Better Posture Made Possible

unique bodywork technique, Rolfing, offered in Menomonie

Cheri Dostal

Chris Hayden, Hayden Integration
Chris Hayden, Hayden Integration

“This is the gospel of Rolfing:
When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through.
Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.”
– Ida P. Rolf

I heard about Rolfing, or Rolfing Structural Integration, years ago when I studied dance at UW-Stevens Point. It had been touted as one of the most effective, and sometimes painfully deep, forms of bodywork. I had images of lying on the massage table while someone worked me into stretches and spirals, breathing through the intense sensations and leaving the service on some strange kind of it-hurts-so-good high. Similar to massage, but more aggressive in its ability to reorganize the fascia, dancers and my professors raved about rolfing. (A note about fascia: it is our expansive connective tissue that permeates and contains all of our other structures like muscles, nerves, organs and gives form to our body.)

Now, having taught movement for the last 10 or so years, I have a new appreciation for this art and science of improving our structure’s abilities from the inside out through soft tissue manipulation. I feel brave enough to try it now, and I’m curious how it will help my running. In fact, I am even subjecting myself to scheduled to enjoy my first Rolfing session in a couple of weeks.

So what is this thing called Rolfing? Developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf throughout her career (an ambitious career for a woman in the sciences through the 1920s and forward I might add), she attempted through various means to answer this question: “What conditions must be fulfilled in order for the human body-structure to be organized and integrated in gravity so that the whole person can function in the most optimal and economical way?” Translation: How can we move with comfort and ease in our bodies, able to enjoy our life’s work and play?

Many people suffer, unnecessarily, in pain and discomfort. We sit too often for our jobs and these repetitive movements (or lack of daily movement) have an overwhelming affect on our structure, and our structure then in turn affects the inner functioning of our breath and organs. Our bodies and brains can be called plastic, that is they have the ability to change based on the conditions we give them. If you sit slumped over your computer with your head hanging for 50 hours a week, your body will start to conform to that new way of being – kind of like metal being formed over time with heat and force – it adopts a new shape that is difficult to return to its former state without equal time and effort to change it back.