Rolfing Structural Integration® is what Ida P. Rolf, Ph. D., called her system of manual therapy designed to balance and align the body in gravity. Dr. Rolf saw body ‘structure’ as the relationships between our various segments—ankles, knees, hips, ribcage, shoulders, neck, head. She understood ‘integration’ in terms of how these segments line up and function within the field of gravity. Hence: Structural Integration.
When the body’s segments are vertically aligned—knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips, etc—gravity acts as a supportive, uplifting force. There is no compression at the joints within the body. Movements are fluid and painless. We use energy efficiently.
But when the body is out of alignment—for example, when we have ‘knock-knees’ or ‘bowed legs’, or when our feet track out at 45 degree angles from our ankles— gravity’s impact is a burden, contributing to strain in those joints. Over time, the connective tissue around those joints—called ‘fascia’ (pronounced “fasha”)—will gradually shorten and tighten, like shrink wrap, like a splint, in an attempt to support this misalignment of joints. This imbalance often results in discomfort and pain, and we are more prone to injury in those areas.
What can I do about my bad posture?
Adaptations to gravity within the muscular-skeletal system can look like flat feet, a tilted pelvis, rounded shoulders, a hunched back…“bad posture”. The reason we can’t simply “stand up straight” to correct these imbalances is because they are reinforced by fascia, whose job it is to support the positions of muscle and bones.
But, what goes down can come up, and fascia can be eased back to a pliable state, allowing muscles and bones to return to their structurally appropriate positions. An aligned body moves with greater ease. It becomes more flexible and coordinated. It requires less energy to function. Good posture is effortless and breathing is easier. Athletic performance improves.
“Gravity is the therapist.”
– Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D
Rolfing Structural Integration takes a systematic approach to the body’s segmental relationships, through the manipulation of the fascia, over the course of ten sessions. The general goal is to bring head, neck, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet, into a balanced and supportive relationship with one another. Practitioners manually work with layers of fascia, repositioning and softening its hold on maladaptive patterns of strain. With newfound length, the body can reorganize itself into a more structurally harmonious relationship with gravity.
Lengthening and reorganizing the layers of fascia frees the body from patterns of tension and bracing, and restores mobility, alignment, and grace. As layers of fascial holding are freed, the body can reorganize itself.
“When the body gets working appropriately; the force of gravity can flow through. Then spontaneously, the body heals itself.”-Dr. Ida Rolf