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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Rolfing Explained

Nov 06, 2011 12:03PM ● By Ed Hemberger

The human body is not static. It’s plastic, and that plastic quality enables a person’s body to be realigned into a more optimally functioning and feeling human being. Rolfing accomplishes that realignment. —Ida P. Rolf

Rolfing, also known as structural integration, was developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, a biochemist who was influenced by osteopathy, physical therapy, and yoga. It is a holistic hands-on approach for the evaluation and treatment of what Dr. Rolf believed was the primary cause of pain and dysfunction—the fascial system. Rolfing is a form of massage that opens fascial restrictions and reduces pressure on the body as a whole.

Fascia is a tough, densely woven sheet or band of connective tissue that runs throughout body. In its normal, healthy state, this tissue is relaxed and unrestricted in its ability to stretch and move. But traumas, such as accidents or extreme emotional upsets, can create restrictions in the fascial tissue, resulting in binding, hardening, or sticking, which can cause pressure on nerves, muscles, organs, bones, and blood vessels. By manipulating and releasing stuck or out-of-balance fascia, rolfing frees the unhealthy binding of tissues, allowing muscles and bones to return to a balanced position.

By addressing the body as a whole, rolfing often produces positive and lasting results. It follows a ten-step protocol, with each step addressing a different segment of the body in a specific order so that restrictions are opened from the inside out, and result in better lift, movement, and vitality. People of all ages have benefited from this treatment, from improving posture and appearance to easing pain from chronic work- or sports-related injuries. Rolfing can alleviate pain and discomfort, and often results in a feeling of better balance and more flexibility.

By taking into account each person’s physique, rolfing balances each body’s structure in gravity. A rolfer looks at how one’s entire body has compensated and shortened over time. A ten-session format allows the rolfer to systematically open the body to deal with those compensations, not just fix a local problem. During a session, participants may experience a warm, pleasant sensation from the area that is being worked, though there may be moments of temporary discomfort. The practitioner will apply the appropriate pressure, based on the client’s needs and feedback. Rolfing differs from massage, which focuses on relaxing and releasing muscular tension and stress, by changing biomechanical patterns of movement and making postural changes long-term.

Edward Hemberger, CMT, has been mentored by Dr. Thomas Findley, M.D., Ph.D., Rolfing practitioner for the past 6 years. Hemberger was selected to work with two United States Olympic teams and also works for the Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange. He has offices in Livingston and Boonton and can be reached at 973-462-3112.