Well, it’s official. I’ve been Rolfed.
Now that’s a phrase that may raise eyebrows, I’m sure. Is this something that requires filing a police report? Who did what to me, and am I OK? Is this a prank akin to getting Rickrolled?
In short, Rolfing® is a bodywork technique that aims to work out the kinks in the body’s fascia (connective tissue) that have accumulated over years of poor posture, compensatory patterns, and injury/overuse.
It’s different from massage, I learned, in that focal point of massage is muscle. Muscles have distinct attachment and insertion points in the bones, whereas fascia is an interconnected web of tissue that sheaths the entire body, “supporting and penetrating all of the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs” (Source).
Therefore, as the old saying goes, everything is connected. For example, a few years of sitting hunched over a laptop will not only affect your neck and spine but also your lungs, diaphragm, sacrum, hips, so on and so forth.
I’ve been getting deep-tissue massages regularly for several years, in addition to occasional chiropractic work that incorporates the Active Release Technique (A.R.T.). Both have served me very well and have aided in easing discomfort in my hips, sacrum, psoas, and scapula.
However, over the past year the relief provided by massage and chiropractic was short-lived. I’d have work done on my shoulders one day, swim laps a few days later, and feel out of alignment all over again.
Years of yoga and conscious dance have made me hyperaware of my body’s misalignments and imbalances, which has been both a blessing and a curse.
Being in tune with my body allows me to listen and respond precisely to what it needs (e.g., what shoes to wear on a bad hip day, what stretches to do in the morning), but being super-sensitive to every little notion of crookedness also makes yoga class an exhausting ordeal, my mind scrolling through a neverending checklist of all the body parts that feel “off” in each asana.
After a few recommendations from friends, I was ready to investigate this bodywork technique that they claimed changed their lives and introduced a whole new way of feeling.
Rolfing sometimes has an intimidating reputation of being torturous and painful, often likened to a deep-tissue massage from hell. Although some therapists take on that aggressive technique, the original form developed by Ida P. Rolf was not intended to be that way, and the therapist I eventually chose reassured me that her work was deep but not breathtakingly intense.
(In fact, my therapist trained directly with Ida Rolf and has been in practice for nearly 40 years, which was a significant selling point for me.)
The other factor I needed to consider before being Rolfed was cost. Rolfing is by nature more pricey than a regular massage session, and first-time Rolfing clients are encouraged to follow the “standardized ‘recipe’ known as the Ten-Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of 10 Rolfing sessions” (Source).
So right off the bat, I knew I’d have to put out at least $1,000 for my treatment, should I go ahead with the full program.
It was a difficult decision, but after my annual contract at a so-so franchise massage spa ended and I was no longer shelling out monthly dues to another bodyworker, I felt confident going ahead with a plan to reclaim my body.
Stay tuned for a detailed recap of my first visit!