Just as we’re getting to grips with the ‘microbiome’ and our growing fascination with Gut Health, ‘fascia’ and ‘Rolfing’ are now predicted to be amongst the big buzz words in health for 2017.
Once the preserve of clinics in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the USA, Rolfing and fascia treatment – or Rolfing® Structural Integration to refer to it by its full name – is coming to the UK in a big way.
To find out more about Rolfing for our readers, I go to Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington to meet Sibyl Darrington, certified Rolfer and advanced clinical and sports massage therapist – she also operates from Whitstable in Kent. ‘No-one had heard about connective tissue or “fascia” in the sixties and seventies so Ida Rolf, who started the whole thing, was way ahead of her time,’ she says.
Sibyl, a slender 51-year-old, asks me to strip down to my underwear and surveys me, making detailed notes as I turn sideways and then stand with my back to her before walking up and down. She notices my right shoulder, on which I always sling my heavy bag, has risen up and that my pelvis looks out of line.
She then manipulates me – it’s like a mixture of osteopathy and deep tissue massage without oil. When she targets an area of tightness the pain is as pleasurable as it is momentarily excruciating as I felt the tension give way to pressure. ‘The first session is all about creating the space and availability for the inhale,’ Sibyl explains. ‘You have to start with the breath to open up the system.’
I leave feeling taller and more open – my shoulders are back, I feel less cramped, less tight, generally looser limbed and relaxed. You need to do ten sessions in all – the second focuses on the legs and feet, the third on the side front and back balance, the fourth on how the legs can become more independent of the pelvis, the fifth on the connection between the front of the spine and the front of the legs, the sixth on the back of the spine and the back of the legs, the seventh on the upper thorax, head, neck, mouth (if you’ve worn braces you could have affected your jaw) and sometimes even your nose and then the last three sessions are more tailor-made to your own needs, working on particular areas where movement is restricted and it all builds towards closure in the tenth session.
When we age our fascia tends to dehydrate and becomes tougher creating stiffness and rigidity in the body. Rolfing rehydrates the fascia and softens it, which is why people feel so much more free and vibrant after the ten sessions! During and after menopause the collagen weakens in the tissues of the body – tendons, ligaments, veins or arteries – which are all connective tissue or fascia. It’s easier to have strains and sprains and for joints to become unstable. ‘Many women around this time come in to the clinic complaining of pain or issues with balance and usually it is due to instability,’ explains Sibyl. ‘They may have had no history of these issues until menopause. Rolfing helps create stability throughout the body so the body is better able to support itself. It helps with the sprains, strains and injuries, which are all tissue injuries. In general it helps with stiffness that starts to accrue at this time of our lives and it can increase range of movement and increase energy levels. Rolfing can help realign scar tissue and can help with any torsion or misalignment caused by that scar. If we start to live in and enjoy our bodies more through Rolfing, then our attitude to the process of ageing is a lot more positive. Most people say they feel more grounded, or connected to the earth and that they feel more present in their lives.’
Nutritionist, Charlotte Fraser, who has completed all ten sessions, explains more fully what it’s about:
What is Rolfing® Structural Integration?
Rolfing aims to help restore the body to its most efficient form to enable full ease and freedom of movement. Picture the cogs, springs and wheels of a fine Swiss watch working tick tock in perfect precision. Rolfing greatly improves a person’s posture and balance, as well as helps release tension, alleviate chronic pain and restore energy.
Named after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing® is a specialised method of bodywork that works with the connective tissues, or ‘fascia’ – the body’s internal flexible scaffolding – which permeate the entire body. Rolfing works on this complex web of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the body as a whole. Crucially, instead of viewing the body as a collection of separate parts, Rolfing treats the body as an integrated whole with connective tissues surrounding, supporting and permeating all the muscles, bones, nerves and organs.
Lifestyle habits and injury can cause our internal flexible ‘wiring’ to become over-extended or out of kilter with the tension resulting in chronic joint pain, sore muscles, postural change and restricted movement.
The treatment takes place over a course of ten sessions referred to as ‘The Ten Series’; typically each session lasts 60-75 minutes.
Just about everyone can benefit, men, women and children. It is already well known amongst sportsmen and professional ballet dancers for helping to alleviate injury and enhance performance.
Many clients report that the therapeutic effect of Rolfing carries on working long after the course of treatment has ended. The benefits include;
A newly established body, Rolfing UK, is now representing the growing numbers of certified practitioners (“Rolfers”) across the UK, as well as aiming to educate the public as to Rolfing’s many health benefits. Certified Rolfers are the only professionals who can provide Rolfing to the public but with certification available in the UK for the first time, it is now easier than ever to find a qualified Rolfer, and also train as one.
For further information or to find a certified UK Rolfer near you, visit: www.rolfinguk.co.uk