FAQ - What Is Rolfing Massage – Ramone Yaciuk

Frequently Asked Questions About Rolfing

Marin Sonoma Rolfing - Tulips

Who should consider Rolfing?

According to Dr. Rolf, all bodies have some degree of disorder and compensation in their structure; therefore she believed that everyone should receive Rolfing / structural integration. In fact, in her global vision, she imagined a more evolved and structurally efficient human species as a result of Rolfing. You may want a more compelling reason to try Rolfing or to undergo the powerfully transformative sequence of sessions. I divide those who come to me for Rolfing into two groups.

Group One: 

These are people who have a history of injury or trauma and notice that the effects of their injuries and traumas interfere with their everyday lives. In many cases these individuals have tried traditional medical treatments or exercise to reduce or counteract the long-term effects of old injuries with varying degrees of success. This group might include former and current athletes, musicians, dancers, performers or those engaged in physically demanding jobs.

This first group includes people who sit at a computer most days or work in construction.  These are people who want to improve their posture or just want to have more energy. Most adults of any age who suffer from any limiting physical discomfort can absolutely benefit from Rolfing as long as the pains themselves are in the neuro-muscular system. For most of us, Rolfing combined with movement education and exercise offers a long-lasting solution to keep us active, energetic and healthy.

Group Two: 

The second group are those who want to accelerate their personal evolution. They may want to be more available emotionally, to be able to move past personal limitations and to be more integrated in their lives. Rolfing can help them change old patterns and it can serve as an educational resource which allows these individuals a more intimate and comfortable relationship with their physical body.

Interestingly enough, as the body transforms physically the person transforms on other levels as well, so that, while Rolfing's primary focus is the muscular and connective tissue system, it frequently has a dramatic effect on other areas such as emotional, mental and spiritual development. In my practice I have seen Rolfing effect my clients in a wide variety of positive ways. Call to discuss your goals and see what is possible for you with Rolfing.

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Does Rolfing hurt?

When most people think of Rolfing, one of the first words that come to their mind is pain.  Rolfings tended to be less subtle and more intense in it's infancy. It was linked to popular emotionally intense types of therapies in the late 1960's and early 70's. Dr. Rolf noted during her training classes that her students failed to work deep enough.

Apparently, many assumed that what she meant was that they needed to work harder. I realize that deep work is not necessarily synonymous with hard or physically intense work. This understanding usually translates into deep yet surprisingly comfortable experiences for my Rolfing clients.

I have experienced the work of many Rolfers and other body workers too. I find that some can hurt and some work well with the rhythm of my body. I have designed my approach to honor the rhythm of your body. While the work is deep, transformational and may even feel intense, we will communicate so that you can relax and do not need to resist the work. Sometimes in Rolfing as in other parts of life less is more.

Several factors determine the level of comfort or discomfort during a Rolfing session. One is the degree of trauma in your system; another is how long patterns of holding have been in your body and another is the degree of emotional charge associated with an area of injury or strain.

Some patterns may require more sustained pressure to release. I will work with you in a way to gently challenge and shift the pattern in a way that allows your body to receive the work with maximum integration. While the work may be uncomfortable, I will use a variety of techniques and will communicate with you to find the right level to achieve the greatest positive effect without re-traumatizing you.

Part of my job is to be able to utilize a wide range techniques and styles of touch.  It is important that I can sense when a lighter or more profound touch is required. Communication and pacing the level of intensity are essential. Together we are able to release restricted tissue and help your body reintegrate and become more organized.

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What is the difference between massage and Rolfing?

One of the most common misconceptions about Rolfing is that it is a nothing more than a type of very deep massage. There are many varieties of massage, which are particularly effective for loosening tight tissue, reducing stress, detoxing the body and increasing a feeling of relaxation and well-being. Since these benefits are also a byproduct of Rolfing, many people experience confusion as to the precise difference between Rolfing and the other effective touch modalities currently available.

My Rolfing education taught me to do four things that are specific to Rolfing: seeing, palpation, discrimination and integration. First I look at your structure and posture and discern patterns. Next I palpate, or touch the tissue, feeling for imbalances in tissue texture, quality and temperature to determine where and how we need to work. I discriminate, or separate fascial layers that adhere and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury. Finally, I help increase awareness and help the body to integrate. Body segments have an improved relationship and more balance in the gravitational field.

Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, usually do not balance the body in gravity. As Dr. Rolf used to say: "Anyone can take a body apart, very few know how to put it back together." The true genius of her method is the art and science of reshaping and reorganizing human structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner.

In addition to my skill as a structural integrator, I am also an educator.  This point was stressed in my training classes. In each session, I take time to impart insights designed to increase your movement awareness and understanding of your body. This can serve to help gain maximum benefit from our work. 

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How does Rolfing work?

Rolfing strives to align and balance the body’s components so that your entire system is a smoothly functioning coordinated whole. For example, your legs are aligned to your hips, shoulders to rib cage, your body is positioned over your feet, and then all of your joints and related tissue are integrated to one another. A few of the many benefits people experience are reduced pain, increased flexibility, an enhanced sense of body awareness, and improved posture.

These wonderful transformations are possible because Rolfing addresses the body’s internal system of flexible support, otherwise known as fascia. These connective tissues surrounds every muscle fiber, encase all joints and even have a role in the nervous system. Think of the fascial system as an intricate internal guide wire network for the body. And if one set of support wires becomes tight or out of place, the excess tension may appear as nagging joint pain, muscle soreness, or a postural shift.

To correct internal misalignments, I use direct pressure to melt or release facial holdings and allow the body to find health through the reestablishment of balance. It is currently believed that the deep strokes of Rolfing stimulate intra-fascial mechanoreceptors (sensory neurons of the muscle nerve), which in turn triggers the nervous system to reduce the tension of the related muscles and fascia.

Put another way, Rolfing allows the brain and nervous system to “reboot” areas of the body that are receiving too much electrical stimulation (chronically tight or sore muscles). And once a healthy level of muscle contraction is established, your entire structure can be free from pain.

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What is the Rolfing Ten Series?

The hallmark of Rolfing Structural Integration is a standardized “recipe” known as the Ten Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten Rolfing sessions.

Each session focuses on freeing restrictions or holdings trapped in particular regions of your body. I maintain a holistic view of your entire system during each session complete with your specific pattern and needs, thus ensuring the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.

Occasionally acute issues in someone’s body have been best served by adding a couple of sessions to a series although this is rare.

The ten sessions are a very conscious approach to have your body sculpted in a new and refreshing way. Some clients however opt for a shorter series to address a specific issue. Call and we can discuss what will serve you best.

The first treatment is usually experienced as very relaxing and energizing and there is no obligation to continue.If you continue, sessions can be spaced out once a week or once every two weeks. If needed, the sessions could be done once a month and you will still get a very good result. If there is a chronic discomfort, sessions closer together (once a week) may work best. 

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Does Rolfing relieve stress?

When people come to Rolfers, they frequently complain about their high level of stress and how it affects their everyday life. They are seeking some means of reducing their stress. Often, they may have explored allopathic means such as muscle relaxants, painkillers, liniments, etc.

If you are experiencing stress, Rolfing can provide you with a more lasting solution. Rolfing addresses underlying structural issues that may be contributing to your stress. You become more aware of how you hold tension and how to release it. You increase awareness and have more ease in your body.

Rolfing creates a higher level of integration in the body, balancing and educating the body and the psyche. As the body becomes more balanced, it is more comfortable in the gravitational field. This translates into physical and emotional comfort that will diminish stress.

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What about the emotional and Psychological effects of Rolfing?

It is impossible to touch the physical body without touching the emotional body. All individuals develop patterns of holding and defending against a variety of physical and emotional experiences. As the physical pattern is shifted, the emotional and psychological components may shift also. Catharsis is not a goal of Rolfing. 

When emotionally charged areas of the body have been identified by you or me, they are normally accessed slowly, compassionately and with constant communication between us. Occasionally a client may experience the surfacing of repressed memories or emotions. When they arise I provide a safe container for the release and integration of the stored emotional energy.

I am not a therapist yet I have studied and understand humans and the effects of trauma on our bodies. If someone has something come up during the Rolfing process or is recovering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they may need other support in addition to Rolfing. This is very rare and if it happens I will help you safely explore your options and may refer you to other professionals to help you further. With that being said, the nature and quality the Rolfing experience may help you to access and integrate emotionally charged material. However, I do not encourage you to enter the Rolfing process anticipating catharsis. My expertise is integrating and balancing connective tissue. The emotional component of the Rolfing process is not the primary intention.

