Rolfing is a system of fascial manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity. Rolfing affects the body’s posture and structure by manipulating the myofascial system (connective tissue). Research has demonstrated that Rolfing creates more efficient muscle use, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. Rolfing has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic stress, reduce spinal curvature in subjects with lordosis (sway back), and enhance neurological functioning.
People seek Rolfing as a way to reduce pain and chronic stress, generally resulting from physical and emotional traumas. Rolfing is used by many professional athletes, dancers and entertainers to improve performance. Some manufacturing companies have employed Rolfing to decrease workers’ compensation costs due to repetitive stress injuries. And, based on the mind/body connection, many counselors and therapists are incorporating Rolfing in the therapeutic approach. Greater physical support and flexibility ultimately influences emotions and energy levels.
What are the origins of Rolfing?
Rolfing Structural Integration is named after its creator, Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Dr. Rolf received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1920 and furthered her knowledge of the body through her scientific work in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute. Her extensive search for solutions to family health problems led her to examine many systems that studied the effect of structure on function, including yoga, osteopathy and chiropractic medicine. Dr. Rolf combined her research with her scientific knowledge to stimulate a deeper appreciation of the body’s structural order, resulting in the theory and practice of Rolfing. There are more than 2,100 Certified Rolfers worldwide. The Rolf Institute’s international headquarters is located in Boulder, Colorado.
How is Rolfing Different from Massage?
Through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long-term. Massage typically focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, while Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and functioning. As structure becomes more organized, chronic strain patterns are alleviated, and pain and stress decreases.
Furthermore, Rolfing can speed up injury recovery by reducing pain, stiffness and muscle tension; improving movement and circulation around joints; and attending to both the injury and any secondary pain that may develop from favoring the injury.
Rolfing is generally performed over a series of ten sessions. This approach allows the Rolfer to affect the client’s structure in a methodical manner. This includes loosening superficial fascia before working deeper areas, improving support in feet and legs before affecting higher structures, and helping clients find ways to benefit from freer movement in their daily activities.
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 Rolf Movement practitioners, to carry on research, and to provide information to the public. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, the Rolf Institute is the only school accredited to teach Rolfing and is the sole certifying body for Rolfers. Only individuals trained and certified by the Rolf Institute may use the Rolfing service mark.
Successful applicants complete a training program that usually requires two years of study. Advanced training is usually undertaken within four to seven years after basic training. Continuing education is required as long as a Rolfer is practicing. The training includes the biological sciences, the theory of Rolfing, and extensive clinical work under supervision.
To learn more about how Rolfing® works and the benefits of Rolfing, please visit the Rolf Institute® website.