ANNE MARIE COCKRELL – CERTIFIED ADVANCED ROLFER
What is Rolfing®?
Rolfing® Structural Integration is a system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity. It affects the body's posture and structure by manipulating the myofascial system (connective tissue). Research has demonstrated that Rolfing® creates more efficient muscle use, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. It has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic stress, reduce spinal curvature, and enhance neurological functioning.
People seek Rolfing® Structural Integration as a way to reduce pain and chronic stress, generally resulting from physical and emotional traumas. It is used by many professional athletes, dancers, and entertainers to improve performance. Some manufacturing companies have employed Rolfing® to decrease workers compensation costs due to repetitive stress injuries. And, based on the mind/body connection, many counselors and therapists are incorporating Rolfing® in the therapeutic approach. Greater physical support and flexibility ultimately influence emotions and energy levels in a positive way.
Rolfing® Structural Integration is named after its creator, Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Dr. Rolf received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1920 and furthered her knowledge of the body through her scientific work in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute. Her extensive search for solutions to family health problems led her to examine many systems that studied the effect of structure and function, including yoga, osteopathy, and chiropractic medicine. Dr. Rolf combined her research with her scientific knowledge to stimulate a deeper appreciation of the body's structural order, resulting in the theory and practice of Rolfing Structural Integration.
Why is Fascia so important
Fascia is a continuous network of connective tissue that surrounds muscle and organs in our bodies. It is a strong, tough covering composed mainly of collagen fibers, water, and other proteins that give fascia a web-like quality. If we could look at just the fascia in the body we would see a blueprint, if you will, of the body made of fascial planes. Sensory nerves are found throughout the various fascial planes giving our nervous system a sense of where our body is in space or proprioception.
What should I expect from your Rolfing sessions?
The goal of Rolfing® Structural Integration is to adjust the fascia and find the optimal body position for each individual, regardless of age, physical condition, or infirmities. This is done with my hands on your body. The manipulations of the Rolfing® Method help to stretch, loosen, and rehydrate the fascia so it can be more supple and resilient. We also work with movement in a Rolfing SI session to teach the body new patterns, thus allowing the body to move in a more graceful and aligned manner. Once this is accomplished, the results include more freedom of movement, reduced stress, and a greater sense of self and well-being.
Rolfing SI may sound similar to a deep massage of the muscles. However, the Rolfing Method differs from traditional massage. Massage seeks to relieve various symptoms of pain and tension in the body, which is very good, but the results are often short-lived. The Rolfing Method directly addresses the cause of those symptoms so the results are longer lasting and symptoms may not recur at all. Those receiving Rolfing treatments can also become more aware of their bodies and physical abilities and are thus empowered to sustain the benefits of Rolfing SI.
What is the Rolfing Ten-Series?
Rolfing SI also differs from traditional massage in the way it focuses on the individual and specific parts of the body during a series of 10 sessions that generally follow a set regimen. This is known as the “Ten-Series” or “The Recipe.” Over time, these 10 sessions have proven to provide the most benefits of Rolfing SI. Some people may be satisfied after fewer sessions and some people may require more. Additional sessions can also be modified and customized to address specific needs of the individual. The sessions are usually scheduled within one to four weeks of each other and last up to 75 minutes each. Payment is made at each individual session and I recommend scheduling about three appointments at a time. The Rolfing session may involve receiving work while lying on a massage table and sitting or moving in the room. For the session, clients are asked to wear shorts or undergarments in which they feel comfortable moving. They can also be draped, if they prefer.
Does Rolfing Structural Integration hurt?
Rolfing SI does not have to hurt. It has been reported that the Rolfing treatment “hurts” and as a result, some people are nervous about the amount of pain that may be involved in these sessions. Depending on the condition of the fascia, some of the manipulation can be firm or intense, but the client should always have a sense that the work is beneficial. Since Rolfing SI depends on good communication between the Rolfer™ and the client, pain need never be a concern. I am from a new generation of Rolfing practitioners trained in techniques that allow for pain-free Rolfing. Most Rolfing SI feels quite good and may offer immediate results allowing a feeling of lightness and freedom of movement. Another aspect of the Rolfing Method includes movement education and integration which help transform movement patterns that may have contributed to tension and pain in the body. After a Rolfing session, many clients experience greater ease in movement and freedom of expression.
What are the differences between Rolfing Structural Integration and
other types of therapeutic bodywork such as chiropractic and massage?
Rolfing works with three-dimensional soft tissue patterns that limit comfort, balance, and alignment. It is a process of gradually and progressively easing the body's strain to evoke order, support, and efficient movement. The Rolfing Method works with individualized treatment plans tailored specifically to each client’s needs. Although the Rolfing Method has profoundly influenced a great number of therapies, it is not a form of deep tissue massage or myofascial release therapy. From the Rolfing perspective, if the whole body is not properly prepared to receive the effects of local manipulations, either the change will not be maintained or strain will show up in other areas.
Chiropractic is primarily concerned with freeing spinal joint restrictions and promoting nerve flow to and from the spine. It does not address the soft tissue patterns of the whole body and their influence on structural balance. Rolfing uses soft tissue techniques to treat bone-to-bone restrictions that are a part of the overall body pattern. Rolfing SI and chiropractic care are compatible and can be complementary.
Massage is a broad term that refers to many styles of bodywork. In general, massage promotes relaxation and blood flow. Some "deep tissue" massage works to release local patterns of structural strain, but this is not usually done as part of a strategy to balance the whole body. Although massage is relaxing, you may find the same area bothering you again shortly after you leave the office. This is because the area that hurts is often a compensatory or secondary issue, which massage doesn’t address.