What is Rolfing Structural Integration?

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Many of us have ventured out to try massage from a local massage therapist, and often with great results. However, for those looking for more than relaxation and would like to experience more flexibility, freedom from chronic pain, stand taller, attain better posture, there are other alternatives. One such alternative is the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, otherwise known as Rolfing®.

Rolfing® is an original and scientifically validated holistic system of bodywork and movement education. It releases the body’s segments – arms, legs, torso, and neck from patterns of tension and bracing in a systematic and scientifically validated manner.

Rolfers work specifically with the connective tissue that wraps the muscles, called “fascia”. It supports the skeleton and soft tissues, positions the bones, and gives the body its shape.

Accidents, injuries, chronic illness, physically demanding work, and emotional events including social and cultural conditioning, can create adhesions, twists, torsions, and chronic holding patterns within the fascia. As a result, the body’s structure can become misaligned in gravity. Postural misalignments result in chronic strain, lowered vitality, and impaired function.

A Rolfer evaluates each client diagnostically to determine what the patterns are in their body, and designs each session to suit the particular needs of the client. Since Rolfing® is a holistic technique, changes in structure may impact the whole person; physically, emotionally and energetically.

The body becomes better balanced through the Basic Rolfing® Series, and expends less of its vital energies against the force of gravity. This biological energy-efficiency is often experienced as a higher level of alertness and vitality. Movement becomes easier and overall personal functioning often improves.

After Rolfing®, people report feeling lighter and better balanced. Movements feel easier, graceful, and fluid, as if the joints have been lubricated. The body feels re-balanced and free from stress and chronic pain. Feelings of well-being reflect the body’s higher energy level. Many people report an enhanced self-image, increased self confidence and an increased positive attitude towards life.

Here is a quote from a recent client:

“After my Rolfing sessions I was amazed at the improvement in my balance and athleticism. It was like I had a whole new body. Rolfing greatly increased my range of motion and relieved the chronic pain and discomfort caused from the repetitive nature of pitching. Rolfing has helped me in all aspects of baseball and in my day to day life.”

How it works: the Rolfing® Series

The Basic Rolfing® series consists of ten sessions. Each Rolfing® session builds upon the results of the previous one, so that the results are cumulative. Typically sessions last from 60 to 90 minutes. The amount of time between sessions varies and is determined on an individual basis. The average spacing is one to two weeks.

The Rolfer begins by evaluating the client’s posture and movement, then the therapist and client establish goals for the series. The therapist is trained to recognize your body’s structural organizations in the evaluation in order to know how to work with your unique patterns.

After diagnostics are complete, you will then lie on the Rolfing table where the therapist will apply just the right amount of pressure where the fascia is restricted. During treatment, you may be asked to “breathe into” the area being worked on and/or make synchronized movements. The combination of applied pressure and synchronized responses frees and repositions the connective tissue, and aligns the body’s segments.

Your Rolfer will also work to educate you about how your body moves. You will correct movement habits that are not constructive, and learn ways in which you can enhance the benefits you gain from the Rolfing® series.

How does Rolfing® differ from Massage Therapy?

While Massage is meant to relax the body and mind, increase venous blood flow, flush toxins from the muscle tissue, and even lengthen tissue, Rolfing® looks to release connective tissue and muscle in order to facilitate lasting changes in posture and movement. Rolfing® works to re-organize the body’s structural relationships, achieving better alignment in gravity and more efficient motion. Rolfing® looks at structure and movement diagnostically, before and often after each session, in order to understand how to work with the client’s unique pattern.

For example, by addressing the feet and ankles, you may sense that you are more supported by the ground when you walk. This increase in stability carries up the entire body, all the way to the head, each time you take a step. By addressing the way the pelvis relates to the shoulders, and releasing any structural impediments, you may walk with more ease and less effort.

Some quick facts about Rolfing®:

  • There are 1360 Certified Rolfers in 26 countries, internationally.
  • In the U.S., Rolfers practice in nearly all 50 states, with concentrations on the East and West Coast and in Colorado.
  • Client population ranges from infancy to old age, and is distributed equally between genders.
  • It is estimated that more than 1 million people have received Rolfing work.
  • The Institute has centers in Europe, South America, Australia and Japan


Ari Globerman is a graduate of the Rolf Institute®, in Boulder Colorado, and also holds a BA in Psychology from Brandeis University. Ari is interested in functional anatomy, bio-mechanics, and how to apply the Rolf Structural Integration methodology to everyone’s unique patterns. Ari can be reached at: 561.346.2225, or at ari@arisrolfing.com. More information can be found on his site, at www.arisrolfing.com.