Rolfing Movement Integration – Introduction And History

By: Dzhingarov

Rolfing Movement Integration (commonly referred to as Rolfing) is a movement education system to be useful for everyday life. It is based on Rolfing principles and patients are assisted to establish a brand new body awareness and understanding, thus leading to modified inner habit patterns.

Every single person experiences stress and tension due to the fast paced society. The body will automatically react to the build-up of stress and will tighten up. We have various personal habits that will unconsciously create an additional stress. Everything we do can work against us and make things worse. This includes sitting, walking, carrying children, lifting, bending, exercising and even talking on the phone.


Rolfing movement integration has an attention that is focused on various basic activities like walking, sitting and breathing. Then, everything is moved towards more complex movements of sports, yoga, dance and work. Through focused touch, gentle guidance and individualized information, balance is achieved. Efficient movement patterns are developed in the life of a person, thus freeing up a lot more energy, allowing an individual to avoid everyday aches, injuries and pains.

We can see Rolfing as an alternative medical treatment. It was marketed by RISI (Rolf Institute of Structural Integration). According to the Institute, Rolfing stands out as a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity.” Rolfing stands out as highly similar to Structural Integration as forceful technique is used to reposition under skin tissue.

No studies prove that Rolfing is an effective treatment for a health condition. However, some benefits are surely achieved through learning new and appropriate ways of performing literally all activities.

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Rolfing Movement Integration History

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Rolfing started with the work of Ida Pauline Rolf in the 1930s in New York. That was when she started doing work with the premise that a human structure can be organized based on gravity. The idea was to help those that were chronically disabled until extra help can be found. By the fifties Rolf was teaching Postural Release. Rolf developed a method that was initially called Postural Release. It was then named Structural Integration and we now know it as Rolfing. RISI was founded in 1971. The technique basically includes various theories and techniques including chiropractic, Korzybski’s general semantics, yoga and osteopathy.

Practice And Theory

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In most situations Rolfing is performed in 10 sessions, sometimes referred to as “the recipe”. The claim is to offer a systematic approach to address various goals for theorized alignment and body area movements. We can say that the purpose is to educate your body to align better with gravity. A Rolfer will manipulate your body to move fascia until it operates properly in a conjuction with muscles, all in a perfect, optimal relationship.

Our muscles work in pairs, known as agonist and antagonist. One will contract and another will relax. According to Rolf, faciae bound up will restrict proper functioning of opposing muscles. Fascia bound up fibers are separated manually in order to loosen the muscles. In theory, this makes the body work better.

Rolfing movement technique stands out as a forceful body movement technique. Practitioners will use the entire body in order to apply the necessary pressure. In the past, many clients found Rolfing to be too painful but various gentler practices have been developed.

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Rolfing is often described as being somatic education. Bodywork is the term used to describe the hands-on part of this process. There are some people that see this as a form of massage. However, it is important to understand that you have to be careful since there is no proof that Rolfing actually works.