|•||Rolfing® is usually, although not always, applied in the format of the Basic 10-Series. Each of the 10 sessions builds on the last, and prepares the body for the next. It addresses the entire body, and is a beautiful and thorough way to address any restrictions you might have anywhere in your body.|
|•||For all clients, once the basic Rolfing® 10-Series is completed, it is recommended that clients allow some time to pass before scheduling more manipulation work. This allows the body to more fully integrate the work it has received.|
|•||For many clients, the basic Rolfing® 10-Series is a treatment for life and only need a maintenance session two to four times a year.|
|•||A Rolf Movement 5-Series is a standalone series or a very valuable addition to the 10-Series and will enhance all work done so far.|
|•||For other clients, particularly those who use their bodies a lot, or whose work and/or extra-curricular activities require the body’s highest level of performance, additional work may be elected. Typically, a mini 3-Series is applicable.|
|•||Single Manipulation Sessions are available for Healing/Recovery of Musculoskeletal injuries (These injuries include those to the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Injuries may be contusions (bruises), dislocations, fractures, sprains, strains, and spasms.)|
Men - underwear or sports shorts
Women - underwear or bikini or sports clothes (shorts and bra: not a sports bra that is wide in the back as the Rolfer has to be able to make good skin contact all the way down the back.)
This is a general outline of the 10-series as developed and taught by Ida Rolf. The majority of people will follow the series as described below. There are situations, however, where it makes sense to deviate from the flow of work as described. The outline is general in nature, and represents goals for each session rather than specific territory to be worked. Every session is as unique as the person receiving it, and the uniqueness of each session is guided by each person's physiology.
The First Session
|The major goal of the first Rolfing® session is to release the superficial fascia of the “body stocking" of the upper body.|
The superficial fascia is the fascial sheath that lies
just below the skin's surface. Some lengthening of the trunk up and out
of the pelvis is also anticipated, as well as a relaxation of the legs
below the hip joint.
The most efficient, effective and spacious breathing pattern is also a goal for this session. Most people employ either only the upper rib cage or only the bottom of the cage and the diaphragm. By working with the superficial fascia as it spans the ribs, shoulder joint, and costal arch, a Rolfer can help fashion a breathing pattern which uses the upper ribcage, diaphragm and the front, sides, and back of the rib cage to create one smooth, bellows like motion. As breathing becomes deeper and easier as the sessions go on, more oxygen is available for metabolic and catabolic activities, and the client feels an increase of energy.
The end of the first session often involves some releasing of the fascia around the neck and shoulders, a lengthening of the structures on either side of the spine and those covering the lower back. Reports of “lightness" and ease, and the sensation that one is taking up more space are common.
All the 10 sessions’ manipulation work will most probably end with neck, head and sacrum work.
At the end of each of the 10 sessions clients are asked to walk and describe what “changes” they feel. “Changes” are new movement patterns. The client is then asked to compare/contrast the new movement patterns with their habitual movement patterns by alternating the patterns. New movement patterns are new neural pathways or engrams (sensory memory) and have to be consciously and conscientiously practiced to integrate with the nervous system. Therefore homework is usually assigned in order to reinforce the session's results.
The Second Session
|From the second session onwards, each session starts with the client reporting on how their homework went and how their bodies responded during daily life to the last session’s changes.|
The second session focuses on the legs and, especially, the feet. Most people
walk by allowing the legs to pull the upper body along after them causing
heel strike. This habit neutralizes the feet’s shock absorbers (the
arches) and therefore lets a shockwave run up the legs into the hips and
of the spine (Ouch!). This also puts too much pressure on the heels and can
reduce flexibility in the toes and metatarsals. If, on the other hand, the
upper body initiates a step by "falling" lightly forward, the legs
can easily swing forward in response. The body's weight “falls”
on the whole foot and the shock absorbers (arches of the foot) are activated
to do their work properly. Some people also don’t use their toes properly.
They either never contact the ground or the toe hinge isn’t properly
engaged when the foot pushes of the ground for the next step. We also look
at how the sensation of weight follows through from the heel to the toes
walking. As it is very important in an efficient and effective walking pattern.
Therefore a distinctive landing and taking of part of the foot.
After one leg has been worked with, clients are asked to walk and compare the action of the two legs. The other leg will then be Rolfed and some work done on the back and neck to complete the session.
The Third Session
|Fundamentally, the third Rolfing® session deals with what is called the "lateral line" from the head of the humerus, or upper arm, to the greater trochanter of the femur, or thigh bone. Clients lie on their side as the Rolf practitioner works to facilitate the shoulder, ribs and pelvis into an even line.|
The Rolfer strives to “differentiate” the rib cage from the
shoulder girdle on top and the pelvis underneath. Differentiate means each
rib cage, shoulder girdle and pelvis) can move and function independently
without interfering with another part’s movement and function. After
differentiation there must be integration. Integration means a part can move
and function independently but also play its role in movement and function
of the body as one fluid unit. Differentiation and integration of all parts
of the body is one of the main goals of Rolfing Structural Integration.
