Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who should consider Rolfing?

How does Rolfing work?

What is the Rolfing Ten-Series?

What happens during a Rolfing session?

How am I expected to participate in a Rolfing sessions?

What am I expected to wear during Rolfing sessions?

What about the emotional and psychological effects of Rolfing?

Do I have to schedule 10 sessions?

What are the long-term benefits of Rolfing?

Is Rolfing painful?




Who should consider Rolfing?

According to Dr. Rolf, all bodies have some degree of disorder and compensation in their structure; therefore, she believed that everyone should receive Rolfing Structural Integration.  Generally, two groups of people come to Rolfing.

The largest group is composed of individuals who have a history of injury or trauma and notice that the effects of their injuries are beginning to interfere with their everyday lives.  In many cases, these individuals have tried traditional medical treatments or exercise to reduce or counteract the long-term effects of old injuries with varying degrees of success.  This group might include former and current athletes, musicians, performers, workers engaged in physically demanding jobs, or those who choose not to accept the notion that the quality of their lives must suffer simply because they are aging.  In fact, all adults of any age who suffer from any limiting physical discomfort can absolutely benefit from Rolfing as long as the pains themselves are in the neuromuscular system and not signs of a nervous disorder or a deeper pathology.  For most of us, Rolfing combined with appropriate movement therapy, such as Rolf Movement® Integration, and exercise offers a long-lasting solution for connective tissue problems.

The second group is composed of individuals who are on a path of self-exploration and find that their physical limitations prevent them from attaining a higher level of emotional, psychological or spiritual peace.  Many on this path assume that the body is something to be transcended rather than something to be honored and loved.  For these individuals, Rolfing can serve as an educational resource, which introduces them to a more intimate and comfortable relationship with their physical reality, and this, in turn, allows a greater ability to experience serenity.  Interestingly enough, as the body transforms physically, it transforms in other ways as well, so that, while Rolfing’s primary focus is physical, it frequently has an even more dramatic effect in seemingly unrelated areas such as the emotional, psychological, energetic or spiritual.  Exactly how this happens is still a matter of debate and speculation, yet for Dr. Rolf herself, these results of Rolfing were of much greater importance than explaining the how or why.

back to top

 

How does Rolfing work?

Rolfing Structural Integration strives to align and balance the body’s parts until the entire system is a smoothly functioning and coordinated whole.  For example, the legs are aligned to the hips, shoulders to the rib cage, the body is positioned over the feet, and then all of these joints and related tissue are integrated to one another.  Benefits many people experience are reduced pain, increased flexibility, an enhanced sense of body awareness, and improved posture.

These transformations are possible because Rolfing addresses the body’s internal system of flexible support, otherwise known as fascia.  These connective tissues surround every muscle fiber, encase every joint and even play a key role in the nervous system.  Think of the fascial system as an intricate internal tensional wiring network for the body.  which is able to distribute the tensional forces through the body.  Too much tension however will overwhelm the body's capacity to adapt and will most likely manifest as some form of discomfort. That may be hardening (shoulders being a typical example) joint pain, muscle soreness, or a detrimental shift in posture.

To correct internal misalignments, a Rolfer uses pressure through direct touch to release facial holdings and allow the body to renegotiate and reestablish balance.  It is presently believed that the slow, deep strokes of the Rolfing Touch stimulate intra-fascial mechanoreceptors (sensory neurons of the muscle nerve), which in turn trigger the nervous system to reduce the tension of the related muscles and fascia.

Put another way, Rolfing allows the brain and nervous system to re-programme areas of the body that are receiving too much stimulation (chronically tight or sore muscles).  Once a healthy level of muscle contraction is established, the entire structure is free to express a pain-free from.

back to top

 

What is the Rolfing Ten-Series?

The Ten-Series is a systematic process, designed by Dr. Rolf, to balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten sessions.  It was originally designed as a teaching tool, to transfer knowledge to new students while they were acquiring experience in actual practice, but proved extremely effective as a clinical process.

