Matthew Hartman, LMT is a Practitioner of The Rolf Method of Structural Integration proudly living and working here in Ashland, Oregon. With a commitment to excellence, he is passionate about the power of his work that he has both witnessed and experienced directly. Experiencing a life without pain has been a powerful discovery not just for Matthew but also for his clients. This life changing work has led to twelve years of enthusiasm for helping others and continues to inspire Matthew’s approach to his craft. Recently he and his wife Katie Hartman moved their practice to a new location here in Ashland. We visited with Matthew to learn more about their services and the dynamic healing nature of Rolf Structural Integration.
Thanks for talking with us today, Matthew. How have you been? What has been going on for you in the past 9 months since our last interview?
It is a pleasure to speak with you again and have the opportunity to speak to the greater Ashland community. The past nine months have been quite eventful for me in many ways, professionally and personally! The process of moving into a new community and starting a bodywork practice is potentially daunting. Fortunately I have achieved success and happiness by doing this twice in the past twelve years. Now being in Ashland I cannot imagine living anywhere else.
I am very grateful to have the LocalsGuide format to inform and promote my practice. The monthly columns have been a joy to present, ponder and challenge myself with. It has given me the opportunity to have my clients reiterate (through testimonials) their Rolf work experience to be shared with potential clients. Daily I hear these testimonials, but to re-engage my client’s successes has been helpful for my recent clients.
On a personal note…simply put…Ashland has been even better than my family and I anticipated! Living in Ashland has been a dream for Katie (my wife) and I for many years. Moving here with our 5 ½ year old daughter and 4 year old son has been an adventure and growing process for our little tribe. Izabella and Gabrien were instantly embraced by wonderful schools and meaningful friendships. The great life and community we left in Corvallis to follow our hearts is a distant, yet reverent memory. We are aware the experiences we have had the past year of settling in here are very rich and rooted in the Ashland community.
Please tell us about your new space.
Katie and I both left vibrant, well established practices in Corvallis. The cornerstone of our success was the space we shared which reflected the nature of our work. We are extremely excited to have just moved into a space of our very own this past month. This was a dream of ours we visualized in our life here. Just as most of our dreams have manifested, this key cornerstone is now in place for us to enhance the energy, efficacy and enthusiasm we bring to the work we do.
A key aspect of my work revolves around assessment of how my clients stand, walk, move and exercise their bodies. I have the space where I am able to work with them in these functional, real-life situations structurally related to gravity. This assists me in realistically understanding how they are moving (or not) in space and is often a diagnostic of where and how to work. A lovely spacious office setting enables me to work in a focused, yet creative way so my clients get the most from their Rolf Structural Integration sessions.
Katie Hartman is a gifted esthetician and massage therapist specializing in holistic, organic skin care. She is the exclusive supplier and practitioner of The BodyDeli raw food skin care products in Southern Oregon. These amazing products are highly effective for all types of skin care applications including anti-aging, sun damage, line/wrinkle reduction and for creating an overall vibrant skin health and glow. I myself use these products and am impressed with the meticulous cutting-edge preparations, while maintaining Ingredient integrity by using organic and mostly raw foods.
Katie is also well known for her use of microcurrent therapy. This state of the art technology delivers painless bio-electric impulses to the facial muscles to help relax and recover their strength and elasticity. She has received much praise from her clients for its effect on improving the appearance of their skin and reducing the signs of aging.
Kaite also offers waxing; brow tinting and massage therapy combined with her skin care treatments. She can be found at www.naturalpureskin.com or 541-760-0187.
Matthew will you please re-introduce us to your own work?
The Rolf Method of Structural Integration (aka “Rolf work”, ” Structural Integration”, “SI”, and “Rolfing”) is my craft, passion and work. It is an alignment, bio-mechanical and structurally focused bodywork therapy. Connective tissue (fascia, tendons, ligaments) manipulation and unwinding is the nature of the work I do to assist my clients in achieving a more fluid way of living with less pain. This work effectively balances the work muscles do with the influence they exert throughout the bony skeleton. As my clients come into balance they report that good posture is more natural, their breathing is enhanced and their aches and pains are forgotten.
Typically I work with clients in a series of 1-10 sessions initially. The progression of treatments helps to unwind the person from their habitual body habits by working the entire structure away from compensations and misalignments. Simultaneously the structure and person is re-educated towards an optimal alignment and enhanced movement patterns to compliment the soft tissue release. The body is intricately connected to itself in ways which are sometimes obvious while other times elusive and subtle. For some the progress is short and sweet, for others the journey is a process of continual refinement and work.
The bottom line is Rolf work can benefit anyone. My clients and I believe so strongly in this work and my abilities that it should be a person’s first course of bodywork therapy. I am aware most of my clients have tried “every other therapy” (massage, chiropractic, acupuncture) first and Rolfing last. Ironically, a vast majority of my clients return for regular “tune-ups,” injury rehab, and ongoing work to optimize their body’s form and function. These clients become the true Rolfing advocates who insist their friends, family, colleagues, clients and patients come to me.
I must say that the biggest testament to my work is the referrals I receive from my clients as they benefit from Rolf Structural Integration and the confidence they imbibe. Here are a few of my happy clients:
“I was having minimal and temporary success with Massage Therapy and Chiropractic for my neck pain. Matthew Hartman helped me understand that the pain was stemming from a misalignment in my lower back and pelvis which was throwing my head forward of my body. The 10 Session protocol has been amazing for realigning my entire body and relieving my neck pain.”-K.K.
“Before the 10 sessions I experienced a noticeable difference in the range of motion of my shoulders. Matthew was extremely helpful in personalizing the course of treatments based on my condition. After two months of completing these sessions, the mobility in my “stuck” shoulder continues to improve each week. I am amazed!”-L.G.
“Matthew, I am amazed at how I am now able to balance on my left leg with the same quality of strength and intensity as my right. Before the 10 sessions this was a shaky possibility at best. My overall sense of balance and coordination continues to improve and my yoga teacher notices the changes as well.”-T.G.
“Weakness in my core muscles had created a 20 year history of lower back instability and pain. When I tried to strengthen my core muscles through physical therapy exercises, the pain only worsened and my back went out. When I met with Matthew he suggested the Rolf 10 series as a way to better balance the way I used my core and back muscles. During my sessions we discovered layers of adhesions in my abdominal muscles and underlying fascia which prevented my musculature from working in the proper order. The exercises are now effective and my back and core are much stronger as a result.”-A.B.
Talk to us about Rolf work as a healing art. It has quite the reputation for being harsh and quite painful; however you have a very different experience. Help us understand what Rolf work is all about.
This is perhaps the most asked question and probably the most misunderstood information I hear about! I appreciate you addressing this point especially since pain has never been my experience of Rolf work and I do not hear this feedback from my clients. This work should not be a painful experience; however, clients sometimes experience momentary discomfort, which does not exceed their unique threshold for this type of sensation. This is how I “artfully” and strategically apply pressure to areas in need of work without overloading the nervous system with pain signals; which is actually quite counterproductive for the long-term structural/neurological changes I am intending to elicit.
I am regarded by my clients and students as being able to recognize the threshold which is just right for an individual as a result of the sensitivity I have developed over 12 years of working with people. This is what I have learned from my teachers and mentors through experiencing their refined touch and application of extremely effective techniques. When a client is able to receive the work in a way that they are able to breathe and move with the sensation at hand without resistance or a fight or flight response, the release and unwinding is signaled more effectively with the proprioceptors in the tissue. Thus the changes are long lasting and optimal health is enhanced with optimal postural movement.
In your last interview with LocalsGuide you referred to your own personal experience of being able to live a life without pain after being treated successfully with Rolf work. You had experienced years of daily pain as the result of a childhood accident.
