21 Questions to get you started
- What is fascia?
- How does fascia affect emotion?
- What is rolfing?
- What can I expect during my 10 series?
- Are rolfing & massage the same thing?
- Is rolfing right for me?
- Does it hurt?
- What are the benefits?
- How do I prepare for a session?
- How does a typical session go?
- How often should I schedule sessions?
- What if I'm seeing other therapists or practitioners?
- Do I have to commit to 10 sessions?
- What about the psychological and emotional effects of rolfing?
- Is Rolfing helpful for professional athletes and performers?
- Can I Exercise during Rolfing?
- Can children and adolescents receive Rolfing?
- How long is a session?
- What can I expect after my 10 series?
- Can I claim my Rolf Structural Integration sessions on insurance?
- How are Rolfers Trained and certified?
Fascia is a continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. Fascia has the appearance of a densely woven spider web, over and throughout the body. Fascia covers, protects and permeates all muscles, bones, blood vessels and organs. So although we often think of each structure in the body as separated from every other structure, like the yarn of a knitted sweater, if we catch a section of the yarn in one place, we may notice strain in other places.
Aging, stress, experience, surgery and injury glues down our fascia, creating a ‘cast’ impairing blood flow, restricting movement and when left untreated, sometimes causing us significant pain and discomfort. The fascia specific manipulation techniques we use in the rolfing series, are a tune up for the fascia, focusing on the whole Fascial web, not just the area of concern.
Fascia is the physical and emotional catch all for our brain and body and acts as a trauma memory bank for the body, we hold our injuries and strain inside our fascia.
For every human thought, emotion or behavior, there is a corresponding response of the body. Each body has its own signature response to thoughts and emotions. As a human community, we represent walking signatures of joy and sorrow, exhilaration and fear, anger, compassion and love. For those of us that are science oriented, this makes sense. If we look into the wide world of eastern and alternative medicine, they’ve been working with fascia and emotions for 100’s of years. The foundation of yoga is literally releasing and evolving emotion through physical release of fascia.
Rolfing isn’t ROFLING (Rolling on the floor laughing) or Ralphing (but we’ve heard all the jokes). Rolfing is about getting to know your body beneath the surface or getting reacquainted with your body as its most comfortable and liberated self.
Rolfing is a systematic approach to aligning your structure via the manual manipulation of the fascia. This involves skillful, professional and intuitive touch by a trained practitioner.
Designed by Ida Rolf, the 10 series of Rolfing is a cumulative process, each session building on the work of the last session and prepares your body for the next. Ida Rolf worked using the premise that ‘gravity is the therapist’, meaning when we are out of alignment, gravity literally pull us down, contributing to pain and tension, however when we are in alignment, gravity facilitates improvements in our structure.
When our structure works with gravity, we can become naturally more ‘embodied’ and self aware, that is, we can live in relative ease, move freely and not be weighed down by negative emotions or physical discomfort.
The series is designed to target the fascia, first removing existing strain from the whole body and then reorganizing the body to improve balance, movement efficiency and energy.
Each session has particular goals but is unique as the person receiving the work. How the practitioner and client achieves the session goals is dependent on the client’s structure, emotions, lifestyle, behaviours and movement patterns.
Focus on the Superficial layers, beginning to remove strain from the body
Session 1 - Freeing the breath, beginning to free the Shoulder/Pelvis from the rib cage. Most people report a relaxed sensation lasting a few days. This session is great for addressing shoulder, rib, and neck pain.
Session 2 - Establishing a better foundation. Opening and aligning the feet and legs increasing feelings of balance and support, quite literally gaining a better ‘understanding’ the body. Foot/ankle scar tissue, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, arch pain are addressed, clients often report feeling grounded.
Session 3 - Easing strain through the front and back of the body by addressing the outer lines i.e. giving your body seams along your sides. We improve the relationship between your upper and lower body, approach the deeper structures, and allow the torso, neck and hips to better support each other. This session addresses relationships of back, shoulder and neck pain.
