What is Rolfing®?
Rolfing® is an original and scientifically validated system of body restructuring and movement education. It releases the body’s segments – legs, torso, arms, etc. – from life long patterns of tension and bracing and permits gravity to realign them. Of all the forces affecting the human body gravity is the most powerful. Body misalignment in gravity results in chronic strain, lowered vitality and impaired biological and psychological functioning. Because the body is better balanced after Rolfing® it expends less vital energy against gravity. This biological energy efficiency is often experienced as a higher level of alertness and vitality. Movement becomes easier and overall personal functioning tends to improve.
Rolfing® is Useful For:
- Sway back
- Rounded shoulders
- Head too far forward
- Tilted Pelvis
- Foot problems
- Knee problems
- Athletic and dance injury treatment and prevention
- Athletic and dance performance enhancement
- Flexibility improvement
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Chronic pain of many kinds
- And many other conditions
The following text is adapted from a Rolf Institute brochure titled:
Rolfing® Structural Integration
An Approach Toward The Whole Human Being
“As in all matter organized into biological units, there is a pattern, an order, in human bodies…Rolfers make a life study of relating bodies and their fields to the earth and its gravity field, and we so organize the body that the gravity field can reinforce the body’s energy field.”
-Dr. Ida P. Rolf
…Toward The Whole Human Being
A human being is more than a collection of parts. There is a pattern, an order, in human bodies. That pattern – how parts fit and work together as a whole – is a basic factor in well-being or its lack.
Rolfing® structural integration promotes well-being by enhancing the body’s pattern of organization. It balances the body in gravity and enables participants to function at successively higher levels of efficiency and ease.
What is Rolfing®?
Rolfing® is an original and scientifically validated system of body restructuring and movement education. It releases the body’s segments – legs, torso, arms etc. – from life-long patterns of tension and bracing and permits gravity to re-align them. By doing so, it balances the body. Of all the forces affecting the human body gravity is among the most powerful. Body misalignment in gravity results in chronic strain, lowered vitality and impaired biological and psychological functioning.
Because the body is better-balanced after Rolfing®, it expends less of its vital energies against gravity. This biological energy efficiency is often experienced as a higher level of alertness and vitality. Movement becomes easier and overall personal functioning tends to improve.
Photographs taken before session 1 (on the right) and after session 10 document the changes that take place in the course of a Rolfing® series.
People of all ages come to Rolfing® for help with neck pain, back problems, impaired mobility and other difficulties which originate with internal strains. Others seek to improve appearance, to improve athletic performance, and to enhance personal growth toward a fuller realization of their potential.
Rolfing® results in a feeling of fitness and wholeness. People who have been Rolfed stand and move with more surety and grace than before.
Because gravity exerts its force evenly, it tends to create strain in unbalanced bodies and to support balanced ones.
How Does Rolfing® Align the Body?
To align the body segments, Rolfing® systematically organizes the body’s soft connective tissue network.
This Connective Tissue network, known as the myofascial system, is “the organ of structure” in the body. It supports the skeleton and soft tissues, positions the bones, determines the direction of muscle pulls and of movement, and gives the body its shape.
Fascia, the body’s “organ of structure” is laid down along lines of strain. It supports the body and gives it the shape it has.
The human body holds itself erect with pairs of muscle groups functioning within a network of fascial sheaths. These pairs normally function in an antagonist relationship with one another. When none of the pair contracts the other must extend to maintain proper balance. (Photo by P. Fairchild)
If that relationship is impaired through injury or chronic tension in one of the groups, the fascia conforms to the shortening and the rest of the body must compensate to maintain balance.
The job of Rolfing® is to free the shortened fascia, allow the muscles to return to a balanced relationship and the body to release the compensations. When the myofascial system is organized, gravity causes it to
The Rolfing® Basics
A Rolfer™ starts by evaluating the client’s structure and may take photographs for later reference. The client is then asked to lie on the table, as the Rolfer™ sensitively applies just the right amount of pressure where the fascia is restricted.
