Allow me to let you in on a little secret: It’s not very easy for me to describe what Rolfing is in a succinct way. Why? Because, it just isn’t. In the world we’re living in now, where sound bites reign and attention spans last about 2.7 seconds, getting across to people what Rolfing is can be a real challenge. In this and future blog posts, I’d like to talk about what I believe Rolfing to be, and why you should care.
Because Rolfing® generally falls into the “bodywork” field (along with a plethora of massage styles, and even to some extent the work of physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic), I’ve found over the years that people make assumptions about what they think I do. And since a big part of building a Rolfing practice is talking to people, I’ve had to get pretty creative in how I talk about it.
One of the ways I’ve found myself talking about Rolfing is by speaking to what it isn’t.
“Is it like massage?” Nope. “Is it like chiropractic?” Nope. “Rolfing? Isn’t that like Reiki?” Not even close. “Okay, but do you touch people?” Yes, and….but…and…
So you see, talking about Rolfing can be challenging depending on the audience. At least, it’s been that way for me. And I’ve been a practicing Rolfer™ for seven years, and a client of Rolfing now for fifteen years.
Adding to the confusion is the prevailing misconception that Rolfing is nothing but a very intense, very painful deep ‘massage’. The origins of that reputation come from what I call “old-school Rolfing” – lots of elbows and intense pressure that wasn’t exactly pleasant. Granted, it worked. Clients underwent tremendous change, and very often the aches and pains that ailed them were reduced or eliminated. But it didn’t exactly help Rolfing’s reputation. Transformation came at a cost.
This work we call Rolfing has evolved tremendously since its early days, incorporating adjunct practices like craniosacral work, visceral manipulation and neural mobilization, along with Rolf Movement work, which has been a part of the Rolfing curriculum for decades.
For me personally, the neural mobilization approach has been a profound addition to my practice (more about this in a future blog post – stay tuned). The touch and manipulation style we use while working with nerve pathways is a more subtle approach to evoking changes in the body. And, it inspired a client of mine to remark earlier this year “Rolfing isn’t just elbows and pressure…”
He got it. I get it, and I’d like for you to understand that no matter what you’ve heard about Rolfing, it’s more nuanced and subtle than what you might expect. Most new clients leave my office pleasantly surprised when they realize they won’t be bruised and sore when their session is over.
Maybe that’s it, then. Rolfing is a sophisticated, nuanced and subtle approach to evoking changes in the body and the person. And, it can change your life. Get it?