FAQs & Insurance

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How is Rolfing Different than massage therapy? 


A general summary answer to this question is that Rolfing uses well-known, time-tested effective manual therapy (e.g., massage, myofascial release, neural mobilization, PT) techniques, incorporating them after a thorough assessment of a client's overall physical structure.  


Rolfing is best thought of as a strategic, organized process we put someone's body through to achieve overall balance.  The results generally results in a visibly improved, upright posture and the elimination or substantial reduction of chronic and acute pain.


Rolfers are also trained to improve range of motion and pain elimination in specific areas of the body -- for example someone with a chronically painful shoulder.


A more detailed explanation of the differences is that:  


(1) Rolfing take a very holistic approach to the body.  Rolfers are trained to analyze and balance the entire body as a whole, employing a systematic process focusing on balancing the relationships and patterns of the body's major structures with regard to how they all work together. For example, if a person's lower back hurts, the root cause of the pain may not be originating from the lumbar vertebrae but rather an imbalance caused by a previously sprained ankle that caused a person to favor other parts of the lower leg and thigh, which led to tightened hamstring muscles, which in turn torques the hip downwards and rotates it sideways, which pulls on the lumbar spine laterally.  In this example, the Rolfer would be sure to work the ankle, lower leg, thigh and hip in addition to the lumbar spine and surrounding tissue.  Each session builds on the results of the previous session. Therefore, it is a systematic process. A process using a 'recipe' of specifically designed sessions of soft-tissue manipulation,  Within this framework, sessions are tailored to the particular client's bodily pattern. 

  

(2) Rolfing is very interactive with the client.  Whereas massage is usually a passive experience for the client, during Rolfing sessions clients are often asked, for example to be mentally present by focusing their awareness on the area of their body the Rolfer is working on.  Likewise, they will often be asked to move arms, legs, neck etc through a myofascial release.  


The interactive approach effectively engages one's nervous system in addition to the muscles, ligaments and tendons, which definitely accelerates achieving the goals of the session as well as ensuring the changes last. 


During sessions a client's gait (walk) will occasionally be analyzed to assess where movement restrictions are originating -- where someone is 'stuck.'  This gives the Rolfer a better sense of structural imbalances (where to work) as well as to gauge how well the positive bodywork interventions are achieving their intended goal of improving the structural balance and harmonic relationships.


How is Rolfing different than other therapies? 


Rolfing applies a holistic approach to the body. A Rolfer will do a lot of structural movement analysis, watching the client sit, walk, do simple knee bends if the client can do them, to see which areas of the client are not in line, or not moving and twisting with the rest of their body. This analysis shows the Rolfer which areas to work. Sometimes the place causing problems might not be the focus of the discomfort. An example of this is when a person's feet are not contacting the ground properly: the rest of the body will compensate by twisting or bending to balance itself. Over time this compensation frequently results in tissue restrictions that later show up as pain in the hip, back or even the neck.  


The work itself is similar to a workout in the gym. The client must be mentally present and focused. The client is expected to participate and receives work from a variety positions, from lying down to standing upright, often changing positions many times throughout the session. Structural realignment is produced through slow muscle-releasing techniques and positional strategies, which allow gravity to assist the release. Each session is building and preparing for the final integration of the whole body. The goal is an integrated, palintonic body that is free of discomforts within gravity.  


Even though Rolfing is a strong tool on its own, it does compliment other modalities. You can accelerate your body's ability to get better faster by working together with chiropractors, PT's, acupuncturists, massage therapists, psychotherapists, and other health care professionals.   


Does Health Insurance Cover Rolfing? 


​Yes -- you and your family can be reimbursed for Rolfing.  If you call your insurance carrier they will not say they cover "Rolfing" or "structural integration" -- tell them or your doctor you are receiving, or need massage therapy.  (see also below, about using your HSA, FSA or related plan benefits).  My business does not process insurance claims, however, Rolfing Structural Integration is a regulated service in that it must comply with most state's massage therapy laws. This is true for Connecticut where I practice.


As a licensed massage therapist, I can therefore provide you with a receipt detailing what you paid, the applicable medical treatment code(s) (CPT codes) corrrelating to the service provided.


There are two ways to reduce the amount of your 'out-of-pocket' expenses for the sessions: (1) Get reimbursed directly through insurance provider and (2) using a Health Savings Account (also known as Medical or Flexible Savings Plans).  


1. Get Reimbursed Directly Through Insurance Provider:   With all the changes in the health care system, your insurance may or may not reimburse for massage therapy, so your first step is to check with your carrier and ask if they cover it, and if yes, under what conditions or circumstances will they reimburse.  Please note that in order to get reimbursed, you must obtain, prior to any Rolfing treatment, a doctor's note (prescription / letter) specifying the need for massage therapy (not Rolfing, which is a trademark name the insurance carriers won't recognize).   


