Tag Archives: rolfing

Benefits of Myofascial Manipulation

Fascia is still a medical mystery. In October, 2007, more than 100 scientists from around the world convened in Boston, Massachusetts to discuss the latest research on fascia: an enigmatic, gauze-like matrix of connective tissue that envelopes the muscles, surrounds the nerves and swathes the organs in a body-wide-web of fibrous collagen. But the researchers had some unlikely company. Also in attendance, and outnumbering researchers 5:1, was a group of alternative-medicine practitioners with a mutual interest in fascia. United by their fascination with this medically neglected tissue, the two camps comprised the attendees of the first-ever International Fascia Research Congress.

Ida Rolf , the founder of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, described her work on organizing the body as this:  Rolfing works on the web-like network of connective tissues, called fascia, to release, realign, and balance the whole body, potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain.”

For decades, anatomical dissections and representations have presented the body as stripped of its fascial tissues, and the majority of physiology textbooks make little mention of it. “Most scientists,” says Wallace Sampson, alternative medicine skeptic and professor emeritus at Stanford University, “even those wary of alternative therapies, admit that the field of fascia research is a field of neglect, and remains sorely under-investigated.”

The basic concepts of myofascial release are these:

1. The body functions as a total biologic unit

2. The body possesses self-healing and self-regulatory mechanisms

3. Structure and function are interrelated, and

4. Abnormal pressure in one part of the body produces abnormal pressures and strains upon other parts of the body.


Why Does Your Horse Need Structural Integration?

Structural Integration, also known as Rolfing, manually releases body stress and tension that prevent postural alignment and balance.

Most pain relates to muscles and joints. Muscles and joints bear the strain when bodies are overused, misused, and unbalanced. Body balance also affects circulation, digestion, and the nervous system.

The muscles and skeleton is the largest energy user of the body. When the body is under strain, the result is fatigue, pain, and reduced athletic performance.

I see my job as a massage therapist as that of a body educator. There is nothing that makes me happier than to see previously uncomfortable and suffering animals able to enjoy their jobs with a bright look on their face.


Case Study of a Big Guy!

Yesterday I went to a work on a half draft/warmblood cross that has been having some lameness issues in his front legs. I had the owner walk him for me, and walking away he looked quite good. But when she walked him toward me I saw he was almost crossing his front legs when he walked.

I got to work and found several tight spots on the right side (the side of the inflamed joint) of his body. I focused on aligning the entire structure of his body.  I have found that the only way to have long lasting results is to make sure all the soft tissue is supple, the nutrition program is of the highest quality, the exercise program is balanced, and the saddle fits.

After an hour of rolfing, I had the owner walk him out again. This time his front legs were about 9 inches apart, but still not square under his shoulders. Sometimes stopping is the hardest part of my job. The horse was happy and relaxed and I stopped working on him rather than go too far and irritate him. The vet will be out soon to assess what we need to do next.



Is Your Horse Balanced?

The horse should be identical on both sides of his body. Such a simple concept, but so difficult to achieve! In order to be a successful, healthy, injury and pain free animal, the horse must have equal capacity on each side of the body for muscle contraction and extension.

Horses have a genius for compensation. As many of you have experienced when trying to reach a diagnosis, horses can mask a problem in the most inventive ways! Evaluation of asymmetries is one of my first jobs when I work on a horse.

After working on a very lopsided horse, I often suggest that the rider see a rolfer so the rider is as centered as possible and not contributing to the muscle imbalance in the horse.

Common problems that are often the result of an unbalanced horse and rider:
Shortened Stride ,Girthing Problems, Improper Tracking ,Hind Leg Scuffing, Sore Back ,Refusing or Resisting Leads ,Head and Neck Tossing, Hip and Shoulder Lameness, Head Bobbing ,Rearing ,Bucking

Equine massage helps:

Maintain muscle symmetry

Enhance muscle tone and increase range of motion

Ease muscle spasms

Extend both the good health and the overall life of the animal’s athletic career

Given the complexity of their movement and their musculo/skeletal construction, horses have much to gain from massage therapy. Horses are athletes and, like us, can develop sore muscles, stiff joints, and restricted range of motion. If massage is practiced on a regular basis it can help alleviate these symptoms and, more importantly, help prevent injury.


Ida Rolf

Today I step aside from writing to quote Ida Rolf, the creator of Structural Integration. She was born in 1896. Interestingly, her father was a civil engineer who built docks and piers on the east coast. Rolf developed her system of body balancing in the 1920’s:

“For too many of us, willful ignorance of our own processes keeps us in the dark. This ignorance has been compounded by many factors, not the least of which is a teaching called by the misnomer ‘physical education.’ The assumption in most Phys.Ed. school departments is that endless ‘doing’ – calisthenics, acrobatics, violent sports, gymnastics – builds good bodies. The ideal, they think, is the body beautiful of the newsstand magazines. A modicum of truth baits this trap and makes it attractive. It is clear that heavy, repetitious exercise, by bringing blood and fluid to muscles, does cause them to enlarge and, up to a point, improves their functioning. After this point, however, the body becomes rigid and muscle-bound.

“Structural Integration underscores the need for patterned order in the body. It is a physical method for producing better functioning by aligning units of the body. ”


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