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What do I wear for Rolfing and what should I expect from a treatment?

What to wear? Since we look at your structure from time to time during the treatment, you do not take off all your clothes. Typically underwear for men and underwear and a bra for women are worn. Sports bras, two piece bathing suits, gym shorts are all fine. If you would feel more comfortable to wear a shirt or even yoga pants that can work too. Your comfort is key.

Most of the time you are lying comfortably on the table and are covered. Occasionally we will check the effects of the work on your structure and posture by having you stand and move.  

Sessions typically last about 75 minutes with a first visit taking a little longer. Please allow 90 minutes for a first session.

Usually a session will leave you feeling light and energized. Sometimes clients want to take a nap after a treatment. I recommend that you do not schedule a Rolfing treatment before an important meeting or any activity that requires a high level of coordination including operating heavy equipment. This is because a Rolfing treatment can shift your structure and requires a day or two to integrate.

Mild to moderate exercise or activity is usually no problem after a treatment.

If you eat before a treatment please eat light. 

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How much does Rolfing Cost?

A Rolfing treatment lasts about 75 minutes and costs $160. Ask about a discount if a series is paid for in advance.
With less than 24 hours notice full price is charged.

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Is Rolfing helpful to musicians and athletes (dancers etc..)?

Musicians and athletes often face a number of unique physical challenges brought on by years of diligent practice and performing. Sometimes they develop habits which lead to chronic pain. Rolfing and the awareness education that is included with Rolfing can help in a number of ways. Physical adaptations are normalized in a traditional Rolfing ten series. The Rolfing 10 series can be specifically adapted to address patterns and injuries that are locked in your connective tissue. You can demonstrate your craft and we can find ways for you to perform with more ease and less discomfort.

Musicians and athletes who have experienced the basic series have consistently noticed profound changes in their level of physical comfort, energy and internal awareness. This increased freedom of movement noticeably impacts performance. The awareness education will call your attention to subtle ways you hold or translate force through your body which reinforce strain patterns and interfere with your performance.  You will discover options and together we will find creative alternatives to stressful patterns so you can have more comfort and be able to perform at a high level. 

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Is Rolfing suitable for children?

A common misunderstanding about Rolfing is that its main value is in correcting long-standing structural patterns. Rolfing can also serve to reverse potentially problematic patterns in the young. One of the things children learn from watching us is how we carry ourselves and they will naturally imitate their parent's language, expression, movement and posture.

I had a client who had a limp but no underlying injury. Upon further examination we discovered his limp was just like his father’s. His father had an injury and my client developed the same way of walking even though his leg was never damaged.

Rolfing can begin to correct familial patterns, and prevent them from limiting the child's development and mobility.

Also, when children are injured from falls or minor accidents, they may seem to be fine on the outside since the cut or bruise healed. However, as Dr. Rolf pointed out, they are not really the same. Minor changes have taken place in the connective tissue, in their joints, and in the muscles that were injured. Small tears or pulls cause the tissue to thicken. Soon, muscles begin to adhere to each other and are less able to function as discrete entities. These changes may express themselves as a slight limp, lower energy, a decrease in range of motion or strength.

I sprained my groin muscle playing hockey as a kid and this set up a pattern that has limited the mobility of my hips. If this pattern was addressed when I was still growing the lingering effects may have been reduced. As an adult Rolfing and yoga have helped me to maintain my flexibility in these areas.

In my situation, as with many children today, early intervention by a Rolfer who is aware of the unique needs of children can make a profound difference in awareness, comfort level and self-esteem for the child. The importance of receiving loving supportive touch in and of itself is of immeasurable value to a developing child. Rolfing adolescents during and after puberty, which is a time of great change and even emotional turmoil for most, besides the obvious structural benefits, frequently has a profound effect on the developing child's awareness and comfort in his or her rapidly changing body and mind.

Call to discuss how Rolfing may benefit your child.

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Thanks again for your interest in Rolfing. I look forward to helping you create more freedom and comfort in your body.            Please call to set up an appointment or to get answers to your questions.                                                                                   


To your Health and Happiness.

Serving Freedom,                                                                                                                                                                    Ramone