Rolfing Structural Integration

Rolfing® Structural Integration

“Some individuals may perceive their losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in their back, others as the unflattering contour of their body, others as constant fatigue, yet others as an unrelentingly threatening environment. Those over forty may call it old age. And yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem so prominent in their own structure, as well as others, that it has been ignored: they are off balance, they are at war with gravity”.

-Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D.

What is Rolfing®?

The Rolf method of Structural Integration is a therapeutic process that balances the body in the field of gravity. The fascia of your body will be systematically manipulated through hands-on interactive techniques combining energy work, structural bodywork, stretching, and exercises.

Rolfing has the ability to dramatically alter a person’sposture and structure, resolving discomfort, releasing tension and alleviating pain. Rolfing aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.

Athletes, dancers, children, business professionals, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing.

How does Rolfing® work?

Fascia or connective tissue completely surrounds every joint, muscle, bone and organ and it gives shape and strength to our body. Hardened or shortened areas in this fascial web are caused by repeated patterns of use such as the way we walk, sit, stand or sleep as well as deep-seated emotional patterns. When fascia is healthy, it’s smooth coating permits neighboring structures to slide over one another. However, following inflammatory response or traumatic illness, manifestation of poor posture or emotional stress, or simply ongoing time may alter function and form. Layers adhere to one another and may become ‘glued’ together. They will no longer slide and work as they should, making the body work a lot harder to function; contributing to weariness and tension. Imbalances in the fascia occur where the stress is greatest, negatively affecting our body’s shape and movement patterns. You may begin to feel less flexible and less able to move freely as you once did. Pain is often the result. Rolfing works to release these holding patterns and to restore movement, function, and alignment.

How many sessions of Rolfing® do I need?

Rolfing is usually done in a series of 10 sessions, spaced from 1 – 3 weeks apart (Additional sessions are sometimes recommended when chronic problems exist) in order for the Rolfer to fully address the entire body, but clients can come for fewer sessions. A series of 3 sessions will generally provide the Rolfer and client with enough information to determine if Rolfing is right for the client and address isolated concerns, but they are welcome to try one session as well. This can still be very beneficial in isolation yet will not be detrimental to the client. Obviously, the full potential of Rolfing won’t be realized until a full series is conducted.

[learn_more caption=”The 10 Series Developed by Dr. Rolf”]

The 10 Series developed by Dr. Rolf focuses on the following:

Gentle Varied Touch

Some people may experience deep myofascial work as uncomfortable; however a broad range of techniques are utilized that produce profound results with less discomfort.

Joint Mobilization

A range of soft tissue techniques release the motion restrictions that impede whole body organization and cause many common structural problems.

Personal Experience

Rolfing is a holistic technique such that changes in structure can impact the whole person physically, emotionally, and energetically. Ultimately, each client’s individual experience plays a central role in their body’s transformation.

The Integration of Structure and Function

Poor movement patterns are corrected as a client’s structure improves. The client becomes aware of their inhibiting movement patterns and is taught how to change. Rolfing is as concerned with how people experience and use their bodies as with their structural organization in gravity.

Throughout treatment, you’ll get a chance to walk around, evaluate your experience, note changes, and provide input for continuing the process. Time is also dedicated to movement education and training in the form of body awareness techniques, stretching and toning exercises, ergonomic considerations, and healthy sitting, standing, and walking practices. Movement homework is often provided.

Overview of Each Session: The first three sessions work through the superficial layers or ‘body stocking’ of the body.

Session 1

Focuses on creating a “breathing” thorax by loosening the rib cage. shoulders, chest, lower back, & pelvis. The sleeves of the legs and arms are also freed.

Session 2

Is for laying a good and stable foundation for the whole body structure. Opening the breath changes the physical demands of the feet, so we create flexibility and adaptability there so that the whole body can feel supported.

Session 3

Opens up the sidelines of the body: From the head & neck all the way down to the toes. This session gives you the feeling of being put together, of resting more comfortably on Earth, and having a more elongated body.

Session 4

Concentrates on finding support through the ankles up along the inner leg before accessing the core from the bottom. The core begins from the base of the pelvis up through the roof of the mouth.

Session 5

We access the core from the front. We focus on the deep tissues dealing with the front of the spine and core space to establish flexibility in the low back. By increasing mobility in the pelvis, balance & congruence are created for the spinal column.

Session 6

Focuses on the back or posterior side from heels to head. Loosening of the pelvis in this session helps to free the sacrum or “seat of the soul”, “Keystone of the body” – & thus moves trapped energy which may not have been able to circulate.


Sessions 4, 5 and 6 are best done in succession because of all the internal working together of the inner legs, abdomen, and pelvic girdle.

Session 7

We access the core from the top in this session and release the head and neck and align it with the rest of the body, all the way to the ground. All parts of the body now become centered around the “core” line of the spine.

Session 8

We Integrate the upper/lower body. Depending on the needs that present themselves, we solidify changes in the upper or lower body. Integration sessions help reprogram movements and make changes last.

Session 9

We Integrate the upper/lower body. Changes in the other part of the body are reviewed in light of the changes of the previous session.

Session 10

is integration of the whole being through final balancing. This is a fine- tuning of relationships between body segments. We coordinate soft tissue movement across multiple joints so that movement can be unfettered and as free as possible.

The effects of a Rolfing series will then continue to mature for an additional 6-12 months as your body undergoes it’s own unique adjustment process to the changes initiated by Rolfing.


Does Rolfing® last?

Yes. Changes from the basic series are still present many years after the series is complete. On the other hand, as bodies change, and people have further injuries, accidents or stressful times, additional work may be useful.

How is Rolfing® different than Chiropractic?

Traditional Chiropractic has had its focus on bones and the skeletal system and typically uses high velocity thrusting methods. However, unless the tension and strain in the soft tissue (fascia, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) is addressed, the bones will continue to be pulled out of alignment. Rolfing, on the other hand, involves slower sustained pressures and addresses the entire bed of soft tissue in which the bones are embedded. The goal is to achieve balanced tension, which allows the bones to fall back into their proper relationships naturally. Our experience is that Chiropractic and Rolfing can work well together and are complementary disciplines.

Rolfing Riddles
Rolfing Riddles – Demonstrates Structural Breakdown

How is Rolfing® Different than Massage?

Although at times Rolfing and Massage may feel similar they differ in both the goals and the results. The Rolfer will create a strategy for the sessions to permanently change the client’s structure to function better within gravity and educate the client to use their bodies in a more efficient manner. The client will also be much more active in a Rolfing session, as they will be asked to perform specific movements to assist with the Rolfing process. Generally, there will be less strategy in a massage session and more emphasis on releasing individual muscles opposed to re-balancing the body as a whole. During a Rolfing session the client may be asked to briefly stand and walk to experience and embody the shifts that occur.

What should I wear?

Most clients receive work in their underclothing. Briefs are best for men; exercise shorts and bra work well for women. If you’re not comfortable with this level of undress, other options are available. Remember that Rolfing requires you to get up from the table and walk around periodically. Clothing should allow the ability to view and work around your upper legs, mid-back, and neck. Avoid garments containing lycra because it is difficult to work through.

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