Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rolfing and me

Picture from The Rolf Studio
In my other blog I mentioned in passing that I had been Rolfed, and my brother Buz asked me in a comment if I gained any height. And Star had never heard of Rolfing Structural Integration, so here's a brief explanation and some links I found.

First of all, if you have ever received a professional massage (I get one every three weeks), you are familiar with the height and shape of the massage table: wide enough for one person to lay comfortably on it, and a little more than waist high, so the massage therapist can put strength behind her strokes, and it's easy for anybody to climb up on it. The Rolfing table is half as high and twice as wide, because the Rolfer gets on the table with you. And instead of being naked and covered with a sheet, you wear at least your underwear so that the Rolfer can work on you and see what to do. You get off the table often and walk around during the session. No oil is used.

The name comes from the woman who invented it, Ida Rolf. The main Rolf Institute is located in Boulder, and I looked through my old journals and found when I went through it. Usually a person pays at least $100 a session, and ten initial Rolfing sessions are usually performed.

Since I lived in Boulder, I was able to sign up as a model in 1984 and be used to train new Rolfers. All of the trainees are closely monitored by the expert Rolfers, so in effect you get to be Rolfed by a beginner but examined by lots of experts, and you pay much less. I paid (in 1984) $300 for ten sessions, and the schedule was twice a week instead of once a week. Usually at least a week needs to pass between sessions, but these people were being trained. Robin was my trainee. I found this entry in my journal, dated August 1, 1984:
The Rolfing is finished! I am really amazed at the difference in my body in the five weeks since Robin and I began the process of becoming Rolfer and Rolfee. See the next page [two pictures of me in my underwear which I am not going to show you!]: it's not as obvious in these two series that the length I have gained is mainly in my torso, but you can see it if you study the elbow placement and the smoother lines in the right-hand torso. My head is also back rather than forward as it was before. So I am pleased I am now 5'5" tall, which is taller than I've ever been. I feel much more integrated in my body now, and the Rolfing should continue to change my body for another seven months.
I also found some other earlier entries where I complained mightily about the pain. It does hurt, and the Rolfer uses her elbow, hard pressure, and her fingers to shape the fascia underneath the skin. I found a link to a woman's page who went through it to help her overcome past injuries. I gained almost two inches in height at the age of 43, and I kept it for several years.

As the years wear on, the effects of gravity begin to pull you back down. (I'm back to 5'3".) I went through two series of five to gain back the height, and a couple of sessions of three. Although it's been at least five years since I had any Rolfing at all, I learned so much about how to move around from my core. Sometimes on the street I'll see somebody and unconsciously think how much Rolfing could improve them. Almost every city has some Rolfers, if you decide to give it a try and spend a fair amount of money!


  1. WOW! I can't believe it made you two inches taller! that's fascinating! i used to live very close to the New England School of Massage and I regret not signing up as a "model". For $20 a I could have received an hour massage by someone who had to pass at last the preliminary tests. Would SO have been worth it. You're inspiring me to look into what's in my current area. I could REALLY use some massage work!

  2. I do not like massages..and this sounds painful..I do like the idea of being taller..but I guess the thought of pain will keep me short:)

  3. This seems like quite a stretch!

  4. Interesting...I never heard any descriptions of the process before. I know that a chiropractor helped me get my body aligned years ago (and probably could help now, too), and that regular yoga and pilates stretching made me a little taller at the time. Two inches is amazing! Or, as Eva says, quite a stretch. Ha.

  5. I did look into rolfing years ago and it sounded interesting. But at the time I was a struggling single in Anchorage and couldn't afford the sessions. For two more inches of height I might have to take a second look. Thanks for the info DJan.

  6. My daughter went to become a certified massage therapist, and she said many, many people cry from emotions that arise during the procedures.
    I have never had it done...I am afraid to with my fibromyalagia, because of the pain involved already...but it would probably be good for me to go and get it done...

  7. I like massage, but only if it doesn't hurt. I'm a big sissy when it comes to a stranger working on me with only my undies between us. Talk about weird phobias...

  8. Oh how I remember some of the descriptions of your Rolfing! I literally could not imagine anyone going through it and paying for the privilege. I was aghast at the time. I do know, however, that anyone would probably benefit from realigning the things that gravity has wrought. I just don't know if I could start something I knew would be extremely painful (at least with childbirth you end up with something to show for it...LOL).

  9. Wow, I don't know that I know of anyone who has done this. Several people I know have massages on a regular basis (and I have a pregnancy massage this week). The only thing I can think of that I've done that helped align me and straighten out some of the damage I had done was go to an osteopath. It was very non invasive and worked (seemingly) like magic. Best of all, it was covered by insurance!

  10. I used to get massages and love them!! This sounds very interesting. I have never hear of it.

  11. Hi DJan,

    Thank you for your nice post about Rolfing® structural integration. I'd like to address the pain concern expressed here. The work has continued to evolve and change since Dr. Rolf passed away in 1979. We have found it best to work at a depth and pace that allows the clients body to open. Overwhelming with pain is not a good experience and I didn't get into this work because I'm a sadist. :-) Most people describe it as "hurting so good." My clients are in control of how much pressure I use, and I personally have a broad spectrum of touch from straight up direct technique, to more subtle indirect technique, and a light craniosacral touch. Whatever works.

    Rolfing is still the best thing out there for changing the structure and alignment of your body. And, it's an educational process too. You will learn so much about your habitual ways of moving and being.

    Any more questions?

    Carole LaRochelle
    Certified Advanced Rolfer™


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