Exploring Massage Therapy: Rolfing (Part II)

Last week we looked at Rolfing, explaining that it focuses on fascia manipulation that can be somewhat painful, and that some claim it can relieve pain and improve wellness.

Indeed, the creator of Rolfing, Ida Rolf, was a biochemist who believed that proper alignment of the body’s soft tissues (fascia, muscles, ligaments and tendons) would allow the body to function better and lead to an improved general wellness. Rolf believed that our bodies and fascia did not become unaligned through traumatic events only. Simple things in our lives, like gravity, everyday tasks, lifting up children, hunching over a desk, all disturb our body’s proper alignment.

The system Rolf designed to align the body’s soft tissue is called structural integration (Rolfing is actually a registered name belonging to the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, which she founded). Rolf’s system of structural integration is designed to target specific areas of the body over the course of 10 sessions, at which point the body’s soft tissues should be aligned.

According to the articles linked from The New York Times, NPR and the Massage Therapy Journal on last week’s post, Rolfing was a popular therapy in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and is now seeing a sudden resurgence in popularity. Indeed, in the Times article a Rolfing practitioner says that half his current clientele is in its twenties, while only a few years ago his clientele averaged an age of 35. The article also notes that classes at the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration see over 100 students – despite the recession – where they used to graduate only 50 students annually in previous years.

The Massage Therapy Journal article meanwhile notes that Rolfing is a natural extension of massage therapy, something that therapists interested in deep tissue massage and a greater understanding of the body should explore. With Rolfing seeming to increase in popularity among 20-somethings, it may be a good technique to learn for financial reasons as well.

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