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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Overlooked Culprit for Pain and Limitation

Often overlooked and untreated with conditions of chronic pain or limitation are soft-tissue pattern formations. Patterns in the connective-tissue and musculature are a natural out growth of how the human body moves, injury influence and genetic make-up. Impact injuries, for example, change the shape of the human body as well as cause displacement of portions of the skeletal structure. Following such an injury the body works to adapt by forming new ways of moving muscles and articulating joints. In time, this move a way from what the body knows as normal can become problematic because there is a loss of full adaptive properties due to over compensation, putting stress and limitation on joints and muscles. When the body can no longer adapt to activities or the environment pain and limitation emerge. Over time the loss of adaptive properties results in chronic or returning injuries and dysfunction.
The Rolf method of structural integration (Rolfing) is a touch therapy designed to relieve soft-tissue patterns and their influence on skeletal alignment. By softening and then moving formations in the connective tissue the human structure migrates back towards what it formally knew as normal. The body rebalances and regains symmetry as the body integrates the changes encouraged by the deep, soft-tissue manipulation. The body then finds the full potential to adapt in a healthy manner without producing pain and limitation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Creating Boundaries and a Margin of Safety for You and Your Clients ALONZI, BobPublication:Structural Integration / Language: English Date: 12-2006 / Volume: 34 / Issue #: 4 / Page: 14

In the movie I am Sam starring Sean Penn there is a scene where a potential employer for this cognitively impaired character (Sam) asks him how he would deal with customers in his store. Sam's response is "I will be friendly, but not too friendly." And in that scene the cognitively limited protagonist establishes a boundary for his interactions with store customers.

As Rolfers, we have responsibilities in practice that a retail clerk would not have, and yet problems that arise as we work most often have to do with infringements on boundaries. This is an area where we must act in the best interest of our clients, forgoing personal gratification and need. It may be in the language we use, how we touch a client or how we move across the line from professional relationship to personal without being aware of the significance of our own behavior.

In practice, as Rolfers, we occupy a professional place not unlike psychotherapists, with a responsibility to provide a safe therapeutic environment for our clients. The therapeutic framework and within that the therapeutic relationship are the structures we provide to protect the integrity of our practice; creating clear boundaries, for the practice of Rolling"` and the protection of our clients.


A therapeutic framework is the external structure of a practice. Contained within the framework is the space reserved for practice and treatment of clients. The importance of the framework is that it sets the parameters, boundaries, the physical place and kind of practice. The framework includes office or studio, office hours, telephone number, the decor of the workspace and the nature of practice, specialties and credentials, education and training and fees. The framework can be extended to include other business practices such as advertising, professional network and collegial relationships.

The framework is a place of definition for the business of practice. It clarifies and identifies the nature of the work and how and where the work will be performed. It establishes for the consumer a service and what can be expected from that service. It is the business model for the practitioner.

The therapeutic framework is representative of the practitioner. This is the first measure taken by the consumer and other professionals as to who is the practitioner and what is the service. It communicates and suggests treatment(s) benefits and value in the marketplace.

Why should there be a formal declaration of a therapeutic framework? Because it is a defining moment for a practitioner to state the terms of practice. It solidifies why and how one will provide service and how one can be most effective in providing it. It is preferable for a practitioner to determine the rules that govern practice than to leave it to the winds of trial and error-no doubt trial and error will occur and be the impetus for improvement and change in methodology and practice.


Within the therapeutic framework is the therapeutic relationship. Sometimes this is called the "container". The container is the structure in which we provide therapeutic services. It is the place we establish boundaries for the relationship we have with our clients. It is first, a place of safety where a client can assume the practitioner will provide safe and effective treatment and trust no harm will come as a result of this trust. In this relationship the client can expect that all communications are confidential, that the client will not be judged by the practitioner, and that care will be provided in a sensitive and respectful way.

For the practitioner, the therapeutic relationship is what holds the rules for engaging in practice. These rules come from the Rolf Institute's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. If you have not read them recently, it is a good time to refresh your memory and adopt what is missing in your practice and put them to work.

