Rolfing, also called structural integration, is a holistic system of bodywork that uses deep manipulation of the body’s soft tissue to realign and balance the body’s myofascial structure.
Each of our muscles are surrounded by a web like structure called fascia. This fascia can cause restrictions when muscles are tight or inflamed from chronic stress or poor posture. Some high impact sports such as running or heavy weight lifting can increase tighter fascia.
Rolfing helps to improve posture and bring the body’s natural structure into proper balance and alignment. This can bring relief from general aches and pains, improve breathing, increase energy, improve self-confidence, and relieve physical and mental stress.
Think of your body like a web of fibers in a rope. With repetitive motion and stress on these fibers they might fray or take on a different pattern. Your fascia is the same way. Rolfing works on these fibers to restore flexibility and ease of motion throughout the body. It has also been used to treat such specific physical problems as chronic back, neck, shoulder, and joint pain, and repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Who uses Rolfing?
People seek Rolfing as a way to reduce pain and chronic muscle tension, generally resulting from physical and emotional traumas. Rolfing is used by many professional athletes to break up scar tissue, rehabilitate injuries, and increase range of motion to improve performance and avoid future injuries. Dancers and musicians often use the work to increase comfort in their bodies while performing, as well as avoid repetitive stress injuries.
Additionally, some manufacturing companies have employed Rolfing to decrease workers’ compensation costs due to repetitive stress injuries. And, based on the mind/body connection, many counselors and therapists incorporate Rolfing in the therapeutic approach. Greater physical support and flexibility ultimately influences emotions and energy levels.
How is Rolfing different from massage?
Through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long-term. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and functioning. Rolfing is different from deep-tissue massage, in that practitioners are trained to create overall ease and balance throughout the entire structure, rather than focusing on areas presenting with tension. As a structure becomes more organized, chronic strain patterns are alleviated, and pain and stress decreases.
Furthermore, Rolfing can speed up injury recovery by reducing pain, stiffness and muscle tension; improving movement and circulation around joints; and attending to both the injury and any secondary pain that may develop from favoring the injury.
Structural integration is generally performed over a series of ten sessions. This approach allows the Rolfer to affect the client’s structure in a methodical manner. This includes loosening superficial fascia before working deeper areas, improving support in feet and legs before affecting higher structures, and helping clients find ways to benefit from freer movement in their daily activities.
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