The Importance of Rolfing Structural Integration

by Robert McWilliams

We work hard—at our jobs, taking care of our families or at athletic pursuits. When we feel worn down, perhaps the knees, lower back or neck disks are wearing out. Some people have difficulty recovering from a surgery or an illness. Some people might be plagued by injuries and unable to achieve fitness goals. Older people might feel stiff and in pain to the point that they just don’t feel like walking and exercising. For all of these scenarios, Rolfing structural integration can help.

Dr. Ida Rolf, a biochemist, created a set of 10 sessions that make up the initial basic, comprehensive, graduated way of releasing and integrating the whole-body fascia system called structural integration. A certified Rolfer is one that is trained in structural integration and can help with degenerated disks; plantar fasciitis; tennis elbow; sore nerves in the shoulders; foot pain; knee pain; post-surgical rehabilitation; club feet; pain from major illness, such as diabetes; or problems with coordination in daily activities.

In general, a certified Rolfer looks for drag on the system, especially for the affected painful area, which could be in the fascia, the nerves, the internal organs, or a joint misalignment or restriction. He or she then finds a way to open the restriction and release the drag to ease the affected area and improve the whole system. The point is not to work only on symptoms, but to get to the root of the problem and take the body to the next available levels of wellness and optimum movement.

A lot has changed since Rolf died in 1979. There is a lot of new information that wasn’t available previously or that she chose not to teach, especially concerning working with painful nerves and organ-related pain and dysfunction. Over the years, Rolfing students reshaped her techniques to treat people in a way customized for each client, yet with a fully systematic, whole-body concept and approach. The Advanced Rolfer Certification is based on advanced study, along with information and skills related to working with areas not covered by the basic 10-session series training, such as easing peripheral nerves, joint release or working with the internal organs.

Rolfing feels like rejuvenation—like retooling and realigning the body so that the joints are more on track and the body feels like a smooth running machine. Imagine receiving bodywork that can ease and unblock sore nerves and mobilize restrictions in the ankles, hips, pelvis, ribs and spine. All of this is in a graduated sequence designed so that the body can assimilate and adapt to it. Rolf Movement work is to help point out and anchor new movement patterns that emerge in the structural integration process and also different ways of feeling in the body and mind.

Robert McWilliams was a professional dancer for more than 25 years, based in New York City, Europe, Florida and Colorado. He is now a Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement practitioner based in Boulder, Colorado. For more information, call 303-887-6764 or visit RolfingInBoulder.com.

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