Does Rolfing treat pain?

My answer to this question is yes — and in the way you have been looking for!

I came to the world of Rolfing® structural integration because of pain. I went to a Rolfer™ to get rid of pain the same way you would take an antibiotic to kill a bacterial infection. The majority of my clients come to me to get rid of pain.

But to Rolfers, pain is not a pathogen (a disease, a virus, or a bacteria) to be attacked. It is a signal of a problem in the body, and that’s a big difference from the way we are culturally raised to view the issue.

Currently, western medicine tends to treat pain as a pathogen. You go to the doctor and get a recommendation for a nice, strong drug that operates by blocking the transmission of pain. The problem that’s causing your body to signal pain, however, is not being addressed! Many people realize this without being told, of course, but I heard a great analogy for this approach from Tom Wing this weekend that I’d like to share with you.

You get into your car one day and turn the key in the ignition. The car starts, but there’s a warning light flashing on the dash. You take it in to the mechanic’s shop. The mechanic looks at the flashing light. He notes that the car is still running and able to be driven despite the blinking warning light. He finagles his way into the guts of the dash and cuts out the warning light. “There,” he says. “Solved the problem. Here’s my bill,” and sends you out on your way.

Rolfers, on the other hand, don’t treat or “cure” pain. We look to create better function in the body so that the warning light goes off on its own. Of course, should there be a need for the warning light to come on in the future because of damaging patterns of movement or some injury, the warning light can (and will!) come back on.


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.