How is Rolfing different from massage?
Massage focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort.  The intention of Rolfing is align the segments of the body in gravity.  Rolfing’s specific goal of alignment of the structure is what sets it apart, although it may indeed bring relaxation and pain relief.

Rolfing uses a different style of contact than massage.  A Rolfer intends to contact the connective tissue system of the body, which responds to a particular pace and pressure.  Additionally, Rolfing is a participatory process. You may be asked to “breath” into tissue to help it release, to make small movements under the practitioner’s hands, or to “reach into” a place being worked. Participating in the movement feels very different than having work “done to you.” Additionally, Rolfing proceeds slowly and deliberately, allowing ample time to relax into the pressure.  Typically, no oils or massage lotions are used.

What is connective tissue/fascia?
Connective tissue, or fascia,  is strong, tough, fibrous tissue that acts as the support system-and spacers-for the entire body. Composed of the protein collagen, connective tissue accounts for half the protein in the body. No tissue in the body is as abundant. It binds cells into tissues, tissues into organs, connects muscles and bones, wraps every nerve and vessel, laces all internal structures into place and envelopes the body. When tightly bundled together, it forms tendons and ligaments; around muscles and organs it is thin and often transparent; in the low back and outer thigh it forms large, thick white sheets that are amazingly strong.
All these linings, wrappings, cables, and moorings are continuous, connecting everything to everything else. Connective tissue so thoroughly permeates the body that if you removed everything else, there would still be a three-dimensional, recognizable human form.

Healthy connective tissue is characterized by flexibility, elasticity, length, and resilience. The tissue absorbs and responds to the earth’s gravitational force, illness, injury, emotional trauma, and everyday stress. Any of these factors will, over a period of time, cause an imbalance in the tissue system. Imbalance is identified as a shortening, thickening, and dehydration of the tissue, which impairs joint mobility and muscle function. This is usually felt in the body as chronic pain, stiffness, or decreased flexibility  fact that fascia changes shape as a body deteriorates indicates it possesses “plasticity,” a quality that can also be used to restore the body to balance. Connective tissue, unlike muscle tone, changes very slowly. Under the sustained and careful pressure of the Rolfer’s hands, the tissue can be loosened, lengthened, and shifted to balance and align to the body.

Who gets Rolfed?
People come to Rolfing for a variety of reasons.  Often people are motivated by a specific pain or ailment, and turn to Rolfing as an alternative to surgery, and shots or prolonged use of anti-inflammatories.   Many people come to Rolfing as they begin to notice the effects of getting older.  They simply want to feel better-to have more energy and flexibility. Still others sense a need for change in their lives and in their bodies. They see Rolfing as a way to reconnect with their bodies-emotionally, physically, and spiritually-and ultimately achieve greater confidence, peace and joy. People in therapy, and many recovering from trauma or addiction use Rolfing as a path to healing.   Many athletes and artists use Rolfing to improve performance and extend their careers.  Parents seek Rolfing for their children for improved performance and function.  Ultimately Rolfing is for those who are open to positive change in their bodies.

Can children receive Rolfing?
Absolutely! Rolfing can be extremely effective with children due to the rapid rate at which their bodies break down and rebuild (as we get older this process slows down). Consequently, profound structural changes can occur with minimal intervention. Rolfing can assist children and adolescents with growing pains, scoliosis, poor posture, leg imbalances such as knock-knees or pigeon-toes, and headaches, among others. Work on children is gentle, and always within the comfort level of the child and parents.
Sessions for children are usually shorter than for adults, and the Ten-Series is usually not received until adolescence. Rolfing can also help children who have had accidents, co-ordination difficulties or seem to be unusually detached from others and their surroundings.

Can the elderly receive Rolfing?
Yes.  The tissue is always available for change, although in some clients it may take a little more coaxing and time.  Rolfing can help restore balance, range of motion and flexibility, allowing for easier movement.  Rolfing sessions are tailored to meet the pace and comfort level of the client, and appropriate care is taken to work with the more delicate bones and tissue.

What specific problems might Rolfing address?
Rolfers are trained to work with many different physical problems such as:
·Carpal tunnel syndrome
·Lower back
·Spinal curvature
·Visceral position and tissue restrictions
·Many types of feet problems

How can I tell if Rolfing is for me and my family?
Talk to your Rolfer. If you are still not sure, try one session. This will give you a pretty good idea of what the work is about, what it feels like, and whether or not you connect with your practitioner. In general, most people know whether Rolfing will benefit them by session three. This session provides a good stopping point for people who decide that Rolfing is not appropriate for them. Most people, however, find the process enjoyable as well as beneficial.

