Rolfing technique

Rolfing technique focuses on organising the fascia to bring optimal alignment of the body. The basic concept at work in the technique is that the fascia is a tissue that gives the human body its shape, resilience and adaptability and it is responsible for distributing the inner tensile forces throughout the entire human structure.

Rolfing technique uses the concept of tensegrity
Rolfing technique works with inner tensile forces

When the body is under a chronic strain – either physical or psychological – caused by inadequate sitting habits, stressful work situations or even heavy gardening, the fascia responds with a protective reflex by shortening and thickening in the otherwise vulnerable areas.

As a consequence we are, in the short term, protected against an injury – but this comes with a price of restriction in movement and expression. If the unhelpful pattern is chronic, the restriction tends to “pass on” the strain to another, usually structurally weaker, area and an injury occurs.

In each of the 10 Rolfing sessions a certified Rolfer will take a stock of all such restrictions by careful examination of the client’s posture, movement and breathing patterns, as well as the client’s individual history and expectations. Based on these observations the Rolfer will able to determine how to best guide the 10 sessions.

Although each Rolfing session has its own individual goals and anatomical territories they all create one coherent journey with each session linking and complementing the other, with the final purpose of bringing the client’s body to its optimal functioning.

All 10 sessions share the same basic structure:

  • Body Reading – an assessment by the Rolfer of the client’s posture, movement and perception patterns
  • Table Work – where the Rolfer uses skilful touch to encourage change in the tissue
  • Closure – where the client and the Rolfer assess the results of the session

Rolfing understands that to sustain lasting treatment changes, manipulation of the fascia has to be complemented with building the client’s awareness about the way they move and organise their perception. This triad intervention on the level of the structure, coordination, and perception is included in every good Rolfing session and is what makes the results of Rolfing lasting, and enables the improvement to continue beyond the 10 sessions.

When asking What is Rolfing? it’s helpful to know that Rolfing technique is not a collection of tricks to manipulate the connective tissue and elicit temporary relief. Rolfing is a comprehensive system of understanding the human body as a spatial and temporal event that is first and foremost relational. According to Rolfing, our primary relationship is the one we have with gravity, and all other relationships are expressed in the context of that force. After all we can’t raise a toast, hug a friend or firmly say “No” if we are not in contact with the ground and are able to be vertical. Therefore, Rolfing believes that when we improve our capacity to listen and respond to the gravitational field of the earth all else improves.

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