Dr Ida P Rolf (1896-1979) was a respected scholar and medical researcher. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in her native city of New York in 1920. For the next nine years she worked at the Rockefeller Institute in the department of organic chemistry. Her search for solutions to her own and family health problems lead her to an exploration of homeopathy, osteopathy and chiropractic healing methods. From her practice of yoga she became fascinated with movement and the relationship between form and function. She determined that impaired function could be improved if form was changed by restoring length to the connective tissue in and around the impaired area. Finding ways to encourage length into these areas is the art of Structural Integration.
The second aphorism; If at first you don’t succeed, get the hell out and go somewhere else is Dr. Rolfs reminder to practitioners that the art is better practiced with finesse than a bigger hammer.
The bodys’ myofascial system is made up of a long chain protein molecule called collagen. It is an endless network of hollow fibers; inside the fibers is a material known as ground substance which nourishes and lubricates the web. Depending on the amount of ground substance present, the fascia is described as “sol”, meaning hard and tough or “gel”, meaning soft and malleable. The SI practitioners job is to bring a state of gel to areas which are sol. This can be thought of as a process of reeducation with information being presented in the form of directionally applied pressure. Using finger tips, knuckles, the heel of the hand and the dreaded elbow, the practitioner works along the orientation of the fibers,encouraging the flow of ground substance, thereby coaxing length and a uniformly soft, silky texture to the tissue. As the tissue softens chronic tension held in it releases allowing the body to return to a previously known state of balance and ease. The process can happen quickly or over a period of several sessions as the tissue becomes progressively softer. By working around an area rather than directly on it space is created giving shortened and hardened tissue the opportunity to regain length. Range of motion can increase with the change in form so as to enhance function.
A Rolf ten series is a voyage of discovery and transformation for the client, facilitated by the practitioner. When the work is practiced with sensitivity and patience, a positive outcome will be the result for both parties.