Comparing Rolfing and...
Rolfing® Structural Integration is its own unique method. When Certified Rolfers and Structural Integration practitioners use the principles of Dr. Ida Rolf, we are not simply using a technique, but a strategy, an approach. Many practicers of other body work may claim to do it, but if they have only picked up a few techniques without understanding the strategies, clients leave confused if they've been Rolfed. They haven't, though they may have felt similar sensation "on the table" and gotten some good myofascial work. Clients of mine report Rolfing SI as a totally different experience than anything else they've tried.
But I am not a competitor in a field--I am a collaborator.
We all need a "pit crew."
Rolfing SI and Massage
Three differences of many:
- The intent of Rolfing SI is to make change in the posture and movement of a person long-term. Massage, by contrast, intends to break up muscle hypertension, encourage lymphatic and blood circulation and to relax the body short term (yummmm).
- Rolfing SI is more participatory in nature than massage, asking the client to interact with the Rolfer™ to engage the nervous system, so habit patterns can release alongside the tissue work.
- Rolfing SI is oriented to whole body by using a series of sessions split into strategic territories. The effects build toward a balanced structure, which comes from the strategy. The masseur or masseuse works the whole body each time more or less for overall relaxation. While good massage can have lasting effect, that is not the intent.
Some people call Rolfing SI “a form of massage”—even some pros do—but it is not. Some people call Rolfing SI a technique, but again, it is not. It is a systematic, whole body shift in structure and function.
Rolfing SI and Chiropractic
Though complimentary, Rolfers and Chiropractors come at similar issues from different angles. A chiropractor is concerned with the nervous system being free from physical constriction, particularly in the spine and joints. (Major simplification alert), so the whole body gets the right messages for best function. They move the bones so the nervous system is free and will learn from that better position to stay there.
Rolfing releases the “connective tissues” (that have pulled bones and joints out of place slowly over time), which in turn releases the nerves if they are pressured or trapped, among other things.
Chiropractors often refer their patients to Rolfers so they can get more freedom of movement overall, to make adjustments easier. Particularly if a client has a difficult time releasing into their adjustments. It is often useful to have a chiropractor look at a nerve impingement, bulging disk or other traumas before (or while) seeing a Rolfer, so any x-rays or cautions can inform the process. A collaboration of this nature is pretty divine.
Rolfing SI and Myofascial Release
Myofascial Release (MFR) is a technique for releasing tension in fascia and tendonous connective tissue. MFR is mainly used to relieve injury and improve function. Physical Therapists for example use this technique to increase local mobility of joints. Sports medicine uses MFR to prevent injury during intense athletic training.
You can say that Rolfers release myofascia, but MFR is not Structural Integration, necessarily. Certified Rolfers as Structural Integrators release the whole body systematically to support overall free function, including local sites of strains and injuries. Clear the playing field, so to speak, so the body can make its local choices better in future. There is deep respect between these modalities, but our training is entirely different.
Rolfing SI and Physical Therapy
So different! Physical Therapy is an amazing tool to train a person to move differently, build strength again, and re-coordinate different muscles for new functions.
Put very simply, Rolfing SI is meant to release structures that prevent “correct” movements. If a set of muscles is misaligned or unavailable for activation, they won't re-learn easily. Structural Integration can re-align the muscle sets for freedom, and supercharge the physical therapy exercises for even more rapid recovery. There is a great benefit in combining PT and SI in rehabilitation.
Rolfing SI and Reiki
The similarities in these practices are coincidental only. They both can move energy about the body, and they both start with an 'R', but otherwise, they are unrelated.
Reiki works with the ‘universal energies' and channels it through the client’s energy field to cleanse the patterns that may be stagnant, absent or misfiring. (I gained a second level attunement in Usui Reiki). Rolfing SI is osteopathic in nature. Some Rolfers work with energy more consciously than others. Energy alone is not what we are after, though it is a part of the entire body's shift with awareness.
Integration means we don't make divisions to isolate, but invite and honor many parts that make the whole being.
Rolfing and Golfing, Roofing, Ralphing, etc. …