Rolfing: Relive Stress and Physical Discomfort through Structural Integration
ROLFING works with the connective tissue. Connective tissue wraps the body entirely, much like a wet suit does a swimmer. It wraps each muscle and muscle fiber in a continuous network, even supplying the internal membranes that wrap our bones and support our internal organs.
We all hold tension and stress in our bodies. You may feel it in your head, neck, shoulders and back most often. The stress may come from physical trauma like an auto collision, a fall or maybe surgery. It may be generated by life situations such as divorce, moving, abuse or a death in the family.
So what is ROLFING? To say that ROLFING is a technique for physically aligning and standing the body upright in gravity in 10 sessions somehow misses the point. For me, ROLFING is Dorothy, aged 67, a polio victim at three and surgery at 12, free of back pain and able to walk up and down stairs in a normal manner for the first time in 30 years.
ROLFING is Joyce, a 35 year-old attorney who says, “my shoulder and neck pain are gone, and the greatest surprise is my new attitude and positive outlook on life.” ROLFING is an Olympic medalist in gymnastics who had lived with the pain of working out and performing with bones broken and muscles torn in childhood, saying, “my back is better, the pain is gone and I feel better.”
The body responds to stress by tightening and shortening. Most people can identify the muscular body tightening associated with momentary stress. We say we ?hold ourselves together.? What most of us miss is how the yearly accumulations of day by day tightening and tension are locked into the body and affect our overall health. A distortion in one part of the dynamic system affects the total system. A hurt back, knee or neck might cause us to favor that area. Since we live in the field of gravity and are constantly struggling to hold ourselves upright our initial favoring can become a chronic imbalance and a limited movement pattern.
Physical approaches to dealing with stress and imbalance in the body have been around for a while. ROLFING is one of the earliest and most profound of the manipulation techniques; it is the most structured and developed system of “deep tissue work”. Rolfing’s premise is that the body’s organ of structure is the fascia; and that life is an ongoing encounter with gravity, the force that is always with us.
Dr. Ida Rolf (she called it Structural Integration, her followers called it ROLFING), said:
“One individual may experience his losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in the back, another as the unflattering contour of his body, another as constant fatigue, and yet another as an unrelentingly threatening environment. Those over 40 may call it old age, yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem so prominent in their own structure and the structure of others, that it has been ignored; they are off balance. They are all at war with gravity.”
Rolfing is also my 72 year old Uncle — who at 72 was still teaching tennis and golf despite chronic pain in his neck, shoulder and heels — standing upright in the kitchen telling my wife he still thought ROLFING was strange, but somehow it worked, he was no longer in pain.