Rolfing Builds Easy, Dynamic Posture
Upon reading or hearing the word posture, our bodies stiffen—we become less comfortable than a moment before. Unpleasant thoughts ensue: “My posture is terrible,” we say, as though confessing a sin.
It can be a great relief to discover that “good” posture does not have to be a great effort or strain. “Posture is the availability for movement,” says Hubert Godard, a Certified Rolfer. To be available for movement is an ancient instinct for shaping the body from moment to moment, and therefore far more powerful than the effort we apply to attempting to dictate to our bodies our idea of “correct” posture. From this point of view, the only correct posture is the one that makes us most available for movement suited to our context at this moment. Posture then becomes about expressive possibility, choice, and empowerment.
There are obstacles to achieving a fluid, adaptable way of carrying the body. Many of us feel those obstacles on a daily basis, as chronic tension and pain nag at us while we sit at our desks, walk down the street or go to the gym. We face structural barriers to easy posture and movement that result in compression, tension, less efficient movement and eventually, chronic pain and dysfunction.
Practitioners of Rolfing Structural Integration (Rolfing) work with these issues on a daily basis. Rolfing is a mode of bodywork designed to address these problems by creating fundamental change in the structure and movement of the body with hands-on work.
Chronic tension, pain, weakness and degeneration are the inevitable results of disorder in the structural relationships of the body. Simply doing battle with tight or painful spots may offer short-term relief, but does little about the underlying cause. Rolfing’s founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, recognized that the body will quickly revert back to its disordered pattern no matter how hard we work out or have someone grind away our tight shoulders. Instead, the key lies in changing the patterns that shape the body. Rolfing builds the structural support the body needs to release areas that have been held continually under strain. This enables lasting improvements in posture, efficiency and ease of movement.
A body organizes itself over time as it responds to experience, training, injury and trauma. Its history is written right into the connective tissue relationships that give it shape. In turn, that organization determines the kinds of movements available to at any moment. The structural organization of our bodies allows for, or limits, the quality of easeful posture we have.
Rolfers work with those connective tissue relationships to balance the stresses and forces that work their way through the body. Working in this way shifts many of the structural causes of chronic pain, compression, strain and misalignment as it brings each disordered area of the body into a proper relationship with its structural neighbors. This approach marks the most obvious way that Rolfing differs from massage: Rolfing is always directed towards making specific structural changes in the service of whole-body organization. Relaxation then becomes a natural and long-lasting outcome of a shift in the way the body holds itself together.
A series of Rolfing sessions works to fundamentally reorganize the myofascial patterns that shape the body with a contact that is generally slow, clear and precise. Clients experience a sense of the body decompressing and changing shape in a way that seems to make instinctive sense. Once off the table, those changes add up relief from pain and strain, a lasting shift in the way they feel in their bodies and new possibilities for easy, powerful, efficient movement.
An ordered body feels easy, strong, efficient, and free of strain. Ease is the goal, in every context. A Rolfer asks, “How can we make it easier for this body?” We can do the same each time we tell ourselves to sit or stand up “straight”. We can find a way that allows for more possibility and ease. When easier is hard to find, Rolfing Structural Integration is there to help.
Paul Wirth has practiced Rolfing Structural Integration for more than 11 years and maintains a practice in Hoboken, NJ. Contact him at MosaicBodywork.com.
Photos courtesy of The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration