The Rossiter System®: Extending Ida's Teachings to Immediate Relief of Structural Pain


[I. Introduction and Personal History]

Though it evolved from my SI practice, the Rossiter System® is not Rolfing® SI.  It is a method for targeted relief and prevention of structural pain -- i.e., pain created by overuse, injury, trauma, abuse, or stress -- in which practitioners coach clients to resolve their own pain by restoring normal joint range of motion in space. The techniques employ the client's weight-assisted active vectored stretching of painful tissue in the context of a pre-stressed whole-body fascial net. Structural pain, which usually resides in the connective tissue system, often alters that system to the point where simple massages, chiropractic adjustments, and analgesic medications no longer work.  At that point, sufferers seek more drastic measures. 

Thirty years ago, I was one of them.  Refusing to believe it should take months of adjustments or massage to get results, I turned to Rolfing.  Like so many clients, I fell in love with it from the first session.  By the third session, I had decided to become a RolferTM. As a new Rolfer in 1983, I landed on a strange planet -- Little Rock, Arkansas -- where the inhabitants weren't especially interested in becoming more aligned with their gravitational field.  What they wanted was pain relief -- and they demanded immediate results. 

After I was a Rolfer for a year, I was fortunate enough to begin to work with a neurosurgeon, Dr. Jim J. Moore. He told me if I could fix his back, he’d send people to me.  I fixed his back with straight old fashioned Rolfing.  We worked together, him sending me clients, for the next 5 years.  He sent his “basket cases” to me for Rolfing.  He was thrilled, and the basket cases started flocking to my practice. For him, the change was about finally having someone to send people to, who weren’t chiropractors, PT’s, DO’s and massage therapists.  He felt he was finally getting results. 

At one point, I became disillusioned with my results.  I spoke to Dr. Moore about this and asked to expand what I was doing.  He liked my work and agreed to let me take parts of the Rolfing series and work differently.  I was given this opportunity because I’d worked with him for months and months doing straight Rolfing working on people who had the worst of the worst pain problems. But his agreeing to letting me do Rolfing differently, allowed me to enjoy the results we get with Rossiter today.

[II. How the Rossiter System Developed]

I realized I had to change how I was doing the work.  The most important step, turned out to be dismantling the series.  The time I spent working with the doctor gave me the freedom to go into untapped and unknown areas of connective tissue work.  I took chances. I was looking for better quicker, and more long lasting results.  Results to me are about pain resolution, not human evolution.  Rather than accepting what I had been taught I wanted to know exactly what each thing I did, created.  What made things happen?  So from that point on I started creating a database of what each technique I used, did.

Part of what was discovered was how people reacted to the results.  They disliked the process but when they felt the results, they forgot about the method being difficult.  Once they realized how deep the pain actually was they wanted to also get ahead of the pain by returning for preventative care.  They began to see the value in staying ahead of the pain.  Mostly this was due to the fact that many knew they had to keep doing the same job, chore or play.  So rather than getting to a point of needing over the top care, like doctors, missing work, not being able to play, they often decided to use the work as maintenance and prevention as well as recovery.  This changes everything. 

The second step became how involved should the client be in this process?  I soon realized two important facts. 1)  Without movement nothing happens and 2)  Without client involvement, nothing happens.  No matter what Rossiter technique you use, those two items were the first two keys to the new process.  

The Rossiter System addresses just one thing -- pain.  Pain is why people show up at my door.  NEVER in 30 years of practice has anybody ever asked me to realign them with gravity so that they can evolve more thoroughly. Pain is why we go to doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and finally to structural integrators. All because something isn't right in our body and we seek out the answers to our own pain issue.  

[III.  The Rossiter Premises/Setting]

Because the source of most structural pain is the connective tissue system and structural integrators have been trained to understand connective tissue more than anyone else, I prefer structural integrators as students of the Rossiter System.  But -- the look and feel of Rossiter work is nothing like that of traditional SI.

In the field of Structural Integration, Rolfers, KMI, Postural Integration, Soma, and others, it is we who push the envelope of the connective tissue system or fascia.  I would go so far as to say we’re better at this than ANYTHING else out there.  I could say that we all work in the myofascial network, but I won’t, because I, and a number of others, don’t.  I think, work, and create in the fascia and only in the fascia.  I know I affect the other areas, but that’s not how I think.  So, if the issue is pain, that's our story. We don’t fluff.  Rossiter focuses only on the pain.  

