So, what is the difference between Rolfing® and Myofascial Release?
Rolfing works with the fascial system of the body. Myofascial release does the same. So what's the difference?
Wholism (or Holism). This is a word that has become somewhat of a catch-all for health in general, but it is also a great way to describe the difference between myofascial release and Rolfing. Myofascial release works in select areas where the fascia, or connective tissue in the body, is "stuck" or "pinned down." Rolfing includes elements of the same technique, but takes it to a more complete level. We consider the entire body in the picture, not just the area that hurts, making it a wholistic therapy that balances the entire body.
Let's look at an example:
Let's say you have low back pain. There are staggering rates of low back pain across the country. Some studies show that as high as 90% of people experience recurring low back pain during some period of their lives. I personally experienced constant low back pain for more than two years. And if you haven't experienced it, let me tell you, it's not fun.
So how would you treat low back pain? You could release the tension held in the low back, but changes are, it would come back due to influences from other parts of your body. Unless you include the whole body in the picture, and find balance throughout the entire structure, the strain pattern in the low back simply won't release. My own experience with this was as follows: my right low back hurt. I was already doing some yoga, so I started doing more. I did all of the things people recommended: changed my shoes, stretched my hamstrings, ate more greens. Nothing was helping, so I tried Rolfing. Then halfway through the Rofling 10-series, my back pain disappeared. Why? Because my practitioner worked on my left psoas muscle. In my brain, this made no sense until I studied anatomy in-depth a few years later. But essentially, this balanced the two halves of my core so that my right low back no longer had to compensate for my tight left psoas. Crazy, but it worked.
Of course, he did a lot more than just work on my left psoas muscle. He had to balance out the rest of my body as well before being able to change the psoas, creating harmony throughout my structure so that one part (in my case my low back) didn't have to try to take up all the slack. And overall, that is the key difference between Rolfing® and other modalities: the completeness, or as people say these days, the wholism.