Anyone ever had "rolfing therapy"?

by scootergirl 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • scootergirl

    I know...when I first heard my doctor mention Rolfing I thought he meant throwing up! LOL

    February 26 of 2002, I was rear ended while at a complete stop by a 3/4 ton truck going between 30-40 mph. It damn near totalled my car and caused me to have a neck injury. I have been going to physical therapy since w/no avail. I have "flair ups" and at times I will even have joints lock in my neck. I suffer from severe pain in my neck, shoulders and upper back at times. I have to watch what I do because I can irritate the injury which leaves me in pain for a few days.

    Today was my recheck w/my phsycian who said I have good range of motion albeit limited (whatever that means) and even though I faithfully do my daily excercises and make my PT appts, I am at a platuea. He suggested something called Rolfing.

    Apparently there are 28 recognized facilities that do this intense, deep muscle massage therapy in the country and we are fortunate enough to have a therapist in Duluth.

    My doc told me that it is painful. The way he described it was like a doc describing rebreaking a bone. Apparently he believes that I have a lot of scar tissue in my neck/back muscles and that Rolfing would do me good. In his words "the physical therapy that you have had will be a cake walk compared to Rolfing". Okay, I get a little nervous when anyone PREPARES me for pain. But he has undergone the treatment (which is holistic) before and said that, yes, it was painful but the bennies outweighed the pain. He said the goal is to get rid of that scar tissue and retrain my muscles to work right. I may be laid up for a day or so after each treatment session (6-10) but feels that I would benefit from it.

    I told him that I wanted to research it more before him making my appt. Here is the information I found on

    Rolfing is a holistic system of deep tissue massage that realigns and balances your body so that your head, shoulders, chest, pelvis, and legs are in a better vertical alignment. Treatment consists of 10 one-hour sessions, preferably given weekly, starting from the head and working down to the feet.

    Each session builds upon the last until the body is totally aligned, front to back, side to side, top to bottom, and inside to outside. "It's like peeling an onion," says Thomas W. Findley, MD, PhD, associate director for research at the Center for the Study of War Related Illness of the VA Medical Center in East Orange, New Jersey. "You go deeper and deeper."

    The underlying principle of Rolfing is that injuries, poor movement habits, and chronic muscle tension from stress, cause the fasciae (thin layers of flexible connective tissue that are wrapped around your muscles and form the tendons that attach the ends of your muscles to your bones) to stiffen. This in turn keeps you from moving freely and easily. The practice of deep tissue massage that Rolf developed more than 50 years ago is designed to loosen the fasciae so that your muscles can move more easily, which lets you unlearn bad patterns of muscle strain and misuse.

    I am scared. I am 36 yrs old and very frightened of what my future holds w/this injury. My life has changed somewhat in the activities that I use to be able to do. I am not disabled or immobile, but the pain and discomfort is something that I have gotten use to and manage. I wonder what will it be like when I am 50?

    So, my question is any of you out there reading this, have any of you gone thru such treatments? If so, what did you think?

  • czarofmischief

    I haven't. But I wanted to express my sympathy.

    What do you have to lose? It might work... Can't be worse, right? that's my thought...


  • Markfromcali

    Hi Scooter,

    Yes, I've been to several Rolfers - come to think of it, all of the ones I've been to are Certified Advanced Rolfers, I didn't originally plan on this but eventually I decided not to bother with people with less credential and experience.

    As a massage therapist and someone who has done a number of different kinds of bodywork, both active and passive, I can tell you that a big part of how much it hurts is how much resistance you are putting forth against the therapist, whether its conscious or not. When I first had Rolfing, I would describe the pain as a 12 on a scale of 1-10. The last time I went it only hurt a little on one muscle, part of it is probably less tension in general (which is largely mental actually) but also I am probably not as messed up/stiff generally speaking. It helps to be able to distinguish a more therapeutic pain such as when you receive massage on a muscle that really needs it - it aches but you know its good - and when its too much, which may be sharper. Rolfing will push the envelope anyway, but the basic point is you need to start distinguishing between the quality of the pain rather than just intensity. You'll want to communicate with the therapist and also be aware of how you're feeling.