Focus on the deeper layers, removing deeper strain from the body
Session 4 - Focusing on deeper layers, the inside of the legs, angles of the hip and foot are addressed. This session facilitates the legs supporting the abdomen and lifting the upper body. Session 4 can help address hip and knee pain. This session can ‘dislodge’ emotional and physical tension in the pelvis and can sometimes create a feeling of tenderness or detox. It helps to schedule session 4 & 5 closer together as session 5 will help bring balance to the body.
Session 5 - Continuing a focus on the deeper structures, this session works up the front of the body via the quadriceps, abdominal wall and psoas. This is a beautiful session that promotes length and balance, opposing our life time of forward flexion i.e. driving, sitting, computers.
Session 6 - This session addresses the deep back structures, matching the front length achieved in session 5, This session is wonderful for addressing scoliosis, sciatica, tight hamstrings and chronic back pain.
Session 7 - A culmination of all work so far, this powerful session aims to organise the head and neck. Clients often report feeling more aware of their body, athletic performance, or having their head ‘on’ their body.
Focus on reintegrating the body and improving function
Session 8 & 9 - Linking the upper and lower segments of the body by addressing the pelvis and shoulder girdles relationship with the spine. Emphasizing freeing and horizontalizing the pelvis and supporting the spine in a vertical position. Revisiting ribcage, shoulders, arms, neck and lower segments of the body. The goal is to reorient and reintegrate the whole structure.
Session 10 - Customized to the needs of the client, a gentle opportunity to smooth fascial layers and complete the work for now, settling the body into a sense of newfound freedom.
Not even close. Massage is a great adjunct to your self care to address acute pain and increase relaxation. Rolf Structural Integration is a complex practice, specifically designed to first remove existing strain from the body and then to reorganise and balance the body with lasting effects i.e. months and years.
Rolf Structural Integration is a cumulative process, with each session building upon the results of the last. Rolfing uses specific principles to promote healing and rehabilitation, taking a holistic approach to healing that is different from what you may have previously experienced in other bodywork modalities.
Rolfing is an awesome rehabilitation tool and self care practice and can be adopted into any lifestyle. The top reasons to try Rolfing are Healing, Self Care and Performance, though these are not the only reasons! In our experience, Rolfing finds you at exactly when you need it the most.
Performance - Rolfing is beautiful injury prevention, training and recovery/rehabilitation method, that can take your physical performance to the next level. Move through limiting or restricted movement patterns, aches and pains and old injuries, deepen your yoga or movement practice, enjoy a deeper connection to your physical structure, evolve your bodies movement capabilities by taking your performance to a new level of sophistication. We love working with athletes and are thrilled with the positive feedback that we’ve been given from professional athletes around the world.
Healing - Rolfing is the ultimate self nurture practice, creating more opportunity for your nervous system to rest, reducing stress, working through trauma (all kinds), improve posture (scoliosis), encouraging you take time for yourself, to create positive lifelong habits of self love. Experience the beauty of personal expression that comes with deeper self acceptance and freedom from stuck thought and feeling.
Self care - Rolfing is a powerful physical process that can up your ability to cope with life and assist the return to a place of balance and freedom after major life events. Birth of a child, surgery, accidents i.e. motor vehicle, chronic pain, Divorce/Break up, Death or illness of a loved one, PTSD, Anxiety/Depression, Rolfing can help you find or return to a place of ease within your physical structure and encourage a gentle harmony of your thoughts, emotions, movement and whole self.
We offer a complimentary phone or in person consultation so that you can ask questions and explain more about your goals. We can help you decide whether Rolfing is a suitable healing path for you to take at this time.
Rolfing is powerful but not painful, It is common to drift into deep relaxation during a session.
Rolfing can often access pain and free muscular restrictions and movement limitations that other therapies have been unable to treat. Our clients have described brief periods of ‘high intensity’ or deep sensations, but this will depend on you, your body, injuries etc. Our clients tell us that where sensations are more intense, the brief moments of ‘hurt so good’ are well worth the results!
This awesome work is not done to your body, but with you. You are always in control during the session.
