Rolfing 10 Series – Goals and Implementation - looking on our upright posture
Your posture
Rolfing 10 series -goals - release of tension and pain
Your Pain

The aim of the Rolfing 10 Series is to change posture. However, attitude is unfortunately only rarely a good motivator for change. Usually it is pain and tension that cause people to start looking for change. In Rolfing, however, posture and its change is a measure of success. The posture often shows very clearly where tensions, shortenings and pressure loads have accumulated.

Why we recognize problems in posture

Visibility of tensions

Do you see in the picture where tension and pain will occur? [read more] Both persons do not have their center of gravity in the middle, therefore a permanent tension is needed in order not to fall. Both must work against gravity for the erection and have chosen opposite ways for it. He shifts to the front, she – we call her “Anna” because we will refer to her later – “leans” backwards.

In the picture you see the statics of two people with their perpendicular line and their organization of neck and head. In addition to the effect of gravity, you can also see the possible and probable pain areas (red dots).

Posture changes the tissue

Ladies first: She leans behind her perpendicular axis and must tense her muscles from the knees upwards to below her chin.

Rolfing 10 Series - Goals and Implementation - the front plane tightening with curls

She has the constant tension you have at the start of a sit-up exercise. A sit-up exercise will lead to muscle build-up due to the dynamics of movement. A permanent tension through posture, however, leads to a strengthening of the connective tissue on the front side of the body. In this way, part of the holding work is transferred to solid tissue, in simple terms: tendon instead of muscle. After some time the young woman will no longer be able to free herself from this posture through simple stretching exercises. She will hang in her abdominal wall behind her plumb bob, probably even completely relaxed. So what’s the problem?


Tissue damage due to posture or
Why Rolfing 10 series works on posture

Course of damage

Destructive pressure

The entire weight of the body from the knee upwards falls backwards [read more] and it needs a counterforce somewhere not to actually fall backwards. This “somewhere” is in the knee, its ligamentous apparatus and the menisci.

Preventing destroying your knee -your meniscus like a nut in a nut knacker

Do you still recall from school: Load arm times load equals force arm times force? Almost the entire body weight acts from the upper body over a load arm more than one meter long. The force arm in the knee is very short, so weights of over 500 kg work there! The menisci feel like a nut in a nutcracker. So it comes from directly amplified forces – even at low body weight! – to damage. But there is another problem. [/read]


There are tissues in our body, [read more] that are not directly supplied with nutrients and oxygen by vessels. The menisci in our knees are part of it. You work like a kitchen sponge.

Rolfing 10 series -goals - pain in the knee

Meniscus like a sponge

If you squeeze it out, “used” water is released, if you then dip it in water and slowly relax, it will soak up new water. Similarly, the cartilage in our knee joint works. This means that when they occur, the cartilage is compressed and metabolic waste products are pressed out. When you relieve the knee, the cartilage literally “sucks” the nutrient fluid. This means that the health of the knee depends on pressure dynamics.

The construction of the knee dates back to a time without office chairs. Rather, our ancestors walked or trot barefoot over uneven ground. This also led to the necessary pressure dynamics and thus to a healthy knee care.

Conclusion 1 – Knee problems are inevitable

It is sufficient to bring the body weight backwards out of balance. [read more] As shown, the pressure load in the knee increases and thus leads directly to damage. In addition, however, the natural supply of the knee is also deteriorated.

These processes are creeping and only add up over time. At a young age there are no problems and suddenly at 30 or 40 they are there, apparently out of the blue. The Rolfing 10 series is addressing this problems and I will explain why this is not a one technique fix, so keep on reading.

Knee problems aren’t the only ones.

Compare the postures of “Anna” from the first example with those of the man and ask yourself the question: “In which body is there more space for the abdominal organs and the lungs?” What is important here is that our breathing produces quite a dynamic.

Let the belly go - let your organs breath

A little belly may be – let your organs breath

When inhaled, the diaphragm lowers by several centimeters to pull the lung apart like a bellows and hereby filling it. We often overlook the fact that the “pushed away” abdominal organs have to go somewhere. To the rear the spine is
“disturbing”. To the flanks the ribs hinder, the remaining way to go is downward and forward. More belly means more forward, there is no doubt about it! But what do we not do in sports to have as little of it as possible? The washboard stomach with a visible six-pack is the beauty ideal of our days.

I just assume that “Anna” is very happy with her belly, she really doesn’t have much. In addition, their posture supports pushing away. The question that arises is, “How are the organs?” Let’s just stick to the whole gastrointestinal tract. The pressure on the tissue increases because there are hardly any alternative possibilities. It is clear that this can interfere with the blood supply and the free gliding of nerves. This usually leads to more diffuse, clinically difficult to grasp disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable stomach syndrome, malabsorption and the like.

