Ida Rolf created the 10-session Rolfing process that now is used internationally.
Lorne Johnson might be a cowboy who enjoys roping mustangs, but he has learned the value of taking care of his body and has seen positive results.
About 12 years ago, Johnson said the wear and tear of ranching had left him with such tight muscles that he considered practicing yoga.
“My body had been worked so hard and was so stiff that I needed some flexibility,” said Johnson, who owns Washoe Valley Ranch. “This is a rough and tumble lifestyle, and we don’t spend a lot of time taking care of our bodies. We wouldn’t want to be called sissies.”
Lorna Benedict, a certified advanced Rolfer and yoga instructor, suggested that Johnson try Rolfing instead of yoga.
Rolfing, also known as structural integration, is an intense type of body work that manipulates the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, which is called fascia.
The sometimes painful series of 10, 60-minute sessions reshaped Johnson’s body.
“After my Rolfing, my thighs and calves doubled in size because they were able to get complete range of motion, and the muscle was able to be fully utilized,” he said. “No more bird legs.”
Those who want command of their body — such as athletes, entertainers and members of the military — regularly use Rolfing, Benedict said.
“You can just almost bet your money that anyone who is in serious entertainment has been Rolfed,” she said. “Also, you can almost bet that anyone who is a high-level CEO has been Rolfed.”
Rick Meier, a marathon runner who was Rolfed 15 years ago, said it improved his speed.
“Rolfing has been able to keep me in correct alignment so I can run efficiently,” the 58-year-old optometrist said.
Now, he said he sees Benedict when he needs a “tune-up.” If fact, Meier said he needed her help preparing for this year’s Boston Marathon after injuring himself.
“I torqued my left hip,” he said. “With Lorna’s help, I was able to reposition my pelvis so I could run in April. It’s not a Swedish massage. This is for changing performance. It has changed how I run.”
Rolfing was created by Ida Rolf, a biochemist who also studied homeopathic medicine in the late 1920’s.
She recognized that the body is a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs.
Because of poor posture, injury, illness or even emotional trauma, the body becomes misaligned as the fascia adheres to the muscles and the muscles no longer move smoothly. Rolf devised a 10-step order, which is trademarked, for working the body.
“I have no idea how she figured out the order to work,” Benedict said. “It really helps if we do it in that order.
“That particular order just works.”
While massage focuses on the muscles and chiropractics concentrates on the bones, Rolfing reshapes the fascia.
“Rolfing is trying to bring balance into the structure,” Benedict said. “We are creating spaciousness that the body has lost through trauma, accident, surgeries and also the aging process. So, we’re reclaiming the territory. They’re going to be taller. They’re going to be experiencing space. Whatever their complaints are will be eased off and won’t be coming back. I don’t need to see them again and certainly not within a year.”
Jane Rubinstein of Reno had heard about the benefits of Rolfing and said she decided to do it 10 years ago because she wanted her body to be in the best possible balance.
“There is a sequence where she worked on my rib cage, and I remember standing up thinking, ‘Wow, I’m really spaced out because everything seems much smaller,'” she said.
During a doctor’s visit after her Rolfing sessions, Rubinstein said her doctor told her she had grown taller by ¾ of an inch.
“I’ve been 5 feet 4 and ¾ inches since the eighth grade,” she said. “I know that’s when it happened.”
Benedict said she loves to see how Rolfing changes her client’s lives.
“They have quit the job, gotten into a different relationship, moved to another place,” she said. “They have blossomed. I’m more excited about seeing the evolution of the spirit. For me, this is opening the door to their potential possibilities.”