For example, and this may be typical these days, the insurance carrier may require you to have an M.D. write a letter authorizing or otherwise prescribing massage therapy. A doctor's "letter", as it is sometimes known, will include the doctor's diagnosis, a corresponding CPT code and also an ICD or treatment code (e.g., M54.6 - Thoracic Spine --Myalgia).   


Some insurance plans may further stipulate that the massage therapy be performed by specific types of professionals, for example only by licensed physical therapists or only by licensed massage therapists, so it is recommended to get clear on such details.  


2.  Eligible Expenditures from your Health Savings Account (HSA) (also known as "Flexible Spending Accounts" or FSAs, "Medical Savings Plans", Medical Spending Account, etc) If your insurance doesn't reimburse for massage therapy or obtaining an M.D.'s letter is not achievable or practicle, you still have another option if you have a Health Savings Account (HSA). The Affordable Care Act, (ObamaCare) established a new uniform standard that, effective January 1, 2011, applies to HSAs certain "potentially eligible expenses."  ​  


These plans allow you to set aside a portion of your annual income tax-free, to be used only for a set, defined list of health-related (e.g., medical, drugs, physical and mental therapy, dental and etc) expenses.  Plans such as these often cover massage therapy. Some do and so do not require a doctor's letter.   


Paying for Rolfing sessions using your HSA account funds would reduce your "net" cost by about 35% (actual savings depends upon your tax bracket). Therefore, for a $160 session, your effective out of pocket outlay would be $104 -- a $56 saving. For a $200 session, out of pocket would net out to $130.

    

Can Rolfing help chronic pain? 


Chronic pain is an important issue for clients. Pain can come in the form of trauma from an accident, surgeries they have had, or the day-to-day repetition of sitting at a desk. Most chronic pain clients have tried many other approaches and are still seeking something that can provide some relief. 


Rolfing is a great modality for people that deal with chronic pain, working deeply to unwind and restructure the body can help create a less tension and pain. Listed below are some of the chronic pain problems Rolfing has helped: ​    

                                                                      

∙ Plantar Fasciitis

∙ Lower Back Pain & SI joint pain (sacro-iliac) 

∙ Knee Pain / Hip Pain 

∙ Sciatica 

∙ Carpal Tunnel ∙ Tennis Elbow 

∙ Shoulder pain / Rotator Cuff & other range of motion issues  

∙ Upper Body, Head and Neck Pain 

∙ Scoliosis 

∙ Thoracic Kyphosis related pain

∙ Thoracic Outlet Syndrome 

∙ Whiplash ∙ Headaches∙ Neck Strain 

∙ TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint disorders & pain)  


Does Rolfing reduce stress & anxiety? 


Stress within a body can make a person feel like they are all tied up in knots. Rolfing can help untie those knots by slowly unwinding each end and working deeply to the center. It helps ease the weight of the world off of your shoulders by creating a freer support structure to carry your load.  


How can Rolfing help Athletes and Performers? (see also the "Videos" page)


Many athletes and performers use Rolfing to help them perform better on the playing field or on stage. Whether you are a professional athlete or just wanting to stay in shape, Rolfing can assist you to become better at what you do. Professional baseball and basketball players and even Olympic skiers have used Rolfing as a tool to help them compete. Professional dancers and musicians also use Rolfing to help keep their bodies free and mobile for their concerts and performances. {Note:  see article entitled "Five Time Olympic Athlete Amy Acuff Uses Rolfing® Bodywork to Prepare for the 2012 Olympics"}  


How can Rolfing help with movement? 


Freedom from the constant pressures of life may be found through Rolfing. Many people just come to experience the feeling of freedom within their own bodies. Rolfing works with the muscles so they do not have to work as hard. EMG studies have shown that Rolfing can help the body work more efficiently. Life tasks become easier because your muscles are only using what is necessary to complete the task instead of engaging additional muscle groups that will expend more energy. People have reported feeling more energetic because their body isn't working as hard.   


Rolf Movement sessions are another option. Sessions are based on how you move and how you might be able to move differently. It retrains the body to help break the habits that may have gotten you into trouble in the first place. Rolfing structural sessions help remove restrictions in the soft-tissue that impede range of motion; Rolf Movement teaches more functional ways of moving. Rolf Movement sessions can be extremely effective, whether you're fine-tuning for an athletic performance or simply learning to walk or sit in a way that reduces pain.   


​I heard Rolfing can be painful. Is that true?  


