People often ask, is Rolfing a form of Physical Therapy?
While Physical Therapy & Rolfing are both therapeutic approaches to treat physical ailments that afflict the human body, these approaches are quite different in a variety of ways.
Physical Therapy is a branch of the conventional western medical system. When you visit a physical therapist, she will evaluate your presenting symptom with tests, measurements and assess what is keeping you from full and normal function.
A treatment plan is designed to eliminate any deficits you have so that you can return to your normal activities. Treatment plans include administration of different modalities including heat, cold, aquatic therapies, manual manipulations (including myofascial techniques), gait training and therapeutic exercise.
The Physical Therapy field has a broad reach in terms of the populations that it treats. Not only can PT’s treat musculoskeletal and neurological injuries, they also treat vertigo, concussion, urinary incontinence, lymphedema, cardiac and respiratory problems, developmental delays and more. The scope is impressive, and PT’s become experts within their chosen specializations. Physical Therapists often play an instrumental role in providing doctors with information about patient’s function, progress and are trained to have a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology.
The Rolfing Technique of Structural Integration is an alternative treatment that exists under the umbrella of complimentary medicines. Rolfing is a unique approach to healing that is not often found within mainstream Physical Therapy. Rolfing involves using only one modality, the manual manipulation of soft tissue. The focus of Rolfing is to bring the entire body into a state of greater organization and improve our relationship to the field of gravity. Posture, alignment and biomechanics are addressed through balancing the tensions in the fascial network. Fascia is a part of the connective tissue network that enwraps the muscles providing structural support for the body.
Rolfing is a whole body approach that often mitigates symptoms without making problems the focus of treatment. Recipients breathe more fully as their ribs and spine become more mobile. Rolfing helps you to develop more length, stability and physical ease.
Rolfers are experts in assessing the structural patterns that shape us in stillness and movement. Rolfing addresses the underlying issues that are often at the heart of musculoskeletal pain and injury. Rolfing also releases layers of chronic physical tension and can have a positive impact on the psychological level as well.
Our bodies hold our history. Past injuries, surgeries, emotional and physical trauma tend to take residence in our structure and continue to shape how we function in the world. We organize our posture and movement to cope with the stresses that befall us. Rolfing is a process through which we can be liberated from physical baggage that is keeping us from living fully in the present.
While Physical Therapy is allopathic and Rolfing is complimentary we look forward to a time when health care in this country is organized so that people can receive both under the umbrella of integrative care.