Conclusion 2 – organic disturbances are added

Our breathing moves our abdominal organs. If the range of motion is restricted, this ultimately leads to compression of these organs. Where and how this increased pressure manifests itself as a symptom is not predictable. In the case of recurring complaints, it can be useful to look at the statics of the body and thus at possible constrictions as a cause.

A word of caution: Since there are so many reasons for e.g. irritable bowel or irritable stomach, the simple statement that Rolfing helps is wrong. On the other hand, a Rolfing treatment can change the pressure and space conditions in such a way that it improves irritable bowel or irritable stomach. The art of the Rolfing 10 series is a good foundation to achieve a lasting change in abdominal tone.

The end of the stress curve

Overall tensions - where is the holding originated

Who is holding the other end?

It’s like pulling a rope: If you want to prevent movement, both sides must pull equally. If, figuratively speaking, one team pulls at the knee, then where is the other team on its way?

It’s on your neck – and you can try it and feel it for yourself. Start from a flat lying position into a situp and feel where the tension in your throat changes.

The construction of the neck is complex. At the back lies the stabilizing spine, which is tensed upright by a multitude of straight and oblique muscles. The front is a multi-layered tube system consisting of trachea, esophagus and large vessels, which contain part of the blood pressure regulation. In addition, there are large nerve cords. In the foremost position there is also the vital thyroid gland. If this “total work af art” is now permanently compressed, then the possible consequences are simply unmistakable. They can range from tinnitus and high blood pressure to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
As mentioned above, Rolfing does not heal a tinnitus, but a tinnitus can be improved by a Rolfing treatment.

Conclusion 3 – keep your neck free

The head should ideally be freely balanced on the neck. The alignment of the head is the crowning finale of the entire statics underneath. Tensions from the trunk are transmitted to the neck, where they lead to compression of the blood supply, large nerves and more.[/read]

Are the high heels to blame?

As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually possible. Perhaps you have already noticed the difference. There are women who look better with higher heels, while others [read more] collapse. A heel gives you thrust from below into the body. It is now a question of the adaptability of the tissue how this thrust goes through the body belly or backwards. If the thrust passes through the body more on the belly side and the body can also become long there, then we see a larger extension and an opening around the sternum. We usually perceive this as a greater presence and usually associate it with a better appearance.

In the opposite case, the thrust goes through the rear layers of the body. In addition, the front side is usually firm and unyielding due to high residual stress. Then the body is pushed around the breastbone from behind. The breastbone lowers and often with it the gaze. If you just stood upright with a flat heel, your heel will be higher, but your presence and gaze will increasingly go towards the floor. The recommendation can then only be to wear flat shoes or to work on one’s own statics and adaptability that is, looking for a Rolfer.

Sales per se are neither good nor bad. A little heel can lead to a better erection, but then make sure you have a good balance. On the other hand, if you can’t stand heels and your erection suffers, work on your flexibility.

Are these problems typical for women?

Short front plane in males with trained six pack

Tight frontal plane

NO! Do you know the male models e.g. from the Abercrombie & Fitch advertisement, young, slim and with washboard stomach? The effect of well-intentioned abdominal training can be observed.

The entire line from the pubic bone to under the chin is shortened. This makes the young men look flat at the front with a slight hunchback. Sometimes even the chin is pushed forward. Although this may look pithy, it only testifies to a shortening of the frontal plane, which extends beyond the clavicles.

Excessive training can also lead to a deterioration of posture. A normal curve of the lumbar vertebrae will push the abdominal organs to the front healthily. But if the space to front is blocked by a board hard tension, a washboard belly, space must be made available in the back. The only way is to reduce the lumbar lordosis, i.e. the result is a straight lower back.

You don’t want a straight back! The S-shape of the spinal column acts constructively like a spring. This means that any impulse generated with every step is cushioned in this construction and not in its components: the vertebrae and intervertebral discs. A straight back will lead to back pain! Men usually start with less hollow back in life than women. That is why the danger of a straight back is greater with men.[/read]

Rolfing 10 Series as a Method

Let’s get back to Anna. She reports knee pain and sporadic gastrointestinal pain, but nothing was ever really found. A pure treatment of the knee with its ligaments and menisci will not bring about any lasting improvement. The interactions are too complex for that and knee pain is actually only a symptom for a shifted statics.

The Rolfing 10 Series will now systematically strive for change in order to reduce the load on the knee in the long term and possibly achieve a relief of the gastrointestinal tract.