A Rossiter practitioner is a "Coach" -- not a therapist.  A Rossiter Coach does not cure or rehabilitate anyone.  Instead,  Therapists and therapy implies it’s own name.  (Therapy: treatment of physical, mental, or behavioral problems that is meant to cure or rehabilitate somebody.  Or, Treatment: a remedy, procedure, or technique for curing or alleviating a disease, injury, or condition)  As Rossiter Coaches, we provide the guidance to the unwinding of the cause rather than how things happened.  How they unwind may be totally different from how it went in.  Finding all the tie ins to their issue is one key.  By re-linking everything to each other, we re-create the originally designed body

A Rossiter Coach does not necessarily understand how the techniques work, but that understanding is largely irrelevant to relieving pain. What is important in the beginning, is getting your client to do what you tell/ask them to do.  Not every client is willing to do this at first.  However, as soon as they realize they’ve just completed two or three moves and suddenly the pain is half gone or gone from what it was two minutes ago, they tend to listen to the coach after that.  Or, they don’t come back.  

Using Your Feet, and Their Brain  

To contact their clients, Rossiter Coaches use their feet instead of their hands.  I started using my feet 24 years ago. How I learned to use my feet was a complete accident. Now, I only teach using my feet.  Most Rolfers who study with me, simply put the work back on the table.  This is fine, your results will be better than before but you pay the price with your body and the results still aren’t nearly as good as doing it on the floor.  

The theory behind Rossiter is as important as the technique. Connective tissue works like breathing, no matter what we know, it knows more.  That includes being able to recover itself from injury and abuse.  The results for clients -- or PICs (Persons In Charge), as they are called in Rossiter -- is produced in their connective tissue.  You get the results you want, by making the client do the work. If YOU do the work, the work stays in the room with you.  It doesn’t leave the room with them. If the PIC does the work, the power of doing it themselves stays with them.  Their work stays with them.

Your Client, the Smartest Person in the Room

Keep in mind, the smartest person in the room about the client’s body is the client, and always will be. 

As the Coach, your job is to do just that, you coach. Coaches control the environment, the room, the floor, the field. If they don’t control the room, they’re fired.  Gone.  Players cannot control the plays, the field, the room, or the COACH.  In Rossiter, you, the Rolfer, are the Coach, period.  

The Coach cannot and does not control the PIC, the player, or person who comes to them in pain.  What the coach can and should do, is inspire the PIC, the person in pain, to work their hardest to get themselves out of pain. But it’s the PIC who must do the work.

Yelling and cheering are valid in making a person reach out of their comfort zone to achieve better or even the best results possible. it really does work to push a person further then they thought they were capable.  A well placed yell of encouragement at a difficult moment can make all the difference in a session, or workout, as it’s called in Rossiter.  It’s called a Workout because everybody who’s ever done Rossiter says that’s exactly how it feels.  

To ‘help’ a person get out of pain.  First, you must show them how, and then   give them the tools.  Then get out of their way.

[IV.  Key Components of Rossiter Technique]

TDMP, Time, Dimension [????], Movement, and Power Theory  [Richard: We need an opening line or two, identifying the 4 elements and suggesting how they relate to the work.  Just a few lines for some kind of transition/continuity.]

Time is simply the first element in creating a fully recovered body issue.  Unlike other modalities, Rossiter pushes the time to minimum amounts.  Not days, weeks and months to recover but seconds, minutes and hours to recover.  By taking people into their pain we push them to recover, not later, but almost immediately.  Chronic pain doesn’t need time to recover, it requires condensed effort in a short time by the PIC.

Dimension is about recreating the original areas of designed space the PIC had before the pain, the accident the trauma. The PIC must find the missing areas of movement.

Movement is making the client do the work while under the weight of the Coach.  This irons or takes out the wrinkles created by the original problem.  Movement is concise and targeted.

Power or weight determines the speed of the recovery.


This is the dimension we are most familiar with daily.  It looks constant to us.  Time has it's own feeling of movement.  If we're happy and playing in some activity it seems to pass quickly.  If we are in the throes of somebody’s death or working at a job we hate, time seems to drag by with no end in site.  Overall, it’s perceived as a smooth movement of time over our lives, including the immeasurable speeding of it, as we grow older.  So time, ever present, surrounds us. 

In Rossiter, that time is about spending it wisely.  When a technique is started do you want to move too fast????  Bad choice.  Do you want to stop quickly?  Another bad choice.  The right choice is about getting involved in the process, not the ending.  That means direct participation by the PIC.  PIC movement is slow and deliberate.  IF you speed through an area you may miss what’s important to relive, and therefore relieve.  

If you (PIC) miss an area that you know you’re supposed to go through, your Coach should catch you and make you return to that area you avoided.  That’s a Coach’s job.  Miss something? Go back and get it.