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 in three sets:

  • Sessions 1-3 are called the "Sleeve” sessions where the objective is to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.  Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath.  The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by addressing the lower legs.  Session three is about relating the head, shoulders, and hips to one another when standing under the influence of gravity.
  • Sessions 4-7 are referred to as “Core” sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head.  Core also refers to the deeper tissues of the legs, hips, torso, neck and head, which are addressed in a sequence that enhances their support and relation to each other.
  • Sessions 8-10 are the “Integration” sessions where the practitioner blends newly established awareness and changes, with ones yet to be made, to encourage natural posture and smooth/effortless movement.  During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner and client decide how best to achieve this integration.  By session ten, a newfound sense of order and balance has been established and the session brings about a natural, holistic closure to the process.

Moreover, once the Rolfing Ten-Series is completed the improvements in posture and body use will drive and increased health and well-being for years to come.

back to top

 

What happens during a Rolfing session?

The Rolfer will begin with a short program of observation in which the client will be asked to stand, walk and sit. These observations are to create a baseline understanding of the clients posture, breathing, tension, flexibility and movement patterns.

When the observations are completed, the client will be asked to lie on a padded table similar to a massage table. The Rolfer will then use his fingers, hands, knuckles, and arms to apply sensitive and precise pressure to specific areas throughout the body. Often the treatment may involve manual intervention during sitting or standing, as well.

Clients will often be introduced to new ways of moving while exploring old habits or movement patterns that no longer work effectively. Thus, a gradual evolution in awareness and sense of the body, become expressed through new learnings in movement that more efficiently serve the individual in their everyday life.

Rolfing sessions are never boring to give, never boring to receive. They are entirely tailored to each individual and their unique needs. It is an exciting experience for both the Rolfer and the client, because each Rolfing session opens a door to new discoveries, insights and experiences.

back to top



How am I expected to participate in a Rolfing sessions?

During each session, Rolfer’s will typically ask you to stand, walk and sit during an initial period of observation called Body Reading.  However, the majority of time in most sessions is spent on a massage therapy table where, at times, you will be asked to participate in the session, for example, by breathing into the area being worked on, or by making small, specific movements during manual manipulation.  Thereafter, the Rolfer will instruct you to become aware of habitual patterns of movement and imbalances in your body, plus give suggestions to support you towards making changes in these movement patterns during your daily life.

back to top

 

What should I wear during Rolfing sessions?

Most clients receive work in their underwear or bathing suit. Briefs are preferable to boxers for men; traditional panties and bra work well for women. If you are not comfortable with this stage of undress, other options are available. A pair of loose-fitting, short, cotton gym shorts, or yoga-type stretchy shorts, is good options. We can work with a variety of clothing, just keep the following in mind:

  • You should be comfortable.  Unlike massage, Rolfing requires you to get up from the table and walk around periodically.
  • Clothing should not pinch or bind.  If you can lie on the table and pull one knee to your chest without resistance, you are in good shape.
  • Clothing should allow Rolfers to view and work around your upper legs, mid-back, and neck.  Sports bras are frequently difficult to navigate around the mid-back.
  • Avoid heavy lycra or tight stretch materials.  Bicycle shorts, girdles, and other garments containing lycra are nearly impossible to work through.

It is also a good idea to bring work-out clothes (shorts and a loose fitting tee-shirt) if we want to incorporate movement or floor work into the session.

back to top

 

What are the emotional and psychological effects of Rolfing?

The primary objective of Rolfing is alignment of the body in gravity.  Yet, when you touch the physical body, you also affect the emotional one.  All individuals develop compensatory patterns, ways of holding and defending against a variety of physical and emotional stresses to our bodies.  When these physical holdings and patterns are released, it is not surprising that feelings and emotions might surface.

Of course, every client is unique.  When a client has identified emotionally charged areas of their body, or the Rolfer has discerned these, constant communication between Rolfer and client, generally provide a comfortable way for resolution.  In this sense, Rolfing can be a welcome catalyst for emotional growth and change, enhancing individual physical, emotional and psychological well-being.

back to top

 

Do I have to schedule 10 sessions?

