You've probably heard it a few times in the field of massage and thought it was more of a sound that you make it clear your throat than an actual trusted way to help realign and repair damaged muscles and joints in the human body. But Rolfing is actually a unique form of massage and physical therapy that stretches and repositions the body's fascia, which is also known as the supportive wrapping of the body itself, helping to restore the natural fibers and elasticity of the body itself. Below are more details on this unique, restorative therapy.
Most rolfing sessions are similar to a session you would have with a masseuse giving you a massage, meaning about 60 minutes is standard for it to be effective and helpful for your body. Many people who are in need of real therapy through rolfing will do ten sessions, once a week. This ten-session time span is usually needed for people to show results from rolfing.
Dr. Ida Rolf began studying the practice of realigning the body's fascia in the early 1920s, as she was one of the first women with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and had a number of different research projects. She developed rolfing in the 1930s and by the 1950s was presenting the practice the North American chiropractic association. Over the next two decades she began teaching the technique to students, and by the early 1970s the first Rolfing school and institute was founded, a non-profit called the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.
While rolfing isn't the most common form of physical therapy, it is used regularly and relied upon by many different types of people who rely on the physical fitness and health of their bodies. Athletes, dancers, yoga teachers, famous touring musicians and people who are suffering from chronic back pain and other ailments with their joints and muscles have had their lives changed by rolfing. That's why the practice is still around and growing more every year.
Rolfing can be uncomfortable at first, as it involves putting a lot of pressure and adjustment to various parts of the body, from muscles to joints. Some people say this verges on painful but almost always leads to good results after the fact. It can be compared to a very deep, intense massage at times, which is sometimes more than people who decide to partake in rolfing expect. But it's always done with health and the best interests of the patient in mind.
No, it's an entirely different type of massage. While most massages focus on the musculature of the body (the muscles), Rolfing focuses on the connective tissue of the human body -- the joints, ligaments, tendons and fascia sheaths throughout the body itself. There is also a focus on the musculature, but the tissues are the main focus. So in a way, rolfing is a more thorough and deep massage than any standard massage you would ever receive.
If you are having rolfing done to you, it is important to look at the credentials of the person performing the rolfing on you. All certified rolfers are supposed to be trained at the Rolf Institute in Colorado, which is the only school in the world that offers certification and is regulated by the state of Colorado itself. Once they are certified, Rolf graduates must also complete five years of study in postgraduate practice, both rolfing and studying physiology. So if a Rolfer does not have that certification or training, they may not be as educated as they should be and not qualified to rolf your body.
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome, is a condition that involves painful, stiff joint of the jawbone, often from people who grind their teeth. While jaws aren't usually a focus at all in standard types of massage, rolfing can help to relieve the pain associated with TMJ, by relaxing and realigning it. Most other remedies for TMJ involve painful operations or invasive treatments, but this is one solution that involves neither.
Rolfing will also improve your overall posture by stretching out your body's musculature, joints, ligaments, and tendons. By relieving these areas that may have gotten tight and impacted over time, your posture will improve as your body will return to its full length. With this comes an improvement in the health of your spine, as it won't be having to compensate for these areas that are tight or out of alignment.
When the fascia in the body is restricted things like asthma can become worse and only worsen as it becomes more restricted over time. However, it has been shown that by realigning the fascia in the body, asthma can improve naturally in many people, especially when areas of the chest experience rolfing. General feelings of well being and also a reduction of stress will occur after rolfing sessions which will also help breathing and asthma.
The back is one of the most difficult parts of the body to fix when it is damaged or in pain, but rolfing has a remarkably good track record when it comes to fixing it. That's because the fascia is something the back relies on to be in alignment, and realigning it is not something a chiropractor or masseuse is necessarily trained to do. So if you have chronic back pain that no one seems to be able to fix, rolfing may be the secret remedy.
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