As Rolfers we must recognize the vulnerability of our clients as they enter our places of treatment. We ask people to surrender to a process of transformation, which includes the potential for both emotional and physical changes. We ask for personal information including a history of health, accidents, injuries and traumas. Then we ask them to disrobe for a visual assessment, and then be touched by someone they do not know. Within the realm of client disclosure, Rolfers face more boundary issues than our colleagues in psychotherapy. Not only do we listen and discuss with the client his or her body and issues arising from discussion, but we also ask them to be in partial dress and we touch them. While the client surrenders to vulnerability, we hold a place of authority and power. This power differential is where we must be most careful and temper our actions, language and assessments with sensitivity and care. How we touch, the words we chose and the opinions we offer are empowered by our role as Rolfer. What and how we communicate can have a powerful impact on the client with the possibility of misunderstanding. It is all the more reason to understand our Standards of Practice and conduct ourselves by our Code of Ethics as a measure of protection for both the client and ourselves.


As Sam simply stated, "I will be friendly, but not too friendly." As a Roller, be empathetic, kind, understanding, considerate, sensitive, respectful and appropriately friendly. Do not err by crossing lines of behavior that puts the client and yourself in jeopardy. As Sam alludes: beware of the boundary, your role and responsibility to your client. The role of the Rolfer is to empower the client. The hope of the client is to leave knowing you empowered him.

Bob Alonzi is a Certified Advanced Rolfer and member of the Rolf Institute∞ of Structural Integration Ethics Committee with a practice in Santa Monica, California.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Advanced Rolfing and Rehabilitation for Musculo/skeletal Injuries

Chronic and reoccuring pain and injury patterns have the potential for being relieved with connective tissue manipulation also known as myofascial release. Rolfing works to relieve the deep seated soft tissue patterns in the human body. By doing so, a shift takes place in skeletal alignment, joint articulation and muscle constriction. Pain and limitations due to a reoccurence of soft tissue influences can be corrected through a series of sessions designed to progress through the deep layers of connective tissue. Rolfing works in a series of 10 sessions to maximize change and to bring the body into improved alignment, better balance, greater flexibility and an easing of postural patterns. When the human body is relieved of the negative influences of soft tissue contraint the opportunity for healing and rehabiliation occur. This means entering into training, stengthening and physical therapy can be more productive with greater positive outcome. Muscolo/skeletal problems stemming from soft tissue patterns and injuries have potential for correction and change that can increase function and decrease pain and discomfort. A series of sessions with a Certified Advanced Rolfer can help those who have experienced physical limitations due to sports injuries, automobile accidents or conditions that have moved the body towards imbalance and compensation.

Monday, May 5, 2008

When Working With Athletes

When I am working with competitive athletes (amateur
or professional) I will make a point of learning
about their training regimens and performance through
their coaches and then from the athletes. I may even
go and watch them train so I can see them in movement
in their activities. I want specifics that includes
whatever training formulas they use. I want to know
when they will compete and when they will have down
time. I also want to know what their goals are for a
given training period and a specific competition.
Remember... training, performance and competition
aren't the same objectives. The questions I ask my
athlete clients is "what are your goals short and
long term? How do you see Rolfing help you prepare for
your sport?"

When working with athletes the change that I look for
is in performance. What is the athlete telling me
about the difference in his/her game, form, and
abilities. What do I see different in alignment,
movement and awareness. What do the coaches say as
being different about the athlete on the playing field
-- physical, emotional, cognitive.

In my opinion, athletes are better served if you help
them find their "line" in their sport. In the language
of athletes, lasting changes translate into improved
performance and the awareness that rises from knowing
the body is functioning more efficiently.

I also find that elite athletes bring a kinesthetic
awareness to the Rolfing studio that the average
client may not. But what is important here is finding
the common language between Rolfer and athlete. That
the language we use as Rolfers and how we apply
concepts and models to bodies standing still or
walking in our studio's, may not play out the same
for a body in dynamic movement. What may work better
is language that helps both Rolfer and athlete
understand the body in performance. Using models that
are fluid can serve to enhance our vision and
interventions in helping the athletes performance.

When working with athletes, I find that Rolfing based
on principles is more effective than working by
formula. For me it is more efficient and for the
athlete it is to the point and more effective in
enhancing performance. I also find it is less
disruptive to the athletes training schedule and
easier to schedule around competitions.

Bob Alonzi
Certified Advanced Rolfer