Rolfing® – What Is It?

Rolfing® Structural Integration is a form of therapeutic bodywork developed in the middle of the 20th century by Ida Rolf, considered by many to be a pioneering genius. Structural Integration, as developed by Ida Rolf, is a ten-session cycle of treatment that balances myofascial relationships with the goal of normalizing movement. With normalization of movement may come a number of other beneficial changes including reduction or elimination of pain, settling of emotional turmoil, and improvement in overall vitality.

Who Benefits from Rolfing®?

All kinds of people in all kinds of professions can benefit from Rolfing®. Besides the general benefits mentioned above, each person may have his or her own specific goals which we discuss before beginning the series. Musicians, athletes, and workers may have restrictions that render their activities less enjoyable than they could be. People are often aging with their structural and postural patterns stuck in some form of discomfort. Young people can have postural tendencies that may be developing into patterns of discomfort. Anyone can simply want to feel more free.

Rolfing® Session Description

Rolfing® sessions last between 60 and 90 minutes. There is no “rule” about the length of a session.

For Rolfing®, the client usually wears clothing that will allow them to stand up and walk around to appreciate the changes, report how they feel, or to allow the practitioner to observe the changes and decide how next to work.

Rolfing® has developed a reputation for being painful. Every single person I have “Rolfed” has asked the pain question. My experience is that pacing is all. If an area is addressed slowly and respectfully, the felt intensity, when and if it occurs, is not experienced as pain. There might be a few minutes of intensity in a Rolfing® session. Occasionally there is more. More often, there is none.

Rolfing® vs. Massage

Rolfing® is not the same as massage, although it shares some attributes with massage. Both Rolfing® and massage are relaxing, benefit circulation and basically feel good.

Rolfers work towards freedom of movement by specifically changing the person’s relationship to gravity through reorganization of the fascia, ungluing it where it is stuck. These changes are profound and lasting. They build upon each other, session by session.

Changes also may manifest in differences in a person’s self-awareness, mood, and attitudes. In this way, Rolfing’s effect differs from the temporary effect of most massage work.

Rolfing® Process

The beginning series of 10 sessions, typically given once a week, can be augmented by the fine-tuning of later, “post-10” sessions.

If a person is not comfortable with the idea of 10 sessions, the first three sessions provide a logical series that, although it does not go as thoroughly into a person’s structure, is balanced and beneficial.

These 10-session and 3-session programs are typical ways to start structural integration. There are many variations on the ways structural integration can continue. Some people with repetitive stress, such as athletes or office workers, choose to continue with regular sessions.

Rolfing® Resources

If you wish to learn more about Rolfing®, you may contact the Rolf Institute in Boulder Colorado, or read one of Ida Rolf’s books. A good book that inspires and is short is “Ida Rolf Talks”. A good book that is more densely informative is “Rolfing – Reestablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human body for Vitality and Well-being”.