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by Larry Koliha, Certified Rolfer

Rolfing® Structural Integration is named after Dr. Ida P. Rolf. She began her inquiry more than fifty years ago, devoting her energy to creating a system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organized the whole body in gravity. She discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body's myofascial system. (Fascia, connective tissue that covers the entire body.) This approach to bodywork was eventually named Structural Integration.

"Rolfing" is the nickname that many clients and practitioners gave this work, and is now a registered service mark in 29 countries. Rolfing Structural Integration has an unequaled and unprecedented ability to dramatically alter a person's posture and structure. Professional athletes, dancers, children, business people, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing. People seek Rolfing as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities. It's estimated that more than 1 million people have received Rolfing work.

Research has demonstrated that Rolfing creates an increased efficiency of the muscles, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates a more economical and refined patterns of movement. Research also shows that Rolfing significantly reduces chronic stress and changes in the body structure. For example, a study showed that Rolfing significantly reduced the spinal curvature of subjects with lordosis (sway back); it also showed that Rolfing enhanced neurological functioning.

The basic Rolfing series consists of ten sessions. A Rolfer starts by evaluating the client's postural structure and movement. Each client's sessions are individualized for the client using different bodywork techniques. The client is then asked to lie on the table as the Rolfer sensitively applies just the right amount of pressure where the fascia is restricted. The client is worked first on the table, then into a seated position and at times even worked on standing up. All the techniques used are to relate the person's body into a free moving partnership with gravity.

Rolfers don't just work with connective tissue; they also work with rhythms of respiration and other responses of the body. In addition, they educate the client in ways of using the new-found freedom. The client and practitioner work together to focus into the area being worked and/or to make synchronized movements. Deep tissue work at times can be challenging and Rolfers are shown different methods and positions that tissues can be worked to keep the discomfort at a minimum. The combination of the different applied pressures and synchronized response frees and repositions the connective tissue and aligns the body's segments.

Each Rolfing session builds upon the results of the previous one, so that the results are cumulative. The first three sessions are designed to open the superficial layers of the body working in specific sections. This begins to provide a support for the future sessions and provides an opening to the deeper levels for sessions four through seven. Sessions four through seven work with the deeper tonic muscles that control our balance and posture. The remaining sessions organize and align the body as a whole, resulting in better balance, enhanced freedom of movement, higher energy level and ease of pain.

Rolfing® Structural Integration is a very different bodywork approach looking at the body as an entire unit that should move freely and without discomfort in gravity. If you have tried other modalities, feel that you would like to find that something extra to enhance or improve your body situation and are not afraid of working towards that goal give Rolfing a try.