Is Rolfing Painful? Myth-Perceptions about Rolfing

Many people have “myth-perceptions” about Rolfing® having heard of or experienced Rolfing as a painful process. Like any hands on approach, Rolfing is highly “practitioner dependent” as to its application and effect. Two people can receive the same training but their personal biases and skills affect how they apply what they learned.

The irony is that Rolfing popularized this “myth-perception”. In the old days of cathartic therapy there was a belief that manual therapies and the work of Rolfing as well, were most beneficial if they were practiced as though “no pain, no gain” was a true statement. In the past this worked with certain people but there were many for whom this approach was too much. We have learned over the years that this way of working is often limited in its effectiveness. Using more sophisticated approaches in touching clients, recognizing and honoring their individual needs and working with each person so they can remain at ease as we work allows much greater change to occur. We recognize that bodies already in pain are better served when there is safety and no threat of having to manage additional pain created by the therapeutic process.

We have seen many clients who come into our offices with bruises from their PT’s or massage therapists who are trying to work deeply by pushing too hard. It is inappropriate to work “on” someone so hard that they are bruised! Before the deep can be addressed, the surface and middle need to be organized and eased as well. Our approach is to listen to our client’s story and to feel, with our hands, the results of the story in their tissues. We interact with what is most appropriate in each moment for their body, working through all the layers of disorganization attending to the ease and comfort of our clients at all times.