The Rolfer's touch is sometimes intense as they strive to 'challenge' the tissue to release or lengthen the connective tissue (fascia; muscles; ligaments). Clients are in total control during a session. When you feel discomfort, inform the Rolfer and they will adjust their touch or technique immediately to accommodate your comfort levels required. 


What is the training for a Rolfing Practitioner? 


Rolfers are trained and certified by the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado, the only school accredited to teach Rolfing. Successful applicants complete a training program that usually requires two years of study. Following certification, ongoing continuing education is required to maintain active status. Training covers anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology; Rolfing theory and structural analysis; soft tissue manipulation, spinal mechanics, and joint mobilization methods.  Rolf Movement Integration; individual research and written essays; and extensive supervised clinical sessions.  


How is the Rolfing work done? 


Rolfing is accomplished over ten sessions working with the soft tissues (fascia and muscle) of the client. The Rolfing practitioner applies slow pressure with fingertips, hands or forearm to address different layers and sections of the fascial sheaths, tendons, ligaments, and muscle. While the pressure is applied, the client may be asked to perform movements to aid in releasing the muscle. Movements include relaxed breathing, small ligament movements, gross muscle movements and stretching. The client actively participates while lying on the table, seated, or standing upright.   


What is the 'Ten-Series' & how long does it take to complete? 


The Rolfing Ten-Series is a program for balancing the body.   It can be done in sessions as close together as every 4 days or as long as 3 weeks between each session.  These are the recommended times between sessions but its not essential, rather it is the recommended cadence. 


Each session in the Ten Series has certain goals and areas of the body to be addressed, while still attending to the larger goals of the client. The first three sessions work on superficial layers of the body, softening and opening the outermost layers.   


The next four sessions work with deeper structures reorganizing the postural muscles in individual sections, de-rotating and vertically aligning the body.   

The last three sessions work to integrate the whole body, creating an overall experience of increased movement with less stress.  


Each individual session takes about 75-90 minutes. Sessions are spaced from a minimum of four days to as long as three weeks apart. A person can complete the Ten-Series in as short as five weeks to as long as six months or more.  


Are there optional session plans -- besides 'The Ten Series'? 


Often, Rolfing is used to help people recover from surgery or traumas. Any number of sessions can be arranged around a client's needs and physical requirements.  

For persons who haven't decided to commit to a 'Ten Series', but want to try Rolfing and see if it works for them, we recommend doing three consecutive sessions, completed within a time period of between 3 weeks and 9 weeks. The majority of people elect to do the Ten Series after that.  


What techniques does Rolfing use? 


Myofascial release and neural mobilization are the main tools in our toolbox.  


Rolfing techniques are very slow and designed to enable the person to relax and accommodate the work. It is similar to a good workout where at the end you know that your body has been through a good session of muscle stretching and contracting. If a person is too tense to relax into the work, the practitioner can vary the approach to enable the client to adjust to the work for maximum results and comfort. The ultimate goal is for the muscles to release and relax. This not only has an effect on the muscle being worked but on the entire body.  


How long do the effects of Rolfing last? 


Rolfing's effects have a reputation for being very long-lasting due to the structural change and process that are made to a client's body. The changes a person goes through in Rolfing have been known to last a lifetime. It is similar to adjusting the wheel alignment of a car's front tires. Once the adjustments are in place, you are good to run for a very long time. 


If an accident occurs, slipping on a hiking trail or being rear-ended in a car, slight adjustments can be made in either single sessions or three to five sessions. The biggest effect will be that once you know what a balanced body feels like, you can take better care of yourself.   


What to I wear during sessions? 


Most clients receive work in their underwear. Briefs are preferable to boxers for men; traditional panties and bra work well for women. If you're not comfortable with this stage of undress, other options are available. A pair of loose-fitting, short, cotton gym shorts, or yoga-type stretchy shorts, are good options. We can work with a variety of clothing, just keep the following in mind: You must be comfortable. Unlike massage, Rolfing requires you to get up from the table and walk around periodically. 


Clothing should not pinch or bind. If you can lie on the table and pull one knee to your chest without resistance, you're in good shape. Clothing should allow us to view and work around your upper legs, mid-back, and neck. Leave the hip-hop shorts at home. Sports bras are difficult to navigate around the mid-back. Avoid heavy lycra. Bicycle shorts, girdles, and other garments containing lycra are nearly impossible to work through.  


How much does Rolfing cost? 


The cost of Rolfing varies according to the Rolfer, their experience level, location, and their duration of their sessions (range of 60 - 90 minutes).  Rolfers in the greater NYC/CT area charge from $135 for a 1-hour session to $300 charged by the most advanced and experienced specialists, for sessions up to 90 minutes long.   


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Try FluidBody Rolfing using myofascial release, with expertise in deep tissue massage in Greenwich.