Guest Post By: Christina Richards
“If you can imagine how it feels to have a fluid, light, balanced body free of pain, stiffness and chronic stress, at ease with itself and the earth’s gravitational field, then you understand the goals of Structural Integration” – Dr Ida Rolf
Structural Integration became known as “Rolfing” after the creator’s last name, Rolf. Rolfing is an original method of hands-on manipulation to reduce gravity’s adverse effects on the body. Rolfing softens and lengthens the web-like complex of connective tissue, called fascia, to release, realign, and balance the whole body in gravity.
I was an athlete in my youth and then a professional dancer for over a decade. My body had multiple compensations after having shin splints from running, knee surgery due to a dance injury, turning my toes and legs out for ballet, then dancing on Broadway in three inch heels, on a staircase, in a plastic box and even on roller skates.
You may not be a dancer or athlete, but your body might be out of balance if you:
- Sit at a desk holding your head and shoulders forward causing neck and shoulder strain, or sit with one leg crossed over the other, causing one hip to become higher that creates hip and back pain.
- Carry a heavy bag or child on one side causing one shoulder to tighten that results in one shoulder higher than the other.
- And of course don’t forget about texting, which tightens your arms, shoulders and neck!
All of these repetitive actions throw the body out of alignment and causes the muscles to work harder, the fascia to get tighter and denser, decreasing circulation and nutrients to the area and even squeezing nerves, which all can cause pain!
Ladies, it’s important to pay attention to how you walk and if your pelvic bowl is balanced. Women tend to turn their feet out and walk with their legs farther apart. If your feet and legs are over worked, it tends to shift your torso back. This is common in pregnant women.
If your torso is behind you it increases the curve and strain of your lower back (lordosis) that causes the whole back to work harder to support your upper body. Since the upper body goes backwards, the pelvis often counter balances and pushes forward, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. With a growing baby, the torso’s weight ends up behind the center of gravity.
When the pelvis is balanced there is less pressure on the front of the pelvis. If the pelvis is tilted forward it can cause the belly to hang forward and not be supported by the pelvic bowl.
After the baby is born, the body often keeps those postural compensations if you don’t receive Rolfing or other structural focused body work. Women also add to structural issues while nursing. There’s a tendency to hunch over and look down to one side at the baby every few hours for months or years.
For girls/ladies with bad cramps, Rolfing also focuses on the release of the groin, layers of the abdomen & psoas which could put additional pressure on the reproductive system that causes cramping.
Rolfing also helps women with fertility issues by allowing the body to have less physical stress, function better and calm down the nervous system.
Rolfers release the tightness in the body that is pulling the bones out of alignment so the body naturally realigns in gravity.
The benefits of Rolfing include:
Improves posture, reduces chronic stress, restores flexibility, allows for more efficient use of muscles, ease of movement, assists parents to feel connected, increases neurological functioning and emotional well-being, and educates women and men how to carry, lift and sit to support their body and stay balanced.
As an experienced Rolfer for many years, I’ve helped people get rid of sciatic pain, low back/pelvic bowl pain, shoulder, neck and jaw pain, including headaches and also foot, knee and hip pain. Whether you are recovering from surgery, just finished physical therapy or want to avoid both, Rolfing can help you. Due to my background in dance, Rolfing movement and certification in Pilates, I educate clients how to sit, stand and walk to stay out of pain. Also being a licensed massage therapist, I have a gentle approach and aim to achieve the optimum change within the comfort level of my clients.
If you would like to have a FREE consultation or schedule a Rolfing session please contact Christina Richards at ChristinaRichardsRolfer@gmail.com or 212-362-8939. If you want to learn more about Rolfing and my practice, go to my website ChristinaRichardsRolfer.com