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What is Rolfing?

Some certified massage therapists augment their services with Rolfing techniques.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2014
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Rolfing is a bodywork and movement education technique developed by Dr. Ida Rolf (1896-1979). Also known as structural integration, Rolfing involves aligning the body to improve posture and balance. After completing the Rolfing 10 series, the client is supposed to experience a more integrated and coordinated body that will lead to reduction of pain, better posture, and more awareness. This bodywork technique is practiced all over the world by certified Rolfers, who attend a two year program at the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.

According to the teaching of Dr. Rolf, the deep fascia and muscles of the body often bind together, creating an area of tension or soreness. This pulls the body out of alignment, meaning that it is not working together as a coordinated whole to support itself. Rolfing involves gentle but deep touch, reaching into the body to release the bound muscles and fascia so that they can be realigned. In addition to releasing physical tension, Rolfing can also release emotional tension. Rolfers and clients work together through the process to establish a high level of comfort and safety.

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The Rolfing 10 series is the core foundation of Rolfing. Some Rolfers have a shorter series of eight sessions, while others expand it to 12, and all agree that clients will benefit from even one session of Rolfing. Each session lasts approximately one hour and 15 minutes, and is held once a week. The Rolfing 10 is designed to integrate the body for life, and leave a lasting impact on the client. In tandem with movement education, the client will learn to nurture the body, providing a lifetime of well being.

The Rolfing 10 series is broken up into three modules: the first part of the series is called the “sleeve series,” as it focuses on the surface layers of connective tissue, setting the body up for the rest of the series. The next sessions focus on the core of the body, working into deeper parts of the body to release and free bound muscles. The last sessions focus on integration, putting the body back together so that the client will feel a change in the way he or she feels and moves.

Although all Rolfers train at the same institute, each develops a unique style. Clients are encouraged to try several Rolfers to find the perfect style. In all cases, Rolfing should not be painful, although there may be moments of intense physical or emotional release. Pain is not useful for bodywork, so it is very important that the client communicate with the therapist to make the session comfortable and productive.

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