certified advanced rolfer®
rolf movement® practitioner

Heidi Massa

Rolfing®: More than You’d Expect

Are you seeking a thoughtful approach that will deepen your understanding and broaden your perspective? If so, try Rolfing® Structural Integration.

Who's in charge?

If you think your Rolfer® or any other "expert" has the answer, get over it. You're the one who has lived in that body of yours for years, which makes you the biggest expert of all. The Rolfer's task is to help you tap into your body’s own intelligence to find a better way.

Don’t worry about whether whatever you're doing now is correct. The fact is, you're doing it for a good and compelling reason. The first step in finding better options is to recognize and respect how things are right now.

We get chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture and physical therapy for complaints about afflictions or possessions: I have low back or neck pain; my knees are bad; I get headaches; I have flat feet - and on and on, dissociating from the troublesome body part or condition. Though Rolfing can help with complaints like these, it's when we own the situation and recognize, “Hey -- that’s the way I am”, that the real work can begin.

At Boot Camp, Summer Camp, or the Gym, they educate bodies. Now imagine a Brain Camp -- where we work through the body to educate the whole person. When we push the envelope of physical repertoire, we meet limitations elsewhere in the person’s life. Could these limitations be addressed by education through the body?

Give yourself a break.

Let go of pulling your shoulders back to correct posture. Shoulders are just things you wear on your torso, so give them a break. Instead, work on torso support by getting your big toes in the game and strengthening your ability to suck.

Unless your posture is hopeless, you don’t need some pricey ergonomic contraption to sit on. A plain chair or stool of the right height encourages self-supported sitting, which is all a human should need.

Unless your feet are wrecked beyond remediation, you probably don’t need orthotics or other arch supports. These crutches, which conform the ground to unadaptable feet, reinforce dysfunctional patterns. Modern feet don’t lack support; they lack sensitivity, strength and vitality.

Names impart meaning, so don’t be trapped by them. A friend diagnosed with a rare neurological disease met Moshe Feldenkrais - the late and brilliant martial artist and physicist whose movement education is arguably the solution of choice in cases of irreversible structural or neurological deficits.When he told Moshe he had inherited the disease from his maternal great-grandfather, Moshe warned him not to let his diagnosis limit his potential: “I don’t give a damn if you got it from Abraham."

What we think it is, it ain't?

Maybe that muscle knot is protecting a nerve that's snagged in its connective tissue conduit. Since the body rightly gives the meat bag lower priority than the brain bag, the musculoskeletal system will activate to protect nerves. Nerves & blood vessels travel in the spaces between muscles, as do the acupuncture meridians. Think about that before you try to "grind out the knots" with a deep-tissue massage or a foam roller.

Maybe the muscles are where visceral strain manifests. Organs are suspended from our skeletons through connective tissue. Since the body rightly gives the meat bag lower priority than the gut bag, the musculoskeletal system compensates for visceral strain.

Maybe the way you carry yourself is related to your bite. There's a good case to be made that our pattern of gravity adaptation is built around our dental occlusion -- something to consider when adults want braces for cosmetic reasons.

Get a grip.

The jaw is the quadruped's way of grasping. Even in bipeds, the brain interprets the jaw and the hands as aspects of one prehensile system. Picture how a little kid moves his mouth to help him learn to use a scissors and you can imagine why jaw tension ("TMJ") and carpal tunnel syndrome often present together.

Most bite guards for bruxism (teeth grinding) are chew toys that encourage already overactive chewing muscles. Others inhibit the inherent motion of the cranial bones. Can that be good? Choose bite guards carefully.

Jaw tension ("TMJ") and plantar fasciitis often present together. The jaw -- along with the inner ear, the eyes, and the feet and ankles -- is part of our balance and gravity adaptation system, and that system should be approached as a whole.

What's your functional potential?

Some say that an infant's first sense of itself as an individual comes from sensing its own body weight. Gravity is that important for individuation and orientation.

Don’t underestimate how much the way we breathe reinforces our patterns. Sure, breath imparts only a small force - but we breathe thousands of times a day and it all adds up.

Walking is more than a foot & leg activity. When we stop impeding ourselves, walking involves the whole body. We walk with our spines, and even our skulls. Can you feel your jaw bone walking? Your ears walking?

A human should carry his head over him -- not in front of him. As one client noted, "When I stop punching a hole in the room with my nose, I get a whole different perspective on things." Following one's nose works fine for a dog -- but not so well for a biped.

Human motor patterning is so variable that your body will work pretty much how you imagine it to work. For instance, do you imagine your feet as flippers -- or maybe as landing pads at the ends of your legs? Choose what you imagine with care. And -- thanks to the mirror neurons -- our brains learn how to move by watching others move. Since you'll end up doing what you see done, take care to watch only good movement.

How well you move signals your age -- so keep moving. To keep looking and feeling youthful, some get from a Rolfing series what others seek with plastic surgery.

Recent evidence among the elderly indicates a correlation among poor hearing, low bone density and poor balance. The researchers hypothesized thinning of the inner ear bones -- but what about thinning of the massive petrous portion of the temporal bones housing our ears. Are those bones like heavy ear rings that give us a sense of which way is down -- and, by contrast, which way is up?

It's easy to take a body apart.
Who do you know that can put one together?

Rolfing®: Change Happens