I got Rolfed!

Not only is “Rolfing” fun to say, but it helped me stand straighter, too

I’d like to say that I tried Rolfing because of its vaunted effects on one’s posture, sense of balance and overall well-being. But I really got “Rolfed” because the name sounds so darn cool. That, and I’m a sucker for a good massage.

Despite my goofy reasons for getting Rolfed, Rolfing is an advanced, intense kind of therapy that engages the patient at a deeper level than massage. It can improve mental and physical health, according to “advance certified Rolfer” David MacDonald.

I walked into MacDonald’s office at 4:30 p.m. and was met not with the usual office décor, but with ambient lighting, a small fountain and green leather couches. There was no one around.

“Hello?” I called meekly.

No answer. I took a seat on the plush couch and picked up a pamphlet called “Rolfing: Structural Integration.” It said Rolfing “specifically and systematically lengthens, reorganizes and re-educates connective tissue restrictions.”

I wondered if my tissue needed re- education.

The pamphlet also told me that “many people who expect or have heard Rolfing to be painful are surprising by the wide range of welcomed sensations, although at times there will be intensity of sensation.”

Interesting. Intensity of sensation?

After 10 minutes, MacDonald entered, shook my hand firmly and began to tell me how Rolfing works.

He explained that the body reflects our psychological and emotional problems. For instance, many individuals, particularly females, begin slouching in their early teens as a way of “apologizing for who they are.” Many people, MacDonald said, never stop slouching; they never get free from this self-apology, physically or mentally.

To put it another way: the body records what happens to us, both physically and in our heads. MacDonald said that a historical pattern is stored in our connective tissue system (the tissue that connects our muscles). Rolfing answers this problem by training the body to return to a normal, upright position, restoring one’s sense of balance.

After our chat, MacDonald began to work on my own connective tissue.

He took me into a tranquil, softly lit room with soothing music and had me lay down, wearing only my undies and bra, face-up, on a large, padded table.

Unlike a message therapist, who usually focuses on certain muscles and rubs them in a circular fashion, MacDonald moved his hands over my “connective tissue” in single, downward strokes, almost as if he were ironing me out. It was painful, especially when he got to my knotted muscles, but I breathed deeply and tried to detach myself from the pain. I began to feel sort of tingly and invigorated.

I did notice a difference in posture as soon as I got off the table; I instinctively stood up straighter, and I felt no tension or pain.

It’s been several days now since my Rolfing, and I haven’t really noticed any lasting effects. Granted, my session was only a half-hour, half the normal length. Ideally, an initial one-hour session is the first in a 10-part series, each focusing on a different area of the body.

I wouldn’t mind going back for a full session to see if Rolfing really can help me with tension, posture and balance problems. (I am awfully clumsy.) I suspect it can.

Rolfing, however, is not for the financially challenged; one session with MacDonald is $120. And to those considering getting Rolfed, beware: It’s not for those who dislike “intensity of sensation” (i.e. moderate pain). Nor is it for the extremely modest.

Yet, from my limited experience with Rolfing, it seems that it could be good for those of us who have been carrying ourselves “wrong” for so long that we no longer even remember what a “correct” posture is.

And, of course, "I got Rolfed" is fun to say.