Rolfing? What Is Rolfing? by Craig Swan
Rolfing, or Structural Integration, was created by Dr. Ida Rolf in the 20s and 30s. Dr. Rolf called it structural integration (later to be named Rolfing) because it basically describes the essence of the work. Structural integration simply means to have these sections of the human body: head, neck, shoulders, rib cage, pelvis, knees, ankles and feet, in their optimal alignment. Any misalignments in our bodies with the gravitational forces of nature will require more muscle effort and result in compression. Dr. Rolf also believed that compression was responsible for most of the chronic pain that we humans suffer from.
Dr. Rolf also believed that the length of the myo-fascial tissue would be dictated by how one uses their own individual muscle system. Our muscles,(which are enveloped by this myo-fascial tissue) operate with a one way action, they only contract concentrically or essentrically and don't have the ability to push their attachments away from each other.
Rolfing has 3 main qualities to it.
There is the actual myo-fascial manipulation that lengthens the continuous tendon-like white tissue that envelopes every muscle in our body. Dr. Rolf called this myo-fascial tissue "the organ of form" as its density and length determine structural alignment or posture and compressions throughout the human body.
Secondly, Rolfers will give movement instructions after every session so one may improve their actual mechanics of every day life... Throwing baseballs for over 25 years certainly showed me that there was a mechanically correct way to throw a ball and if I did it poorly, there was a lot of pain involved. Conversely if my mechanics were correct, my arm would only feel tired, not painful. Rolfing teaches the mechanically correct way to: sit, stand, walk and run which all improve balance... These basic movement instructions can be applied to any sport.
And finally Rolfing teaches clients to be aware of where they hold their body armor. A term created by Wilhelm Reich back in the 20s. His definition of body armor is "an unconscious contraction of a muscle or muscle group due a physical, emotional or psychological stress or trauma." Knowledge of our own particular body armor, especially over a lifetime can be invaluable.
The overall result...
from this kind of work, Rolfing/Structural Integration, is a deeper awareness of one's own body, not only how to use it in a more mechanically correct and efficient way but how to read the stress of body armor and to realize what the body is trying to say. Dr. Rolf always wanted all of the politicians to be Rolfed so they would be able to make better decisions by staying more in their bodies. Our bodies are a gateway into our unconscious and if one knows how to interpret their own body armor or perhaps just recognize it, decisions of life could be made drawing more information from our feeling centers rather than being totally from the head.
I've seen my type A personality clients slow down and my ADD'ers get more centered, I've seen my twisted clients untwist and my bent over clients stand straight up, when people learn to relax and use their bodies more efficiently, gravity becomes an ally rather than the enemy.
- Craig Swan
See the new video we just made of Craig speaking about Rolfing!