What is Rolfing® Structural Integration?

Rolfing logoNamed after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body.

More than fifty years ago, Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.

Essentially, the Rolfing process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and your freedom of movement.

What is the difference between Rolfing and Massage?

Rolfing Structural Integration is not a form of massage

One of the most common misconceptions about Rolfing SI is that it is a nothing more than a type of very deep massage. There are many varieties of massage, which are particularly effective for loosening tight tissue, reducing stress, detoxing the body and an increased feeling of relaxation and well-being. Since these benefits are also a byproduct of Rolfing SI, the general public experiences confusion as to the precise difference between our work and the proliferation of effective touch modalities currently available.


Rolfing SI balances the body in gravity

Ray McCall, a Certified Advanced Rolfer in Boulder and former student of Dr. Rolf, once said that what Rolfers™ do can be summed up in three words: palpation, discrimination and integration.

We palpate, or touch the tissue, feeling for imbalances in tissue texture, quality and temperature to determine where we need to work.

We discriminate, or separate fascial layers that adhere and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury.

Finally, we integrate the body, relating its segments in an improved relationship, bringing physical balance in the gravitational field.

Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, are quite good at the first two, but do not balance the body in gravity.


Rolfing SI reshapes and reorganises

As Dr. Rolf used to say: “Anyone can take a body apart, very few know how to put it back together.” The true genius of her method is the art and science of reshaping and reorganising human structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner.


Rolfing can teach you to help yourself function more effectively

In addition to our skill as structural integrators, Rolfers are also educators, a point Dr. Rolf stressed frequently in her training classes.

The role of teacher is something every Rolfer takes seriously. In each session, Rolfers seek to impart insights to clients to increase their awareness and understanding, to help the client make the work we do their own. Our job is to make ourselves obsolete, by empowering our clients to take charge of their own physical and emotional health. Influencing the structural evolution of man on a global level was Dr. Rolf’s fondest dream.

About Dr. Ida. P. Rolf (1896 - 1979)

Dr Ida RolfRolfing was the “creation” of Dr Ida P. Rolf, and has evolved over a 50-year period. Starting with an early family illness Dr. Rolf began to study the work of the early Osteopaths, and the pioneers who brought yoga from the east. She was a researcher at heart having graduated with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1916, which lead to a career in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute. It was this strong foundation, willingness to learn, and down right curiosity that led to some fundamental additions to the understanding of human movement potential.

Up until the 1950’s the body of work was yet to be taught to others. After realizing what she had to offer, Dr. Rolf began teaching what was then known as Structural Integration; with her earliest students being Osteopaths, Chiropractors and pre med. Students. Looking for a group of people who would follow her method of understanding the body, Dr. Rolf created the Rolf Institute in 1971 and began a program teaching that became known as Rolfing (Structural Integration). She looked for students who were willing to work within a window of understanding that would allow Rolfing to evolve as a discipline of its own, not an adjunct or a subject within another school of thought.

This proved to be a fruitful choice as the Rolf Institute has produced over 1200 Rolfers and Rolf Movement Practitioners globally; and has satellite schools in Germany and Brazil.

History of the Rolfing Little Boy Logo

Rolfing logoThe logo which represents Rolfing is based on actual before and after photos of a 4 year old boy, Tim, who was rolfed by Dr.Rolf in 1959. Diagnosed as having Legg-Perthes disease, the child, was told that he would be wheel chair bound by the age of 20. 

His mother made a difficult and courageous decision to have Dr.Rolf work on her son, instead of following the doctors’ advice to put him in a cast for five years. This proved to be the correct choice as Tim went on to be a champion surfer in high school and college.