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Manipulative and body-based methods - edit
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Mind-Body Intervention
  3. Biologically Based Therapy
  4. Manipulative Methods
  5. Energy Therapy
See also
  (Redirected from Structural Integration)
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Not to be confused with ralphing. ‹See Tfd›

Rolfing is a massage therapy marketed by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration (RISI).[1] The Institute states that Rolfing is a "holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity".[1][2][3] Rolfing is essentially identical to Structural Integration,[4] whereby a forceful massage technique is used in an attempt to reposition tissues under the skin.[5]

There is no evidence Rolfing is effective for the treatment of any health condition.[6]


Rolfing is of no benefit in treating disease.[6]


Ida Pauline Rolf began working on massage in New York in the 1930s with the premise that the human structure could be organized in relation to gravity and that this might benefit the chronically disabled unable to find help elsewhere.[1] By the 1950s Rolf was teaching Postural Release.[1] The method Rolf developed, involving a programme of deep-tissue massages, was originally called Postural Release and later Structural Integration but became known as Rolfing. In 1971 she founded the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.[1][7]

Structural Integration incorporates a number of varied techniques and theories including osteopathy,[8] (including cranial osteopathy), chiropractic, yoga,[9] and Korzybski’s general semantics.[10]

Theory and practice[edit]

Manipulative and body-based methods - edit
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Mind-Body Intervention
  3. Biologically Based Therapy
  4. Manipulative Methods
  5. Energy Therapy
See also

Rolfing is typically performed in a progression of 10 sessions, sometimes called "the recipe," which is claimed to provide a systematic approach to address goals for the theorized alignment and movement of various body areas. [11] The purported purpose is to educate the body to have better alignment within gravity.[8][12] [13] Rolfers manipulate the body to move the fascia until they believe it is operating in conjunction with the muscles in a more optimal relationship.[14][15] In addition to physical manipulation of tissue, Rolfing uses a combination of active and passive movement retraining. [12]

Skeletal muscles often work in opposing pairs called the "agonist" and the "antagonist", the one contracting while the other relaxes. Rolf theorized that "bound up" fasciae (connective tissues) often restrict opposing muscles from functioning in concert. She aimed to separate the fibers of bound up fasciae manually to loosen them and allow effective movement. She claimed to have found an association between pent-up emotions and tension in muscles.[16] This claim of a muscular/emotional connection is not supported by scientific studies.[16]

Rolfing is a forceful technique in which a practitioner will use their whole body to apply pressure.[5] Some clients find Rolfing painful but it has become a more gentle practice than in its early days.[17] On The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007 Mehmet Oz likened Rolfing to having someone do yoga for you.[18]

The Guild for Structural Integration certifies graduates under the title "Practitioners of the Rolf Method of Structural Integration."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Myers, Thomas W. (2004). "Structural integration -- Developments in Ida Rolf's 'Recipe'-- I". Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 8 (2): 131–42. doi:10.1016/S1360-8592(03)00088-3. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "About Rolfing". Archived from the original on 2005-02-10. 
  3. ^ "What is Rolfing Structural Integration?". The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. [full citation needed][non-primary source needed]
  4. ^ Sherman, Karen J.; Dixon, Marian W.; Thompson, Diana; Cherkin, Daniel C. (2006). "Development of a taxonomy to describe massage treatments for musculoskeletal pain". BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 6: 24. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-24. PMC 1544351. PMID 16796753. 
  5. ^ a b Singh, Simon; Ernst, Edzard (2008). Trick Or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine. W. W. Norton. p. 316. ISBN 9780393066616. 
  6. ^ a b Jones, Tracey A. (2004). "Rolfing". Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America 15 (4): 799–809, vi. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2004.03.008. PMID 15458753. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ "Business Search (search for 'Rolf Institute')". Secretary of State, CA. 
  8. ^ a b Salvo, Susan G. (2012). Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice (4th ed.). Elsevier Saunders. p. 423. ISBN 1437719775. 
  9. ^ Stirling, Isabel (2006). Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki. Shoemaker & Hoard. p. 8. ISBN 9781593761103. 
  10. ^ "Dr. Ida Rolf". [non-primary source needed]
  11. ^ Deutsch, Judith E. (2008). "The Ida Rolf Method of Structural Integration". In Deutsch, Judith E. Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy: A Clinical Decision-Making Approach. Saunders. pp. 266–7. ISBN 0721601111. 
  12. ^ a b Schultz, Richard Louis; Feitis, Rosemary (1996). The Endless Web: Fascial Anatomy and Physical Reality. North Atlantic Books. p. 33. ISBN 1556432283. 
  13. ^ Baer, Hans (2004). Toward an Integrative Medicine: Merging Alternative Therapies with Biomedicine. Rowman Altamira. p. 164. ISBN 9780759103023. 
  14. ^ Daniels, Rick; Nicoll, Leslie, eds. (2011). "Ch. 14: Complementary and Alternative Therapies". Contemporary Medical-Surgical Nursing 1 (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 306. ISBN 1439058660. 
  15. ^ Rolf, Ida. Reestablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being. p. 15. ISBN 0892813350. [non-primary source needed]
  16. ^ a b Carroll, Robert Todd (22 January 2014). "Rolfing". The Skeptic's Dictionary (Online ed.). ISBN 9780471272427. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  17. ^ "Does Rolfing Hurt?". (FAQ 6). Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. [non-primary source needed]
  18. ^ Considine, Austin (6 October 2010). "Rolfing, excruciatingly helpful". New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 

External links[edit]