WHAT IS ROLFING?
Rolfing® is based on the understanding that structure determines function. Optimum health depends as much on good posture and a balanced musculature as it does on nutrition and exercise. The rolfing® technique of structural integration improves biomechanical efficiency by ordering the body such that its major weight segments head, thorax, pelvis, legs achieve symmetry about a central vertical line. When the centers of gravity of these segments are in plumb the body comes into a harmonious relationship with the downward pull of gravity.
The implications of a good vertical alignment are widespread. Not only will the body experience a decrease in gravitational stress (as engineers and architects know) but the gait, respiratory capacity, and vitality of a structurally integrated person will change for the better. The feet meet the ground more squarely as both they and the knees track increasingly more straightforward. Circulation to all parts of the body improves as chronically contracted muscles ease and once more become available for pumping fluids. Psychological changes are also frequently experienced, and although such changes are highly individual, many people undergoing the rolfing® process have reported decreased anxiety levels and increased self-confidence.
Structural changes in the body are made possible by the plasticity of the human connective tissue, or fascia. This material, which surrounds and invests both the muscles and the bones, is able to be lengthened by the application of slow, sustained pressure. The rolfer® works with his or her client, carefully guiding their movements while applying pressure to stretch and reposition the fascia. This moves the muscles and bones to a place more appropriate for their physiological functioning.
The rolfing® process occurs in a sequence of ten sessions, each lasting approximately ninety minutes. These sessions are carefully designed to methodically alter the complicated system of compensations which a person develops through years of disorganizing forces such as accidents, consistent overuse of select muscles, and emotional posturing. To help unwind these delicately balanced but deeply ingrained habitual patterns, the rolfer® also educates the client in new possibilities for movement and carriage. In the months following the initial ten sessions a spontaneous integration and improvement of alignment is often seen, as gravity becomes the guiding force for further change .
These schema, developed from photographs of a woman during her ten sessions of structural integration, show the progressive change of body planes during this period. The transformatian at the major joints from oblique planes to horizontal ones is clear.