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4 Common Myths About Rolfing®

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Rolfing® is becoming more popular around the world as an innovative and highly effective form of manual therapy and movement education. The truth is Rolfing is not new. In fact, Rolfing was developed over many decades until a school was established in 1971. Since then, it has gained a strong reputation in providing significant changes in people’s lives all over the world. Along the way, myths have been formed and I am here to debunk them, so it doesn't keep you from experiencing the benefits of this amazing work.

Myth #1: Rolfing® is painful.

This is by far the most common thing I hear, and it usually comes from someone who has never experienced the work. Rolfing can feel great leaving you deeply relaxed often bordering dreamland. Some clients explain it as a “good hurt” or “hurts so good” where the discomfort is temporary and fleeting and suddenly tension dissipates, and you feel amazing. Because Rolfing works on the connective tissue, the work can seem deep as the free nerve endings in fascia are stimulated through slow strokes with varying levels of depth. There can be discomfort associated with this however the pressure, depth and pace can be modified to your tolerance. A Rolfing session is a collaborative experience where a Rolfer is observing and communicating with you throughout the session working in a way that will not over-excite the nervous system and induce pain.

Myth #2: Rolfing® is a form of deep-tissue massage.

Rolfing’s approach and results are vastly different than massage. One is not necessarily better than the other because the goal of each work is different. Massage is meant to improve circulation, promote relaxation, and offer short-term pain-relief while Rolfing is a whole-body approach to balancing the body offering lasting changes in posture, alignment, and long-term pain relief. For instance, if a client complains of hip pain, a massage session will likely focus on the area to promote circulation. In a Rolfing session, the area of concern is often affected by a strain in another region of the body causing the hips to overcompensate. As the strain is relieved, the entire body and problem area return to a comfortable, pain-free state. In a session like this where there is manual therapy performed on the hips and legs, you may also find a greater sense of connectedness to the ground offering more balance and stability. These new and profound sensations are also more typical of a Rolfing session.

Myth #3: Rolfing® is like Myofascial Release.

To give some context, Rolfing influenced many therapies and techniques over the years. For instance, the creators of Myofascial Release Technique Robert Ward and John Barnes studied under Dr. Ida Rolf who developed Rolfing. Myofascial release is a technique which focuses on areas of the connective tissue or fascia to provide pain-relief and eliminate dysfunction. This is more of a corrective, or fix-it approach. Rolfing is a comprehensive, holistic system which includes a variety of techniques to facilitate change in the connective tissue bringing overall ease and balance to the whole body. Rolfing offers more complete lasting effects. Nevertheless, one does not exclude the other.

Myth #4 Rolfing® is only for chronic pain.

Most clients come to my office for pain relief as part of their goal, and many times they walk out with much more. Rolfing is a great resource to learn about how your body functions, improve your posture, enhance your ability to move with ease and less effort and improve overall body function. Many clients report improvement in vitality, psychological well-being, stress relief and more joy and satisfaction in their day to day activities. The post-session feeling gives clients a sense of what it truly feels like to be balanced and function at their highest capacity. It is extremely useful for pain conditions like headaches, migraines, postural problems, scoliosis, neck pain, lower back pain, joint pain, whiplash, post-rehabilitation recovery, post-natal recovery and much more. Clients will also say things like, “I don't remember the last time I was able to do that,” “I am able to put my shoes on easier…get out of the car easier…sleep without waking….start running again…I feel taller and lighter,” etc. Whether you're 12 or 95, your body can change at any age. Rolfing can help you regain your flexibility, mobility and energy enhancing your quality of life. Rolfing can be a truly transformational experience. So what are you waiting for? Schedule your session at one of my several Chicagoland area locations. To your health.

Elias Limberopoulos, Certified Rolfer®


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