Opinion

Improve your life by improving posture | Column

Structural Integration, or Rolfing as it is commonly referred to is a system of hands on manipulation bodywork and movement education developed in the 1970s by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. The goal of Rolfing is to bring the body into proper alignment and restore balance by working with fascia and connective tissue. Our bodies tend to come out of alignment from a variety of factors, such as poor posture, injuries and over use.

At first glance Rolfing looks like a massage but with a couple of key differences. Rolfing is interactive. It incorporates movement to stimulate nerve impulses to the brain while working on the fascia and soft tissue. The focus is on the manipulation of fascia (the sheath-like substance that binds muscles together), which is what distinguishes Rolfing from chiropractic, which works with bones, and from therapeutic massage, which works on the muscles.

Rolfing is done on a massage table while wearing running shorts and a jogging bra. Rolfing also incorporates a component of movement analysis.  It is common to work on the table for a while and then stand or walk to observe and recognize the changes.

People seek out Rolfing for many reasons. Many come to Rolfing to help improve their posture. Years of slouching and sitting at a desk in front of a computer can take a toll on your posture. Forward head posture is common in our increasing technological world. Forward head posture is when the ears are positioned in front of the shoulder instead of directly over the shoulder. This can lead to slouching at the computer, while driving or simply sitting. For every inch your head is forward the equivalent of 10 pounds is added to your head which causes the muscles in the neck and upper back to work harder. This added weight and stress on the neck muscles and nerves can lead to headaches, poor breathing patterns, as well as neck and shoulder tension. Well over half the population has forward head posture.

Dr. Rolf had a theory that pain in the body came from basic imbalances in the body’s alignment, which can be reinforced over time by gravity and patterns such as carrying a purse or bag on one shoulder, or protecting an injured left knee by shifting weight to the right leg. Rolfing works to correct these imbalances and re-train the body to move in a more balanced and efficient manner.

Rolfing has become popular with athletes to help with balance and quicker recovery time from injuries. People are trying it as a way to enhance athletic performance and increase flexibility. This can help reduce injuries and nagging aches and pains. Increased efficiency in movement can help athletes to perform better and move with less restriction. Rolfing is an excellent foundation for and complement to yoga, pilates and other athletic endeavors.

Sterling Cassel is a Certified Rolfer at Rolfing Eastside in downtown Kirkland. Contact Rolfing Eastside for a free consultation at 425-761-3967.

 

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