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Mind-Body Health & Wellness

Create Space Where Space is Needed – Rolfing ® as an Alternative Therapy

Our bodies are amazing!  They’re our vehicle for experiencing the physical world around us on many different levels. Our bodies let us feel the sand under our feet as we walk along the beach, taste a refreshing cold beverage on a hot sunny day, feel the touch of a loved one as we hold their hand, and interact with friends as we laugh and share stories. Physical health and wellness is essential for mental and emotional well-being.

When our body is in pain or out of balance, functioning at an optimum mental and physical level becomes a challenge. Chronic pain and physical discomfort can compromise our ability to be our best and share our best with others.  Fortunately, there are many forms of alternative therapies that heal the body and help to restore balance. Today, we have access to a great variety of holistic health modalities such as yoga, meditation, health coaching, massage, acupuncture, ayurveda, and so much more.

In this month’s column, I’ll discuss a form of bodywork called Rolfing ®. I also had the opportunity to interview an Advanced Certified Rolfer ® here in San Diego and share my firsthand treatment experience.

What is Rolfing?
Rolfing ® Structural Integration, which is called Rolfing for short, is a type of bodywork based around a holistic view of the human form.  It is a hands-on treatment developed over 50 years ago by Ida P. Rolf to enhance the body’s posture and allow for greater freedom of movement.  Overtime, improper posture (the way we hold our body in certain places) and emotional trauma can create tension in our bodies.  Additionally, injuries (sports, accidents, repetitive motion) create scarring in the connective tissues that result in additional pain and constriction. Rolfing treats the entire body and seeks to realign the tissues. The body is returned to balance and vitality is restored.

Where chiropractic care works on the bones and massage therapy works on the muscles, Rolfing works directly on the connective tissues that support and surround the bones, muscles, organs, and nerves.  Instead of treating the body as separate parts, Rolfing sees the body as a system or network of connective tissue, and works to release tension, realign the structure, and create balance throughout.

How it Started
The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration ® was founded by Dr. Ida Rolf in 1971.  Dr. Rolf received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1920, and was driven to find the best system of healing that allowed for optimal body function. She found that imbalances in the human body were accentuated by gravity, which leads to chronic pain and reduced mobility. She experimented with various systems of body manipulation and alternative healing methods, including homeopathy, osteopathy, and yoga. Her extensive studies and work became what is now the practice of Rolfing. Practitioners are trained and certified through the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado.

Benefits and Treatments
Rolfing goes beyond simply treating the pain points (just working on the lower back or only focusing on the knee that’s hurting), and works on releasing and restoring the entire body.  Better posture, improved structure, and increased flexibility have a dramatic impact on reducing pain and stiffness, and increasing mobility and energy levels.  Rolfing treatments are beneficial for physical ailments and chronic pain resulting from:
• Trauma
• Repetitive stress injuries
• Natural Aging

They are successful in the treatment of headaches, insomnia, carpal tunnel, lower back pain, upper back and neck stiffness, and many other ailments.  Rolfing is a great complement for yoga, Pilates, running, surfing, and other physical and wellness activities.

Rolfers, certified Rolfing professionals, examine patients’ posture, structural alignment, and movement.  They then work along the patient’s tissue planes, working progressively through the entire body and “communicating” with the body using pressure. They feel for where the restrictions exist and exert just enough pressure for the body to release the tension. Each session builds on the previous one to reduce tension and restore full function.  As the body releases, the practitioner is able to go deeper.

Seaside Rolfing
Lindsey Morin, D.C., is a chiropractor and Certified Advanced Rolfer practicing here in San Diego County. After 12 years as a massage therapist, she became a Certified Rolfer in 1990 and an Advanced Certified Rolfer in 2000. In addition to her extensive background in bodywork, she has also studied yoga and meditation. Dr. Morin has practiced in Boulder, Aspen, Beverly Hills, Kauai, and Mendocino County – where she still has a part-time practice. She invited me in for an interview and consultation at her beautiful office in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

When did you decide to get into Rolfing?
I had many physical problems that resulted from car accidents and playing sports.  I had a lot of pain and no relief in my early 20s. I had tried chiropractic care, but the adjustments just weren’t sticking. Then, I tried Rolfing and it changed my life.  The chronic pain patterns diminished.

What is your approach to healing?
I believe that the power that created the body can heal the body. If you put the body in the right direction, it will heal. Rolfing is not passive – [we don’t just lay down in life] we stand up in the world.  Rolfing looks at how you move, how you stand, and how you carry yourself.  It allows you to get back to the way you were created.

What are your thoughts on herbal medicines?
Herbal medicines can help relax muscles, reduce chronic pain, and provide mental relaxation.  It’s about quality of life. One of the main reasons why people saw health risks in medical marijuana was because of its presumed relationship with lung cancer.  However, the National Institute of Health did a study in 2006 that found no association between smoking medical marijuana and lung cancer.

What kind of ailments do you treat as a Rolfer?
I treat sciatica, migraines, PMS symptoms, difficulty breathing, sports injuries, fibromyalgia, postpartum, chronic back pain, and more.  I also do work with pregnant women and kids.  My passion is to awaken in others their own healing potential.  My work allows my patients to have a better quality of life through therapeutic touch.

Rolfing Session with Dr. Lindsey Morin
After being greeted by Dr. Lindsey’s friendly staff, I entered into her very clean and open treatment room.  She went through a brief health history and allowed me to share my current concerns, previous treatments, and past injuries. She took down my health and insurance information as we talked – her office accepts many forms of insurance.

At the start of the treatment, she had me stand up while she observed my posture and body alignment. She then did the same as I walked through the room, observing my body in motion and taking note of any imbalance or misalignment.

She then had me lay on her treatment table (which was nicely heated and very comfortable) as she began to apply various degrees of pressure, moving progressively along my body. She regularly asked for feedback regarding the pressure applied and moved slowly. She spent more time in areas where I had built up a lot of tension. I could feel the release of tension as she applied pressure and worked into the tissues. She provided feedback throughout the session about how I was feeling and what she was finding.

After the hour and a half of treatment, she let me know that each session would start to get deeper as the tissues began to naturally find more and more release. She even followed up a few days later to check up and make sure my body had a positive reaction to the treatment.  Dr. Morin’s decades of study and experience in the healing arts certainly shows!  Her office is located in the Cardiff Town Center in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.  For more information, please visit

• If you suffer from chronic pain and have yet to find relief, Rolfing is a great option.
• Rolfing can help correct poor posture, relieve tension, and increase mobility.
• Physical and mental stresses are held in the body and can create imbalance over time.           Rolfing can restore this balance.
• Rolfing can boost energy and improve performance.

In health,

Bahareh is a holistic health coach based in Encinitas, serving all of San Diego.  She empowers others to live healthier and happier lives by eating better, increasing energy, reducing stress, and finding balance.

Are you an alternative wellness professional who believes in natural remedies?  I would love to hear from you about your experience or interest in the community!



Author: Steve

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