Rolfing 10 Series – Session 1-3 The Outer Intro

The first session – we start

The Rolfing 10 Series starts [read more] with a superficial opening of the upper body, so there is an adaptability when a changed thrust comes from below. Only the opening of the surface allows changes of deeper layers. It’s like they widen a T-shirt too tight to move freely. This is also a first acquaintance with what Rolfing feels like. What I hear most is, “It feels good and it feels different from any other body therapy experience.” I am convinced that well-being is the best basis for accepting change.

The second session – Adjusting the feet below – Your stance

The second session will differentiate between the foot and the lower leg. Here not only the wearing of sturdy footwear leaves its traces, but also all ankle injuries. Ideally, the calf bone should be so elastic that it can act as a shock absorber to cushion the impact when walking and not pass it on to the lower back.

The third session – organization from the side

The third session is about balancing the frontal to the rear plane. In the example of “Anna” it is necessary to change the tone around the hip so that it can come to a better straightening. The previous meetings had done the preparatory work for this. The sensitivity of the tissue is then examined diagonally under the shoulder blade. This is where the spirits divide. While half of the clients find the work wonderful, the other half here is painfully firm and the tissue is badly supplied with blood by constant tension and very quickly irritated. In such a case, the treatment speed and intensity must be chosen so that the alarm system (pain) does not strike, so that tissue changes are also permanent.

While the first three sessions deal with external, but no less important, tension relations, sessions 4-7 deal with our posture on an imaginary inner midline. The third session at “Anna” is the bridge, because in order to achieve a change in the position of the pelvis, not only the outer hip extensors but also the inner hip muscles and the pelvic floor must change.[/read]

Rolfing 10 Series – The Midline

The fourth and fifth sessions form a unit [read more] and should not be too far apart in time. You can feel the sphere of action within yourself.

Rolfing 10 series -goals - push from the toe
push from the toe

Place your stronger foot behind you as shown in the picture. Now produce a continuously ascending thrust from your big toe ball. Sometimes it is even easier to do this only in thought, because your actual weight does not produce distraction. Now feel how this thrust spreads through your body.

The front portion of the midline –
4th session – the beginning

In any case, start with the attention in the big toe and the ball of the big toe. From here you push yourself into the step. But, we are stopping this movement for now. At that moment the push should travel through the inside of your foot, slightly twisting the bones of the foot inwards and against each other, thus relieving the strain on the outside of the foot. Now the push should reach the inner ankle, rising on the inner side of the tibia and reaching the knee. The knee however, should not have to absorb any shear forces! Ideally it should only be subjected to pressure. All compensating movements due to unevenness in the ground should be absorbed flexibly and quickly at the level of the foot. [/read]

Rolfing 10 series -goals - centerline
Straightening along the centerline
Inside legs – pelvis – abdomen

Above the knee, active force continues to travel up on the inside, [read more] to provide support for the pelvis. Here our muscle fan out holding mostly to the pubic bone from the outside. And it is obvious, if something pulls from the outside, it needs some counter pull from the inside. And indeed there is, the counter pull is produced both by the pelvic floor muscles and the multi-layered abdominal muscles. You may even be able to follow the thrust into the pelvis with the small “Big Toe Inside Leg” exercise, which supports straightening up to the breastbone.

The front portion of the axis – 5th session – the continuation

In the fifth session we continue working up the mid line, direction head. How much tension in the abdomen reduces its freedom and mobility? It is a container – content question, or what is spatial relation between belly muscles (container) to the abdominal organs (content)? It’s like looking at an orange and judging whether the soft flesh fits into the firm skin.

The fifth session is of course also the platform to integrate visceral (i.e. organ-related) osteopathy. Our body has a natural hierarchy of protection. Our blood supply ranks first, followed by our information supply (nerves) and last by our muscle system. Back pain can also be caused by irritated nerves that have been “jammed” by excessive abdominal training. In contrast to the orange, which has a firm relation between its soft flesh and its firm skin, we are in permanent motion just by our breathing. And this sliding against each other can be hindered by injuries and operations. Appendectomy, removal of gall bladders, especially when minimally invasive, cesarean section scars, most gynecological procedures produce fixed points around which we organize our movement. [/read]

The back – 6th session

Rolfing 10 series -goals - back pain

An upright back
heel to neck

In the sixth session, the client is in the prone position for the first time. This session forms the antithesis to
[read more] the two previous sessions and will detect backward tensions from foot to neck. With “Anna” the tension around her heel is probably too high, as if the heel is pulled into the lower leg. The tension of the back upper leg muscles may also be too high. Both are good examples of how Rolfing works. Many assumptions can be made, only the experienced hand confirms or rejects the visual findings. It is therefore not a matter of working through a sequence of manual manipulations, but of finding and balancing the leading tensions.