No. You may schedule as few or as many sessions as you like, depending on your preference and the Rolfer's recommendation. However, it is important to realize that Rolfing is most effective when done in a series of sessions. The 10 series is especially beneficial for addressing a wide variety of issues that are not easily addressed in a single session. It takes time for the body to change, and the body generally holds the work better when it is received in a series. If you have a desire to address a specific problem, a series of at least 3 sessions is recommended.

back to top

 

What are the long-term benefits of Rolfing?

Many factors affect how Rolfing is received and perceived by each individual.  Therefore, the long-term effects it has are entirely personal.  How well a client is able to engage their own body and how great their individual capacity for change, will greatly influence the initial outcome and long-term benefits that Rolfing can provide.

Unlike most bodywork, Rolfing focuses not on short-term symptom relief, but on long-lasting structural and functional change.  As these changes occur, aches and pains fall away.  Structural changes are usually visible in posture and the sense of lengthening or growing upright that often accompanies Rolfing.  Clients frequently report changes in shoe size or becoming taller.  Functional changes, on the other hand, are more individual – small improvements for one client may represent significant leaps in personal achievement for another.  Without exception, people who have experienced Rolfing report physical/structural changes.

Often though, as the body transforms physically, it transforms in other ways as well, having dramatic effects on unrelated areas such as the emotional, psychological and spiritual.  For some clients it is a cleansing process, a release of experiences stored in the body – old emotions, anger, fears, traumas – held within the tissues and cells.  Often memories will surface of forgotten incidents and injuries that by simply allowing them to express, the past is released, new possibilities emerge and energy that is bound becomes fluid again.  For other individuals, the growth in awareness of one’s body, and enhanced sense of integration with both self and the world we live in, leads to a heightened sense of spirituality.

An experience with Rolfing can help release an individual's potential, promoting positive change, lowering anxiety, improving sleep, increasing confidence, and maturing emotional expression.  Yet, Rolfing is education and empowerment for the individual, not therapy.  The genius of Rolfing is that a simple process involving touch and movement can so profoundly affect so many people, in so many ways.

back to top


Is Rolfing painful?

Rolfing has evolved from the early days when some people experienced pain.  Today’s techniques are slower, gentler and more effective than past ones.  As tissue is being released, you may experience a variety of sensations ranging from warm and pleasant to uncomfortable, what some describe as “meeting that place of pleasurable pain”.  Your practitioner will always apply appropriate pressure during the session based on your feedback, so the pace of the session and level of sensation are always under your control.

Several factors determine the level of comfort or discomfort during a Rolfing session.  One physical factor is the degree of trauma in the system; another is how long fascial distortions have been in the client's body.  Long-term distortions create more tenacious and widespread compensatory patterns, which may require more sustained pressure to release.

Other factors include the degree of emotional charge associated with an injury or strain.  Dr. Rolf pointed out that during the Rolfing process, emotional pain is often experienced when deeply held emotional traumas or memories are brought to surface and processed.  She noted that deep touch can result in transitory pain that is healing and transformative, and that this type of pain can have a large degree of variability.

A general guideline for the majority of Rolfing clients is that the intensity experienced is transitory, moving quickly form brief intensity to a decreased sensation and finally, to the release and easing of long-standing discomforts and pain.

The biggest fallacy Rolfers run into is that we are doing something intense, and clients have to grin and bear it. Clients can feel discomfort yet they describe it as a good kind of pain, because it is the deep release of pain that has been held within the body for a long time, rather than something produced by the Rolfer. With the application of pressure the old sensations arise and eventually pass away. The sessions are usually regarded by clients as a positive experience. The process is done slowly - sudden and forceful movements are never used. The Rolfer pays close attention to the client, discomfort can be stopped instantly or managed by the client with technique the Rolfer provides. Rolfers know creating pain is not productive and avoid it.

"Pain" is a subjective experience for everyone. I work with each individual client to determine his or her comfort level, and encourage every client to communicate immediately if she/he is uncomfortable. It is important to understand that resetting chronic patterns of tension and pain can sometimes be uncomfortable; however, when a client does experience discomfort, the feeling is often described as a "good" kind of pain that goes away once contact is removed. This is much different from chronic pain that lasts for years, and many clients are surprised to discover how subtle and gentle Rolf work can be.

back to top