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What is Rolfing? – You and I Rolf, Traverse City

I’m sure that whatever led you here has given you an idea of some of the benefits of Rolfing. Reducing chronic stress, correcting spinal curvature or enhancing neurological function are just a few of the benefits. Rolfing is used by a long list of people; from athletes to fix or reduce their injuries, and yogis to gain even more mobility. Rolfing has been used by dancers to increase function and office workers who spend a lot of time sitting throughout the day.

Rolfing works with all of the layers of the body to ease strain patterns that you have developed throughout your life. Rolfing helps the body conserve energy and creates more economical and cultivated movement patterns.

About Justin

My exploration of the world began while studying Intellectual History in Chicago.  I attempted to connect in my head History, Art, Religion, Philosophy and Literature through the churning of Western Civilization.  I learned enough to realize how vast the world is.

A desire to work with my hands manifested after my graduation from the university world. I studied for a year at the Soma Institute for clinical massage.  When asked, my head instructor Michael Hovi said, “Rolfing!” to my question of what the ideal type of massage was.  When I heard the word I thought it was a joke.  Now I realize the joke of searching for perfection.

I keep bringing up the idea because of a recurring knee pain I experienced before I even became a massage therapist. The injury limited my activity and my lifestyle.  Exploring the world of structural integration was to discover lasting change.  This is what superseded the ideal.  When I met lasting change after my first Rolfing ten series (it happened after session 4), I knew I had to follow it. Ida Rolf’s secret is not about perfection.  That is where I was wrong with my seeking.  I can only facilitate change within some else.  Meaning I point/fist/hold opportunity, the client brings awareness, the fascia does the work.  With movement exploration, new tools will develop allowing the client to integrate into their next level of order.  This order feels space, use it, enjoy.

What to expect.

My sessions will last 60-75 minutes. Traditionally Rolfing’s vision is concluded after 10 sessions. I would recommend at least 3 sessions to allow time for the body to organize. The pace of the 10 series can be done twice a week to once every month. Integration and awareness by the client’s body happen in between. As structural restrictions are progressively reduced, the client becomes more aligned, and moves with more ease.

The 1st session will include an extra 15 minutes of questions and paperwork. I will also take pictures for those that are interested in charting their progress. Each session will start with an analysis of posture, breath, and walking pattern. Then roughly 45 minutes on the table working on the fascia manually. The client will have more movement analysis, then focused bench work to conclude.

What to wear.

Your comfort is paramount. Here are some suggestions:

Guys: Running shorts or underwear

Women: Running shorts and sports bra, two-piece swimsuit or underwear.

“What is the difference between massage and Rolfing®?”, is a question I hear from curious individuals.  Rolfing’s primary concern is how human structure is aligned with gravity.  Pain or tension exist because the body is trying to compensate for a pattern that is not in balance with its counterforces of tensegrity.  Faced with this problem massage will deal with the tension to cure the symptom.  Rolfers evaluate the whole structure to determine how the fascia is holding the structure in tension.  Once this is identified the body can begin to find balance and be freed of its symptoms.  Structure determines function.

“What is the connective tissue?”, seems appropriate to follow the first question.  Fascia is a form of connective tissue..  To imagine the fascia look at your bicep of your arm.  Visualize within it one muscle cell.  A long invisible fiber the length of your bicep.   Around that is a cellophane like wrapping or webbing called the Endomysium.  Then conceptualize a fascicle, which is a bundle of muscle cells.  The fascia around this bundle of cells is called the Perimisium.  Now look at your bicep as a whole and imagine all the muscle fascicles collected to form that shape.  The layer of fascia around the entire muscle body is called the Epymisium. All these fascia layers interconnect like a web through the whole musculature system including interactions with; bones, ligaments, tendons, and organs.  Once the medium (fascia) is understood, each individual can be evaluated in order to determine how their particular fascial patterns exhibit. Rather than looking at what is wrong with the individual, instead resources are determined.  The Rolfer organizes the clients fascia around their resources to allow them a more Functional Economy. “Isn’t that painful? I just want to relax…”  I became introduced and fascinated with the term fluid body while I was at Rolf school.  Fluid body is approaching structure with less expectation of what I as a therapist want to accomplish, and begin by listening/attuning to the clients fascial body.  This process invokes the clients innate healing tools of breath and awareness. Don’t mistake listening for no plan.  I spend time with each client before and after assessing and planning how to use tools to bring about the most order for the client. Structure can change.  If structure is in disorder it will continue to go in that direction until a force can alter that function.  So to the opposite, if a body is lined up with gravity the body will change towards order.  In fact, the body tends towards structural order when it has the opportunity because it requires less energy to support a body that is aligned in gravity.  This is the beauty of Rolfing, and what I think separates it from massage; vision.  The ten series has an all encompassing plan that stacks and looks back in order to unwind the complex spirals that form the patterns of individual’s structure.  The human organism wants to feel good.  Another way of comprehending pain is the body’s excitement to the possibility of homeostasis.  When I was a massage therapist I chased pain around the body. Now I have experienced and facilitated Rolfing’s order.  I look forward to introducing you to Ida Rolf’s vision.