Why a ten session series?
Whether you’re quitting smoking or training for a marathon, long-term positive change takes time. Your body didn’t get this way overnight; helping it find a new way to be will take some time too. Each Rolfing session works different areas with different objectives in mind. Often, you will see changes as soon as you step off the table. But the time between sessions is just as powerful because this is when your body takes changes – such as greater range of motion in the shoulder, a shifted pelvic angle, or improved foot flexibility – and integrates them into your system (makes them yours).
During this time, the body experiments with unfamiliar movements and awareness, builds new neurological pathways, and influences your structure, movement patterns, and experience. This is why Ida Rolf used to say, “Gravity is the therapist.” At the beginning of the next session, we will observe what is changing and what hasn’t and use this information to refine our strategy. Ten sessions allow us to devote appropriate time to specific areas and issues that are common structural challenges and to customize work that is meaningful to your unique body and lifestyle.

Do I have to commit to 10 sessions?
Of course not. Plan to come in for the first session and see how you respond to the work. Most people notice results by session three. This session is the last of the “superficial” sessions and a natural place to stop if you don’t feel you’re getting what you need. If, like so many of us, you get hooked on Rolfing, session three is the time to take stock of changes and refine goals and expectations for the remaining sessions. If you do plan to continue, it makes sense to commit to completing the series in the next six months.

What happens after the initial Rolfing series?
The series is designed to leave your structure balanced place. Many clients complete their series and never feel the need for another session. Others view Rolfing as an important way of maintaining their bodies and come in for regular “tune ups” (anywhere from bimonthly to quarterly). This is particularly common among athletes, heavy computer users, and adults with scoliosis. Some clients find so much more ease and relaxation in their bodies after Rolfing, that they use it instead of massage. Others take a break for several months, and then request additional work, generally in three to five sessions, which may focus on the client’s specific goals. Lastly, some clients only use Rolfing on an as-needed basis, such as after a fall. These are all good ways to use Rolfing after you’ve completed the initial work. Do what makes sense to you.

What do I expect in a session?
The session begins with the Rolfer observing your structure and movement patterns while standing.  The “Rolfing Uniform” is underwear, or a bathing suit (2-piece for women.)   While you lie on a physical therapy table, the Rolfer uses hands, fingers, and arms to apply slow, specific pressure to different parts of your body. The goal: To begin easing restrictions in the connective tissue and realign the body. You may be asked to make small, synchronized movements or to “breath into the area” being worked. Sessions often close with some form of movement education, such as developing supported sitting posture, refining the walking gait, or working on specific stretches.

Does Rolfing Hurt?
Rolfing has the reputation for being painful.  Much of the reputation for pain came from the early days when Rolfing was first gaining public recognition. Since that time, the process has evolved, and refinement in understanding and technique have resulted in a less heavy handed approach.  That being said, areas being worked will vary in sensation and feeling depending upon the severity of chronic stress, injuries, and other factors specific to your body. Feelings can range from pleasurable release to honest-to-goodness discomfort. Fortunately, the work proceeds at your level and pace. When discomfort occurs, many clients describe it as a “good hurt” that the body wants and needs. It is not the kind of pain that requires painkillers or anesthesia.  It can be managed with focused intention and breathing.  Clients say that Rolfing significantly reduces the pain experienced in their daily lives or increases athletic functioning to such an extent, that discomfort on the table is worth the trade.
Usually after the first session, clients often comment that the work was nothing like they’d heard it would be, and are surprised at how good it feels.

Does Rolfing Last?
Photographs taken of clients years after the basic series show changes still present. Physiology explains why: Our bodies are constantly breaking down and rebuilding themselves. Bodies determine how to build themselves based on the way weight and stress is distributed through the structure. When we loosen, lengthen, and shift connective tissue, we affect relationships between structures and change strain patterns. Next time, the body rebuilds itself a bit differently. This is how Rolfing affects structure over the long-term. Movement education supports these changes by teaching clients more effective sitting, standing, walking, and work habits. Obviously, if body-use changes due to injury, illness, or stress, additional work may be useful.
Believe it or not, structure keeps changing after the ten-series (a phenomenon so common that Rolfers have named post-series months, the “eleventh session”).

