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Everything You Need to Know About Rolfing

January 4, 2016

“It is gravity that is the tool; it is gravity that is the therapist.”

— Dr. Ida Rolf

What is Rolfing?

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Rolfing is sophisticated system of manual therapy and movement education that — over a series of sessions — help restore and improve structural alignment and functional movement. From this treatment, clients enjoy improved uprightness and range of motion. Many have reported that they experience an increase in energy, ease, and lightness within the body. In a way, it’s a life hack to better performance and quality of life.

Is Rolfing painful?

Rolfing can and does get more intense; though, many usually described it as a “good” pain. It’s important that the Rolfing massage therapist know how much intensity the client’s nervous system can accommodate in order for this treatment to remain safe and effective. Some Rolfers are known for the white-light pain they cause. I am not that kind of Rolfer, but I do understand that this may be what some clients want and expect. Regardless, the experience differs quite a bit from massage, but still feels good for the most part. Furthermore, every intervention has a purpose — structurally or relationally — it’s not random.

How does a Rolfing series work ?

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Most Rolfers model sessions to follow one another in a progressive and thorough series. Traditional Rolfers tailor a Ten Series to meet their client’s needs. Each session may have its own goal, but this series will ultimately aim to align your body vertically within gravity. Many of us believe that it is gravity and its effect on our structure and nervous system that produces the incredible effects of Rolfing.

Dr. Who?

The story of Rolfing is inseparable from its founder. In the 1920s, Dr. Ida P. Rolf began working as an associate in the chemistry labs at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City. There, she first began to study fascia. Fascia is the archetypical representation of our bodies’ connective tissue and is the basis of Dr. Rolf’s work.

Later in life, she began remarking on body’s plastic nature, its ubiquity, and its tensile strength. During her study, she found she could elicit astounding changes in posture, function, and stress. During the 1960s, Dr. Rolf was invited to demonstrate her work at Esalen Institute, where she codified her work into a teachable body of craft that she called Structural Integration. Her students and clients called it ‘Rolfing.’ In 1971, she left Esalen and established the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado where students could learn to become Rolfers.

What are the benefits of Rolfing?

Rolfing is good for people too healthy to receive a diagnosis from a doctor, but not quite as vital as they would desire. It can delay surgeries and it can help people recover faster from surgery. It makes an excellent support for people making a fresh start, people beginning a new fitness regime, or even a new commitment to mental health. It is good for feeling a little younger — for personal “spring cleaning.” It simply helps people to realign themselves in gravity. Obstacles dissolve and people discover what they need when gravity can flow through them in a healthy manner.

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