Article: Rolfing

Rolfing, also known as Structural Integration, is a codified series of soft tissue manipulation, which purports to organize soft tissue relationships, with the objectives of realigning the body structurally and harmonizing its fundamental movement patterns. This is said to enhance vitality and well-being.

Rolfing was developed in the early to mid 1950's by Ida Pauline Rolf (1896-1979). Rolf obtained her PhD in biochemistry in 1922; her dissertation concerned the chemistry of unsaturated phosphatides.

She proposed to develop a method of organizing the human structure in relationship with gravity, which she originally called Structural Integration of the Human Body. Early consumers of Structural Integration coined the word Rolfing from the surname of Ida Rolf. Since the early 1970's, Rolfing has been a service mark of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, the school founded by Rolf.

According to Rolf, bound up fascia (or 'connective tissue') often restricts opposing muscles from functioning independently from each other. She proposed to separate the bound up fascia by deeply separating the fibers manually, and by re-engaging effective movement patterns. Rolf states that an adequate knowledge of living anatomy and hands-on training are required in order to safely negotiate the appropriate manipulations and depths necessary to free up this bound-up fascia.

Rolfers often prescribe a certain number of sequenced sessions to gradually "unlock" the whole body, usually beginning with the muscles that control breathing. Some people find the experience of Rolfing painful. The Basic Series taught by Dr. Rolf contains ten sessions. A "tune-up series" of a variable number of sessions, and an "Advanced Series" of five sessions is also available, typically after a settling period of time.

Currently the Rolf Institute and a number of other schools, including the Guild for Structural Integration, IPSB Institute for Psycho-Structural Balancing, and Hellerwork Structural Integration, teach the method as presented by Rolf. Many modern modalities of "Deep-Tissue Bodywork" can trace their lineage back to Rolfing and the legacy of Ida Rolf's theories about the fascia.


Skeptics claim that the theories the program advances the idea that there is some sort of disharmony in body movement that can cause illness, and the idea of a connection between muscle movement and trapped emotional experiences are unproven, and that there is no medical value to the program over conventional exercise and massage after taking into account the placebo effect. [1]