Alternative Health - Other

What is Rolfing and what does it do

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"What is Rolfing and what does it do"
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Not just a pretty name
Rolfing expands on massage experience

We have been working way too hard, swimming laps, pumping iron, running K's, doing Pilates hundreds and jumping rope, so I say it's time we reward ourselves with a good rubdown. Ah, to indulge in a massage with good-smelling oils and a skilled pair of attentive hands to knead those sore, tight, over-worked muscles. Oh, what a treat.

But I stand corrected. Like many of you, I have been looking at massage as a self-indulgent, pampering and spoiling luxury the ultimate in relaxation. The truth is, massage is a beneficial and necessary component to a successful fitness regimen.

"Regular massage is very important," said Ojai, CA massage therapist and certified Rolfer Steve Nipper, who finds that deep tissue work on athletes is particularly advantageous. "Sports massage is about getting into the muscles and tendons and pushing out metabolic waste and lactic acid so [athletes] can recover faster."

Often, after a particularly rigorous workout or training routine, you're left with the aches and pains that come from pushing your muscles to the extreme. Sometimes that can sideline your fitness schedule and temporarily take you out of your game. But a massage can help get you back on your feet quicker. And, it feels really good.

The primary benefit, according to Nipper, is faster recovery, but he said massage has a way of purifying, too. In the simplest terms, Nipper said, "You're getting out the junk."

Sports massage also helps athletes become more in-tune with their bodies, and awareness is important to anyone desiring changes or improvement with their physique. Nipper adds, "Getting regular massage as you are training helps you be more body conscious."

As a certified Rolfer, Nipper's work integrates the body structure and aims to improve the posture, working with the fascia which holds the shape of the body.

"I'm like a sculptor, sculpting the body," he said.

For many, Rolfing has provided relief from chronic pain or sports injuries. Nipper's clientele includes an eclectic cross-section, from triathletes looking to improve performance or recover from over-training to senior citizens seeking relief from aching joints and muscles. During a session years ago on the late artist Beatrice Woods, nurses checked the vital signs of their 104-year-old patient and found marked improvement.

Developed by Ida P. Rolf, Ph. D., 50 years ago, Rolfing is often thought of as going much deeper than a deep tissue massage, and therefore carries the stigma of being painful. In order to release the fascia, the connective tissue that wraps around the muscles, Rolfers apply hands-on techniques to manipulate the soft tissues.

Nipper says the Rolfing process itself may be intense, but his 20 years of experience gives him a good read on his clients. "I don't work past what people can tolerate," Nipper says. "It's not torture!"

Consult with a physician if you have an injury.

More about this author: Lisa Snider

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