Fascia constitutes a network of fibrous, collagenous tissue in our body. It has always been Rolfing’s “working material”. The creator of Rolfing, Dr. Ida Rolf, already focused on fascia in the middle of the 19th century and recognized its important role in our well-being. She referred to fascia as the “organ of form” and believed that the body is malleable and shapeable through connective tissue treatment. How groundbreaking Ida Rolf’s theories were is now being confirmed by current fascia research.
Dr. Ida Rolf called fascia the “organ of structure”
Ida Rolf believed that it is the fascia, not just muscles and bones, that hold us together from the inside and determine our appearance. After years of practical experience, she was also convinced that the body can be formed and changed in a positive manner by treating the fascia and the tension relationships within the connective tissue network. What was revolutionary about her approach was the fact that she incorporated gravity. Tensions within the fascia network are meant to become so balanced through Rolfing that it requires no effort to hold the body upright. This can only be the case if all of the single body segments are aligned along a vertical line.
What is fascia?
Fascia pervades the entire body. It surrounds all of the individual structures such as muscles, organs, and vessels and forms tendons and ligaments.
Fascia arranges and at the same time connects all these structures through a body-wide network.
Healthy fascia constitutes continuous tissue, which can adapt to different types of strain through movement and stretching.
It contains enough “fluid”, displays a high level of tensile strength, and enables effortlessly gliding muscle movements as well as the joints’ freedom of movement.
Rolfing® supports healthy fascia
With age, most people’s fascia loses elasticity. It becomes sticky and viscous in different areas. Special Rolfing techniques can help to add fluid to the tissue and make it smoother. Rolfing also enables the fascia layers to glide on top of each other better and to relieve the joints.
Rolfing®: Interest in fascia research is growing
While Dr. Ida Rolf already focused intensively on fascia in the middle of the 19th century, for a long time established scientific fields hardly paid attention to connective tissue. Anatomists and physicians regarded fascia as a pure “packaging organ” for muscles, bones, discs, and organs. Since the First International Fascia Congress 2007, held at Harvard University in Boston, USA, and co-organized and sponsored by the Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation and its affiliated schools, the fascia world has changed significantly, and a vivid, interdisciplinary exchange between scientists, movement therapists, and bodywork therapists – many of them Rolfers™ has begun and grown. Thanks to modern research tools and methods we are now gradually understanding the fascia’s many functions and their importance for our well-being.
The latest research confirms the vital role of fascia
- Fascia plays a large role in movement, especially in the transmission of energy.
- Fascia is our most important organ for body awareness – also called proprioception.This is due to the density of receptors present that constantly send signals about our body’s position to our brain.
- Free nerve endings in the fascia, when immobile, can also signal pain. For this reason, fascia is now an important focus of sports scientists and clinical researchers who deal with chronic pain.
One of the Rolfing® goals is to release the sticky and viscous fascia as well as ensure that more fluid enters. By working with fascia, Rolfing also promotes our body awareness. Rolfers™ thus always have an eye on the connections within the entire organism. They work on the fascia from head to toe in a manner that allows an effortless upright posture. This precludes several types of discomfort and pain.