Rolfing Structural Integration(SI) was developed over 60 years ago by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. It is a holistic form of manual therapy and movement education designed to balance and organize a body in gravity. The benefits of Rolfing are long lasting and often continue to unfold for months after the end of a series of sessions.
Each person’s experience is unique, but common results are a feeling of lightness, greater flexibility and/or vitality, relief from pain or stress, enhanced athletic performance, and increased body awareness. Many find that they experience a new pleasure in the use of their body; others find that the process leads to a more authentic expression of who they are.
Rolfing SI is most effective as a series of sessions which systematically works with the relationship of each part of the body to the whole. The work is tailored to each person’s distinct situation and sessions are as varied as the individuals.
Each session builds on the one before it and prepares for the ones following. The sessions consist of hands-on manipulation, standing, sitting and walking evaluations, and movement education. Clients are active participants in the process and are frequently asked to move (reach, flex, rotate, or visualize) parts of their bodies during the work.
Rolfers™ are primarily educators, and the traditional 10-series is a collaborative journey. Together practitioner and client become curious about the client’s structure. Where is it functioning well? Where could there be more length, more depth, more ease, more fluidity?
The uniqueness of Dr. Rolf’s method is that it takes into account the fact that we live in the gravitational field. A body out of alignment will be steadily drawn more and more out of alignment. Structural Integration organizes and aligns the body with respect to gravity, and, in the words of Dr. Rolf:
"When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself."*
The guiding philosophy of the work is that the innate intelligence of the body is self regulating. Rolfers do not treat physical symptoms as such. They address physical symptoms as indicators of where balance and adaptability have been lost. The results of Rolfing are exceptional precisely because, rather than working with pain directly, pain is addressed by changing the context from which it arises.
FASCIA & NERVOUS SYSTEM
Rolfers work with the fascia and with the nervous system in its capacity as regulator of body function. Fascia is a form of connective tissue which surrounds each muscle and muscle fiber, as well as every other structure in the body. It gives the body its shape. One characteristic of fascia is its plasticity, that is, it can be easily shaped or molded. This is true at any time of life.
The way a body is used affects the consistency and resiliency of the fascia. Imbalances in one area may cause strain in other areas. The tissue becomes shortened, rigid, dense, or stuck together. We say we feel “tight”. Under the practitioner’s intelligent touch, balance is restored allowing the body to return to a state of comfort and ease.
Systems in a body are interpenetrating and in relationship with each other. Physical structure is shaped by many things. Genetics, nutrition, work, injury, and daily activities are obvious influences. We are also shaped by the culture we live in, our belief systems, emotions, traumas, and our relationship to the world. Holistic therapies are informed by all these factors and recognize that interventions in one dimension of a body have the potential to transform other aspects of the person.
*Rolfing and Physical Reality by Ida Rolf; edited by Rosemary Feitis