Is Rolfing® Painful?

When Rolfing® began, little was known about the responsiveness of connective tissue so many Rolfers® used A LOT of pressure and gave Rolfing® the reputation of being painful! We now know that connective tissue responds to a wide variety of pressure and intention so it is not always a ‘no pain no gain’ scenario.

Most people describe the Rolfing® touch to be a ‘good pain’ if any! There can be momentary discomforts, often when tissue is fixed in a strong pattern, but pressure is always applied based on your feedback. The important thing is that you are in control, we will often know by the way your body responds if the pressure is too intense.

We don’t want you to be in too much pain that your body rejects the work, this is actually counter productive as it activates your body’s defence mechanisms and tightens the body. This then restricts what we are trying to do, which is creating length and ease so that existing body patterns can change.

How often should I receive a session?

Sessions are recommended a week to a fortnight apart to allow your body to process the changes but similarly not so long that your body forgets where you are in the process. People usually schedule anywhere from once a week to every four weeks.

It is important to notice your bodies response to the work and schedule according to that, so you may feel you need to allow your body time to absorb the work, or you may feel ready for a session one week after.

What can I expect to feel in between sessions?

Clients often report improved body awareness and/or an ease in day to day movement. Similar to how you feel after heavy exercise, you may feel a bit sore the next day. After that though you may experience shifts in body structure and awareness.

How does Rolfing® differ from massage?

Although Rolfing® in some aspects can look very similar to massage, they are both different from one another. Rolfing® is concerned with relieving tension so that the entire body structure can be in a better relationship with gravity. There is a plan and pattern to the work, systematically mapping the whole body to reach optimum structure and function.

Rolfing® may also not go straight to the place where you are in pain, as Ida Rolf puts it “go where it aint,” as pain is normally the symptom and not the source of the problem. Massage generally addresses issues that are more acute in the muscle system.

How does Rolfing® differ from Chiropractic?

Both Rolfing® and Chiropractic work seek to optimise spinal organisation and balance the body’s overall structure. Chiropractic work focuses on the skeletal system itself, manipulating bones directly.

Rolfers® manipulate the tissue that provides the spacing between bones, directly influencing the position and movement of bones. Rolfers® believe that unless the strain in the tissue is addressed, bones will continue to be pulled out of alignment and the long term effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments will be limited.

Rolfing® and Chiropractic work very well together, once there is better balance in the tissue, boney adjustments last longer, and people commonly find that there is less of a need to receive frequent treatment because their discomfort dissipates.

Can I do less than the 10 sessions?

The series is a wonderful way to achieve whole body lasting changes, with each session systematically building on from the last and reorganising the body in gravity. Because of this the 10 series is highly recommended but you can also gain great benefit from a single session or a shorter series of three sessions.

Do the changes last?

Yes! But the Rolfing® work lasts for as long as you let it. It is important that you can incorporate the sessions you receive into your daily life, so to allow the transformations that your body wants to make happen.

Structural tissue work is one side of the story and the other is body awareness, both of these work together to change your existing body patterns that are not serving you well. Towards the end of the process Rolfers® end up being just the facilitators in a process of transformation that you own.

What should I wear?

Clients are generally treated in their underwear, this is so that the body structure can be seen and the session can cater better to individual needs. Your comfort is paramount, the work can be done through clothes if that is what you would prefer, it is just asked in these instances that the clothes you wear are as tight to the body as possible.

For women, comfortable bra and pants is perfect. And similarly for men, comfortable (but tight) pants please.

What is the structure of the session?

At the beginning of each session we will look at your posture in standing, walking or sitting. This will allow me to get an impression of your body structure.

During the actual “session” you lie relaxed on your back, side or front on a padded table, similar to a massage table. I will use my hands, fist, and sometimes elbow to apply sensitive and precise pressure to specific areas of your body. These areas are released so that the body can move towards a better upright and functional position.

This process is supported by bringing your attention and breathing into the area where we are working, as well as through guided movements. We may also work on your body in seating or standing.

Specific goals of the sessions and the areas of the body we will be working on will be discussed at the start of each session for you. And throughout you will be made aware of habitual patterns of movement, structural imbalances and what is also serving as a great resource for you – it’s not always about the bad!

When would you not work on someone?

Generally, if your goals or problems are related to a condition other than stress, soft tissue or structural concerns, or we find that you do not get better from the body releasing, I will refer you to someone else.

More specifically, if you do have cancer or another illness that can spread with increased circulation, I will ask for questions around the illness and may not work on you. I will also not work on those that are pregnant, however with that being said, Rolfing® can wonderfully support those that are post pregnancy and also post surgery.