Rolfing® SI: A Brief Catechism I

“Rolfing—doesn’t that hurt?”

This is maybe the most proverbial of all questions that I get as a practicing Rolfer. My answer is often something like: “I work for you; it hurts if you want it to.” The truth is that some people actually enjoy a level of discomfort—it feels constructive in some sense. Fundamentally, however, the session has nothing to do with pain but rather progress. If a client holds a pronounced antipathy to bodily discomfort, then an insensitive elbow is in neither one of our interests.
I must reveal, in fact, that I pertain to the former class of person, that might even feel somewhat disappointed were I to receive a Rolfing session & did not feel a little bit sore the next day. In my madness, I interpret this as a measure of success. Feeling sore is like the satisfied inspection of a living-room after re-arranging the furniture. And really, I don’t think that enjoying hurt is as novel as it sounds—think of spicy foods, or saunas. Pain & pleasure co-exist; they mutually fructify one another. They are the crest & trough of a single wave on the phenomenological ocean. How do these esoterical ramblings relate to anything, even Rolfing® SI? My job is to determine how best to serve my clients’ needs. If that includes bone-scrubbing, so be it. If it does not, then I must employ other methods. Progress, not pain, is the final measure.

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