Who should consider Rolfing® SI?

People come to Rolfing® SI for very varied reasons. Some people who suffer from chronic pain turn to Rolfing® SI as an alternative to surgery or other more invasive forms of treatment. Many others are drawn to Rolfing® SI to improve their posture and body use, resulting in increased self-confidence and ease in the body. Athletes seek Rolfing® to help improve performance while Yoga practitioners seek it for increased flexibility and body awareness. Still others see Rolfing® SI as a way of reconnecting with their bodies physically, emotionally and spiritually, resulting in a sense of joy, peace and confidence through deeper self awareness.

How is Rolfing® SI different from deep tissue massage or myofascial release work?

Although I cannot speak for all deep tissue or myofascial work, in general, Rolfing® SI is distinguished from these other forms of bodywork by its emphasis on integration and education. Releasing tension in the myofascial system and deep tissue layers is not a goal of Rolfing® SI, but one of its results. The heart of Rolfing® SI revolves around seeing the person as a whole, from both a structural and functional perspective, and in supporting the system to shift and come to rest in its best possible alignment at a particular point in time. It is a process of change that involves the participation and engagement of the client, and with the added dimension of awareness through education, the changes can be embodied and owned on a more permanent basis.

How is Rolfing® SI different from Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a system of work based on the diagnosis and manipulative treatment of misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column. Rolfing® SI does not manipulate the bones themselves, but rather the connective tissue, which includes fascia, tendons and ligaments, to bring the whole body back into alignment in the field of gravity. It is the premise of Rolfing® SI that bones are pulled out of alignment by these connective tissues, especially when chronic conditions are concerned. Of course, sudden impacts such as falls and accidents can take bones out of alignment as well, and in these cases, Chiropractic can be very helpful.

How is Rolfing® SI different from Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy?

In general, physical therapy is the treatment of disease, injury, or disability by physical and mechanical means that can include the use of massage, regulated exercise, water, light, heat, and electricity. Rolfing® SI is something very different with its own unique system of understanding the body, but can bring about similar results in terms of relief or recovery from symptoms. Physical therapy usually works with the injured part to rehabilitate the muscles, while Rolfing® SI tries to improve the relationship between different parts of the body as a way to eliminate pain and dis-ease.

What is Rolf Movement® Integration? Does it benefit me to only take movement sessions?

Rolf Movement® work, also referred to as Rolfing® Movement Integration, is an integral part of the Rolfing® process, and has the same goals as the structural work itself. Where the structural work deals with patterns of structure, Rolf Movement® work re-educates the body’s movement patterns. Life is motion. When we are unable to meet life’s demands to move in certain ways, tension results. Familiar symptoms of this kind of tension are low energy, aching muscles and stress.

A Rolf Movement® Practitioner works to guide the client in replacing binding tension patterns with free and well-integrated movement. Rolf Movement® Integration usually consists of five or more sessions spaced one or more weeks apart. Sessions can be done in groups or in private.

You can definitely benefit from receiving Rolf Movement® sessions on their own through increased body awareness and new movement possibilities, even without the structural work.

Do the results from Rolfing® SI last?

Yes, the results from Rolfing® SI can last, but the degree to which they last vary from person to person. Rolfing® SI shifts the relationship between structures and change strain patterns, bringing the body into a better alignment with gravity, thus allowing the body to function with ease along this improved alignment. Movement education is crucial in supporting this shift and in maintaining the change by helping the client become aware of movement patterns and offering new possibilities for sitting, standing, walking, and working. With deepened awareness and more choices available, the client becomes her own therapist with the help of gravity.

Is Rolfing® SI suitable for children?

Yes, children can get Rolfing® sessions, but whether it is the most suitable therapy for your child depends entirely on the intention and reasons for getting therapy. Young children usually possess a natural ease with their bodies and are physically well-aligned. Nevertheless, as children become teenagers, the physical and emotional challenges that accompany the accelerated changes in their body during adolescence, in addition to the stress from schoolwork and peer pressure can deeply affect their body image, influencing the way they carry themselves.

Children’s bodies tend to respond very well to Rolfing® SI. The longer we are in our patterns, the more difficult it is to revert them. Getting rolfed at an early age is advantageous because patterns are usually not as set yet, and imbalances that may adversely affect a child’s development can be corrected for.

Is Rolfing® SI painful?

Rolfing® SI has the reputation of being a painful experience. Sensations in the areas being worked on may range from pleasurable warmth to momentary discomfort. At times there may be little sensation at all. As far as the actual experience is concerned, the area being worked on will vary in sensation and feeling depending upon the severity of chronic stress, injuries, how one perceives pain and other factors specific to that person. Honest and open communication is encouraged between the practitioner and client so that work can progress at the client’s pace. This way of working can greatly reduce the sensation of pain and discomfort.

Must Rolfing® SI be received as a 10-session series?

No, Rolfing® SI does not need to be taken as a 10-session series, although this is the most basic format that it is offerred in. Rolfing® SI attempts to bring shifts to the body as a whole, paying attention to the relationship between parts. Each session works with different parts of the body with specific objectives in mind. Some Rolfers™ offer ten structural sessions while others offer ten structural and three or five movement sessions as the initial series. Still others work entirely in a non-formulistic way. The number of sessions will be agreed upon between the Rolfer™ and the client, depending on the client’s needs and the Rolfer’s™ level of training.

