One day I got a call from Carole* who was deeply concerned that her 69-year-old husband, Jim*, seemed “stooped over” in pain, and wasn’t moving like he should. She had read about Rolfing Structural Integration (or Rolfing SI) and thought that it might help him. I met both of them for a consult and assessed the physical situation that Jim was struggling with. Jim was a very active man all his life and was a retiree who decided to run his own business that required moving heavy machinery and equipment. As the assessment progressed, I learned that throughout his life, he was a bit of a daredevil who pushed both his physical edges and the edges of gravity.
Multiple accidents, concussions, broken bones, arthritis and a double knee replacement definitely left their residue on how Jim moved about his world. He awoke every morning in pain and worked right through the pain all day long. Some days were easier than others, but eventually, there would be episodes of heavy labor that would set him back for days. He did the bare minimum that he had to in order to get through his day. To make things easier for himself, he gave up golf, his favorite sport, and stopped riding his motorcycle because all of the effort and pain would steal his joy.
Despite nearly being dragged into my office, Jim was a skeptic but decided that he had nothing to lose by trying so he committed to the “Ten Series” of sessions. After the first session, he noticed that he felt much lighter and his neck no longer ached. The second session rejuvenated his tired feet and eased tension in his legs that affected his balance. The third session freed up his shoulders and gave him much better range of motion all over his body. The fourth session helped him feel his legs and feet even more. After the fifth session, Jim was still a bit of a skeptic but he could not deny that he stood taller and moved better. His wife even remarked that he “carried himself better.” After the sixth session, Jim enthusiastically entered my office to let me know that he was now a believer in the process that was changing his body and how he lived in his world. He noticed that even after lifting and moving equipment weighing 975 pounds, he did not feel one bit wrecked or sore. He expressed his desire to really start playing golf and moving again, and remarked, “I am going to have to find younger people to hang out with!”
Jim felt hope for his future for the first time in a long time. The changes in his body were positively affecting how he reacted to stress in his daily life. He felt younger, stronger and more flexible. He no longer complained of pain upon waking and getting started on his day. Loved ones in his life commented to him that his attitude was better and that he “mellowed out” considerably. His wife Carole noted that he did not complain as much as he used to. And despite being 9 years younger, she became the one left in the dust while shopping since her husband could now walk faster.
Rolfing SI is an experience and a process that is not about fixing or focusing on parts but about integration and reaffirming wholeness. For Jim, it was about more consciously feeling and occupying his body and regaining movement that he had lost. It was about finding joy once again in activities that helped him socialize and connect with others. It was about rediscovering his playful side that he had given up.
There really is truth to the phrase that “you won’t know what you’ve been missing until you get it back!”
*Name changed for privacy.