Rolfing Therapy: A Way to Align the Body and Relieve Pain
Rolfing is a method of structural integration accomplished by soft tissue manipulation and movement education. Developed in the 1950s by Ida Rolf, this bodywork method has allowed people to stand straighter, move better then ever and gain height through its focus on correcting tissue fixations.
It is no secret that physical and emotional stress leaves its mark in the body via tight muscles, cramps, trigger points, aches and pains. Every time we have been in a stressful situation, our body has reacted by tightening up and holding that stress in the tissues. Every physical sprain or strain we have suffered, is still locked into muscle memory. Is there any doubt as to why we suffer chronic pain, especially musculo-skeletal pain?
There are many hands-on pain relief methods, such as massage, trigger point therapy, reiki, stretching, physical therapy and others. Among these is Rolfing, which specializes in soft tissue release. Basically, by releasing the adhesions and scar tissue holding muscle, fascia and tendon locked into spasm, the body can be corrected and free motion returned. This is accomplished by direct deep pressure that a practitioner applies to the body of a client with their fist, fingers and elbows.
Rolfing may be painful for some because of the deep pressure and tearing actions used. However, the pain only remains while the treatments is in session. The pain is evoked by the pressure exerted into the adhered soft tissue areas. Once the adhesions are worked out, the pain subsides and the body is returned to normal ranges of motion and suppleness.
Since Rolfers differentiate between good posture and correct body structure, they strive to organize the skeletal system that has been made “Crooked” through injury and stress. By correcting the underlying structure of the body, and also removing adhesion of muscle and connective tissue, the body can realign and hold itself properly. And with proper structure and posture comes pain relief.
Through Rolfing sessions people can expect to improve flexibility, athletic performance, reduce swelling and pain, increase range of motion and correct posture. All types of performance improve and pain disappears when the muscles fire completely and rest completely. And this can only happen when the body is correctly aligned.
You might be asking yourself how Rolfing is different than regular massage? The difference is in the focus on the body treatment. Whereas massage improves circulation and helps relaxations and short term stress, Rolfing focuses on re-ordering the body to prevent the pains returning. Also, whereas massage works on muscle tissue Rolfing works on the fascia or connective tissue.
So if you suffer muscle or skeletal pain and have tried traditional massage, why not go one step farther and give Rolfing a try. Its a deeper therapy that may be the answer you are seeking.
Dr. Mark Wiley,
The Healthy Back Institute
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Updated: May 16,2011