People often wonder how structural integrators can claim to elicit emotional change. Structural integrators claim that a sense of well-being can result, that sometimes our work is more effective at getting through emotional blocks than talk-therapy, etc. etc. We make pretty bold claims for some people to believe, so let’s look at the science behind such claims, shall we? [Read more…]
Mind-body medicine: Why is it so hard to believe?
The Rolfing community, as well as many other complementary therapy communities, has long claimed that the health of the mind and of the body are inextricably linked. To many people raised in the western world, that has been considered a laughable and downright absurd proposition best left to the gullible and uneducated for consumption. Dualism – the idea that the mind and body are totally separate and that the body has no effect on the mind – has simply been too ingrained as a fundamental philosophical tenet for fruitful discussion to occur. But change has occurred and western medicine is now recognizing monism as a functional and useful reality.
What does Rolfing have to do with emotions?
Getting Rolfed often arouses emotional responses in clients that can be mild and practically unnoticeable as well as strong and cathartic. Changes in the body, through various neurobiological mechanisms, affect the functioning of the brain, with particular effect on the regions associated with emotions and feelings. The result is that clients often report feeling happier, uplifted, and more stable. [Read more…]
How does Rolfing really work? (the neurophysiology of touch)
Rolfing works by addressing range of motion restrictions throughout the body to establish a more balanced, efficient whole. It is believed that Rolfing and myofascial release techniques work by contacting fascia, the filmy white stuff that surrounds and is continuous with ligaments, muscles, bones, and organs. You’ve seen fascia if you’ve ever prepared raw meat. It’s that icky white stuff under the chicken skin and on your slab of raw steak that is always a struggle to cut away no matter how sharp the knife.
Though fascia is 3D and loops around and about all over the body, it may be helpful to envision it as latex. The entire body is wrapped in latex. The structure of the body is being held together by constant tension. When, say, a shoulder is moved out of place, the latex still keeps the shoulder sucked into the torso, but the shoulder doesn’t move right. The hips are a bit skewed. The knees are bowed. The neck is craned. There are a host of structural issues being held together by the latex wrapping. Rolfing loosens up the latex (fascia) around all this to help all the parts of the body find their ways back home. Basically, when the latex gets loose, the pull of gravity brings everything towards the plumb-line.
How exactly the actual touch techniques work, however, has been up for debate for decades.
According to the latest research, Rolfing and other forms of myofascial bodywork work by contacting mechanoreceptors within fascia, thereby changing the way the body’s self-regulatory mechanisms function. [Read more…]