What is Rolfing® Structural Integration?
It is a form of structural integration. It is a systematic approach of manual therapy performed by a certified Rolfer to help an individual find the most optimal way of breathing, standing and moving for that individual. It was developed by Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. During a person's lifetime, he or she will develop habits and patterns of movement. Some of these habitual patterns are not optimal and can cause us to feel pain, discomfort and limit our range of motion. Some of these issues develop over years. Sometimes from our teen years, or as far back as grade school and can compound. This creates a cycle of discomfort. What a Rolfer aims to do is bring the person out of that cycle and back to neutral. Slowly resetting the body and then helping the individual find new ways of movement that can then create a cycle of ease and comfort. This is done over a number of sessions depending on the individual's needs. It takes a person years to get into a cycle of discomfort unless it was acquired through injury. It also is going to take some time to get into a cycle of movement and ease. Because every individual's journey through life is different and different habitual patterns can arise throughout life the sessions are almost always never the same. Rolfing provides a way to get a unique solution for your unique body.
Why Rolfing Specifically?
The approach of Rolfing encourages and enables an individual to accept their current situation and move forward. Slowly listening to the body every step of the way to a better situation. I'm not going to have you start with exercises when you are not even aware of what is causing the problem. Sessions are done with the client's goals in mind and the Practitioner's guidance in how to discover the next level of optimal function. Providing education and solutions unique to you. Rolfing is able to help with discomfort by looking into the source problem instead of just addressing the symptoms. Is that lower back hurting because of something going on in your feet, upper back, neck or hips? It maybe a combination of various problem areas and is just surfacing in the most overworked or weakest areas. In Rolfing we see everything as being connected. This is taken further with emphasis placed on the client's responsibility to continue the integration with short simple exercises that can be done daily, taught by the practitioner. Thus, it includes the patient is his/her own healing process.
The 10-series is a tool used by Rolfers. It is a strategic series of 10 sessions that have been developed and is constantly being re-evaluated. The Series targets different areas and layers of the body. In doing this each session has a certain focus that facilitates healing and at the same time prepares other areas and layers of the body for subsequent sessions. For example working on the feet even though the main symptom may be lower back discomfort. This is done because no matter how you think about it the first part of the body that negotiates with gravity is the feet, then legs, thighs and hips before getting to the back. Work on the problem area is still done during the session but isn't the only area that is given attention. Although giving full attention to the back might help with the discomfort. If the support of the lower structures are not established then integration upward can never begin. The same concept is applied to layers of the body. Your body is a complex and unique entity. Everything is connected and this is always in the Rolfer's mind when performing the 10-series.
Alright, so how does Rolfing® SI augment other treatments such as massage or chiropractic treatment?
Rolfing® practitioners are known to mainly work with a system of the body made of tissue called fascia. This connective tissue is present everywhere in the body including the eyes. Fascia develop patterns over a long period of time based on the movement of an individual. Thus developing into a system and range of movement unique to you! In the living healthy body it is durable, able to stretch and is moist. However, when a person doesn't move or isn't able to move a certain area of the body, such as in the case of an injury, the fascia in that area will learn to stiffen and become dry. The body being an ingenious machine, gets very good at what it does and this unfortunately, includes inactivity. When this happens to fascia, it gets dry and accustomed to not moving. This can lead to pain, discomfort and inability to stretch that certain area. Rolfers help enable an individual to move areas, enabling the area to hydrate and get used to functioning again. Lately, there has been further research going into fascia stating that there is an even deeper layer to the healing process that includes the nervous system. Which complicates the subject even more because as much as our bodies are different, our nervous systems are all the more so. The Rolfing practitioner has the challenge of negotiating with all of this. As well as making some small talk and fitting some education in there somewhere.