Rolfing Review - Heather Gets Rolfed!

Rolfing Review Part 1 | Why Rolfing?

This article is both a Rolfing Review and an introduction to the Rolfing 10-Series. In my article about Rolfing, I talked about what Rolfing is and what benefits you could expect to attain from getting Rolfed.

This is my personal experience in receiving the Rolfing 10-Series. If you have been wondering how to find a great Rolfer or what it is like to get Rolfed, read on.

I was beginning to suspect that some of my pain issues were related to postural alignment and poor body mechanics. Working on the computer with shoulders hunched and my head always bent forward, injuries from my car accident and the effects of back surgery have all played a part in what are called compensations and holding or strain patterns.

Compensations can occur when you can't move the way you normally would. For example, when you injure your leg, you will favor that leg and put more weight onto the other leg until the injury heals. If the compensation goes on long enough, you may continue to walk unevenly even though it is no longer necessary because it has become a habit.

Holding patterns are similar. Let's say you spend many hours working on a computer each day. Your muscles are held in the same position for many hours, often under tension because you're stressed out about the deadline you're trying to meet.

Eventually, the tension becomes chronic, muscles and fascia shorten and become painful and the pain begins to radiate from your neck to your shoulders and down your back and so forth.

Physical therapy is supposed to address all that, isn't it? It didn't for me. It was time to save up my pennies and find myself a good Rolfer!

Rolfing Review | How to Find a Great Rolfer

Because I am massage therapist and have received quite a lot of bodywork, I tend to be pretty fussy about who I want working on my body. So I took my time finding the right Rolfer. First, I looked up local Rolfers on the official Rolfing Structural Integration website at

The closest Rolfer was 25 miles away. I was looking for a Certified Advanced Rolfer who was also a Rolf Movement Practitioner. I then checked out their websites and called several to discuss their approach to Rolfing and my particular needs.

Some offered a free initial consult which can be a really good idea because you need to feel comfortable with your therapist. Rolfing is usually done in your underwear so you need to be OK with that.

I decided to go with John Michael Doyle. He had the training and experience I was looking for and in addition I liked his philosophy. Also, his background in dance and yoga were a real plus.

Rolfing Review | The Rolfing 10-Series

I set up an appointment to start my treatment. There would be ten sessions, each 70-90 minutes long. Each session would cost $120.00. Each session has a specific purpose and builds upon the sessions before.

Rolfing Review | Sessions 1-3 The Superficial Layers

The first day we started by going over my intake form including my medical history and objectives. John did a preliminary assessment, noting my posture and alignment, flexibility, range of motion and how I walked.

One of my major goals was to get rid of the painful muscle spasms in my hip and to relearn how to walk properly following my car accident and back surgery. I needed to undo the compensation patterns that were no longer serving me.

John explained that Rolfing systematically releases compensations and strain patterns and then reintegrates and realigns the body into a functional, unified whole. In the process, the associated pain is often reduced or eliminated.

Session 1: "The focus of Session One is the capacity for breath and freeing your rib cage from your shoulders and hips."

The first three sessions work on the more superficial layers of fascia. However, the first session turned turned out to be rather intense for me!

That's because John spent a fair amount of time addressing my contracted, painful hip. It felt really good at the time but the next day I was feeling a bit sore. I went swimming and soaked in the jacuzzi to work out the soreness and by the following day it felt quite good. No more muscle spasm!

Session 2: "Session Two moves to the feet and legs. It's all about your foundation and balance, your sense of feeling grounded or connected to the earth."

In this session, I learned that I had been "guarding" my spinal fusion by stopping the natural movement from flowing from my lower body through my core to my upper body. I needed to create a "new normal" way of moving that would allow movement to flow around the "frozen" area of my spinal fusion without causing pain or damage.

We explored different possibilities for movement and I went home with exercises to practice. Rolfing is sort of like physical therapy. Practice is very important to achieve lasting effects and to prevent you from falling back into the same old postures and holding patterns.

Session 3: "In Session Three, the Rolfer works the fascia along the outsides of the body from the ankle to the neck, addressing relationships relevant to back, shoulder and neck pain."

The third session was an awesome session for me! I had no idea that I had some major contracted fascia in my ankle and lower leg until it was released and then - voila! It totally changed how I walk! It turns out that the painful hip was only one part of a strain pattern that extended down to my foot.

I left feeling slightly "out of it" as my brain struggled to assimilate all the physical changes in my body.

The rest of that day I was really energized and excited about my progress. However, the following day I felt I slightly nauseous and a bit sore.

This is a common reaction to deeper work in a particularly congested area as toxins and cellular waste released from your tissues work their way out of your system. It rarely lasts more than a day or two. Drinking plenty of water and perhaps taking a warm bath with Epsom salts can help facilitate this natural detoxification process.

Please note: This type of discomfort is the result of a condition existing in your body that is responding positively to an appropriate treatment. In this case, it is not the result of the therapist using excessive pressure.

I'm sharing this with you because you may experience something similar if you have some significant, long-standing issues you're trying to resolve.

This kind of reaction can occur with most any type of bodywork where a lot of change is taking place. The important thing is to keep your therapist informed of any soreness or reaction so he or she can adjust your session accordingly.

Next, we would be moving on to the deeper layers of fascia.

Continue on to Rolfing Review Part 2