Structural Integration

Referring to her theories as structural integration, Dr. Rolf designed a deliberate, structured system to reorganize and manipulate connective tissue and fascia. Her series of 10 sessions focuses on different parts of the body, using breath work and deep pressure to restore alignment, improve movement and posture, decrease stress, and increase overall well-being. Each rolfing session builds on the previous, allowing practitioners to fully address problematic patterns.

Rolfing Ten Series

The rolfing “Ten Series” can be broken into three steps, as follows:

1) The first three sessions or “sleeve” sessions focus on the arms, chest, abdominal wall, diaphragm, back, and neck; they focus on balancing and loosening surface layers of connective tissue and aligning the head, shoulders, hips, and buttocks

3) The next four “core” sessions target the head down to the pelvis and the deep tissue of the legs

4) The final three sessions, called “integration,” are designed to restore and improve balance, movement, and coordination

Conditions Treated by Rolfing

Rolfing has multiple applications and benefits and can be used to:

  • Ease stress
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Decrease back, neck, and shoulder tension
  • Increase muscular efficiency
  • Break body patterns that contribute to discomfort
  • Improve posture
  • Correct curvature of the spine
  • Promote full chest expansion, i.e. for asthmatics
  • Help TMJ by relaxing tissues causing jaw pain
  • Treat carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Address neurological impairments via structural realignment
  • Rehabilitate injuries
  • Increase range of motion
  • Prevent repetitive stress injuries

Rolfing vs. Deep Tissue Massage

Rolfing differs from deep tissue massage in a number of ways:

  • While massage focuses on relaxation and relief of muscular discomfort, rolfing focuses on improving alignment and functioning
  • While massage focuses on areas of tension, rolfing works to create ease and balance throughout the entire structure

Rolfing Practitioners and Credentials

The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado, oversees and certifies rolfing practitioners. To receive certification in the rolfing technique, candidates must complete over 600 hours of course work and can further become certified in Advanced Rolfing. Practitioners can them deem themselves a ‘certifired rolfer’ or a ‘certified advanced rolfer’ (CR or CAR). For a list of qualified practitioners in your area, visit the website.