A key principle of Rolfing is that "the body is a plastic medium." Fascia gives form to the body; it is the most pervasive tissue.
Gluteal muscle separated showing
facial wrapping. Photo by Ron Thompson

When the body loses its architectural integrity through injury, trauma, or repeated use or misuse, the connective tissue shortens and thickens in characteristic patterns of strain and tightness in order to shore us up against gravity’s ever-present influence. To the Rolfer’s trained eyes, slouched bodies with heads too far forward or hyper-erect bodies which bow backward, knock-knees or bowed legs, flat feet or high arches and excessive spinal curvature all display complicated patterns of strain, tightness and thickening in the muscles and connective tissue.

Structure in the body is maintained by connective tissue, called fascia, that wraps and permeates everything in the body from the large sheets of fascia under the skin to the microstructures inside cells, and even inside DNA. Any negative information, whether it is physical, emotional or mental, will cause this tissue to shorten. This pattern of shortening is held and retained as a memory inside tissue until the pattern can be released. Rolfers work directly with the connective tissue and indirectly with the nervous system to release these patterns.

Rolfing regards your body as an integrated whole. Although you may feel tension or pain in a particular area, your body makes compensations throughout the structure. Working to release only isolated areas is rarely enough, since the whole body needs to be brought back into balance and integration.

The basic tool of Rolfing is gravity. If your upright body is out of line, gravity will pull on it in an unequal, unbalanced fashion, and you will have to use muscle energy to pull against gravity. Rolfing reorganizes the body so gravity can flow through it in a balanced way. When this happens, gravity can increase and enhance your energy and the body can then ultimately heal itself.

©2011 Briah Anson