Rolfing, also called "structural integration", is a form of bodywork developed by an American, Dr Ida Rolf in the 1940's. It is based on Dr Rolf's knowledge in yoga, Alexander technique and osteopathy, and her strong belief in the connection between the body and gravity. According to Dr Rolf daily disturbances such as stress, injuries, bad postures or emotional disturbances cause the body to be out of alignment with gravity, this can result in chronic pain, psychological and physiological impairments; people have to subconsciously compensate and cope with these limitations by breathing or moving less easily.


Rolfing involves manipulation and movement education. Dr Rolf explained that by using manipulation techniques the body could be re-balanced in gravity. Rolfing differs from traditional massage in that it does not focus on the muscles but on the connective tissue which forms their protective layer. This net of fine, elastic tissues, also called fascia, surrounds the muscles, bones and organs and connects all other tissues together. If the body is in disharmony with gravity the fascia becomes shorter, it hardens and loses pliability so that movement gradually becomes restricted, this can affect other parts of the body together. Dr Rolf believed that most individuals experience hard connective tissue because their body is not in alignment with gravity.

A session

The therapy consists of 10 sessions of 1 hour each. During a session therapists evaluate their client’s posture by looking at them, sometimes they also take photos in order to assess any improvement. The client lies on a padded table, the therapist applies firm pressure with his/her knuckles, elbows and fingers. Rolfers believe that manipulating the tissues will lengthen and reposition the fascia which will soften the muscles and remould them. Some Rolfers believe that manipulation turns the muscles into a liquid substance which makes them more malleable and therefore easier to re-shape. Therapists work on a different part of the body during each session, they also teach their client to be aware of their usual posture and any tension in their body as well as their breathing and energy levels.

The result at the end of the treatment is a feeling of being taller and slimmer; clients generally have an upright posture, it is as if the body was being stretched; breathing is increased and it becomes deeper, sometimes clients also experience a release of emotions. These results are said to last after the final session. Like in deep muscle, massage sessions can be uncomfortable, according to Rolfers pain may occur when the fascia is released however this feeling doesn’t last long. Rolfing is very popular with actors, singers and sports people.

Conditions that may respond to Rolfing

Back pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cerebral palsy
Muscle pain
Neck pain
Period pain
Post childbirth
Postural problems
Respiratory problems
Shoulder pain
Sports injuries
Stress-related problems


A study by RS Weinberg in 1979 showed that Rolfing caused a decrease in anxiety.
Rolfing is not well documented by scientific research, some papers are available on the Rolf Institute website at www.Rolf.org or visit the Pubmed website at:


For a list of practitioners in the UK contact the following organisations:

The Rolf Institute
205 Canyon Boulevard
CO 80302
Tel: (001) 303 449 5903
(the Institute follows variations of Dr Rolf's techniques)

The Guild for Structural Integration
PO Box 1559
CO 80306
Tel: (001) 303 447 0122
The Guild was founded by Dr Rolf

European Rolfing Association
Kapuzinerstr. 25
80337 München
Tel: (00 49) 89 543 709 40

We have not necessarily read the following books and cannot say how easy it will be to get them from local bookstores or libraries.

- Rolf I., Thompson R. Rolfing: Re-establishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being. ISBN: 0892813350

- Bond M. Balancing Your Body: a self-help approach to Rolfing Movement. ISBN: 0892816422

- Spiegel R. Bodies, Health and Consciousness: A Guide to Living Successfully in Your Body through Rolfing and Yoga. ISBN: 0963782401

-http://www.fromept.com/ A therapy centre
-http://www.rolfing-ab.com/ Alberta Rolf’s website
-http://www.pagegallery.co.uk/rolfing/index.htm A therapist’s website

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