Q: Can Rolfing be helpful for children with structural issues?
A: Yes, Rolfing can be very helpful to children and in some cases the results can be quite dramatic. Early in my career, I was attending Structural Integration training and one of the days was set aside to work on children. One of the students brought with her, her two year old son who had problems with loco motor skills. When looking at the child as he walked, he appeared normal, but as soon as he started to run, the little boy began to literally trip over himself and was obviously very frustrated.
So the instructor took the child in her lap and worked on his fascia for only 3-4 minutes, since with children the work goes much faster than with adults. After she finished, she set him down on the floor and immediately the toddler took off running around the large perimeter of the classroom. The child was visibly excited about his newfound skill, and giggled the whole time he made the loop. As soon as he completed the circuit, he made a beeline straight to the instructor and threw himself into her lap to thank her.
In another case, two parents brought their two month old infant son to the structural integration practitioner. The problem the infant had was that whenever he was laying on his stomach, he could not lift up his neck to see to either side of himself. This created anxiety and frustration in the child. The Rolfer worked on a few strategic places in the infant’s facial system for 3 or 4 minutes. When he finished, he placed the infant down on his stomach and he was now able to lift his head. As he looked up at the environment and saw his parents, he smiled.
Some years after, I had become a Rolf practitioner. I was attending a workshop on Structural Integration for children, and I had the opportunity to work with a 5 year old boy. As I looked at the child it appeared as if his chest was extremely tight, and his diaphragm where it attached under the rib cage was pulled up and in as if he had been punched or had experienced some diaphragmatic shock. Whatever the origin of this, it caused him to be unable to take a deep breath. After 5 minutes of work on his chest and feet, he was able to take a deep breath and continue with his deep breathing.
In another case, a ten year old child I worked with came to me and was walking in a somewhat awkward manner. His walk wasn’t coming from the center of his body. His lower legs would externally rotate and go out to the side as he was walking. The movement was not coming as a unified flow. In other words, it was much like several of his body parts were working independently, not as a whole. After completing the intake evaluation, it became clear that he needed some structural work. His parents had him participate in the ten session process, and between the second and third session he reported to me that he was running faster.
It is never too young to start working on a child if he or she has experienced some type of problematic situation that has hindered his natural development. For some children, there could have
been problems during the birthing process. For others, it could be that they were rushed to become potty trained at too early of an age. Among others, either of these situations can lead to some coordination issues. My point is, Structural Integration can help eliminate these problems, and allow children to lead a more normal and happier childhood.