of Rolfing® sessions
In a series of 10 sessions, Rolfing® both treats you and helps you recognize and rediscover your bodily habits-how your body reacts under the force of gravity and the way your fascia is twisted.
The reason we need to understand how gravity relates to bodily alignment is that all human activities, whether sitting, standing, walking or lying down, are performed under its influence and it is the key factor in how our unconscious bodily habits are formed.
Sessions 1-7 were precisely designed by Dr. Rolf in terms of the parts of body treated and the order of treatment, whereas sessions 8-10 are customized by the practitioner for each individual patient.
The main purpose of the series of treatments is to rebalance and realign the whole body and correct improper posture and physical habits. As a result of this, a variety of disorders will be improved.
During the sessions, the practitioner regularly checks the patient’s breathing and way of walking as indicators of their progress and areas still in need of correction. Breath is a vital and continuous life function which can provide valuable feed-back information to the practitioner about the patient’s conscious and unconscious states. As walking upright on two legs is a specifically human activity, it is also very useful for checking the functioning and balance of the whole body.
Rolfing® is a treatment method which corrects improper bodily habits and how the body is used by working on the fascia. As an acupuncturist, however, I also feel strongly that the twisted, stuck fascia is often caused by the condition of the patient’s organs or their overall physical constitution.
This is to say that imbalances in Qi (energy), blood flow, dampness, etc. (the so-called imbalances in the five elements in Chinese medicine) might have led over time to the bodily habits in need of correction.
Everyone was born with their own set of strengths and weakness, and has grown up facing them. The advantage of my treatment system is that I look for the optimal treatment balance for each individual, according to their own characteristics, even in the design of their Rolfing® program.