Rolfers™ don’t just work with connective tissue: they work with rhythms of respiration and other responses of the body. They also educate the client in ways of using the new-found freedom.
The client may be asked to breathe into the area being worked and / or to make synchronized movements. The combination of applied pressure and synchronized responses frees and repositions the connective tissue and aligns the body’s segments.
The combination of applied pressure and synchronized movements by the client frees and repositions the connective tissue and permits the body segments to realign.
Each Rolfing® session builds upon the results of the previous one, so that the results are cumulative. Each treatment session removes strain from specific areas of the body and at the same time organizes and aligns the body as a whole, resulting in better balance, enhanced freedom of movement, and a higher energy level.
Sessions last up to one hour including transition into & out of the appointment. The amount of time between sessions varies and is determined on an individual basis. The average spacing is about two to four weeks.
Are There Psychological Results from Rolfing®?
While Rolfing® is primarily concerned with structural changes, any change in the physical body affects the whole person. A human being is comprised of many aspects – attitude, emotions, behavior, and structure. Each is related to all the others.
Rolfing® clients often report positive changes in their outlook on life and in their ability to handle emotional changes.
Dr. Ida P. Rolf the originator of Rolfing® and founder of the Rolf Institute, works on a young client.
Rolfing® and Research
Several scientific studies of Rolfing® have been conducted. For example, in a controlled study at the UCLA Department of Kinesiology Drs. Valerie V. Hunt and Wayne W. Massey established that the aim of Rolfing®, “to create and maintain a more balanced energy system which conserves energy rather than expends it,” was, in fact achieved They found that,
1. Movements were smoother, larger and less constrained.
2. There were less extraneous movements.
3. body movements were more dynamic and energetic.
4. Carriage was more erect and there was less obvious strain to maintain held positions.”
Other research projects include a study of Rolfing® and its positive effects on the autonomic nervous system published in Physical Therapy, the journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, March 1988, issue.
Abstracts of these studies are available through the Rolf Institute.
Leon Fleisher and Rolfing® Structural Integration
How Does Rolfing® Feel?
Sensations in the area being worked may range from almost no sensation to momentary discomfort. At time there may be little sensation at all. How you will feel during Rolfing® depends on several factors such as injuries to the area or tension caused by chronic stress.
After Rolfing®, people report feeling lighter and better balanced. Movement feels easier, as if the joints have been lubricated. Feelings of well-being reflect the body’s higher energy level.
Chronic symptoms sometimes disappear during a session or gradually in the days or weeks following treatment.
Does Rolfing® Last?
Yes. Photographs show that the changes from Rolfing® are still present many years after the treatment is complete.
On the Other hand, as bodies change, and people sometimes have injuries, accidents and stressful times, additional work may be useful.
Rolfing® Structural Integration and the Vikings
About the Rolf Institute®
The Rolf Institute® was founded in 1971 to carry on Dr. Rolf’s work. Its major purposes are to train Rolfers™ and Rolfing® Movement teachers, to carry on research and to provide information to the public. Only individuals trained and certified by the Rolf Institute® may use the Rolfing® service mark.
The Rolfing® Training
The Rolf Institute® conducts trainings in Rolfing® for individuals who have completed the required coursework in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology, have demonstrated an ability in hands on work such as massage or physical therapy, and who have the maturity and sensitivity to work with people using this technique.
Information about Rolfing® and Rolfing® Movement Integration is available from the Rolf Institute® and Includes
Original literature written by Dr. Ida Rolf
The results of continuing scientific research studies
Video tapes on Rolfing®
Articles from popular magazines
A directory of Rolfers™ and Rolfing® Movement teachers
Information about training as a Rolfer™ or Rolfing® Movement Teacher
Rolfing® is a service mark of the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute
Rolfing® Structural Integration at Starkey Laboratories