Frequently Asked Questions About Rolfing®

Below is a set of commonly asked Rolfing® questions I hear from clients.

  • What Is Rolfing®?

    Rolfing addresses sets of relationships within your body’s connective tissue network (or ‘fascial system’) to integrate your body structurally and functionally in gravity. The combination of applied pressure and your own synchronized micromovements reposition the connective tissue to permit a more effective and efficient pattern to emerge. Unique in scope, Rolfing will deepen your awareness of how your body works and re-educate your movement to allow structural changes to last a lifetime.

  • How Does Rolfing® Work?

    As Rolfers, we work with the relationship between gravity and your body’s connective tissue network which we consider the primary organ of structure. Fascia divides the different tissues and organs into distinct compartments, attaches them into complex systems, and organizes them into functional groups. It provides a means of disease containment and intra-body communication, and transforms the tug of gravity and muscular contractions into coordinated, fluid movement of body parts. If all other elements were extracted, connective tissue alone would preserve the three-dimensional human form in all its details. It, uniquely, records the stresses and strains, patterns and preferences of our embodied form. Of all the forces affecting the human body, gravity is among the most powerful. Our bodies must deal with it, like all other material structures. Body misalignment in gravity results in chronic strain, lowered vitality, and impaired biological and physiological functioning. When we are out of equipoise, gravity drags us down, just as it drags down a building that has lost its architectural integrity. If the foundation sinks or the tensile supports deteriorate, a building will slowly cave in upon itself as its compromised structure can no longer collaborate with gravity but is forced to fight against it. Similarly, when a body surrenders its architectural integrity, fascia shortens and thickens, adapting as best it knows how and, in the process, generally restricting the freedom, balance, and fluidity of the body it shapes. Pain is a an all-too-common result. Through the Rolfing® process, we strategically reintroduce the integrity you’ve lost. For more information, visit The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration or ask me at Chicago Rolfing!

  • Your Rolfing® Sessions

    Classically, Rolfing begins with a basic ten session cycle of treatments (“10 Series”) each concentrating on a specific territory of fascial relations, and building on the preceding ones. Sessions last 60-75 minutes and usually occur every one or two weeks. To begin each session a structural assessment in standing or walking is done to evaluate the relationships between your body’s segments and how they manifest broader somatic patterns. This means that a low back problem, for example, is not assessed in isolation. Rather, we understand it with respect to the position of the thorax above, the pelvis beneath, and the grounding supports right down to the arches of your feet. Changes and shifts typically continue between sessions as your neurological and bony systems adapt to the new information and movement options. Your attention to these new sensations outside the sessions will serve to orient and deepen the collaberation with your Rolfer.

  • How Long Can I Expect The Effects Of Rolfing® To Last?

    For most people, the effects of a classical 10 Series not only endure, but continue to create more possibilities of awareness and movement over time. Shifting naturally continues following your series and this is why we generally recommend a six month hiatus from structural work to let the body integrate. For many, an initial classical 10 Series will be enough. Others, however, will be ready to return for a more advanced process after the six months. Some may wait a year or even more. There are some exceptions to this. Individuals putting a regular heavy load on their system—marathon runners, body builders, or those doing intensive manual labor, for example—may need more regular maintenance (“tune-ups”) than others.

  • Who Comes To Rolfing®?

    People riddled with chronic pain and stress; musicians, athletes, dancers, and yogis; your everyday person with incorrigible postural problems and general stiffness; those hoping to deepen awareness; people from all walks of life and of all ages. The common thread of those that make their way to Rolfing® is a readiness to change in ways that extend beyond symptom relief to address the broader physical patterns that underlie them.

  • Is Rolfing® ‘deep tissue’? How Does Rolfing® Compare To Chiropractic Manipulation?

    Few people realize that much of what goes by the name of “deep tissue therapy” and “myofascial release techniques” have their origins in Rolfing. Because of the proliferation of deep tissue therapies, people may mistakenly consider Rolfing to be a deep tissue technique rather than a process. But, as every Rolfer knows, in the attempt to organize and integrate the body in gravity, one certain way to unbalance the body is to manipulate the deep tissue at the expense of the surface, to “push hard” as an end in itself without a plan for organization. This willy-nilly method can provide relief; more often it simply bores holes in the fascial network and destabilizes a body. Structural integration cannot exist without balance between ‘core’ and ‘sleeve’. Rolfers approach the body as architects might – carefully renovating to restore an effective blueprint, and perhaps building in some enhancements along the way. We may address your foundation as well as your third floor’s wiring, the view on the seventh floor and the ability to handle Chicago’s strong gusts throughout the structure as a whole. Our work involves no high velocity manipulation (“cracking”) and we require no x-rays.