Rolfing® Structural Integration strives to align and balance the body’s components until the entire system is a smoothly functioning coordinated whole. For example, the legs are aligned to the hips, shoulders to rib cage, the body is positioned over the feet, and then all of these joints and related tissue are integrated to one another. A few of the many benefits people have experienced are reduced pain, increased flexibility, an enhanced sense of body awareness, and improved posture.
These wonderful transformations are possible because Rolfing SI addresses the body’s internal system of flexible support, otherwise known as fascia. These connective tissues surround ever muscle fiber, encase all joints and even have a role in the nervous system. Think of the fascial system as an intricate internal guide-wire network for the body. If one set of support wires becomes tight or out of place, the excess tension may appear as nagging joint pain, muscle soreness, or a postural shift.
To correct internal misalignments, a Rolfer® uses mild, direct pressure to melt or release fascial holdings and allow the body to find health through the re-establishment of balance. It is currently believed that the slow, deep strokes of Rolfing SI stimulate intra-fascial mechanoreceptors (sensory neurons of the muscle nerve), which in turn trigger the nervous system to reduce the tension of the related muscles and fascia.
Put another way, Rolfing SI allows the brain and nervous system to “re-boot” areas of the body that are receiving too much electrical stimulation (chronically tight or sore muscles). Once a healthy level of muscle contraction is established, the person’s entire structure is free to express a pain-free form.
The hallmark of Rolfing Structural Integration is a standardized "recipe" known as the Ten-Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten Rolfing sessions.
Each session focuses on freeing restrictions or holdings trapped in a particular region of the body. A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client's entire system during each session, thus ensuring the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.
Called the "sleeve" sessions, sessions 1-3 strive to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.
Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage and diaphragm. Opening is also started along the upper leg, hamstrings, neck and spine.
The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg.
The third session typically involves a "side view" for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionaly related to one another when standing under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.
Sessions 4-7 are referred to as "core" sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head. The idea of core also includes the deep tissue of the legs for its role in support.
Session four begins this journey, its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis.
The fifth session is concerned with balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back.
Session six seeks to enlist more support and moment from the legs, pelvis and lower back, while the seventh session turns its sole attention to the neck and head.
"Integration" is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as sessions 8-10 provide an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements, and ones yet to be made, into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.
During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner determines how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual.
The tenth and final session is also one of integration, but more importantly, serves to inspire a sense of order and balance. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.
According to Dr. Rolf, all bodies have some degree of disorder and compensation in their structure; therefore she believed that everyone, children and adults, should receive Rolfing Structural Integration. In fact, in her global vision, she imagined a more evolved and structurally efficient human species as a result of Rolfing SI. However, we realize that most potential clients need more compelling reasons to undergo this powerful transformative sequence of sessions.
Those who have a history of injury or trauma and notice that the effects of their often minor injuries are beginning to interfere with their everyday lives should consider Rolfing SI. In many cases these individuals have tried traditional medical treatments or exercise to reduce or counteract the long-term effects of old injuries with varying degrees of success. This group might include former and current athletes, musicians, performers or those engaged in physically demanding jobs, and those who choose not to accept the notion that the quality of their lives must suffer simply because they are aging. In fact, all adults of any age who suffer from any limiting physical discomfort can absolutely benefit from Rolfing SI, as long as there are no signs of a nervous disorder or a deeper pathology. For most of us, Rolfing SI, combined with appropriate movement therapy, such as Rolf Movement® Integration offers a long-lasting solution for connective tissue problems.
Even if someone has not experienced injury and/or trauma, Rolfing SI may offer benefits to enhance overall body conditioning and functionality. Whether you are athletic, perform tasks with repetitive-motion in daily activity, or are just looking to feel more "at home" in your body, Rolfing sessions may restore flexibility, increase balance, revitalize energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.
Rolfing SI could also be helpful for more than just the physical, including those who find that their physical limitations prevent them from attaining a higher level of spiritual or emotional well-being. Frequently, many on this path assume that the body is something to be transcended rather than something to be honored and loved. For these individuals, Rolfing SI can serve as an educational resource that allows them a more intimate and comfortable relationship with their physical body, which in turn, allows a greater ability to experience heightened awareness. Interestingly enough, as the body transforms physically, it often transforms on other planes as well, so that, while Rolfing SI's primary focus is the connective tissue system, it frequently has an even more dramatic effect in seemingly unrelated areas such as the cognitive, emotional or spiritual. Exactly how this happens is still a matter of much debate and speculation. However, the results of the work were of much greater importance than the how or why for Dr. Rolf. The genius of Rolfing SI is that it can affect so many people in so many ways and continue to reveal new possibilities.