Gravity Got You Down?
Gravity Got You Down?

Don't resign yourself to going downhill with age just yet...

Beth Berkeley, Certified Rolfer®. 2004 graduate of The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration

When you feel those all too familiar aches and pains, when you get out of bed in the morning and straighten up a little more slowly, do you tell yourself, I’m just getting old?  Underlying that oft-repeated phrase is the erroneous belief that less energy, less mobility, aches; pains and a greater propensity for injury are a normal, downright unavoidable part of the aging process.  Well I say, hogwash!  You may be tempted to defend such a belief by pointing to the mounting evidence amongst your peers.  Well, such decay may be average, but it is certainly not normal.                            


In the 1940’s, Dr. Ida Rolf, a Columbia educated Bio-Chemist, made just such a distinction between what was average and what was normal in human structure.  The uniqueness of her approach stemmed from her understanding of fascia as the scaffolding of human structure and of the constant ifluence of gravity on the human body like every other structure. 


As Dr. Rolf lengthened and balanced bodies, she made the undeniable meta-physical observation, that a balanced body  gives rise to a being more at peace within the self and in the world. This led her to become a pioneer in the field of human potential during the 1960’s.  She called her work Structural Integration, and later her students called it Rolfing®.  Today, Dr. Rolf’s work has evolved into a professional community of Rolfers around the world.


Thanks to my discovery of Rolfing 20 years ago, at the age of 50, I stand more than an inch taller than I did at 20.  Before that, like so many, I was looking for fitness in all the wrong places, at the gym, in long hours pedaling a bike...  What I found in those pursuits was a body that was tighter and tighter and the need for more and more visits to doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists. At the age of 30 I was already hearing the catch phrases from friends, family and professionals alike--degeneration, arthritis.  Well, you are getting older, they said.     


Needless to say, I rejected that answer and looked for another. What I found in Rolfing was not a simple cure for my maladies, but the connection to deeper sense of feeling and moving my body that left me with more energy, strength and agility than I had experienced at any age.


So if the common belief about what is a normal part of the aging process is off the mark, then what does Rolfing offer as a more plausible explanation?   Simply, gravity exerts its force evenly.  It tends to drag down and compress unbalanced bodies and naturally uplift balanced bodies.  What we see around us is not the inevitable decline of old age but poor postural habits and the accumulation of unresolved injuries and stress that over time have thrown the body out of balance.  Rolfing re-shapes and re-balances the body through systematic hands-on manipulation of the body’s connective tissue, allowing one to breathe easier, stand taller and move freely.  The gospel of Rolfing is this: when the body gets working in a way that allows the force of gravity to flow through it, then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.        


Lets take a look at our heads as an example: Reminiscent of the old adage--Rolfing strives to give us a good head on our shoulders. The human head weighs as much eleven pounds.  A single car accident, a childhood fall ice-skating or umpteen hours at a computer monitor can leave the head cast too far forward.  The body then adapts by recruiting the muscle of the upper back and shoulder blades as “pinch hitters”.  These muscles act like the reins on a horse, constantly contracting to keep the head from falling further forward.  Just imagine how much energy it takes to lug around this 11-pound weight for 16 or more hours a day.  Never mind that this is a recipe for eventual trouble in the neck.  Shoulder blades can either stabilize the head or they can stabilize the shoulders and arms; they can’t do both.  This is an all too common scenario: the shoulders and arms are unable to move freely making them more prone to injuries such as tendonitis, rotator cuff tears or carpal tunnel syndrome.  Rolfing can be very effective at relieving such injuries but at its heart it is more about restoring vitality by reorganizing the body.  The skilled hands of a Rolfer work to bring the center of the ear into alignment vertically above the center of the shoulder.  Now imagine, with the head resting into its intended support what might be done with all that energy once used just to hold that 11 pounds all day!                                                                  


For this Rolfer, both professionally and personally, Rolfing has shown itself to be the closest thing one might find to the fountain of youth.

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NH Rolfing and Massage Therapy

Phone: (603) 289-8109


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