The Fourth Session
|The focus is no longer on the superficial fascial planes and is now concentrated on what is called the body's "active core." Rolfers define "core" structures as those that lie close to the spine and the body's midline;|
are differentiated from the "sleeve," consisting of the shoulder
and pelvic girdles, and the "lateral" structures of the legs.
The agenda for the fourth session is the inside of the legs, from the ankles to the pelvic floor, followed by work on the hamstring muscles and some "organizing" of the back and neck. The goal of the session is to establish improved support for the structures that make up the pelvic floor. Although most of the work is on the legs, a client will also often feel a "lift" throughout the torso. This session seeks to establish an inner pillar from which the limbs can be hung. That is, the body's "sleeve" can hang from the supportive "core."
The Fifth Session
|The fifth Rolfing® session is a continuation of the fourth. It is recommended that not more than two or three weeks separate these sessions.|
The main focus of this session is the relationship of the superficial abdominal
muscle (the Rectus abdominis) to the deep seated hip flexor (the iliopsoas).
Most people wrongly use the wide band of external stomach muscles to do
work of stronger, deeper lying muscles. During this session the Rolfer slowly
lengthens and separates the outer structures to allow room for the inner
to reassert themselves. The deep stomach muscles have certain properties
that make them unique in the body. They are the only muscles that extend
legs to the trunk. All other muscles of the leg or trunk attach directly
to some part of the pelvic girdle. As a result, the proper training and
of these leg and stomach muscles are usually better for bad backs than traditional
In fact, sit ups are likely to exaggerate back problems back shortening the front of the body from the collarbone to the hip joint. But the balancing exercises of Rolf movement work are designed to bring health and vitality to the under used deep structures, and they can do much more than the surface muscles to cure weak backs.
A healthy, active psoas muscle also helps other conditions. The nerve fibers located near the psoas become stimulated as the muscles respond to new movement. Menstrual cramping, constipation, and excessive gas are often lessened as a result. A satisfying feeling of the leg trunk connection of these muscles often emerges as the client learns to move his or her legs from the lumbar spine rather than from the hip joint.
The Sixth Session
|In the 10-Series, each session focuses on some aspect of the pelvis, but the sixth session is very specific in its approach to the pelvis. The deep rotating muscles under the buttocks are the key here.|
If the client's legs are unable
to function smoothly while walking, balancing the "rotators" deep
in the buttocks will usually even out the movement. As the body becomes more
symmetrical and organized around a vertical line, disparities between the
right and left sides become less apparent. In the
sixth session, this symmetry is enhanced and extended above and below the
The incorrect use of the term "posture" to describe the results of Rolfing can now be better understood. The Latin root of posture is "positus," meaning "to place, to put." Consequently, "good posture" usually implies the "placing" of the body into a position that is considered appropriate and balanced. The goal of the Rolf process in its sixth session, on the other hand, is to create a structure which rests on a well supported vertical core and demands a minimum effort to maintain while the person is standing. Rolfing, therefore, is concerned with the integration of human structures and not with notions about posture.
The results of the sixth Rolfing session are generally dramatic. An ability to breathe through to the spine; that is, the spine appears to undulate during respiration in a wavelike motion. People who have decreased or eliminated chronic back pain through Rolfing usually point to the sixth session as pivotal in their progress.
The Seventh Session
|Dr. Rolf often remarked: "The seventh session is the last chance to 'horizontalize' the pelvis," but in fact, the work of the seventh session is directed entirely toward balancing the neck and head on the spine.|
During a seventh
session, the Rolfer works on the fascia of the shoulder, neck and frees up
the connective tissues around the skull and face and helps to improve breathing
further by opening constricted nasal passages. People who suffer from migraines
usually gain a lot to total relief from pain.
The Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Sessions
|The Rolfing practitioner focuses on one area of the body in each of the first seven sessions.|
The goals of a particular session centre on placing its part
in the vertical balance of the whole body. With the eighth session, a broader
and more comprehensive approach to integrating the entire structure becomes
necessary. These last three sessions are called the "integrative hours".
The dictionary defines "integration" as "a combination and coordination of separate and diverse elements or units into a more complete and harmonious whole." This is the job of the client and Rolfer in these final sessions. Dr. Rolf said: “It is easy to take a body apart, but it takes skill and understanding to put it back together.
In the last three Rolfing® sessions, the practitioner strives to facilitate a body that is poised on a narrow base and can move in any direction with equal ease. Large fascial sheaths are related one to the other, and a "smooth and silky" quality in the muscle tissue is sought. Several times during these sessions, the client will be asked to stand up and walk about in order to assess the result of the manipulations. Much work will be done with the client sitting or standing, because the relationship of a particular body part to gravity is the most important goal in these hours.
It is suggested that clients avoid more deep structural work for six months after the initial series, because the change that is initiated by the first sessions will continue for months, even years, after the series is completed. During this fallow time, however, many clients see Rolf movement teachers who are trained to teach ways of using their "new" bodies to maximum benefit.