How does Structural Integration (“Rolfing”) work?
A typical session begins with a “body reading” where the practitioner asseses the client’s structure. What the client is feeling in his/her body and what the practitioner sees helps to determine what changes they will work towards to help improve vertical alignment and balance within the client’s body and within its relationship to the field of gravity.
The practitioner uses various amounts of physical pressure to release areas in the body that are under strain and to lengthen and direct connective tissue to align the major segments of the body (head, neck, torso, pelvis, legs and feet). As a result the body feels lighter and freer. The practitioner may use verbal instructions to teach the client to move in a new more efficient way. Ultimately, the learning experience that takes place is the client learning about himself, from himself.
“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.” – Dr. Rolf
The session ends with another body reading whereby the practitioner can observe what changes have taken place. These changes often occur during, after and in between sessions as time helps the work to integrate into the client’s structure and personal experience.
Over a series of 10 sessions, the practitioner and client work together to let go of poor postural habits and unwind holding patterns that cause the body strain and teach it to move, breathe and live in ways that are balanced, free and upright.
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Patterns in the Body
The process of Structural Integration includes releasing holding patterns that are contributing to imbalance in the body and introducing new ones that make the body look and feel longer, stronger and more at ease. Posture or movement patterns can be favourable or not, depending on how well they serve the body’s well-being.
Patterns of imbalance range from subtle to severe and while they may have served the body in the past, they become a hindrance to the body when they are “locked” inside and are unable to release and let go.
For example, when someone has a sprained ankle, the body shifts as much weight as possible onto the uninjured side of the body to protect the injured ankle from further pain. This shift affects how the body stands in gravity and creates an imbalance on one side of the body as it is forced to carry an uneven distribution of weight. As the ankle heals, the body does not automatically shift back from its unbalanced position, for it has learned a new way to cope with injury and a pattern is established.
Contracting in response to pain, holding the breath to block emotions, or slouching to accommodate a computer terminal are examples of patterns that can make the body stiff, rigid, and painful.
Structural Integration helps and teaches the body to let go of old habits and patterns that do not serve the body well and allows the body to experience a sense of physical freedom and strength that comes from standing upright and moving with ease.
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“Every time I have had a session with Jessica Silver I felt like new person, taller, stronger, younger by 20 years…like a snake coming out from old skin! As a Cirque du Soleil performer with a lot physical demands on my body, Rolfing gives me huge benefits! I strongly recommend anyone to have it..”
Jessica has skilled hands and a keen eye. She works deeply and effectively bringing new life to the tissues of the body.
What I liked best about Jessica was her touch. She engaged with a true eye and a true heart, much like an archer drawing back her bow and releasing to the target. I felt her work was clear, focused, and skillful. I would recommend her work to anyone interested in this important healing art.
An avid tennis player, I am able to stretch more effectively since working with Jessica, which helps me feel more comfortable in my body no matter what activity I’m doing. Her warm manner and knowing hands helped unlock years of stress and I credit her work for helping me be freer and easier in my body.
For years I had chronic back pain that I thought was a result of working at a computer. After the 10 series with Jessica, I learned that pain is not something I have to live with. Her work not only resolved my back pain but lengthened my toes, helping me to feel more comfortable walking and moving in general.
I have tried many types of body work (physio, massage, shiatsu, chiropractic), and I have found Structural Integration to be the most effective. After 10 sessions, the effect had such a profound impact that after four years, I continue to come once a month, every month, as part of my commitment to maintaining the health of my spine. I find Jessica to be deeply committed to her work. The way she works reveals an immense care and concern that has made it easy to develop complete trust and to let g… Read more