‘Rolfing’ massages make a return Says USA Today
Press reports reflect that body aches and poor posture can be improved by Rolfing, fans of that type of massage say.
Rolfing, deep massage of the connective tissue that surrounds all the muscles and organs that first became popular in the late 1960s, has been experiencing a comeback.
Rolfing’s premise is that trauma to the body and the everyday effects of gravity cause connective tissues to shift out of place, resulting in aches and pains. Practitioners stretch and apply pressure to the connective tissue to restore alignment in the body.
“It’s not for wimps. If you want a gentle, feel-good massage, this is not it,” said Joyce Samples, a 54-year-old from Brentwood, Tenn., who had been experiencing chronic back and arm pain before turning to the procedure with a reputation for pain. “It’s very intense, but I immediately feel better afterward.”
Mary Alice Felder, a structural integration practitioner, attributes its resurgence to aging baby boomers who are open to trying alternative therapies.
“They are feeling the effects of aging,” Felder said. “They wake up feeling stiff. Their bodies can’t do what they used to, and Rolfing can help with that.”
Rolfer Randy Mack, who has been practicing for 31 years, said he’s been seeing an influx of young clients. “There’s this whole new generation giving it a try,” he said, adding that many of them are athletes looking to improve performance or people suffering from chronic pain.
There’s a whole new generation of Rolfing practitioners, as well. For years, Mack was the only Rolfer in the Nashville area. Now there are at least six.
Technique can release pent-up emotions
Back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Rolfing adherents emphasized its supposed emotional benefits. The belief was that people’s muscles held pent-up and repressed emotions and that Rolfing could release them. Mack said screaming and crying were common, even encouraged, during sessions.
These days the focus is almost solely on the physical benefits of the practice. Rolfing is said to help correct everything from body aches to restricted mobility to poor posture.
However, Mack said he still believes that rolfing promotes emotional well-being through benefits such as improved posture.
“When people are standing up straight, they become more confident, more cheerful,” he said.
Sessions typically last 1 1/2 hours and can cost $130 or more. It’s recommended that people undergo 10 sessions for maximum benefit. However, most rolfers offer “fix-it work” that will target trouble spots in a single session.
Despite Rolfing’s painful reputation, Felder said people can get good outcomes without experiencing excruciating pain.
“My goal is to give people the best possible results with the least amount of discomfort,” she said.
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