Rolfing can restore structural balance to your body

by Mary Jo Ruggieri

How do you feel about the way your golf ball slices to the left? When running, does one hip always hurt because you have one shorter leg? Can’t quite get on top of your tennis serve because your shoulder aches? Do you have carpal tunnel syndrome from working on a computer? Does your back constantly ache after any major activity?

Sound familiar? If so, you may be experiencing structural dysfunction due to poor posture or repetitive habits such as crossing your legs, sitting, walking, standing incorrectly or, yes, even brushing your teeth.

The good news is you are not stuck with your structural problems–you have incredible options. Try rolfing. Long used by athletes to improve performance or relieve pain from structural imbalances, rolfing is now available as a mainstream therapy.

Let’s find out more about rolfing from one of our Columbus rolfers, Michael Lucas.

Lucas, who is also certified in polarity therapy and an associate of the Columbus Polarity Center, brings an integrated approach to his rolfing practice:

Rolfing is a scientifically based system of integrating and realigning the structure of the body through manipulating the myofascial or connective tissue in conjunction with movement education. Ida P. Rolf developed rolfing in the 1940s. Rolf was a Ph.D. in biochemistry who merged her interests and knowledge in osteopathy, chiropractic, yoga and Alexander technique to create the concepts and bodywork of rolfing.

Rolfing became popular in the 1960s when Fritz Perls, a Gestalt therapist and psychologist, invited Rolf to the Easlen Institute in California to teach her structural integration techniques along with human movement. It soon became a popular bodywork modality for realigning the body in gravity.

Rolfing is bodywork and movement re-education that helps to bring balance and integrity back to the human structure, which is basically held together by the fascia and/or connective tissue that surround muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body.

Through this soft tissue, our body gets pulled out of alignment primarily from poor posture, injuries, illness, emotional distress and/or repetitive motions.

When the body loses its architectural integrity, fascia and the related connective tissue shortens and thickens in characteristic patterns of strain and tightness. An unbalanced body is at constant odds with gravity, which we experience as chronic aches and pain, limited range of motion, stress and depleted energy. Ultimately, this lack of balance lowers our vitality and impairs our biological and psychological functions.

Through various manipulations and contact points, the rolfer will work with the client’s characteristic patterns to strategically soften and lengthen fascia and connective tissue in the body. This system allows the body to realign itself effortlessly in gravity.

The client and rolfer work together to understand the client’s present movement and repetitive motion patterns. They explore the possibilities of freer, more balanced movement in breathing, walking, standing and sitting. Daily activities the person is involved in, such as desk work, housework, carpentry, yoga or running, will be assessed.

The rolfer will observe normal routine and patterns in the client’s life. The client and the rolfer will then work to release painful or restrictive holding patterns in the body through specific bodywork and movement techniques. Over time, the combination of bodywork and the client’s body awareness allow for reintegration of balanced movement, while also consciously changing patterns that help to ease the pain and stress. It does work.

Rolfing is a series of 10 to 15 bodywork and movement education sessions designed to bring the body back into balance, eliminating reoccurring stress and pain. The sessions begin with a detailed and thorough verbal evaluation of the client’s history both physically and medically. An agreement is formulated on what the client can expect from the series, and what his or her personal goals are for the sessions. The client is visually evaluated for structural and postural imbalances as well as for mobility and range-of-motion capabilities. The structural and range-of-motion changes are constantly monitored throughout the process.

Ideally, after the process is completed, the body is in better balance and expends less of its vital energies. This change is often experienced as a higher level of alertness and vitality. Movement also improves, becomes easier, and overall performance is effective as well as efficient.

We want to thank Michael Lucas for his insights on rolfing.

According to Russell Stolzoff, an expert on structural integration, rolfing practitioners are trained in a variety of sophisticated neuromyofascial, energetic and movement techniques as well as perceptive skills to aid clients in somatic realities. Sounds like a great holistic package of mind and body healthcare.

May the longtime sun shine upon you.