ROLFING® SI – Frequently Asked Questions
What is Rolfing?
Rolfing Structural Integration (SI) is a hands-on therapy that helps a person feel more vital, connected, and flexible. It’s a process that helps people get back into what they love to do. Rolfing (SI) works primarily with the fascia, or connective tissue of the body. Fascia is a network of tissue that surrounds, supports, and permeates all parts of the body (including bones, organs, nerves and muscles). Chronic stress, daily activities, personal history, and lifestyle all contribute to habitual postures and movement habits that imprint the fascial network. Over time, we may find ourselves with minor aches and pains, illness, discomfort, unease, or emotional stress due to body positions, and habits that are no longer serving our health. Rolfing SI works with the whole network of the physical form from movement, to posture – on the table, AND in gravity to steward realignment.
Rolfing SI is unique in that it is a process oriented, whole body experience that relies on collaboration between a Rolfer and client. During a series there may be times when a Rolfer asks you to describe a type of sensation, or move from a certain place in your body – this collaborative environment promotes space for self-growth, learning, and personal awareness. Dr. Ida Rolf (the founder of Rolfing) described this work as “an educational process.”
Can Rolfing Help Me?
People come to Rolfing for different reasons: sports injury, low back pain, recent accident, plantar fasciitis, chronic fatigue, preventative health, stiffness due to aging, personal growth, emotional stress – but the common element is that everyone wants to feel their best. Through the process of Rolfing SI some clients experience a complete relief of pain, others find new resource and energy to manage pain or discomfort, and some others have a breakthrough of perception that changes their whole life. What I’ve noticed is that everyone gains benefit from structural integration in some meaningful way. Sometimes in very obvious expected ways (my shoulder pain has diminished!) and sometimes in more quiet but impactful ways (I just feel more alive, so the pain doesn’t bother me like it did before.)
Does it Hurt?
Some describe Rolfing SI as a deeply satisfying, sometimes intense experience. For others, Rolfing sessions feel gentle, inviting and easy. Rolfers are trained to use a wide range of touch from listening hands to deep connection. While some moments may feel intense, Rolfing SI should never hurt or exceed your level of comfort. Modern studies have shown that lasting benefits diminish when a person’s nervous system experiences sensation overload. Each person has a unique nervous system and style of connection that feels most satisfying – and over the series this may change. A good Rolfer will always stay in connection to make sure that touch, depth and pace of the work is satisfying.
How is Rolfing SI different from a Massage?
Rolfing SI looks at the whole picture of the body (in and out of gravity) and employs client-specific strategies, and structural analysis to address the underlying issues of habitual patterns. We help facilitate long-lasting change in the tissue, not just make a spot that hurts right now feel better. Rolfing SI also aims to free movement capabilities, expand perceptual sensation and awareness in addition to working with structural goals. Massage therapists often recommend a client to Rolfing sessions when they see that a person comes back over and over again with the same spot that hurts, or body pattern that doesn’t get better.
I came to Rolfing with a curiosity, “could structural integration help me feel stronger, and more centered in my inner, emotional life?” After several years of studying psychology, and being involved in body-centered psychotherapy, there were personal growth walls that ‘talking about’ could no longer help to solve for me. I bring a unique intuition and knowledge of body-centered psychology in the background of my practice, along with deep interest in how family history informs present structure, and how a body organizes around belief systems. I work structurally with an eye on how our inner emotional and psychic life have profound effect on how we organize and carry our bodies through the world.
I have a background working with infants and small children which have informed my touch, but also reminds me that we’ve all come through the stress of dependency, including birth. For me, it is a joy to explore how some of our earliest physical experiences continue to inform our current physical structure (in posture, movement, ways we hold ourselves, and even how tissue organizes).
Rolfing® SI sessions last between 75-90 minutes. Each session includes an intake time, movement and structural analysis time, table work, and structural re-assessment.
For more details, research and information about Rolfing SI, visit www.rolf.org
“The muscle manipulation, while untying knots in my muscles, also released a few emotional knots as well." – A.W., Landscape Architect and Painter