ROLFING: Balancing The Body

“Humans have always developed and still live within the gravity pull of the earth. They must make their peace with this energy field, whatever it really is.The energy of this field can enhance or dissipate the energy of the individual man. You cannot change the energy field, but you can change the man.” Ida P. Rolf (March 1977)

Rolfing is a hands-on direct manipulation of the body’s connective tissue or fascia, which surrounds muscle groups and forms tendons and ligaments. The basic chemical structure of fascia is collagen, the same substance found in Jell-O. In order for Jell-O to“jell”, it has to be placed in the refrigerator. The absence of energy slowly turns the liquid into a solid state. In the human body, we note that the withdrawal of energy and fluid from an area results in thickened, inflexible, hard tissue much like the “gristle” found in a cut of beef. Manipulation of the connective tissue improves circulation in the area thus increasing warmth resulting in more elastic tissue which can be repositioned to rebalance the body’s structures within the field of gravity.

Due to injury or physical and emotional stress the body tightens in irregular patterns and creates a system out of alignment with the field of gravity. The results of this can be postural changes, reduction of range of motion , repetitive motion syndrome, neck and shoulder strain leading to vertebrae and disc problems, and a variety of ankle, knee and hip dysfunctions. The Rolfing technique involves manual pressure on the fasciae layers. In areas where the tissue is particularly tight, there may be some momentary pressure discomfort, but that stops as soon as the pressure is released. Most often there is an increase of warmth and relaxation in the tissue with clients reporting a feeling of release. A sensation of “lightness” and increased range of motion are common session outcomes. It’s a little like giving the “Tin Man” a squirt of oil on the rusted spots.

As the body regains balance thru the manipulation and reorganization of structures, the effects of gravity become more supportive and less damaging. Imagine the body as a segmented stack of building blocks. If each block is stacked evenly over the one under it, they will stay upright. On the other hand, if the blocks are randomly stacked and not aligned evenly, they will eventually fall over. Gravity becomes the balancing therapist.

Rolfing’s strongest suit is in prevention. A balanced functioning body is less vulnerable to injury and more resilient under stressful conditions whether physical or emotional.

“Rolfing is permanent. As one student put it, after you’re Rolfed you’re like a Jaguar. No matter how long you drive a Jaguar, it’s not going to turn into a Ford” Ida P. Rolf