Question: Has anyone tried Rolfing as a treatment? Did it help? Can you let me have contact details for a practitioner (preferably in Scotland)?

Answer 1: I have been receiving Rolfing therapy for over two years – 10 sessions to start and now once every 3 months or so. In short, Rolfing has saved my career. It is the most amazing therapy I have come across and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I attach below several blobs of email from the sore hand list previously, plus some useful addresses. I’d be happy to chat to you by phone if you want – email me privately. Right at the bottom of this list is a place to get names – I see they list one Rolfer in Scotland. My summary in a nutshell:

Rolfing: A technique of structural integration based on the observation that as we grow older our bodies ‘set’ into a posture which is partly character and partly physique and age related. This is almost invariably imbalanced. In my case (tall, skinny) this means that I tend to have a large hollow in my back, and chin stuck out, putting lots of stress in the back and neck. I also had a compressed chest as a result of sitting hunched forward in a chair all day. Rolfers (the name originates from that of Dr. Ida Rolf, an American physician who practiced in the 60’s and 70’s) change your body balance by physically stretching the fascia and connective tissue which hold you in the posture you’ve adopted. Typically they take 10 sessions to do a ‘basic’ realignment, but it may take more. Along with being rolfed come an amazing perception change in how you feel your body. First, it changes physically. My chest opened up enormously, and my voice changed to a far stronger timbre, and my back straightened and head moved back in line with my spine. These have made an enormous difference to my RSI. Second, in line with the physical changes come mental ones – it is incredibly empowering, and puts you back in control of your life.

For me, Rolfing has made the single biggest change in my mental approach to my RSI pain and my lifestyle. All of these are closely linked, for a start: if I’m tense, my shoulders are hunched, and that causes stress. Having been tense for a long time, I become set in that position. Rolfing is a key to unlock the vicious cycle. Alexander technique teaches you how to be neutral (balanced). But it is mental only, and hence a very slow process. Rolfing kick starts the whole thing by giving you much of the balance and then setting you up to carry on and keep control of your posture by mentally training your body to be in the right position. Here is something on a related technique: Hellerwork. As a practicing Heller worker with over ten years’ experience, I would like to point out that E. Bergdahl is wrong on this one. Here is the real difference between Rolfing and Heller work. (Any other Heller workers or Rolfers out there are welcome to add to the discussion!)

Dr. Ida Rolf, PhD. (Physiology) first developed the concept of manipulating the body’s myofascial components to restore alignment of the body in relation to gravity. She spent many years discovering the most efficient way to do this and was a genius of the first magnitude. As a result of her studies, we found that the human body, just like other engineered structures that exist on this earth, is subject to the forces that gravity can exert. Just as a building that is built in a properly balanced way will withstand the forces of gravity better than a building like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the human body, when properly aligned, will withstand the forces of gravity better than one that is slumped, tilted or otherwise structurally compromised. The properly aligned body will experience less stress, greater mobility and will be able to recover from injuries faster.

Out of her studies came a discipline known as Rolfing. Rolfing is a series of sessions, each focusing on an area of the body and a level (depth) of myofascia. When restored to its normal state of fluidity and free movement, myofascia supports the body in a free and unrestricted way. Rolfing as Ida Rolf developed it, worked with the myofascial components of the body alone. Hers was a strictly physical way of restoring the balance to the human body. Joseph Heller was a Rolfer and the first president of the Rolf Institute, personally trained by Ida Rolf. During the years he had a Rolfing practice, Joseph realized that to restore the client to the most comprehensive state of balance meant also teaching them to move in a balanced way so they would not recreate their patterns of restriction through their movements. He also discovered that, as thinking and feeling beings, often our thoughts and attitudes affect how we hold our bodies and how we move them. He felt very strongly that in order to most effectively restore balance to a person’s body, these components had to be included in the restoration process.

Joseph Heller went to Ida Rolf and told her how he felt about the addition of movement education and attitudinal exploration to the basic Rolfing process and that he thought the end result produced more long lasting results for the client. Ida agreed, but felt that too many Rolfers had already been trained and could not be recalled for additional training in these areas. She encouraged him to leave the Rolfing organization to start his own program of myofascial therapy, with her blessings. This was the beginning of Heller work. E. Bergdahl states that there is a difference in the direction the myofascia is released when comparing the 2 disciplines. This is not correct. In both Heller work and Rolfing, the tissue is released in the direction it is stuck and in a way that encourages the body to move back into its original state of balanced alignment. It is interesting to note that in recent years, Rolfing has added a new section to its training program, a separate series of classes that involve movement re-education. In order to get movement re-education from a Rolfer, one must seek out one who has received this additional training. They will be known as Rolf Movement therapists. In Heller work, movement re-education is a component of each and every session.

Heller work movement re-education can rival the best ergonomics programs out there. It is based on the unique individual makeup of each person’s body in relation to the field of gravity. Heller work movement covers how to stand, walk, sit, reach, run, play sports, bend over, etc. while remaining balanced in the field of gravity. Movement of this nature significantly reduces the stresses experienced by the body and reduces the occurrence of injury. With regards to RSI, both Heller work and Rolfing will be beneficial. I have found, in my work with hundreds of RSI sufferers, that the myofascia of the upper body has become extremely tight, restricted and otherwise compromised. To have this tissue restored to its normal loose and fluid state will allow the majority of RSI cases to resolve over the course of treatment.

