Rolfing, Structural Integration or Structural body work, all sound very mysterious and related to some kind of engineering rather than this remarkable deep tissue treatment; which does the obvious – brings ease into our bodies by lengthening areas that have become short and tight. Ida Rolf the American scientist who came up with the treatment was all about structure enabling function or expression. Her first clients were physically handicapped children whom she had great success with, improving their movements and neurology by working on their postural alignment.
We can all imagine a skeleton with bones perfectly placed in relationship to each other, joints that are congruent, and vertebrae that balance nicely on one another. Then add the next layer of muscles moving the bones as equally balanced pulleys ( the doing muscles), or playing a supportive role around the vertebrae – maintaining our upright posture (postural muscles).
Then take a look around and see the myriad of postures held by different people, that have migrated from uprightness to stooped, forwards shoulders, protruding neck that gives you tension headaches, and a spine that has lost its original curves to result in a weak lumbar spine that can no longer cope with hours of sitting or driving – with a continual throb of chronic pain.
Key to Rolfing is a postural analysis which examines the horizontality of your feet, knees, hips and shoulders. and systematically works to put right relationship back in your body by lengthening key areas of connective tissue and muscles around the body that have shortened, in a way akin to a very deep tissue massage. In the process muscular aches, chronic pain and stiffness disappear, you grow an inch or so, and your yoga practice improves with your alignment. You become more comfortable in your own skin and have greater ease of movement.
By the age of 40, most of us have accumulated various muscular imbalances; through – injuries and areas of shortened scar tissue; vocation – e.g. long haul truck drivers whose arms are held in the forwards position for hours a day such that attempting full circumduction at the shoulder joint is no longer possible; or through age where gravity has got the better of you and is pulling you into a stoop compromising various parts of your spine as it does so.
Very popular in North America, this treatment protocol works in obvious simplicity to restore postural alignment, and give us as we age that incredible extra quality of life – physical freedom. That is not to say that a proactive approach and participation is not also needed, of taking exercise and movement classes to consolidate changes and strengthen up formerly weak areas. So give Rolfing a go if pain or movement restrictions are plaguing you. For more information please click here.