We live and move in 3 spatial dimensions. We can slap our arm, poke a friend, or walk away.  We live in these outward dimensions.  We raise our arm, walk, work and play in 3D.  When we start doing Rossiter, we use a testing system of Points & Dots as a way to visit an area to see how well we handle the pain the area.  If we want to push the envelope of HOW we move, then we move through more powerful movements.  All are categorized by how the PIC responds to the movements.  All are always, slow and deliberate, but then the coach pushes the PIC into new areas of and including all the space we want to occupy and reclaim. 

This is where Locking comes in.  Locking is the outward push of ourselves to stretch not only the immediate area being worked on, but the rest of the body in it’s entirety, while the work is going on.  That means stretching the rest of the body AWAY from the area being worked.  So the lock creates an even bigger stretch that literally unlocks the area from the other side that has been shut down and painful.  By stretching from the inside every fiber of our being while being stretched from the outside (a foot in place), we push the CT matrix beyond its current boundaries.   Doing this from multiple points on the body, internally restores the originally designed body if two more parts are included in the process.

This pattern the body has developed over the years, months, weeks that created the pain needs to be stretched internally.  By pushing the envelope of connective tissue to its outermost region, while you are stepping on them, you are essentially ironing the CTS from the inside out.  It’s got wrinkles from living and by making the person stretch absolutely everything they have access to, you are reestablishing the original space that person had before, and now, has again.  By moving in multiple dimensions while pinned and locked, produces incredible results, immediately.


The movement in all dimensions through time re-creates lost space.  The caveat is, if your client doesn’t move or reach, you don’t recreate the space. By making them participate with Locking, the other areas of the body, you push each stretch into the whole body.  IF you don’t do the locking, the body re-imposes it’s “bent-ness” back into the area you’ve just worked. If you are working in 10% of the body, don’t you think the other 90% will re-impose its authority on 10%. If they don’t participate, the work simply doesn’t stick.  

When we first start with a person we give them smaller bites to chew on, while also making them push their limits as soon as possible.  Reaching for a point is simple, but it may not be easy the first time.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  Some people understand and feel reaching out or stretching in as little as three times.  We do this test stretching with our hand, leg or whatever we're working on.  That is the Points and Dots, reach out then relax, do it again.

Whatever we stretch, wherever we stretch, if we stretch it hard enough, it will be painful.  We stretch our fingers out to feel what it feels like at the end of the stretch. "Can I handle this stretch or more, if it were sustained?  Sustained for how long?  What' s my limit? It doesn’t take long to see whether a person is serious about getting out of pain with Rossiter.  Some people are always testing, while others rarely test themselves. If we like the feeling in our arm or leg AFTER the test, we usually will continue the stretching. 

Each new movement we push the PIC through recreates a movement they needed to regain the correct order to take out the dent or “bent-ness”.  Movement in multiple dimensions must recreate the movement that is normal and natural to that area of the body. 


The last part of this whole process is Power.  You maximize the stretch of each and every part of the connective tissue in any area by adding weight to the body. I remember the thought process I had as a beginning Rolfer. I knew I had to push him that way because that’s the way he needed to be pushed. Now, after all these years, to me that was pompous! If you can deliver pure energy in the form of weight to a PIC’s body, wouldn’t the body know more about what IT needed to do with that energy? I gave up trying to put things anywhere and just gave the body the energy the PIC was willing to invest in the situation for their own recovery.  This created Power, the amount of weight to be delivered was simple.  Ask them to take as much as they can and still be able to move the full distance you ask them to go.  No more, no less.  

These 4 things together create the most powerful results you can ever expect to get. This means to get the maximum results, the Coach or practitioner should use only the weight of their own body.  If you are small, wear a weight belt.  Never push, if possible. the more engaged the PIC is, through their own tension, will again amp up the results. By delivering simple weight or energy to a problem, the PIC's body inherently will know what it needs and move accordingly. If the problem is the connective tissue, then the problem will almost immediately start to resolve itself.  How do know if this is the solution?  Ask them if the pain went away. 

[V. Applications and Relationship to SI]

The Rossiter System is not Rolfing SI. It is, however, a body of work derived from my training and experience as a Rolfer.  It enlists the traditional ideas of (i) working with the whole fascial net; (ii) using gravity (i.e., weight and the client's sense of it); and (iii) tapping into the client's capacity to self-organize. (yes)

This is TDMP, it's everything in Quantum Pain Relief®, PainSlayer® and PainSlayer Series, and the Rossiter System® that makes it all happen. Each is designed for what it is YOU want to do with the stretches.  So to do all of this, we’ve created systems of bringing people up through a series of powerful stretches. Do you want a strict pain practice?  Do you want to go into companies and help them get their employees out of pain?  Do you want to become an extreme player in the preventative athletic pain game where instead of removing the pain you are now preventing pain through the PainSlayer Series?  There are solutions for every area you may want to use them in.   All have the same base of information. All deal with the pain