Rolfing has thousands of potential benefits, what you experience after your 10 series will vary depending on your physical structure and lifestyle.
Some of the outcomes my clients have reported include:
Feeling taller, increased ability to rehabilitate injuries, reduced pain after trauma, improved tone and posture, decreased niggling pains, decreased headaches, better sports performance, reduced discomfort/restrictions in movement (I’m looking at you professional climbers..), improved yoga practice/flexibility, more confidence and self esteem, Feeling more open to opportunities i.e. work/love/life, a sense of deeper connection with self and others, feeling solid or grounded, less fearful, increased trust in self, feelings of purpose, better wellbeing, looking healthier
(spoiler alert: you might get sick of all the compliments.)
Drinking water regularly hydrates your tissue and is a very good thing (in general and for this work).
Avoid eating a large meal right before your session.
Avoid applying lotion before your session. Unlike massage which uses lotion to glide over the muscles, we prefer to grip to the skin to ‘catch’ the deeper fascia layers.
Please do not wear any tanning products, they often smell bad and stain our sheets.
During your session you may stand up and move around the room, or sit and lie in different positions. We suggest full coverage underwear (no underwire) or swimwear.
Please consider your hygiene (and we will do the same!). Showering on the day of your session, is always appreciated.
On your first session we will ask you to complete an intake form and we will discuss your reasons for coming to receive the work. You will have ample opportunity to chat (if desired) during the sessions as things come up. We may take photos before and after the session (totally optional) and/or evaluate your alignment before starting. Sessions are done in your underwear/underclothes while lying on our Rolf specific therapy table. We use elbows, hands, fingers and knuckles, applying slow and specific pressure to the fascia to reorganize its position in your structure. You may be asked to keep your eyes open (nap time comes later!), breath into the area we are working, or make small movements during the session. We love to begin and end sessions with techniques that we believe help ‘drop you in’, relaxing your nervous system and ensuring you get the most out of your session. The specifics of which techniques we use will depend on you, your body, your goals, and will be completely different for each person. We end the session with gentle neck work and sometimes (for the homework lovers) we will give you a task to work on at home to help garner the most from your next session.
The traditional series is done once a week, but it depends on you, your lifestyle, what’s going on with your physical structure and importantly, your budget. Every week is ideal but not absolutely necessary. Chat with us about scheduling that fits your time availability and budget.
Every person is different. We know lots of people who like to do Rolfing by itself, and others who have found particular therapies that work well with Rolfing like acupuncture, hatha yoga, network chiropractic, psychology and so on. We generally advise against massage during your rolfing series because of the opposing principles used in massage and Rolfing. But we can guide you on a case by case basis, chat to us about it.
We ask that you try session 1 and see how you feel. You will quickly get a sense for the work and know if continuing is right for you.
If you enjoy the work but are unsure about a 10 session commitment, we offer a series of 3 sessions, which is the minimum number of sessions required for lasting change in this work.
If you still enjoy the work and want to continue after the 3 series, we suggest committing to completing the series within 3-4 months.
While we are focused on the physical structure, it is par for the course that changing the literal position of your body, can sometimes change the way you relate to or view the world. Often our clients release emotion during and after their sessions, which is a natural part of ‘letting go’ of both physical and emotional tension, as well as being a part of increased energetic flow as we unwind fascial blocks, and improve the tissue structure and quality. Through reorganising the physical structure, we often are also releasing holding patterns for emotions, making this work an excellent complementary therapy alongside personal development work or counselling.
Absolutely. Many professionals use Rolfing to help extend their career and increase their performance levels. Being out of balance can lead to Repetitive Stress Injuries like carpal tunnel or vocal cord strain, Tendon/Ligament strains, Weaknesses or over strengths, adrenal fatigue and generalized burn out. Rolfing has been credited by singers and athletes as helping resolve issues with scar tissue, speed up injury rehabilitation time, improve performance, decrease anxiety, optimize mindfulness and focus and address mental/emotional health related to injury and performance. We often work with professional athletes and performers after long tours or race season, but feel free to chat with us about when the right time to receive work is for you and your schedule.
