What is Rolfing® Structural Integration?

Named after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body.

More than fifty years ago, Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.

Essentially, the Rolfing process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and your freedom of movement.

What are the benefits?

Rolfing Structural Integration has the ability to dramatically alter a person's posture and structure. Rolfing SI can potentially resolve discomfort, release tension and alleviate pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body. The genius of the work rests on Dr. Rolf’s insight that the body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is balanced in gravity.

Athletes, dancers, children, business professionals, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing SI. People seek Rolfing SI as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities. It's estimated that more than 1 million people have received Rolfing work.

Research has demonstrated that Rolfing SI creates a more efficient use of the muscles, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. Research also shows that Rolfing SI significantly reduces chronic stress and changes in the body structure. For example, a study showed that Rolfing SI significantly reduced the spinal curvature of subjects with lordosis (sway back); it also showed that Rolfing SI enhances neurological functioning.

How Rolfing® SI Works

Theory and Principles of Rolfing Structural Integration

The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration has continued Dr. Rolf's profound inquiry into how to enhance the whole person by organizing the body in gravity. Some of the more important developments of the work since Dr. Rolf's passing are also what now distinguishes Rolfing Structural Integration from all other forms of structural integration.

Some of these developments include:

Principles of Intervention

Rolfing SI training begins with a thorough presentation of the Ten-Series developed by Dr. Rolf. Over the years, The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration faculty have further articulated the principles on which the original series was based. By understanding these principles, it is now possible for practitioners to develop strategies of intervention that recognize the unique needs of the individual client and to work outside of the Ten-Series when appropriate.

Gentle Techniques

Over the past 40+ years The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration faculty have developed a wide range of techniques for working within the client's level of comfort while producing even more profound results. Rolfers are taught to empower clients through communication and to respond appropriately to client feedback, establishing a safe pace and comfortable depth of work for each client.

Joint Mobilization Techniques

The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration faculty has developed a range of soft tissue techniques to release articular motion restrictions that impede whole body organization. These skills and techniques increase the Rolfer's effectiveness in working with many common structural problems.

The Personal Experience

Because Rolfing SI is a holistic technique, it recognizes that changes in structure will impact the whole person, physically, emotionally, and energetically. The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration recognizes that, ultimately, it is the person's own experience of the work that is of primary importance. This plays a central role in the transformational aspects and potential of Rolfing Structural Integration.

The Integration of Structure and Function through Rolf Movement® Integration

While in Rolfing Structural Integration, the Rolfer works with the client to release structural conflicts and allow free, fluid movement, Rolf Movement Integration, helps clients become aware of their inhibiting and limiting movement patterns and offers more efficient ways to perform daily activities. Rolfing SI is equally concerned with how people actually experience and use their bodies every day as with their structural organization in gravity. This unique blend of both, the functional and structural aspects of Rolfing SI, is a distinctive feature of the training at RISI.

“The body process is not linear, it is circular . . . One thing goes awry, and its effects go on and on and on and on. A body is a web, connecting everything with everything else.” – Ida P. Rolf

“We are not truly upright, we are only on our way to being upright. This is a metaphysical consideration. One of the jobs of a Rolfer is to speed that process along. We want to get a man out of the place where gravity is his enemy. We want to get him into the place where gravity reinforces him and is a friend, a nourishing force.” – I.P.R.

Dr. Rolf photo courtesy of David Campbell

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© Breana Larson