Rolfing: Alternative to traditional medical solutions for chronic pain.

Jeff Belanger Certified Advanced Rolfer, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Session

During a Rolfing session you are lying on a table, this neutralizes the compression of gravity.  The Rolfer finds and touches specific places in your soft tissue where you are constantly tight.  Gentle and slow pressure is applied and held until you actually feel the tightness in your muscle.  By bringing your awareness to this muscle tighness, some loosening happens.  This loosening contributes to the untwisting of your body structure.  Rolfing is a strategic intervention with your body's twist.  The intervention is strategic in that the changes introduced in every session set your body up to expect, even demand, the changes to be introduced in the next session.  Another part of the strategy is to introduce changes to your body's structure so that gravity will help your body to untwist.  This intervention creates life long changes.  As mentioned above, your body twist exists in your soft tissue as a system of muscle tightness habits.  Each session consists of local changes within the overall system of muscle tightness.  When you get up at the end of a session and gravity loads your structure, the once familiar twist is now different.  The difference feels better, and thus the new alignment soon becomes your new norm.  Each small untwisting of your structure not only changes the overall twist but calls for further untwisting, until all areas of your body have aligned themselves into a more comfortable and functional position.

 

Questions About "The Session"

What about discomfort during a session? 

The Rolfer "listens" to your body's muscles with his hands.  Your body will tell the Rolfer the right speed for you so that changes in your habits of muscle tightness happen comfortably.  It is true that Rolfing has a reputation of being uncomfortable.  However, Rolfing doesn't have to be uncomfortable to work.  In the early days of training Rolfers, not enough consideration was given to how difficult the process could be for clients.  Increased knowledge and experience has shown that Rolfers can get the same high quality results by "listening" to your body's tissue.  Your body will tell the Rolfer how fast to go and how quickly changes can be incorporated.  Skilled Rolfers can feel this with their hands; this is a product of years of practice.  As a result, the Rolfing process has become much gentler and more precisely attuned to the unique differences of individual clients.


How are sessions scheduled?

Most clients schedule sessions a week apart.  Some clients schedule sessions for every 2 weeks or even a month apart, due to travel or budget constraints.  Many clients will feel a marked difference in their balanace after a session and for up to 2 days later.  After that you would notice feeling "like usual" again.  Clients often think that their Rolfing changes have faded; however, photos taken before and after each session show that you simply got used to changes from the session.


How long does a session last?

Sessions are generally 1 hour.  Every session has specific goals and outcomes and the session is completed when the goals and outcomes are accomplished.  Because you are changing lifelong habits of muscle tightness, Rolfers have found it important to accomplish the goals of individual sessions within an hour.  That is about all the change anyone would be comfortable with at any one time.  Usually it will take you a day or two to become used to the new feeling of your body structure after a Rolfing session.


What do I wear?

Usually men are in shorts and women are in tank-top and shorts.  The Rolfer needs to see your body structure and how that changes during a session.  It is even more important that you are comfortable and relaxed during a session so please wear whatever you feel appropriate.


What about advanced sessions?

Advanced sessions take your body structure to an even higher level of integration and can be done as soon as six to twelve months after completion of the ten-session introductory series.  Advanced sessions are done in a series of either three or five sessions, depending on your needs, your progress from the ten-session series, and how challenging your lifestyle is for your structure.