When I was five years old I was involved in a freak, traumatic event with a riding lawnmower, which nearly cut my leg off at the knee. After months in a large, hardly movable cast and hobbling around for many months, my body (unknowingly) grew crooked and developed a form of scoliosis. I was an active child, including involvement in athletic endeavors, always nagged by the pain in my knee; I was weak and susceptible to injury. By the time I was in my mid-twenties the severe knee pain led to lower back pain and extremely limited hip mobility. I tried physical therapy, chiropractic and massage with limited, short term relief.
I put off trying Rolfing due to stereotypes related to pain, cost and one-size fits all approach. I found myself forever transformed within three sessions. The dull pain in my lower back was gone after two sessions and the (nearly) lifelong pain of my dear knee was quickly diminishing by the fourth session. I have been relatively pain free since the eighth session of being “Rolfed.” The most profound part of the process was accessing the “memory” Ida Rolf speaks to. During certain times I flashed back to the event of being trapped under the riding mower and the helpless feelings I previously had no memory of. Through conscious breathing and allowing the tears to flow, I was able, through my physical experience of bodywork, to let go of the psychological and emotional grip this event had on my physicality. Admittedly there were moments of discomfort during these sessions, not to the degree my body or nervous system rejected the work, but rather constructively helpful. I felt foolish for my excuse of Rolfing being too expensive. A dollar amount cannot put value to the lifelong benefits I received, especially in light of the “exploratory” procedures thought to be my only conventional option. During this process I developed a layman’s understanding of how Dr. Rolf’s magical recipe was very personalized and specific to each person’s unique structural situation and intentions.
A life without pain was a profound awakening for me and the confidence I held for myself. Less than four months later I was headed to Boulder to study at the Guild for Structural Integration with the original teachers Ida Rolf appointed to teach and evolve her work.
People often choose Rolf work as a last resort. My story and many of my client’s stories are compelling enough that this work should be a choice of primary wellness care. I continue to see my Rolfer on a monthly or twice monthly routine. These results are typical for most Rolf work cases.
When it comes time to renew my license every two years I get to choose from almost a hundred hours of continuing education to submit to the board. In the same way I enjoy each client and each day as an education, I enjoy being able to take classes to augment my skills and challenge my perspective. I have a core group of Rolfers, Osteopaths, Yoga Therapists and Physical Therapists I continue to study with who incorporate elements of Cranial-Sacral Therapy, Osteopathic Manual Therapy, Nerve Tissue Manipulation, Movement Biomechanics and Visceral Manipulation that is very complimentary to the work I do.
Another professional development I do is teaching Advanced Methods of Bodywork classes to other LMTs, body workers and manual therapists. In these classes I synthesize my understanding of Rolfing into an engaging format of techniques, body reading skills, movement applications and proper therapist body mechanics. These classes were very popular in the Portland/Corvallis area when I was there. Additionally I offer mentorships to LMTs and Rolfing/Structural Integrations Practitioners. My long-term goal is to offer a professional Structural Integration Training (in the Rolf tradition) here in Southern Oregon.
You are relatively new to the Ashland community, how are you settling in?
Indeed I am new to Ashland, but I feel very much a part of the fabric of this community of kindred spirits. Settling in is a process. The Ashland healing arts community is very well known around world. I am honored to be a part of such an esteemed group of practitioners where high level of skill and cutting edge care are the norm. I am accustomed to working in conjunction with other doctors, therapists, body workers and healers to potentiate the health care of our clients and patients. Being in the healing arts profession in a community like this one may seem challenging; Ashlanders are very savvy when it comes to their therapeutic options. It is an honor to provide the services I take pride in to an established high standard of care!
Tell us about one of your most successful cases that even surprised you.
With the amount of experience and successes I have witnessed I honestly do not feel surprised by the results my clients receive. Before Rolfing I had the perception that physical pain and the associated emotional and psychological pain were a part of life. Once I experienced a life without pain I have been forever transformed. This was a surprise to me at the time! But now I enjoy sharing the joy of life without pain and the discomfort by-products with my clients.
