Rolf Method of Structural Integration


Ida Rolf and Structural Integration

Ida Rolf (May 19, 1896 – March 19, 1979)

Ida Rolf(May 19, 1896 – March 19, 1979)

Born in New York City, Ida Rolf earned a doctorate in biological chemistry from the Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons. For the next 12 years she worked in the chemotherapy and organic chemistry departments at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. She also studied atomic physics and mathematics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich and homeopathic medicine in Geneva.

In 1927 she left her academic career due to health problems with her family as she was unwilling to accept the medical limitations at the that time. She studied osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, and mind/body disciplines such as yoga and the Alexander Technique. The notion that proper alignment, physiologic function and anatomical structure are related is the basis of many of these healing methods.

Dr. Rolf agreed that the body functions best when the bony segments are in proper alignment. She observed that lasting improvement in alignment and an overall sense of well-being required a closer look at the effects of gravity on our bodies. She believed that the imbalances in structure placed demands on the body’s pervasive network of soft tissues: muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments, thereby creating compensations throughout the body structure. She discovered that by manipulating the body’s myofascial structure there were great changes in the body. She named her work Structural Integration.

Quotes from Ida Rolf:

“Fascia is the organ of posture. Nobody ever says this; all the talk is about muscles. Yet this is a very important concept, and because this is so important, we as Rolfers must understand both the anatomy and physiology, but especially the anatomy of fascia. The body is a web of fascia. A spiderweb is in a plane. This web is in a sphere. We can trace the lines of that web to get an understanding of how what we see in a body works. For example, why, when we work with the superficial fascia does this change the tone of the fascia as a whole?”

“Some individuals may perceive their losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in their back, others as the unflattering contour of their body, others as constant fatigue, yet others as an unrelentingly threatening environment. Those over forty may call it old age. And yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem so prominent in their own structure, as well as others, that it has been ignored: they are off balance, they are at war with gravity.”

“This is the gospel of Rolfing: When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.”

“We are not truly upright, we are only on our way to being upright. This is a metaphysical consideration. One of the jobs of a Rolfer is to speed that process along. We want to get a man out of the place where gravity is his enemy. We want to get him into the place where gravity reinforces him and is a friend, a nourishing force.”

“Over and over again, people come to me, and they tell me, You just don’t know how strong I am. They say “strength” and I want to hear “balance.” The strength idea has effort in it; this is not what I’m looking for. Strength that has effort in it is not what you need; you need the strength that is the result of ease. When the pelvis is not balanced, we do not have the upward thrust that creates zero balance, the sense of weightlessness that can be experienced in the body.”

“When the pelvis is aberrated, it does not allow this equipoise, this tranquillity in experience that a balanced pelvis shows. The combined forces acting on a balanced pelvis are in a moment of inertia near zero. It is always in dynamic action, but the forces balance out to near zero.”

Everyone’s body gets out of balance due to many reasons.  This imbalance is caused by an uneven pull or tension of the myofascial connective tissue.  Structural Integration is a form of deep tissue bodywork that treats the entire body.  It reorganizes the myofascial connective tissue to a new balanced alignment.  This soft tissue manipulation and movement re-education organizes the whole body in gravity.  The therapeutic benefits can be better posture, pain relief and improved movement strategies.  It is a 10 series program.

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