As years progress, people get shorter, lose flexibility, and balance becomes more difficult. Movement becomes laborious, possibly painful. Symptoms like disc problems, tendinitis, and bursitis appear. Physical injury, surgery, emotional trauma, food sensitivities, and just trying to stand up straight can all contribute to structural degeneration and loss of vitality.

After years of observation and experimentation, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, a biochemist, perfected this technique which loosens, lengthens, and rebalances the human body. She originally called it structural integration. Later it became known as Rolfing.

Dr. Rolf found that by carefully applying physical pressure to the soft tissue of the body she could stretch, recondition, and move that tissue to systematically restore appropriate space and movement in joints. People stood taller and straighter. Movement became easier and more efficient. They could breathe deeper and because they were more relaxed in their bodies, sleeping became easier and more restful. Harmony and vitality were restored, creating more energy for participating in life’s activities.

Research from the Department of Kinesiology at UCLA affirms that, after Rolfing, the joints of the body move truer with less energy expended. Consider the human spine. It represents a column of moveable joints, each of which is structured by the soft tissue that connects one vertebra to the next. Imbalance in the soft tissue can pull vertebrae out of place, creating strain, disc problems, or a pinched nerve. Chronic pain or discomfort follows.

What are the elements of a misaligned body? The pelvis may be tipped too far forward or too far back. One side of the pelvis may be higher than the other; or the pelvis may not sit squarely between the legs. With a misaligned foundation, the spine is going to suffer. With pelvic asymmetry, one shoulder may be higher than the other. The neck may not come straight up out of the torso. This can contribute to headaches, as well as stiff necks.

Rolfing views the body as a whole, realizing that structural problems in one area of the body can transmit misalignment to other areas of the body. Whiplash, sprains, sports injuries, broken bones, surgery, any physical trauma can impact virtually the whole body. This is why Rolfing consists of ten sessions of 1 to 1 1⁄2  hours in duration. The process systematically reconditions the body segment by segment. Each session is designed to address the region that next needs attention. People generally leave each session feeling invigorated and increasingly more coordinated.

 In addition to the alleviation of pain, clients frequently report, and research confirms, the reduction of accumulated emotional stress. People feel less angry. Emotions are more accessible and recognizable, creating greater maturity and depth of insight. Acting your age becomes a positive expression of accumulated resources rather than a negative expression of accumulated stress.

Rolfing is compatible with and supportive of many forms of self improvement, including psychotherapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage, or chiropractic. Rolfing is simply a different approach to the same goal, maximizing human potential.


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© 2008 Larry Redding unless otherwise noted.

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