I do feel “A.J’s” story represents a success that is not-so-straightforward, but indicative of Rolf Work:
One day as “A.J” got off my table to stand and move about, he was beaming as he said, “This is how movement should feel; effortless!” He is a classically trained actor who knows the intricacies of his body very well. Previous to his Rolf Structural Integration experience his voice octaves were challenged while he moved and expressed his character during performances. He is very strong with an impressive physique, but a stage accident several years prior left residual scar tissue around his ribs. After three sessions we discovered that as the broken rib healed it was affecting the central tendon of his diaphragm, which in turn was pulling on his lower spine and pelvis. The Ida Rolf 10 series has proven very effective for “A.J.” to regain the prowess of his voice, “The ease in my solar plexus allows my entire body to move around itself more efficiently so I am able to clearly direct my life force through my voice.”
That sounds amazing! What do typical results look like for your clients?
My clients continually report less pain, improved mobility and flexibility and an overall sense of ease within their bodies. With this ease comes a sense of effortlessness with their posture and the way they support themselves. I believe “Sue’s” report paints a nice picture of how a balanced body can affect work productivity:
“Sue” recently reported to me that “…sitting up straight while working at the computer used to take so much effort and energy to sustain. Now I feel this posture is more natural for me.” As a graphic designer “Sue” spends a significant amount of time sitting or standing at the computer most every day. I began working with her six months ago after she came to me on a referral from a friend of hers who also gained benefit from Rolf work for her neck and shoulders. “Sue’s” awareness of how she should sit was correct, however, restrictions in the muscles and connective tissue of her neck, chest and abdomen did not allow her body parts to move in the way she felt they should. Her posture dilemma was coupled with pain in her upper back, which gradually subsided as her innate posture improved. I appreciate the way “Sue” speaks of how her enhanced posture has improved upon the quality her work and productivity, “I am able to spend less time at the computer with better results.”
What are the top five conditions that you work with in your practice?
The number one condition I see is pain of some sort and is most common, but not limited to lower back, neck/cervical, feet and ankle, hip, shoulders, jaw/TMJ, arm/hand, mid-back, and shoulder blade. Similar symptoms often associated with pain are mobility issues and limited range of motion that Rolf work is very effective for. My years of teaching and practicing yoga and therapeutic yoga have given me an essential skill of understanding how the body is designed to move and why it doesn’t always move and articulate the way it should. Alignment and postural related conditions are seen and successfully addressed in my work as well. With my perceptive understanding of human movement I also have a keen eye for seeing misalignments. Over the years I have worked with many athletes, performers and artists who find my work valuable for maintaining the physical health of their bodies, enhancing their performance potential and addressing injuries. I also have many clients who use Rolf Structural Integration as a way to improve their emotional and psychological health by addressing physical pain or emotional body responses.
What do you do when you’re not working, Matthew?
I am blessed to feel passionate about and love the work I do. But what I love and enjoy even more is time with my family! This summer we have done camping trips, beach excursions and hot springs visits. Katie and I both take pride in having the time to support our children with constructive play, learning, friendships, travel and restorative time. Our kids love the Ashland life as much as we do. As a family we are very fond of our annual (or more) trips to Hawaii.
When I am not being nerdy like studying something related to anatomy, movement, or personal potential I cherish time to take care of myself. I typically do this in the outdoors mountain biking, hiking, camping, backpacking and stand up paddle boarding. I am also dedicated to yoga as a practice of self-care and deep personal connection. In the past couple of years I have enjoyed additional health benefits of functional movement and high intensity exercise. Katie and I enjoy streaming TV series (Homeland, the Americans, True Detective, Dexter, Breaking Bad to name a few) and I am also fond of watching “chic flicks” with her.
How can readers best learn more about your practice?
I am happy to speak with readers by phone at 541-214-8980. My website www.matthewsi.com has more information about my services and email is a great way to reach me as well, firstname.lastname@example.org. Because I believe strongly in the 10 Series of Rolf Structural Integration, I am offering a 10% discount for the series when paid in full this month.
Matthew Hartman, LMT, Practitioner of Rolf Structural Integration
184 Clear Creek Dr., Suite #1, Ashland