Rolfing is a treatment philosophy inspired by the late Ida Rolf. While Rolfing may not be common in Australia, know that if you travel to Europe or the USA you will find a great many practitioners still using these techniques in addressing pain and dysfunction in the body.
As Myotherapists, Rolfing has arguably shaped and influenced our practice more than any other discipline. The focus on postural alignment relative to gravity remains an astonishingly simple and effective way to consider the body.
The following article has been generously contributed by Meran Cassidy – a certified ROLFer practicing out of Melbourne Australia.
What’s in a name? A (very) brief history of Rolfing®
“This is the gospel of Rolfing:
When the body gets working appropriately,
the force of gravity can flow through.
Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.”
~ Ida P. RolfIda 1898-1979
Ida Pauline Rolf PhD was a unique and gifted woman. Originally trained as a chemist she had a wide variety of interests that included yoga, homeopath, osteopathy and spirituality. Driven by her desire to find solutions to the health problems of her loved ones, she spent years studying different methods of healing and manipulation and considering what conditions are required for wellbeing of body and psyche.
Rolfing was born in the 1930’s. Originally named Structural Integration, Rolfing was its nickname. It was (and is) described as a system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that seeks to balance the body in gravity. Ida Rolf dedicated the rest of her life not just to helping clients, but also to teaching others this remarkable method.
The Little Boy Logo
The ‘little boy logo’ demonstrates the principal of alignment in gravity that is foundational to Rolfing. This design was created from the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of a young boy that Ida Rolf treated.
The tissue that is the domain of Rolfers™ is called fascia. It wraps all the fibres of our body, our muscles, our bones, vessels and organs. Its separates and connects and weaves a web throughout the body. Embedded in this tissue are numerous nerve receptors that are constantly communicating sensory information to the brain. Often overlooked in the past, fascia is now getting much more recognition for its importance in rehab and wellbeing.
“Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together. You are about 70 trillion cells all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that hold them all together in their proper placement. How fascia works as a whole – our biomechanical regulatory system – is highly complex and under-studied. Understanding fascia is essential to the dance between stability and movement – crucial in high performance, central in recovery from injury and disability, and ever-present in our daily life from our embryological beginnings to the last breath we take.” Tom Myers Anatomy Trains
Modern Rolfing doesn’t just look at the static body. We look at the body in movement and hope to help each body find ‘the Cheetah’ within. ‘Cheetah movement’ is graceful, effortless and fluid. We ask “where is more support needed for this person to move well?” and “where is more adaptability needed?”
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Rolfers™ and other Structural Integrators
Structural Integration is now the umbrella term for a number of different modalities. From it’s beginning with Ida Rolf, many people who trained with her went on to create their own modality. One group kept the name Rolfing and others took up different names. Hellerwork, Guild for Structural Integration, SOMA, KMI and SI Australia to name a few.
In the growing world of Structural Integration there is variety of interests and styles. Some practitioners love the hands-on side of the work whilst movement amazes others. Some love to get their elbow in your fascia, others love to use evocative touch and language to help you shift your coordination. Some stick to the traditional 10 session series (often called ‘the recipe’). Others follow the same principles but prefer to tailor each session to meet the individual. Sessions can run 60-90 minutes and cost between $90-$150.
If you are keen to try Rolfing be sure to find a practitioner that you ‘click’ with. Every person is unique and so is every practitioner. It is vital to have rapport with the practitioner you choose to treat you.
Rolfers can be found at here.
And other Structural Integrators here
Meran Cassidy is a Certified Rolfer™. She places herself in the second of the groups described above – loving the somatic side of the work. Evoking new coordination and ways of being with touch and verbal cues. She includes every aspect of the self in her sessions – body, movement, emotions and psyche. She has been Rolfing for 8 years and travels the US yearly to continue her education. Here she studies the perceptive movement work that is her passion. Her teachers include Hubert Godard, Susan Harper, Pilar Martin and Mary Bond. She operates her practice in North Carlton. For more information go to her website.
Images Courtesy of The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration