Focusing upon the body fascia, Rolfing is a form of bodywork based on the idea of entirely re-learning how we move in our bodies. Rolfing originated in the research of American biochemist Dr. Ida P. Rolf who, back in the 1940s, sought not a treatment for individual symptoms, but rather a way of fundamentally rearranging and integrating the body’s underlying structure. In its early form, Rolfing was known for its application of strong, sometimes painful, pressure, However, most modern Rolfing practitioners today make use of much gentler, but still highly effective techniques. Today’s Rolfing is more than simply a form of tissue manipulation. Focusing upon the body’s sensations and movements, it also incorporates aspects of “physical learning,” using various approaches to accomplish the goal of restructuring and reintegrating the entire body.
* Originally, Dr. Rolf referred to her work as “Structural Integration,” but in recent years the term “Rolfing” has become common.
To learn more, please visit: Dr. Ida Rolf Institute
Body and Gravityでは、アメリカ発祥のボディーワーク、ロルフィングに基づき、重力と調和するようなからだづくりを目指します。
Here on Earth we can never escape the power of gravity. Our bodies are constantly pulled downward, toward the ground. Whenever gravity tips the body off-balance, our immediate instinct is to apply force in order to right ourselves. If the body is constantly struggling against the pull of gravity, over time problems will develop that tend to inhibit our freedom of movement. On the other hand, if the body can recover its proper balance, the constant strain and discomfort will disappear, effectively solving these problems. In this way, Rolfing guides the body to rediscover its proper relationship with the force of gravity.
Our bodies are composed of various materials, such as the muscles, bones, and internal organs. Each of these has been designated its own specific location within the body. So if, for example, you twist your torso, your intestines don’t get all tangled up; nor does your liver suddenly drop down into your pelvis. This is because each organ is separate and held securely in place. What does that work is fascia, a material that both separates and connects all the other parts of our bodies. Picture an orange for a moment. When peeled, it still perfectly retains its shape, thanks to the soft white tissue that binds each section. Surrounding virtually all our muscles and organs is a very similar supporting tissue called fascia.
This “fascia” has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Creating a frame for our bodies, it has come to be thought of as our “second skeleton.” However, unlike oranges, the human body moves. Thus the fascia must be flexible in order to allow our bodies to stretch and contract. If we are injured, however, our normal movement is reduced. In that case, fascia tend to harden and begin fighting against the body’s natural flexibility. Over time, such hardened fascia will actually begin to prevent the body from returning to its correct alignment. The goal of Rolfing, then, is to work with this hardened fascia, allowing the body to rediscover its original movement and posture.
The fact that the fascia is found throughout the body, while all the time stretching and contracting between all the different parts of the body, means that every individual part affects all the other parts as well. For instance, what we identify as back pain is often actually the result of fascial problems in other parts of the body. Using a towel as an example, if you twist it as though you were making a rope, it is the center that takes the most stress. Nonetheless, the actual force is initiated from both ends of the towel. Regardless of whatever symptoms appear in any given part of the body, Rolfing’s approach is to treat the fascia, in order to regulate the body’s overall balance and well-being.
Chronic physical problems such as poor posture should not always be blamed solely upon the fascia. Some people’s issues can stem from accidents and injuries, or from using our bodies too hard. We can think of Rolfing as a process of physical learning, as we explore the body and resolve those issues that inhibit our everyday movement. In contrast to what we might call the “Additive Approach,” of training aimed at building muscle bulk, Rolfing can be thought of as a “Subtractive Approach,” where we quietly explore the body through gentle movement. Importantly, this “physical learning” involves both the Rolfer, guiding the process, and the client, paying close attention to his or her own body movements and conditions. The success of Rolfing "sessions" is based on this sense of mutual cooperation between the Rolfer and the client.
The physical learning we seek over the course of 10 sessions is a process of exploring the fascia throughout the body. That exploration is in turn a process of nurturing the body back to its original balanced posture and freedom of movement. Importantly, having achieved this new state of physical well-being, the body will also have learned how to maintain it. And as well, specific chronic problems also naturally disappear. The 10 sessions are often undertaken at a pace of one session every 2-3 weeks or so, over the course of 6 months. Rolfing is a process that works well for people interested in exploring the body, and achieving lasting improvement gradually over time.
This official English-language video from the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute provides an excellent visual explanation of rolfing and fascia.
(* In Europe and the United States, Rolfing work is commonly done on the bare skin, and clients often wear only swimsuit-like attire. However, clients of Body and Gravity have the option of wearing full, but loose and comfortable clothing.)