As we are in the football season, I thought I'd share some memories, thoughts, and resources for those interested in how Rolfing® Structural Integration can help professional athletes.
I personally am not a football fan. I've never tried to learn the rules of it, so I see large men clobbering each other to advance a few feet on the field, then everyone takes a break. I hear there's alot of strategy involved for those in the know that makes it compelling. While my interest in the game is minimal, I am nevertheless fascinated by the bodies.
Many years ago, when I was doing deep-tissue massage at a spa on Maui, I had the privilege of working on two NFL players. I say "privilege" because professional athletes' bodies are like fine-tuned sports cars, anatomy developed to a specific, driven purpose. One was a linebacker, and he was built like a tank. I knew enough about football to know that his job was to jump on the other guys. I worked around this gigantic muscular form for an hour, not getting much response but grunts. I was gratified later when one of the spa attendants told me, "I asked him how his massage was, and all he said was "Damn!" I figured that meant I'd made an impact. (I had a reputation for being able to go really deep.)
The other gentleman was a wide receiver (apparently that year's Heisman trophy winner). The body type couldn't have been more different. Again, fantastic muscular development, absolutely sculpted, but this guy was lithe like a ballet dancer. Not knowing about football, I had to ask him what a wide receiver did that he was not built with bulk, and he helped me to understand that his job was to run fast, not get jumped on, and catch the ball and run more. So bulk would not have been in his favor, but man he needed those glutes and leg muscles.
That's about the extent of my understanding of football and my experience working with pro players, but here's a video of a Rolfer™, Wayne Henningsgaard from Minnesota, who has made working with NFL players a niche element in his practice. It's old, but has some nice interview time wth Wayne and video of him working on some Vikings.
As Editor-in-Chief of Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute®, I knew Wayne's reputation in this area, and a few years ago I invited him and his wife Sandy (also a Rolfer) to write about their Rolfing work with NFL players for our publication. That article can be viewed here. It's quite an interesting read, about how they work with athletes in training, the time demands of working during the season, and a charming story about Sandy coming home one day to find three Vikings playing football in her backyard with a passel of eight-year-old boys (it must have made their day!).
The upshot is that Rolfing sessions can help any athlete with faster recovery from injuries that occur during training and play, and can prolong a career that depends on optimal functioning of the body. Likewise, for those who are not athletes but have careers that are physically demanding in other ways – like construction, supermarket stocking, massage therapy, long-distance trucking – Rolfing sessions could be a way to help you stay in your game.