HGJ Masthead
March/April 2010

Rolfing® Your Way to Better Health

by Shiloh Reilly

Rolfing is often described as deep tissue work similar to massage.  But the goals of these two modalities are somewhat different; Rolfing seeks to align the body in gravity through a series of ten sessions.  During each session, a Rolfer will analyze your posture, movement, and gait and try to free any restrictions that may be keeping your body from its most efficient movement.  This is a complicated way of saying that over the course of ten sessions your posture will improve and moving, standing, breathing, and walking will become easier.  You will also learn what habits and movements are creating problems in your posture and causing restrictions in your tissue resulting in feelings of discomfort or pain.

In the ten session series a Rolfer will analyze your movement, gait, walking and breathing patterns.  Each session has different goals and areas of the body to work with.  The first session will work the arms, back, ribs, head & neck, quads and hamstrings; this will free up the superficial areas of the upper body.  Session two works the knees, feet, lower legs, and back; this session will help your body’s balance by putting the joints of your feet and knees in the same line.  The rest of the sessions continue to free up restrictions in the soft tissue, straighten joints and realign spinal torsions until the entire body reaches a more central line.  Each session works deeper into the body helping resolve movement and postural patterns that have developed into restrictions.  The balance of the body can shift each session until it reaches an ideal state.  Each session the rolfer will teach you new movements and adjustments you can make to continue to improve.

There are a number of other reasons to improve your posture including:  injury prevention, repetitive stress injuries, chronic pain, simply feeling better, or enjoying and learning about your body.  A Rolfing series can be adjusted to fit the style of work that best fits the client.  If you are more interested in deep tissue work to free soft tissue restrictions, the Rolfer will do that.  If you want to learn more about your posture and movement patterns and how to improve those, the Rolfer can teach you ways to stretch, move, and strengthen your body.  If you want a mix of hands-on work and guided movement - that can be done too.

This can help your body conserve energy it may have been wasting with unnecessary or counterproductive movements. This can be very helpful for any athlete seeking to improve their performance or prevent injuries.  People often report feeling lighter, taller, and straighter after sessions.

Having a body that is free of soft tissue restrictions can help prevent or relieve chronic pain issues that may arise from repetitive stress issues, nerve impingement, or cartilage damage from uneven weight on joints.  When the body moves onto a more central line, the restrictions in the tissue are replaced by space and joints and nerves that were impinged or twisted can begin to heal.  As Ida Rolf (the founder of Rolfing) said, "...when the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through.   Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself."  This can also prevent problems later in life when osteoporosis and other issues begin to arise.  By having the body straight and even weight on joints - the wearing away of tissue on one side (that usually causes pain) will be minimized.  This will promote health and ease rather than pain and discomfort as you age.

Rolfing is also wonderful for children, to give them a lifetime of health and ease and to improve confidence by improving their body image.

Shiloh Reilly grew up in Nikiski, Alaska and graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage.  After college she went on to attend the Rolf Institute and moved to Michigan.  She now lives in Ferndale and works at Studio 4 Bodywork in Birmingham.