Are there psychological effects from Rolfing?
While Rolfing is primarily concerned with structural modifications, any change in the physical body affects the whole person. A shift in structure alters the way you relate to the world. Sometimes this is physical experience, as when your head moves up over your torso, changing your line of sight and modifying your “view” of the world. Just as often, changes are less physical but just as profound – after a session, you might feel you’ve “let go of something” and can work with an old fear in a new way. Rolfing helps people access patterns of holding that are emotional as well as physical. As such, Rolfing is an excellent complement to psychotherapy and other personal development work.

Will Rolfing relieve my pain? 
It is the intention of Rolfing to align the body in gravity.  Often clients find that improved alignment reduces or eliminates their pain.

Can I see my chiropractor while being Rolfed?
Rolfing and chiropractic can be mutually beneficial. Chiropractic moves bones back to their proper place to restore joint function. Rolfing improves alignment by manipulating the tissues that hold bones – and everything else – in place. If adjustments don’t seem to be holding as long as you’d hoped, there’s a good chance the connective tissue is the culprit.   Please inform your chiropractor that you are undergoing Rolfing.

Can I see a Massage Therapist while being Rolfed?
That depends on the type of massage you receive.  Some massage techniques focus on relaxation, others are more structural in their approach.    If you receive relaxation massage, it is valuable and complementary to Rolfing.   Structural work and Rolfing simultaneously may be too much input for your structure to integrate.  Please ask your therapist about his/her style and intention.  I will be happy to further discuss this with you or your therapist.
Regular bodywork (massage or Rolfing), at least once a month, is highly recommended after your Rolfing series for keeping the kinks out and maintaining a sense of well being.

Can I continue my regular exercise routine while being Rolfed?
Regular exercise is great, just pay attention to your body. Balance and coordination can be temporarily affected as your structure changes, and time is needed to integrate changes. Although you should avoid intense workouts the day of a session, movement is key to reaping the rewards of Rolfing.  Walking, stretching and hiking are particularly good at assisting integration and are strongly recommended.

Does insurance cover Rolfing?
Rolfing work may be covered by your health insurance, but often it is not. Many times a letter of medical necessity is required from your doctor or chiropractor; it is best to check with your insurance provider to identify their requirements. Sometimes it’s a matter of wording – “myofascial release” or “neuromuscular re-education” may be terms your provider prefers.  I can supply you with a receipt, but I do not bill or accept insurance.
Check to see if your employer provides flexible spending options (sometimes called a “medical spending account” or “cafeteria plan”). These plans set aside a portion of your annual income tax-free to be used for medical, dental and childcare expenses. Plans such as these may cover Rolfing and may not require a referral.

What does conventional medicine think of Rolfing? 
The organizations that represent MDs, physical therapists, nurses and so on do not take any formal positions on Rolfing, just as they do not take formal positions on other types of complementary health care. When Rolfing is understood by these practitioners, it is generally quite well received – more and more MDs are referring patients to Rolfers and are, themselves, being Rolfed. One reason for this is that Rolfing is based on Western ideas of anatomy and physiology that are familiar to and accepted by Western trained physicians. Many physical therapists readily embrace Rolfing because they view fascial manipulation (the cornerstone of Rolfing) as a significant factor in joint mobilization.

How are Rolfers trained?
Rolfers are trained and certified by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado – the only school accredited to teach Rolfing. Successful applicants complete a training program that usually requires two years of study. Following certification, ongoing continuing education is required to maintain active status in the institute. Training covers anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology; Rolfing theory and structural analysis; soft tissue manipulation, spinal mechanics, and joint mobilization methods; Rolfing Movement Integration techniques; individual research and written essays; and extensive supervised clinical sessions.

How do I make sure my practitioner is a Certified Rolfer?
Good question. There are a lot of people out there who claim to be trained in Rolfing. The Rolf Institute follows up on cases it finds out about, but this is still a significant problem. When someone tells you they learned Rolfing at a workshop, move on. This is not something you pick up over a long weekend. Ask a potential practitioner if he or she is certified by the Rolf Institute.
Even better, check it out for yourself – go to the Rolf Institute website, www.rolf.org, and select “Locate a Rolfer” from the menu. Or contact the Rolf Institute directly at:
The Rolf Institute
5055 Chaparral Court, Ste. 103
Boulder, CO 80301
(800) 530-8875