As a result of an eight-year-old injury, many of my fitness pursuits require caution and pain management. Sometimes, it feels like typical muscle tension. And sometimes…I feel couch bound. I have tried a few different mechanisms to find relief, and many have supported symptomatic treatment. However, after enough time had passed, I went in search of anything that would teat the root cause. Enter rolfing, a form of tissue release therapy that has revolutionized my journey to healing.
The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration states it as a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity.” In short, it is structural adjustment through fascia tissue release – and it’s totally different than massage.
To understand the difference between these two therapeutic treatments, I’m taking part of my rolfing day to dig into the details with the one and only Kelly Jean Moore, unbelievable yoga instructor and certified rolfer.
Q: What first interested you in rolfing?
A: A few years after becoming a yoga teacher I met a Rolfer who also taught yoga and he seemed to have a clear handle on the way we could ideally inhabit our bodies as humans. I became fascinated with Rolfing and signed up to do the 10 Series with him soon after. The amount of body awareness I gained from the experience was very impactful . There are limitations to the work you can do with students in the yoga format and I finally decided I needed to be able to work more with people in a one on one process to effect more change in their bodies and lives. And to share what I had experienced.
Q: What are the key differences between massage and rolfing?
A: First, the goal of Rolfing is to assist in aligning a person more fully in gravity to create overall ease and efficiiancy of movement. We look at the whole human and work in a series format that allows a uniform, yet distinct to each client, unfolding of awareness and improved alignment and co-ordination. The goal of massage in general is to relax a person, or to ease a symptom temporarily. Apart from a different goal and way of seeing the body, the actual way we touch and interact with tissue is different. The work is often slow, almost static, with a building deep pressure that helps move and unwind fascia. And, no, it doesn’t all hurt.
Q: Who is rolfing geared towards?
A: Ida Rolf saw this process as a way to assist all humans in their growth towards a more upright and integrated existence. If you have a body, Rolfing can help you feel more connected to it as well as more free in your expression of it.
Q: If someone is looking for a great rolfer, what qualifications should they look for?
A: Rolfing Structural Integration is trademarked. There is only one Rolf Institute in the U.S. and unless some one was certified there, they are not Rolfers. Period. The Rolf Institute website will have a list you can check for your area to find a certified Rolfer. As we advance in our field we also go on to advanced training. If someone is a certified Advanced Rolfer they will use that title and be more experienced in general. At the end of the day though, rapport is the most important element of successful work. If you trust them and feel safe, the work will work.
For more information about rolfing, visit www.rolf.org. Remember, if you choose rolfing as an option, find a certified therapist and share your health goals.
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