Nevertheless, there are advantages to receiving work as a series of sessions, regardless of how many sessions the series consists of. A series gives the Rolfer™ a chance to work with the whole body and to bring the different parts into better relationship with one another. Even though changes can be felt during and immediately after a session, the body continues to shift during the time between sessions. Giving the body time to find a new place to settle into is very important and this guides the Rolfer™ in making decisions on how to work in subsequent sessions. A series of sessions also offers the Rolfer™ and the client time to build safety and trust in the relationship.

What if I decide to stop getting rolfed before the end of a 10-session series?

If you choose to stop getting rolfed after you have begun a 10-session series, it is recommended that you stop after session 3 or 7. The reason is that the sessions are grouped into three blocks, i.e., sessions 1-3, sessions 4-7 and sessions 8-10, and although these are not complete in themselves, they are places in the series where the body is at an acceptable level of integration to ensure that the transition out of Rolfing® SI is a smooth one.

What can I expect at the end of a 10-session series?

The initial series attempts to bring the client’s body to its optimal structural alignment and functional ease at the time within the constraints of the resources available. As each person is a unique individual, the felt changes can vary dramatically from person to person. Nevertheless, most clients report feeling more ease in their body, relief from pain, feeling taller and more upright, greater flexibility, an increase in energy, a felt sensation of dimension and space in the body, and a general increase in body awareness.

Click here to see a case in point.

What happens after I finish the initial series?

You can continue to get follow-up sessions, but it is recommended that you give the body a few months to integrate the work of the initial series..

Aside from Rolfing® SI, you may also want to explore other forms of therapy or practices that might be supportive of your process. Depending on your intention and your unique needs, therapies such as craniosacral therapy, polarity therapy, psychotherapy and practices such as yoga and meditation can serve to deepen the transformative process.

How long is each session and how often should I get rolfed?

Each session is about 60 minutes long and it is recommended to receive weekly sessions. However, you can receive up to two Rolfing® sessions in a week, or space sessions two weeks apart.

What do I wear during a Rolfing® session?

Most people choose to wear their regular underwear; a bra and underwear for women and boxers or briefs for men. If this feels too revealing, shorts and a jogging bra can be worn instead.

How can I get the most from Rolfing® SI?

Depending on how both the Rolfer™ and the client relate to the process of Rolfing® SI, it can be an experience that varies from being a purely physical one to one of deep spiritual connection and opening. No matter which part of the spectrum the experience may be for you, paying attention and getting engaged in the process and making space in your life for this shift will ensure that you get the most from it. This may be as simple as bringing awareness to your movement patterns and practicing the movement exercises that your Rolfer™ recommends, or you may choose to get private Pilates or Yoga sessions to support, integrate and help remind the body of its newfound alignment. You may even choose to reduce your commitments during the period that you are receiving Rolfing® sessions so you can pay closer attention to your body’s felt sense as it goes through the shifts that take place.

Can I exercise while I am still receiving Rolfing® work?

Yes. However, it is recommended that you avoid strenuous exercises, especially those that may take you out of your new alignment due to over-exertion. Because the body has not had time to fully integrate and own the new ways of movement, we tend to default back to our old and more familiar postural and movement patterns when we over-exert.

How do I make sure that my practitioner is a certified Rolfer™?

This is actually a rather complex question. Many practitioners who did not graduate from the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration refer to the work they do as “Rolfing®” and sometimes call themselves “Rolfers™.” This problem is a legacy from the fact that Structural Integration, which was how Dr. Ida Rolf referred to this work, was originally taught only at one school, but due to philosophical differences in regards to how this work should evolve after her death, split into two main schools, namely The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration and the Guild for Structural Integration. However, because the Rolf Institute® owned the trademarks to the words “Rolfing®” and “Rolfer™,” it became technically illegal for graduates of the Guild to refer to themselves as Rolfers™. Further, new schools have been founded that teach Dr. Rolf’s work, and whether they refer to what they teach as Rolfing® or not, it is hard to entirely avoid the use of the word because it is the most direct and habitual way of referring to what Dr. Rolf created.

Adding to this complication is the fact that even practitioners who graduated from the Rolf Institute® are not legally allowed to refer to themselves as “Rolfers™” if they do not continue to pay an annual membership fee. Such practitioners would have to refer to themselves as “Practitioners of Structural Integration.” Some Rolfers™ do eventually choose to end their membership at the Rolf Institute® for various reasons, but it is understandably difficult for them to completely stop refering to themselves as “Rolfers™” altogether.

If you would like to ascertain if a practitioner is a graduate of the Rolf Institute® and continues to be a member of the institute by paying the annual fee, go to the Rolf Institute® website, select [Find a Rolfer] from the menu on the left, and then click the link under [Verify if someone is a Certified Rolfer]. Alternatively, you can also contact the Rolf Institute® directly through email or phone.