What is Rolf Method Structural Integration?
Rolfing, or Structural Integration, is a hands-on physical therapy which manipulates the fascial web of the body in order to restore vitality and functionality to the whole person. It was developed by Ida P. Rolf, a Ph.D biochemist, during the 30’s-60’s in the USA. Through touch and movement education, this holistic approach takes place over the course of a series of ten sessions during which the practitioner hones in on areas of habitual patterns of restriction and injury, works to release them and promote healing, and assists realignment in the web of muscle, bone and connective tissue of the body. An individual session can also be tailored to an individual’s needs.
How does the Rolf Method Structural Integration work?
By balancing the body’s tensional fluid system (fascia) and integrating connectedness through this system reclaiming the inherent vitality of the body, Rolf Method teaches each person how to move efficiently and fluidly. Throughout the Ten Series, the practitioner works to alleviate restrictions in fascial tissue and educate movement, thus releasing tension and chronic pains. In instilling good and healthy posture, the process tangibly changes the client’s relationship to gravity, promoting healing and enriching one’s range of movement, strength and flexibility.
Why do we work with fascia?
Rolf Method Structural Integration places its focus on restoring the healthy quality of fascial tissue. Fascial tissues are sheets of biological fabric that hold the body together in a net. Without this, our body would fall to the ground in a puddle. Fascia connects muscle to bone (tendons), bone to bone (ligaments), and covers organs and bone (periosteum). Even the cartilage of joints is continuous fascia.
Think of the example of an orange: it has a peel that holds it together on the outside, then it is comprised of wedges that hold together the juicy bits of the orange; within the juicy part, invisible to the eye, the honeycomb structure continues and holds cells of juice. Our bodies are much the same. Like a dried out sponge would be more susceptible to breaking, a hydrated sponge springs back under pressure. Healthy fascial tissue is responsive to stresses. In your body, an integrated fascial web transmits forces throughout its matrix. As well, the fascial system is one of the richest proprioceptive organs in your body, meaning that it tells your brain where you are in space. When this system is balanced you are able to adapt better to natural demands on your structure.
‘An effective human being is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.’ Ida P. Rolf
What happens in each Rolf Method SI session?
During a typical session, the practitioner will begin by assessing the client’s structure and body dynamics to determine where the structure is holding restriction. Flat feet or high arches, vargus knees or valgus knees, hip rotations, tilts and leg length discrepancies, spinal curvatures such as scoliosis or sway back, shoulder placement, head rotations or tilt weave into a web of strain which thickens soft tissues and moves the body away from its balanced alignment with gravity. Once the pattern of strain is determined, the sessions will be designed through the Rolf Method process to bring the pattern of strain into balance.
The process of the Ten Series is a cumulative one, where each session builds upon the work of the previous, moving towards a fully integrated, well balanced posture that allows for ease of standing and walking. By literally ‘putting your feet back under you’, each Rolfing session works to correct habitual, inappropriate and restrictive movement thus increasing one’s awareness of body and movement. This often facilitates the alleviation of stress (both physical and emotional) and fosters a sense of groundedness. Sessions are usually suggested to be bi-weekly.
Advanced Series Work?
Many clients receive great benefit from the initial 10 series and wish to continue to be supported by the work. Although I strongly suggest to my clients to take a break for a period of 6 months after the initial 10 series thus, allowing the body to integrate the good body of work that has been received, I do offer post 10 series sessions.
I offer 3 types of advanced work. The first type is what I call tune up sessions and they are booked accordingly to the person's needs some time after a 10 series. They are usually organized in a 3 session format. Some clients prefer to have a tune up session every 6-8 weeks.
The second type, depending on the person's issue is a tailored individual session outside the 10 series called a fix-it session.
The third type, is an Advanced Series of SI work. This series of 4-5 sessions is offered to clients who wish to deepen the Structural Integration experience. The sessions are similar to the 10 series in the sense that they are building space, awareness and fluidity. We use advanced positions to administer the work so new movement and deeper integration can take place.
Would Rolf Method Structural Integration help me?
Structural Integration is a successful therapy in addressing issues of chronic pain, restricted movement and maladaptive posture. From sports related injuries, to recovery from surgery, child birth, and from motor vehicle accident rehabilitation to repetitive strain, Rolf Method Structural Integration can promote healing in every situation where the body is restricted in its natural, dynamic movement. By freeing up the body’s fascial web and musculature and educating more alignment between the body's major segments, the Ten Series helps bring about overall vitality and flexibility and renews one’s core strength.