    Advanced Rolfers are knowledgeable enough to work on your specific imbalance rather than do the old school cookie-cutter standard 10 sessions. I haven't needed any such work in probably over a year now, but when I really need deep tissue type work (and something more complex than say the back, hip in my case) I only get Rolfing now. You of course pay more for an Advanced Rolfer, but I have not needed more than 2 sessions to get back on my feet each time. (if you want to be thorough and really get things back into balance, you may want to do more) I stop at 2 because it's expensive, but also because I have enough awareness of my body now that I can manage from that point. I don't actually foresee ever needing it anymore, at this point I can pretty much stretch things out on my own if I needed to, that along with some regular massage with basically competent therapists is enough.

    You're probably not really in a position to do this now, but when you're ready I would recommend some kind of active bodywork which could be therapeutically oriented or just activity with a therapeutic intention. (like taking Tai Chi for example) In the end you're always going to be better off developing more body intelligence as opposed to relying on others and receive some treatment passively, which just means more awareness of the body. This is really key, because even if you have a nice workout routine if it's just typical repetitive gym stuff you might as well be running in a giant hamster wheel. By active in this context I mean active awareness of the body, not just physical activity which can be done unconsciously.

  • scootergirl

    Thank you, czar, for your kind words.

    Mark, very interesting and thank you for replying to my post. I will be honest, I am nervous. I have visions of feeling the way I did after the intial accident. But at this point I am willing to try damn near anything to get back to the way I was. I constantly live w/the reminder that the next thing I do can cause a flair up. But then again, I hate complaining and whining because I know there are people out there that are worse off than me. I suffered major guilt just going to the PT! How's that for screwed up?

    Doc recommends that I got at least 6 times. He said it is intensive and it will be painful which scares me. My doc is a very athletic man and to hear him talk of his experience put me on edge. Guess maybe I am just being a baby about it. Maybe the anticipation will be far worse than the actual pain.

    He wants me to read up and think about it. I am to call him next week w/my answer.

  • Markfromcali


    One key to handling the pain is to not just focus on the fact that there's pain, which can be a common tendancy since we're so used to taking pills to eliminate pain and such. If your mind is on the pain, it's like your whole world is pain - you're not aware of anything else at that point. The trick here is to acknowledge pain as well as other details of the sensation, (quality of pain) and not to go off somewhere else like visualizing bunny rabbits or Baskin Robbins. In the end you actually end up feeling the pain less in a way, because the mind is not focused on pain exclusively but all sensation that comes up at the same time. Since it is only taking up part of your attention pain will not be your whole world, and the rest of your mind can focus on how the pressure feels and how you might respond to the work that's being done, to play an active part in receiving it if nothing else.

  • Markfromcali

    If nothing else, it's likely that after you've been Rolfed you'll be less afraid of pain. When some other painful experiences comes up, it'll be like "hey, I can handled this - I've been Rolfed!" Seriously though, it's not so much a comparison of the intensity as it is handling it in a conscious way.

  • siegswife

    Scootergirl, I think you should go for it. I never had rolfing therapy but I wish I did.

    I was in a head-on car accident in the mid 80's and received a whiplash injury that I wasn't aware of until I went to a chiropractor in 1994. I guess they were too worried about my severely split lip and broken nose to focus on any possible whiplash.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I've been in pain since then. My neck is seriously misaligned and I've already had my c6 disc herniate for no reason other than the fact that my freakin' neck is bent backward!!!...but I digress...If there is a treatment available that can prevent you from suffering do it! A little bit of pain now is better than suffering constantly for years to come.

    The way I've just described myself I sound like a freak, huh? LOL

  • scootergirl
    When some other painful experiences comes up, it'll be like "hey, I can handled this - I've been Rolfed!"

    I often say that but substitute the word Rolfred for "I've been thru labor three times" LOL

    I think you are right. I am focusing on the pain and not the cure. I have read all night about the treatment and think that I am gonna go for it. If a little pain helps me in the long run it will be worth it.

    ((seigswfief)) I am sorry for your pain. It sucks, don't it? I guess nothing changes if nothing changes and regular old PT aint doing me any good. This is a last resort and I want to feel better.

  • glitter

    I read the header as rotfling therapy (ROTFL-ing)! I thought it was miracle cures by way of stand-up comedy! Going to read through the actual thread now! :D

  • Odrade

    Scoot, go for it... one thing that helps with the Rolfing is to be sure and breathe through it. The practitioner will be able to help you with that. It can be painful, but not necessarily so. If you're so worried about it that it keeps you from going, see about going to someone who does "structural integration" which is similar, but possibly less intense.

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