The foundational principles of Rolfing® as stated by Ida Rolf in the book “Rolfing and Physical Reality”

Structure, relationship, gravity, integration and education

“One of the first things that people say is: If Rolfing is so darn good, why didn’t somebody know about it long ago?

This is a legitimate question, and there are some legitimate answers to it.

One is the change in concepts in people’s minds since Einstein and others propagated the idea of relativity.

After about the year 1900, a gradual revolution in ideas came about. We began to understand that any idea was a spectrum.

In the 1900s we began to see that … there was black and there was white, but there were all kinds of greys in between.

How does this apply to human bodies?

The first thing you see, as you look at another person, is a structure. It’s that simple. You see that each structure is different.

As soon as you begin to look at structures, you find that a body is not a unit. It is an aggregate of units - head, thorax, pelvis, legs, etc.

In accordance with the way those units are put together as a body, they function well or they function less well.

The next question is, What do you do about it? You can change the way those units fit together, by virtue of the fact that they are held together by myofascial connective tissue - chemically speaking, collagen.

Wherever you see structure in the body, you are looking at collagen.

Every time you use the word structure with respect to a leaving body, you are talking about the relationship between parts as they fit together to make the aggregate that we call the man.

The body operates on energy, with energy, by energy; creating its own energy and taking in outside energy.

What you are registering when you say “I feel” is the sum total of your energy. That sum total is a factorial sum; you can add to it with appropriate alignment. If you stack the body blocks properly, you can get maximum efficiency in the way the body works. As soon as your blocks get unstacked, you begin to lessen efficiency.

In Rolfing, … we align the myofascial structure, which is the connective tissue system. Fascial connective tissue is the organ of structure, … the organ that holds the body appropriately in the three-dimensional material world.

When we use the word “structure”, we are referring to relationships in the three-dimensional space. There’s nothing metaphysical about it; it’s pure physics.

This organ of structures is a very resilient, elastic, plastic medium … It can be changed by adding energy.

In Rolfing, one of the ways we add energy is by pressure. The practitioner deliberately contributes energy to the person with whom he is working.

When you press on a given point, you literally are adding energy to the structure under that point.

You can change human beings. You can change their structure, and in changing their structure you are able to change their function. Structure determines function to a very great degree

The basic law of Rolfing is that you add structure to the body. In doing so you are demanding a change in function. This is the basic reason why Rolfing works as it does.

There can be a change of function, a contribution to the health, well-being, wholeness, and functioning of a body through balanced change in structure.

Our way [Rolfing] is more basic because we understand that structure is determined by the relation of the body to the gravitational field. We are the only group that recognizes that in order for a living body to be at ease … gravity must be able to deal positively with it.
We can’t change the gravitational field; we haven’t gotten that big yet.
What we can do is to change the way the parts of the body fit together into a whole which can transmit the gravitational field through that body in such a way that it enhances its energy field.

This is the basic concept of Rolfing.

[And] nobody I know of has ever looked at [the body like] that.”

“Functional disorganisation of the body comes as a result of exposure to the continuous force of gravity. Anybody who builds a house knows that unless he’s building in terms of verticals and horizontals, he’s going to have to understand a lot about how to reinforce that house against gravity.

In your organic house, your body, the same rules apply. The reason they apply is that your organic house, … is still an aggregate of three-dimensional material particles in space … [and] it must obey the laws of material particles.”

“This is an important concept: that Rolfers are integrating something; we are not restoring something. This puts us In a different class from all other therapists that I know of. It takes us out of the domain designated by the word “therapy”, and puts us into the domain designated by the word “education”.

One of the differences between Rolfers and practitioners of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, etc., is that the latter are all relieving symptoms. They make no effort to put together elements into a more efficient energy system.

From the first day we see a client, we are putting him together, we are integrating him. We integrate him at the end of the first hour, at the end of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth. At every hour, before that man or that woman walks out of the door, we should have integrated him to the place where he has the best, most efficient use of his system that he can have at that level.

We are less therapists than we are educationists. I am not hiding behind a bunch of words here. This is what I mean, this is my goal: an educational process.“

Excerpt from “Rolfing and Physical Reality; Edited and with an introduction by Rosemary Feitis”, Healing Arts Press; pages 32-40

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Published: April 10, 2022