We have the upmost respect for our friends in the professional sports and performance community and operate with discretion as required.
Yes, we want you to use your body. Certain sports/exercises that are particularly intense may be affected by integration of new patterns. It is common for clients to become more aware of limiting movement patterns during the 10 series. To reap the most reward for your time and money commitment, we suggest incorporating some mobility and balance work into your regimens and we are happy to help with suggestions and to guide you with movement goals if you would like us too.
Yes indeed. Ida Rolf (the creator of this method) actually favored working on babies and children because of how rapidly change can occur in their constantly forming bodies. Rolfing is helpful for growing pains, scoliosis, ADD, Aspergers, posture, limb imbalances headaches. We work with children and adolescents at their own pace, often more gently and at the comfort level of the child and parents. We will often work for shorter periods of time as a result.
During the sessions we will discuss movement education and self-care for the long term nurture of your new found structural balance. We may include stretching, mobility or strength exercises as part of your new self care regimens.
Many clients view Rolfing as a way to maintain their alignment and opt for regular work or semi regular tune ups. This may be a good option for you if you are on the computer a lot, a professional/semi professional athlete, or have an ongoing structural or emotional needs i.e. scoliosis, car accident trauma, life events.
Other clients may come back in after an injury or use Rolfing instead of/as well as massage.
We suggesting waiting several months before coming back in for another 10 series to allow your body time to continue integrate and explore new movement options.
We offer post 10 series work and Rolf based massage to clients who have completed a 10 series with us. Please chat with us to find out more.
Structural shifts are attained and in effect long after you complete your Rolfing 10 series.
To get the most bang for your buck, explore your new found freedom by exploring movement.
Athletes will be able to use their new movement options to increase their level of performance or ‘get into’ new or better movement patterns during training.
Take up a new activity or sport, tai chi, dance or rock climbing are great, anything non linear will encourage your body to maintain its structure and oppose every day movements.
If you have premium health coverage you might be able to recoup some of the cost of your Rolfing sessions under the category of massage (we are licensed massage therapists). This is a conversation between you and your insurer, we will be happy to provide you with receipts for you to take to your insurer for possible reimbursement.
In the USA a personal Injury Protection Policy (PIP) will cover up to 100% of the cost of your Rolfing series provided you have a doctor referral for the series and have not used up your coverage elsewhere.
In Australia and Other countries, Rolfing is sometimes covered by premium extra insurance under ‘alternative therapies’.
If you have been in a car accident and are having your medical costs covered by an insurer, you may ask your doctor for a referral for massage therapy. In some cases, some or all of the cost of your Rolfing series is covered without you being out of pocket. Please chat with us and we can help decide if this is the route for you.
Due to the complexity of the insurance system in general, we charge you upfront no matter what, that way there is no confusion down the track, we leave it to you to communicate with your insurer over a time period that suits you. While we can provide general guidance on our experience with insurers, this should not by any means replace you communicating directly with your own insurance company.
If there is any doubt over whether your insurer will cover you, please chat with us.
Despite various schools supplying their own versions of the certification process and claiming those who have not taken their course are unlicensed, Rolfing is considered a form of massage in most countries does not require specific Rolfing certification or licensing, it does usually require a massage certification at a minimum.
Traditional Rolfing is taught at one of two schools (The Guild of Structural Integration or the Rolf Institute) and number of very credible teachers and smaller schools around the world. The traditional training program requires applicants to already have expertise in anatomy and physiology prior to entering the training program. Rolfers are considered to be practitioners of the work after 1-2 years of apprenticing and theory work. In the traditional program, Rolfers are expected to build on their skills by undertaking training courses and working under different teachers over the life of their career. An advanced Rolfing certification is offered to those who have practiced for 5 years or more.
No matter what modality you choose, it is always a good idea to find out about what training your body worker has completed, and feel if you are comfortable with their level experience. There are those who have completed 24 hours of training in massage and may refer to themselves as a Rolfer alongside those with 20 years of experience in somatic body-work and structural integration.