Through Rolf Movement™ clients learn how to sense, befriend and integrate gravity in their movement. From simple breathing and walking to more complex movement coordination, clients discover alternatives that free expressiveness and promote balance. Once secure and stable in themselves, clients discover that movement can be economical, powerful and fluid.
Learning to move efficiently
Rolf Movement’s goal is for the Rolfer™ to find movement patterns that lead to tensions and asymmetry in the body together with the client. However, it is not necessarily the Rolfer’s job to establish the most comfortable movement patterns for the client. Rather, it is about moving more economically – with better balance and efficiency with regard to gravity.
In the 1960s Dr. Ida Rolf, the founder of Rolfing® SI, already discovered that gravity, muscles, and fascia play an important role for upright posture and effortless movement.
The American biochemist thus developed Rolf Movement as an extension to Rolfing® SI, to be applied for painful or unfavorable movements. Throughout the past decades, Rolfers™ have further developed the method.
In 2015 about 25% of the Rolfers™ trained by the European Rolfing® Association e.V. (ERA) were also certified Rolf Movement practitioners:
- Just as the traditional ten-series, Rolfers™ can offer Rolf Movement™ as a series of sessions, where each concentrates on specific structures and movement topics.
Deliberately preparing to move
“Put it where it belongs and ask for movement” – this statement by Dr. Ida Rolf indicates how important it is that the body prepares itself ideally for each movement. To support this pre-movement, it helps to…
- be aware of the ground below and surrounding space
- align the body symmetrically
- feel the position of hands, arms, feet, joints, head, and neck.
- This is how unfavorable movement patterns can be discovered and corrected with little effort.
Rolfer™ Hubert Godard further refined Rolf Movement™
Many of the Movement exercises that are taught today in Europe, the US, and Brazil can be traced back to French dancer Hubert Godard; the Rolfer™ developed the working model “Tonic Function” about 20 years ago.
- According to Godard there is a “Movement Brain”, which comprises parts of the brain and body that are responsible for movement. It is formed by the subconscious “Body Schema” and taught “Body Image”, which compete with each other:
- According to Godard, the subconscious “Body Schema” knows how the body moves harmoniously, with little effort and as gentle as possible for joints, muscles, and fascia. This natural movement intelligence is strengthened when the client becomes consciously aware of her body in relation to the space around her and the ground beneath her during pre-movement (see box).
- According to Godard, people develop the “Body Image” throughout life and in specific situations. They adapt their movements to their socio-cultural environment, their personal self-confidence, and their mood – which can lead to unfavorable movement and breathing patterns. Therefore, Rolf Movement aims at discovering these patterns and finding ways of replacing them with ideal movements from the subconscious “Body Schemas”.
Tonic Muscles stabilize the human body
Dr. Ida Rolf referred to the “inner line” of the body. Hubert Godard refers to this inner space as the “core”. In order to move in a positively coordinated manner, a person has to develop inner and harmonious stability first:
- Tonic muscles usually take on this task. According to Godard, they respond especially well to impulses when the person is aware of herself in the space around her and the ground beneath her. Especially the “Body Schema” uses these muscles to stabilize and coordinate movements.
- Phasic muscles have a different function: They are not made for prolonged contractions, but take over these functions form tonic muscles, because our hectic pace and stress as well as the learned “Body Image” require them to do so.
Thus, according to Godard, the goal of Rolf Movement exercises is to activate the tonic muscles – but not the phasic muscles – to be able to ideally stabilize the body from within so that the person can move harmoniously, lightly, and effectively within gravity.
Source: Dr. Hans-Michael Kallina, Rolfing Movement – der funktionelle Part von Rolfing, CoMed, 2/2008.