Rolfing® and peak performance

February 26, 2012

Exercise, Health Concerns, Rolfing

Rolfing brings fundamental changes in body structure through the connective tissue.

by Deanna Melnychuk — 

You may have heard that Rolfing can improve your performance as a runner, and you may be wondering how this works. Before we touch on that, please note that the first step to improving your performance is to make sure you have the best running shoes; are using high-quality supplements; follow an individualized diet; and make use of specialized training. These support your vehicle of performance — your body — but will not necessarily guarantee a superior run.

From here, you need to ask whether your body is organized structurally to achieve peak performance. You may actually be working against your best efforts because of poor posture and habitual patterns of movement. Are your feet striking the ground with optimal efficiency? Why does it take your body days to recover from a workout?

Rolfing brings fundamental changes in body structure through the connective tissue. Dr. Rolf called this tissue a “plastic medium” because it has a highly pliable quality. Connective tissues wrap and permeate all muscles, connecting muscle to bone and muscle to muscle. Connective tissues give the body its form.

The Rolfer, through a series of 10 sessions, uses her hands and elbows to affect change in shortened connective tissues. The body then spontaneously lines up — the legs are supported by the feet, the pelvis is centered atop the legs, the torso rides comfortably on the pelvis, and the neck and head are evenly balanced on the upper torso.

When this happens, an immediate improvement in function is noticed. Proper alignment ensures that each body segment performs its job with ease because it is no longer compensating for imbalances. This allows gravity to work as a supportive and uplifting force throughout the body.

Some specific running benefits include a more optimal foot plant and push off as the feet hit the ground more squarely, enabling a roll through the foot. Muscles will be activated in an appropriate sequence to reinforce effective mechanical motion through the lower leg, knee, upper leg, pelvis and upper body via the spine during each step.

The sensation is that of gliding. The gait length will be more appropriate to body structure, eliminating over- or under-striding. Naturally, leg and foot fatigue are reduced as each component does only its right job in proper sequence. When all the joints are lined up and working as effective shock absorbers, long-term structural deterioration that results from the percussive/compressive effects of running will be reduced. With less compensation taking place, there is a decreased potential for injury (shin splints, heel pain, fascial strain, stress fractures and tendon problems) that often besets people who run.

Running is great for health — whether casual or competitive. To take minutes off your run and to recover more quickly afterward, Rolfing is the answer. The best part is that you can cross-train it to your everyday life as well.


Deanna Melnychuk, B.Sc., is a certified advanced Rolfer and Rolfing® movement practitioner, licensed massage therapist, Reiki master, craniosacral therapist and reflexologist. 602-404-8685 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 3, June/July 2010.

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