The head – 7th session

Rolfing 10 series -goals - head postion - neck pain
Balance the head

Dr. Ida Rolf [read more] once said to the aim of the seventh session: “Just throw your head on top”. Back to our young client. If she found a more upright posture by now, then the tension in the front neck area must be addressed! Otherwise, she’d look even more to the ground. In addition, if the neck position were changed, the work for the back neck muscles would increase because the head would fall even more forward. For many people the idea of bodywork or massage on throat is adventurous and makes their hair stand on end. However, in my own experience most clients are rather comfortably twilight away and are certainly in no stress.

The seventh session concludes the work around the midline. Many details have been addressed. But it also shows that there are many dependencies. Our young client may not change her abdominal tension until she gets another neck and head relationship. It may also be that movement patterns take longer to emerge, e.g. to walk with a changed foot/lower leg relation. To quote Dr. Ida Rolf again: “By the end of the seventh session, half of the possible changes have been achieved.” [/read]

Rolfing 10 Series – Integration

Hand to trunk – the 8th session

Rolfing 10 series -goals - shoulder pain
Organize the body behind a
reaching hand

The eighth session follows the connection from the hand to the shoulder and finally to the spine. [read more] Are we able to reach out, throughout the chain hand through the shoulder to the back? This session may be close to both the previous seventh and sixth. Much will depend on the freedom of the hand.

It is incredible how much tension is stored in the forearm. All persons with carpal tunnel syndrome get their money’s worth here, as well as all other gripping forms of sports or professions. The hand can hardly build up tension independently of the rest of the body. This session reflects the entire diversity of how we act with our hands. If the thumb is “parked” under the palm of the hand at rest, what is the tension of the front chest muscles like? This session is very individual and once again it shows that pursuing goals is more important than working through a sequence of “massage manipulations”. [/read]

9th session – the knee as an indicator of organization

Rolfing 10 series -goals - knee pain
foot – knee – pelvis – back
the long way of straightening from below

The ninth session is the lower equivalent [read more] of the previous session. How permeable is the connection between foot, knee, hip and lower back at the level of the diaphragm? The more efficient the organization along these lines is, the freer the upper body is above it, since no stress is passed from bottom to top.

Several transition points need to be integrated. The first thing we do is take the knee. The knee is almost an indicator for the wear-resistant organization of the legs. Jean-Pierre Barral describes the knee joint as a neurological joint, i.e. proprioception (perception of movement and position in space) of the joint must be perfect to ensure the health of the knee. Even the slightest tension leads to irritation, which ultimately leads to pain and wear and tear.

It continues with the hip joint, its integration into the pelvic floor and its connection to the psoas, a deep, strong muscle located in front of the spinal column, which extends to the diaphragm and has connections to the lower vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs. Our upright posture, the strength of our lordosis, i.e. our hollow back, is essentially determined by the psoas. In Switzerland there is a folk festival competition on how far you can kick a slipper from your foot. The winners are people with well-coordinated psoas, which are not hindered by abdominal or thigh muscles. [/read]

Farewell to the Rolfing 10 Series

Rolfing 10 series -goals - farewell
Take care

The tenth session is the conclusion of the Rolfing 10 series, which hopefully has promoted insights into your own body so far. [read more]This journey should also have been pleasant and conciliatory. Reconciling with your own solutions you had chosen in the past, which were the best available at that time. But now there may be a wider range of postures and response options. As with any farewell, there are now many approaches. It can work like a last cleanup to consolidate significant changes and at the same time address bits and peaces that were missed throughout the 10 series.

It may be obvious by now that we never tighten or move just one muscle alone. On the contrary, tension travel through our whole body. And with sensible training we can improve our own body-perception. While this session can be very specific, it can also be very superficially. And superficial actually mean the skin. We tend to forget, the skin is our largest sensory organ. It should be adaptive to change of tension coming from the depths.

The session is like a cadenza in a classical concert. By definition this is: a solo (the 10th session) in a concert (the 10th series) intended by the composer (Ida Rolf), which offers the performer (the client together with the Rolfer) the opportunity to show his virtuous ability (the trained body perception). [/read]

That’s it?

The 10 series is finished with the 10th session and actually this cycle is over. Are there more cycles? Definitely, but they don’t consist of a repetition of the 10 series! These cycles arise from a new agreement between Rolfer and the client to work on new goals. There may be references to the 10 series, but often this work is completely detached from it.