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First Rolfing Session – What to Expect

Most people arrive for their first Rolfing session with apprehension. They wonder if Rolfing can help them to overcome a particular problem. They also want to know how Rolfing will feel. Here’s what clients can expect during their first Rolfing session.

Before beginning the work it’s important to talk. A health/emotional history is taken and current motivations for seeking out Rolfing are shared.

A visual assessment is next. Each person has a unique way of holding themselves in the gravitational field. Rolfers explore how the body parts relate to the vertical axis in front of the spine. This alignment has bearing upon the stresses and strains that are experienced on a daily basis. It is of interest whether the head sits directly over the shoulders, whether the shoulders are over the hips, as well as the hips and knees over the ankles.

Also observed are postural and movement patterns that accompany sitting, transitions to standing, and also walking. The gait pattern is of particular interest, as every time the feet touch ground the effects resonate upwards through the spine.

Range of motion, strength, functional deficits and other findings are recorded as part of a Physical Therapy evaluation. The initial assessment involves viewing the body from many different perspectives and provides valuable information pertaining to how the Rolfing can render a more easeful and well-functioning physical body.

Traditional Rolfers perform the basic ten session Rolfing series on all who are new to Rolfing. This allows the Rolfer to work through the whole structure progressively. While each client’s ten series is unique, there are some predetermined specific goals for each session. For example, the first session, focuses itself upon openness and freedom in the shoulder, anterior chest, lateral and posterior hips, back and neck.

Rolfers apply sustained pressure through their hands to open up chronic holding patterns in the connective tissue wrappings surrounding each muscle. Warmth, tingling sensations are common and sometimes, momentary feelings of discomfort from the work are reported. Many people report a sense of vitality or openness in their body that is new and exciting, as they feel increased energy circulating, breath and movement returning. The recipient is in control of the comfort dial. Anytime the sensation is too strong it is important that this is communicated so that the Rolfer can modulate the work to the recipient’s comfort level.

Rolfers are experts at modulating manual pressure and approaching the resistant tissue from different angles. If the recipient is relaxed and comfortable, then the door opens for a release of tension and habitual patterns of bracing. The quote “no pain no gain” does not go hand in hand with Rolfing. “No pain no gain” is a primitive approach to working on a sensitive and intelligent body. Instead Rolfers seek to tease out stuck patterns and nudge the body towards integrated and free movement.

Rolfing is designed to improve posture, alignment and mobility. Rolfers work on specific problems within the context of the whole structure. Each person's reasons for receiving Rolfing are both unique and important. The way that a Rolfer addresses those issues might sometimes seem mysterious. For example, the alignment of the feet has everything to do with the back and how it’s working. Rolfers see a direct relationship between how the calcaneus (heel bone) is aligned and moving with how the sacrum is functioning. As the mechanics of the foot and ankle improve, the upper back straightens.

Most people feel immediate change for the better by the end of a treatment.

They often express feeling lighter and more stable after the first session. They also find that their rib cage expands and releases further allowing for easier breathing.

Rolfing is best suited to treat chronic problems and also to facilitate personal growth. The process of ten sessions allows practitioners to get at the underpinnings of longstanding issues.

Rebekah and David Frome have been working in the healing arts for over three decades. They have helped thousands of people recover from trauma and leave pain behind. They practice in Montclair and Asbury Park, NJ. To learn more about Tai Chi classes or to schedule a Rolfing or Five Element Acupuncture appointment call (973) 509 - 8464 or visit You can also find us at www.FaceBook/FromePhysicalTherapy


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