What Is Rolfing?
Rolfing ® Structural Integration (SI) is a hands-on body therapy that restores the body’s experience of resilience, balance and ease. Developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, SI works to lengthen and reshape connective tissue (fascia), which is a vital component of structure and movement. Injury, trauma and chronic overuse can cause restrictions in connective tissue, leading to pain, further injury, or a sense of unease. Through a systematic series of sessions, a skilled practitioner unwinds these restrictions and lengthens the body, making possible an experience of bodily comfort, grace, and effortless movement. People who receive SI can expect wide variety of lasting benefits including: relief from chronic pain, greater range of motion, ease of movement, a feeling of lightness and youthfulness, and increased balance and awareness. SI is also an excellent way to sustain an aging body so that it can pursue and enjoy physical activities. Children benefit from enhanced co-ordination, which helps self-esteem and forms a foundation for lifelong health.
What To Expect
The goal of Rolfing ® is to help transform you body so you can live more fully in your body during your daily activites. Therefore, it is important that you be able to test the work during your sessions. You will be getting up off of the treatment table to walk around to assess how the session is progressing. It is easy to make someone feel good when they are on a treatment table. Translating that to sitting standing and moving is a different thing altogether and that is what Rolfers do. Because of this, you will wear clothes that are comfortable for you. It is helpful for me to see how segments of your body relate while you are walking. Some people are comfortable in their underwear during sessions. Others choose to wear athletic shorts or tights and women may wear a sports bra. I have worked through loose clothing as well. What is most important is that you feel comfortable during the sessions. My style of working is to be flexible and accommodate your individual needs and comfort level.
The Ten Series
The hallmark of Rolfing Structural Integration is a standardized “recipe” known as the Ten Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten Rolfing sessions.
Each session focuses on freeing restrictions or holdings trapped in a particular region of the body. A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client”s entire system during each session, thus ensuring the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.
The Ten Series can be divided into three distinct units
Sessions 1-3: Called the “sleeve” sessions, numbers one through three strive to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.
Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage and diaphragm. Opening is also started along the upper leg, hamstrings, neck and spine. The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg. Number three typically involves a “ side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionaly related to one another when standing under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.
Sessions 4-7: Four through seven are referred to as “ core” sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head. The idea of core also includes the deep tissue of the legs for its role in support.
Session four begins this journey, its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis. The fifth session is concerned with balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back. Number six seeks to enlist more support and moment from the legs, pelvis and lower back, while the seventh session turns its sole attention to the neck and head.
Session 8-10: “ Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as eight, nine and ten provide an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements, and ones yet to be made, into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.
During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner is free to decide how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual. The tenth and final session is also one of integration, but more importantly, serves to inspire a sense of order and balance. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.
Reference: “What is the Rolfing Ten Series?.” Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. Available from http://www.rolf.org/about/faq.htm#4. Internet; accessed 12 September 2009.