E. Bergdahl also made a comment about the high cost of training in Heller work. I suspect that the costs are similar for Rolfing, although I do not know their costs exactly. Training in Heller work costs in the neighborhood of $14,000. This seems very high, but the Heller work training is 1,250 hours long, or about the equivalent of a Master’s degree in terms of the numbers of hours spent in the classroom. This discussion of cost doesn’t mean much except to point out that Heller workers and Rolfers are body workers who have received the highest level of training and have committed to learning this difficult and complex discipline by putting their money behind it. For those of you who are near a Heller worker or Rolfer, I encourage you to try at least one session to see if it resonates with what you want to achieve in your healing process. It is truly outstanding and often miraculous work.

Answer 2: My wife has tried this, as one of her many attempts to beat RSI or whatever it is, after Simon told us about it. She found it to be of some benefit, but the improvements it brought to her tended to fade with time. A nice lady in Germany called Karin Muglich keeps a Eurpoean register of practicing Rolfers. This is the list for the UK she sent to us (1996)

Certified Rolfer
49 Charlwood Street
London, SW1 2VDR
071 834 14 93

Certified Rolfer
Flat 5, 18 Buckingham St.
London AL WC2N 6DU
071 930 5858 Phone&fax

Certified Advanced Rolfer
45 Thames Quay
Chelsea Harbour
London SW10 OUY

Certified Rolfer
7 Glendale Clifton
Bristol, BS8 7PN
011 44 272 26 49 17

Certified Advanced Rolfer
85-A Judd Street
London WC1
071 388 65 67

Limited practice:

Certified Rolfer
18 South Street
East Sussex BN7 2BP
0273 473 244

Certified Rolfer
41 Barlow Rd.
West End Sidings
London, NW6 2BJ
071 372 41 10

Certified Rolfer
Forglen Estate
Aberdeenshire AB537JP
0888 622 31

If you need more info about Rolfing in Europe, you can contact:

European Rolfing Association
Ohmstrasse 9 89/39 68 02
80802 Munich Germany 89/39 25 83 FAX

Sheila went to Allan Rudolf, in London (not far from King’s Cross). He is an extremely knowledgeable man, very good at Rolfing, and genuinely concerned that you become well again. He is an Advanced Rolfer, and has many other qualifications as well. I would recommend him unreservedly.

Answer 3: Does anyone know how much practitioners tend to charge for such things as Rolfing and Alexander technique? I have been trying to interest our Univ management in valid techniques that would get staff back to work or relieve their pain as much as possible (while mainly being interested in prevention of course). Since we have a medical school here, this is an uphill struggle, but it would help to have some idea of the charges.

Answer 4: Alexander Technique costs about 14-25 pounds for the most part although Polly has been able to obtain treatment for A35 in Swansea. About 20 lessons are required to learn the full ropes.

Answer 5: Rolfing costs between A340 and A360 pounds per session, usually requiring about 10 but that can vary I presume. I’m actually in Exeter and yes I did get A.Tech for 5 pounds, but considered this particularly fortunate!

Answer 6: I saw there was a question on Rolfing. I’m in the latter stages of a series of Rolfing sessions and have been thinking about mailing the group so here is what I’ve got to date. Rolfing consists of 10 body working sessions where the first 7 follow a set routine working through the body stretching the fascia. The last three are customised to work on areas that require more attention (I’ve had nine  to date). I’d read that it could be quite painful but the first couple of sessions were considerably milder than most of my osteopath appointments. However once we got to the problem areas in my body the pain was, I guess understandably, directly proportional to amount of tightness. The Rolfer will only work at an intensity you can cope with but I think for anyone with RSI it is not going to find it enjoyable except in that you want the tissue stretched however painful it is.

So it’s painful and expensive (A345 per 1½ hour session) but has it helped? It highlighted two real problem areas. 1) My neck/TMJ area) which is the most direct source of my shoulder/arm problems and which I know about but can’t seem to cure. 2) My stomach/abdominals which after 4 years of RSI I knew only that I had, what I thought were, mild stomach problems (too much stress and too many pain killers). The Rolfing identified ‘a grapefruit sized’ area of very tight fascia in the RH side of my abdominals (we were talking serious pain to get this area eased!). From a personal point of view, I can believe this may well be a/the major cause of my problems; it’s consistent with my RSI history. I went to the Rolfing with low expectations of success (a fool and his money…) and looking at the results from a ‘are my shoulders any better’ point of view the answer is ‘not dramatically’ but I am hopeful that I have another big piece of my personal jigsaw. I have not pinned down what continues to cause my stomach to scrunch up the muscles etc but I’m at least on the case and eating much more healthily and concentrate on lots of stretches for abdominals etc.

Before you are all queuing up to get the name of this woman that you have to pay lots of money to have her inflict pain on you (no whips involved!). I should say that I, as does she, live in Aberdeen which is in bonnie Scotland. Hope this is of interest.


Rolfing — 3 Comments

  1. I am a Certified Rolfer and I have a talented colleague who practices in Edinburgh.
    The explanation above is excellent of both Rolfing and Hellerwork--well done! So wonderful to hear how much Rolfing has helped you!

  2. Today, I went to the beach with my children.

    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had
    to tell someone!

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