Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I want to have a more primordial structure? Didn’t our ancestors have a lifespan of only 35?
Actually, no, in fact, our ancestors lived about as long as we do. The average life expectancy of ancient humans is as low as 35 because of high rates of infant mortality. In reality, the average person who made it to adulthood lived about as long as we do today, and most evolutionary scientists would argue that these folk were healthier than we are, and in general did not suffer from the same “diseases of civilization” that the majority of us are suffering from today.
What is Bodywork? What is Rolfing Structural Integration? How are they different from each other, and from massage?
To do bodywork is to physically manipulate the material of the human body, usually done from one body to another, but sometimes you can do bodywork by interfacing with machines or tools. I would put chiropractics, accupuncture, cupping, dry needling, Thai yoga, shiatsu, massage, Rolfing, and physical therapy all in the category of "bodywork,” but I would also add rolling on foam rollers or RAD rollers; stretching against a tree, slackline, rock or a post.
Rolfing SI is a therapy designed by Ida P. Rolf that takes a person's whole physical and emotional experience into account in its approach to help the body better adapt to co-existence with the linear force of gravity. Rolfing is a philosophy incorporating lots of acute lifestyle tips concerned with how to live well in accordance with the laws of physics. This is a broad field, as what may be standing between you and being at ease with the material laws of the universe can be issues rooted deeply in the structure, tissue, and functionality of your body, or they can be issues latched into your spiritual or emotional world view. Rolfing is traditionally done over a 10-Session period that comprehensively addresses all the different areas of the body such that each session reinforces the goals the others, and every chosen input contributes to the growth and stability of the organism as a whole. Often, however, Rolfing is done on a person-centered, session by session, case-by-case basis, wherein different goals and areas of movement and tissue are addressed in a personalized order.
A key difference between massage and what we do as Structural Integrators is that massage therapists use lotion or oil to rub different muscles with the goal of giving the client a sense of ease, pleasure, and relaxation. We avoid lubricants because we require friction to gain purchase on your fascia in order to exact a measurable change in the relationships between physical structures of the body. For example, I may pin a section of tight fascia in your calf, calling for movement of the foot, toes and ankle in a specific way. Your movement will initiate the sensation as you pull your attachment away from the place I have the fascia pinned because we are tensioning your connective tissue. If we had lubrication between my elbow and your calf, when you flex your ankle your fascia would slide beneath my elbow, and the efficacy would be lost. Exercises like these can sometimes be a challenge of coordination, and at other times it can simply intensify the sensation for you; either way, it is a lesson that provides you with valuable proprioceptive information (nervous system inputs that help your body map itself out in space and in relation to the other structures of your body).
For most people myo-fascial work is a new sensation that feels amazing, while others experience having their fascia manipulated as intense; it all depends on whether you are able to lean into sensation and move deeper into an experience of reality grounded in the body. Regardless of whether or not a session is spent entirely on exercises, movement, stretching, or light or intense bodywork, a session is hard work for the both of us; yet people always leave our centers not only feeling better than they did when they came in, but there is almost always a tangible positive shift in their mood. My job is to help you learn to solve the puzzle of your body as a material structure operating within the confines of physics and, especially, gravity.
Is Rolfing painful?
We invite clients to work around the edges of their comfort zones, for sure, but this is not the bulk of what we do. According to Bethany Ward, Advanced Rolfing Instructor, there are times when we must address “that gnarly, built up fascia between the metatarsals, or spend time fully releasing the interosseous membrane of the leg, or get under that scapula and improve the movement of the shoulder blade on the ribs. For many clients, direct work in these areas is disagreeable, but the increased range of motion may significantly contribute to better function and quality of life.” We listen closely to the body and go where it is telling us to go; sometimes the body wants light, superficial work, and at other times it needs deep work in tight areas. It’s all part of the experience of being in a body.
How should I prepare for a session?
Fill out this intake form. Take a couple days considering some of the questions, and make sure you answer all of them, at whatever length you like. We will be discussing these topics during our work. The form can be downloaded and printed here. If you do not have the ability to easily print one, I can give you one when you arrive, and you can answer the questions between sessions.
Go on as many long walks as possible, and begin to get a sense of the way your body moves when you are walking. Take note of every detail no matter how small.
What should I wear?
Clients should refrain from applying moisturizers or other oils to the body prior to entering our office; slippery skin is not conducive to getting purchase in your connective tissue; in fact, friction is the force that creates change in your fascia. Please refrain from wearing heavily scented chemicals, such as perfume. Please bring underwear or swimwear that you would feel comfortable wearing while receiving bodywork, as well as clothing (and footwear if applicable) you can move outside in freely.
What is a 10-Series?
Session 1: Opening the breath
This session helps the work stay over time, the majority of this session focuses on the ribs cage, shoulders and diaphragm
Session 2: Feet
This session opens up the lower legs and feet to create support from the ground up
Session 3: Balancing hips and shoulders
This is the final ‘sleeve’ session
Session 4: Adductors
The focus is to release the inner leg so the pelvis can begin to horizontalize
Session 5: Psoas
The goal of this session is to lengthen the lumbar spine
Session 6: Spine
This session works to further correct spinal misalignments through soft tissue manipulations
Session 7: Neck and Cranium
This session helps to ‘put the head on straight,’ it is particularly helpful for whiplash and TMJD
Session 8 & 9: Upper and lower body sessions
These two sessions help integrate the upper and lower poles respectively
Session 10: Integration
The final session typically works to establish contralateral movement and address the entire system
Experience the profound changes that can be accessed through the fascial network. The first session brings your organism more inline with the natural cadence of breath.
The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg.
The third session typically involves a “side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, as well as how the hips are appositionally related to one another when standing whilst under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.
SESSIONS 4-7: The Core
Sessions 4-7 are referred to as “core” sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head. The idea of core also includes the deep tissue of the legs for its role in support.
Session four begins this journey, its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis. This session is most critical for appropriate clothing as there is a pelvic floor manipulation.
The fifth session is concerned with balancing the surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back.
Session six seeks to enlist more support and moment from the legs, pelvis and lower back.
The seventh session turns its sole attention to the neck and head. This session addresses chronic facial holding patterns as well as jaw issues including TMJ.
SESSIONS 8-10: Integration
“Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as session 8-10 provide an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements (and ones yet to be made) into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.
During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner determines how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual.
The tenth and final session is also one of integration, but more importantly, serves to inspire a sense of order and balance.
What is fascia?
Fascia is the most fundamental structural organ of the animal body. It is an interconnected meshed web of collagen (strong) and elastin (stretchy) fibers that literally holds your body in all the shapes it is able to form. It is a rigging mechanism. Our choice at Primal Structure to focus on fascia as the main medium we work with is because in our observation, all structural changes must be undertaking through a re-rigging of the connective tissue layers. Fascia is a pliable, almost claylike material that is constantly reshaping (or rather, re-rigging) itself to help you better adapt to the environment, and the medium of gravity that we exist in.