Condensed from Cutting Edge, sports medicine
Written by Ann Convery after interviews with Rolfers Tom Meyers, (Maine) Bob Alonzi, (California) and Briah Anson (Kansas)
According to Tom Meyers, Advanced Certified Rolfer, the body is designed to have the weight come down through the bones, not the muscles. But weight will come through the muscles unless the bones are lined up right and the compensation causes great strain. After a few years, the muscles begin to fill in more and more with sinew or fascia. They begin to act like straps holding the athlete up. Tom Meyers explains that in RolfingŪ, we undo the straps; we get the bones to line up again and then gravity acts like a plumb line. In other words, less effort and more results in athletic performance.
Alonzi comments that the bodybuilding process is a constant bulking and shortening. Rolfing can help release areas which have become contracted due to excessive buildup of both the muscular and the connective tissue.
Rolfing changes the entire pattern that holds the connective tissue in place allowing bodybuilders to take on greater lifting ability as their muscular fiber lengthens out to its optimal state. This fine-tuning ensures more strength when lifting weights.
When a group of muscles are tightly bound, you have several individual muscles trying to function as one. When the individual muscles within the muscular groups are freed to act, each muscle will have greater power, Anson states.
Rolfing will profoundly affect range of motion, breathing capacity and body definition - all significant areas to a serious bodybuilder. Rolfing has a profound affect on the athlete's breathing capacity. When the ribcage is freed, the ribs breathe in six directions: up, down, right, left, front and back. The entire body system is like a bellows. There is no longer shortness in chest and back which may have restricted the ability to take in breath. The ribs can now fully flex.
The Rolf Institute lists a number of world class athletes as clients, including Bret Saberhagen, Brian Oser, Craig Swan, Ivan Lendl, Edwin Moses and Olympic gold medal cyclists Alexi Grewal, as well as players on the San Francisco Giants, the Mets, Dodgers and Yankees and Phoenix Suns.
The pain of Rolfing is a thing of the past. Rolfers use a gentler technique today. The client may feel a burning sensation while the hardened fascial tissue is being smoothed out, but that's just temporary and is followed by a feeling of freedom and buoyancy.
Rolfing is really about finding new levels of potential and so is athletic performance - a natural fit!