Newton, Da Vinci and Ida Rolf

Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci and Ida Rolf –

A convergence of science, art and healing

By Kristen Bailey Williams

Kristen Williams - Certified Advanced RolferAches and pains? Feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders? Unable to get your body to perform the way you know it can? The solution may not be ibuprofen or rest or more training … The answer may lay in simply allowing your body to return to its natural state – a state envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci as perfectly structured and balanced by the principles of the universe.

The human body has 206 bones, most of which provide or contribute to structural shape. Muscles allow movement and work with something called fascia to create structural integrity of the body. The body is a wonderfully designed system … it is designed so that when it is in a naturally resting position, our muscles experience minimal strain, much like a balanced teeter totter. Fascia, or connective tissue, is the magic layer that covers our muscles, extending and turning into tendons and ligaments – holding muscle to bone and covering muscle in a strong shroud to help maintain our bodies in a state of balance without much exertion.

However, as Isaac Newton demonstrated, gravity is inexorable and inevitably takes its toll over time – injuries, strains, bad posture resulting from everyday activities like carrying a heavy tote bag, running on uneven pavement, a bad golf swing or just being tired can cause our muscles to kick in to compensate for the area that needs help. Imagine hurting your knee – the muscles tighten to help avoid the pain but since there is now an additional “weight “ on one side of the teeter totter, other muscles must shorten up or lengthen to compensate and keep the body (the teeter totter) in balance.

Our bodies, being the marvelous systems they are, adapt very quickly, and fascia soon shortens up around the compensating muscle set to help it maintain that new position with as little energy output as possible. Therein lies the problem…imagine a nudge here, a nudge there… hundreds, thousands of small incidents, each causing a small misalignment and a small compensation each time… over time, our body structure starts to resemble a Jenga tower, still standing but waiting for that one key block to be shifted causing the entire tower to collapse.

Enter Doctor Ida Rolf, a very special and gifted person who in 1920 earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. Dr. Rolf spent the next 20 years developing and perfecting an approach to help chronically disabled people who were unable find relief or help using traditional medicine.

Eventually, Ida Rolf founded the Rolf Institute to create a formal way to teach others her philosophies and techniques which were based on two realizations: 1) All the muscles in the body act in concert to maintain our bodies in balance against gravity; 2) Fascia covers muscle and thickens into tendons and ligaments to hold muscles in place and bind muscle to bone. The insight that Ida Rolf had from these two realizations caused a fundamental truth to be formed in her mind … the connective tissue which is shaped by injury or stress to the body is the very tissue that can be used to reshape the body, allowing it to naturally heal itself and return to proper alignment and balance.

Since then people have benefited in diverse ways from Rolfing. Athletes such as Erin Aldrich, Elvis Stojko and Wendy Wagner use Rolfing to prepare for Olympic competition. Rolfing has assisted thousands of others in helping their bodies recover from accidents, chronic pain, disabilities and regaining the simple activities of daily living.

Rolfing is typically performed in a “10-series,” which rationally addresses areas of the body so that each session builds on the results of all prior sessions. Many people go through the series followed by regular touch-up sessions.

Kristen Bailey Williams is considered an expert in her field. She is a Certified Advanced Rolfer, receiving her advanced training from Emmett Hutchins, one of Ida Rolf’s first students and teachers. Kristen now practices in Madison WI and has helped hundreds of clients to experience their better selves. For more information, contact Kristen at 239-821-3308 or through her Website –

Reprinted with Permission from Healing Arts 2009-2010 Page 35

Naples Rolfing – Certified Advanced Rolfing and Nationally Licensed Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

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