Understanding Ida Rolf’s feel of the body, the fascial network must relinquish its identity. Do changes in the fascia last?  Absolutely!  The body wants to be in equilibrium, unfortunately it can also trick itself with adaptability in order to survive and move around an old trauma or pattern.  A  Rolfer’s task is to differentiate inefficient patterns and facilitate integration within the client.  Integration can be explored through a  concept involving arm reach and shoulder strain.  The concept is Reaching vs. Grasping.  There are six myo-fascial lines of the arm, this article will didact to the four that create the intricate tool which is our hand.

The superficial and deep front arm lines are the first two fascial chains. Simply illustrated they  begin in the chest, continue through the biceps and flex the palm side of the hand.  The SFAL invokes flexion of the fingers.  The DFAL has its end in the thumb. Perpetual activation involving the thumb and pointer finger,sets up a pattern of tension in the shoulder girdle through the chest.  When tension in pectoralis major and minor continue to dominate the shoulder girdle the posterior adapts.  When the body uses the FAL predominantly the concave curve of the cervicals increases, the chest has less span and the muscles of the back ache from the strain of underuse. The superficial and deep back arm lines originate from the spine and scapula, through the deltoids, traverse the triceps and make up the extensors of the hand where the knuckles are.  Once again the superficial line invokes, this time extension of the fingers.  The DBAL’s tap root being the pinky finger if it is pointing at the dirt. Perpetual activation would lead to a flat back scenario in which the spine would be jammed through the rhomboids. Reaching is the process of using the thumb and pointer finger to initiate movement.  Rooted in the two front lines, using our hand between these two fingers has influence to the front part of our ribcage.  Grasping is our hands effect from the pinky to the thumb.  The two BALs attach this movement to the posterior ribcage.  An arm yoked at the shoulder girdle with balance would involve a hand with the pinky and thumb activated in movements.  To say it more simply when all four fascial chains are engaged in movement there is balance.  This feeling of balance will have a connection from your fingertips to your ribs.  If there is an inbalance in movement through the arm it will begin to reveal itself at the ribcage or viceversa. Rolfing fine tunes the human tensegrity, identifying and sharing new movement pathways that over time become patterns.  Patterns that work with our existing resources in order to integrate ourselves into more efficient movers.  The trick is to not get caught up in any one pattern, but conceptualize and bring awareness to moments that are like a  metronome tic.  A sound one can only understand swinging from one side to the other.  As time progress the weight will fall on the timing rod.  The tic will be understood more and more frequently.  To say don’t be disappointed when change does not happen all at once.  The body seeks equilibrium, and will find ease as the individual gains in awareness of how a body in with aligned structure determines its function. Experiment: Imagine you can shoot lightning bolts out of your shoulders when you walk.  With each footfall the opposite shoulder shoots a lightning bolt back to the heavens.  Let the transfer of energy enliven your shoulder and pelvic girdles.  Practice with your hands in your pockets.  When you are ready let the arms swing.  Notice the difference.  Do not shoot anybody with your bolts unless a playful attitude is maintained.

Successful Treatments Of Rolfing Therapy

  • Lower Back Pain
  • Sciatic Pain
  • Auto Accident Injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain
  • Sports Injuries
  • Joint Pain or Arthritis
  • Restricted Breathing
  • Aftermath of Trauma or Surgery
  • And More

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*Movement sessions are for individuals who have finished a 10-series in Rolf Sessions and would like further and more nuanced movement through bench work and walking