Rolfing is a type of deep tissue manipulation that aims to relieve tension and treat medical conditions. Proponents claim that it reorganizes connective tissue, or fascia, resulting in health benefits. However, there is a lack of evidence to support this claim.
Fascia is a type of tissue that surrounds muscles, nerves and organs. Rolfing’s inventor, Dr. Ida Rolf, believed that working with this fabric could correct misalignments, which she believed to be the cause of various health problems.
In this article, we look at Rolfing in more detail, including the potential benefits, risks, and cost of treatment.
Rolfing is a form of deep tissue manipulation. The name comes from its inventor, Dr. Rolf, who called it “Structural Integration”.
The idea behind Rolfing is that the body works best when all of its parts are aligned. When the body is out of alignment, it moves in an unbalanced way, which can lead to discomfort and pain.
Dr. Rolf also believed that this type of disharmony causes the body to work harder against gravity, which gives a person less energy.
Rolfing aims to address these issues by loosening and manipulating fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds bones, organs, nerves, and muscles. Practitioners claim that by working with this tissue, they can rearrange parts of the body that are out of alignment and thus solve medical problems.
Dr. Rolf began writing about structural integration in the 20th century. His training was in biochemistry. She obtained a doctorate. from Columbia University in 1920, before continuing his research in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute.
Although she didn’t have a medical degree, Dr. Rolf was a scientist who wanted to find cures for the chronic illnesses she and others lived with. She began experimenting with alternative health practices, such as yoga and chiropractic, to try to understand body structure.
Using observations from his studies, Dr. Rolf came to believe that the body works best when the bones are aligned. From there, she developed her theories on structural integration.
Rolfing and massage are similar in that they use tissue manipulation to benefit a person’s health. However, they involve different techniques and usually serve different purposes.
Although massage can promote relaxation, relieve muscle tension, or even reduce certain medical symptoms, such as back pain, people don’t always use it for medical purposes. When they do, it’s usually in addition to other treatments.
Rolfing, on the other hand, is aimed at treating medical conditions. It also has more elements and the sessions involve more than tissue manipulation. According to the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute website, Rolfing practitioners:
- Palpate: Practitioners touch tissue through the skin, looking for indications of imbalances in tissue texture, quality, or temperature.
- Discriminate: Next, Rolfing practitioners claim to separate the layers of fascia that have dislodged from the correct position or stuck to the muscles.
- To integrate: Finally, sessions end with integration, which is when the practitioner aims to improve the relationship between body parts in accordance with Dr. Rolf’s theories of motion and gravity. This may involve movement education as well as tissue manipulation.
Although people may find Rolfing relaxing and cathartic, the Institute says these benefits are just byproducts of the sessions.
The Dr. Ida Rolf Institute claims that Rolfing helps by:
- release connective tissue tension
- solve chronic pain
- change and improve posture
- improve flexibility
- reduce the negative effects of stress
- increase energy
- improve neurological function
- create emotional harmony
Very few studies support these claims.
An older study from 2014 looked at whether Rolfing could help treat myofascial pain syndrome, which is when a person feels pain in the muscles or fascia at a specific location. Pain can occur in response to specific movements or muscle triggers, sometimes in a different part of the body from where the trigger is located.
The study involved 40 participants, 20 of whom received Rolfing therapy while 20 did not. The control group saw no improvement in their pain scores, while people who received Rolfing therapy saw significant improvements.
However, a 2015 study tested Rolfing on 46 people with lower back pain. The authors concluded that Rolfing did not significantly relieve pain.
This suggests that Rolfing may help with myofascial pain but may not help with other conditions. However, both studies were very small, so it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from either.
Some people may find Rolfing beneficial, but there is currently no solid scientific evidence that it can cure any medical condition.
Rolfing has similarities with massage, which is
Some causes of musculoskeletal pain are progressive, meaning they get worse over time. Others, like osteoporosis, require medical treatment to prevent complications.
If a person experiences new or persistent pain, they should not try Rolfing without first talking to a doctor. Only a doctor can diagnose the root cause of the pain.
Rolfing involves a set of sessions known as Ten-Series. These sessions focus on releasing tension in different areas of the body before moving on to the integration phase.
Series ten includes the following steps:
- First session : The first session focuses on loosening and rebalancing the upper layers of connective tissue in the neck, diaphragm, rib cage, arms, spine, upper legs and hamstrings.
- Session two: The second session works on the arms, rib cage, diaphragm, upper legs, hamstrings, spine and neck, with the aim of providing stability by balancing the muscles of the foot and lower back. leg.
- Session three: During this session, the practitioner aims to understand how a person’s head, shoulder girdle, and hips align when the person is standing.
- Session four: This session focuses on the areas between the inside of a person’s arch and the bottom of their lower pelvis.
- Fifth session: The fifth session aims to balance the superficial and deep abdominal muscles with the curve of the back.
- Session six: This session works on the movement of the legs to strengthen the support of the pelvis and lower back.
- Session seven: This session works on the person’s head and neck.
- Eighth and ninth sessions: Both of these sessions focus on integrating movement into various areas of the body to improve coordination.
- Session ten: The final session focuses on integration, order and balance throughout the body.
The Dr. Ida Rolf Institute says a person receiving Rolfing therapy may experience some discomfort as the technique aims to relieve tension deep within the connective tissue.
However, the organization notes that Rolfing should not injure or cause additional pain for people with pre-existing pain.
Below we answer some common questions about Rolfing therapy.
Is Rolfing covered by insurance?
Many health insurance companies do not cover Rolfing therapy, although there may be some exceptions.
How much does Rolfing cost?
Rolfing costs vary by location, but anecdotal evidence suggests they are generally between $100 and $300 per session.
Can you do Rolfing yourself?
It is not possible for a layman to try Rolfing himself at home. However, they can try self-massage. Devices such as massage balls and foam rollers can also release tension in muscles and connective tissue.
A person should always speak with a doctor before trying any alternative or home treatment for a medical condition. Massage and myofascial release are not suitable for all types of musculoskeletal pain.
Rolfing is a type of therapy that involves deep manipulation of the connective tissues of the body. It can help relieve muscular and psychological tension to realign and restore balance in the body. The course of therapy includes a series of 10 sessions, each with different areas of focus.