How is Rolfing different from massage and other bodywork modalities?

Rolfing did not derive from any practice of massage therapy, and does not fit into the massage therapy paradigm(s).  The purpose of the work is evoking balance, function, and integration in all aspects of a person’s structure.  The end result is a transformation from the person’s current way of living in their body, to a renewed sense of balance and ease that is self sustaining due to the changed relationship with gravity that results from the work.

 


Here’s more from Dr. Ida Rolf Institute:

Rolfing® is the original brand of Structural Integration, which is its own modality, not a form of massage.

One of the most common misconceptions about Rolfing Structural Integration is that it is a nothing more than a type of very deep massage. There are many varieties of massage, which can be particularly effective for loosening tight tissue, reducing stress, detoxing the body and evoking an increased feeling of relaxation and well-being. Since these benefits are also a byproduct of Rolfing SI, the general public experience confusion as to the precise difference between our work and the proliferation of effective touch modalities currently available. Ray McCall, a Certified Advanced Rolfer in Boulder, once said that what Rolfers do can be summed up in three words: palpation, discrimination and integration. We palpate, or touch the tissue, feeling for imbalances in tissue texture, quality and temperature to determine where we need to work. We discriminate, or separate fascial layers that adhere and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury. Finally, we integrate the body, relating its segments in an improved relationship, bringing physical balance in the gravitational field. Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, are quite good at the first two, but do not balance the body in gravity. As Dr. Rolf used to say: “It is easy to take a body apart, but it takes skill and understanding to put it back together.” The true genius of her method is the art and science of reshaping and reorganizing human structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner for long term results.

In addition to our skill as structural integrators, we are also educators, a point Dr. Rolf stressed frequently in her training classes. The role of teacher is something every Rolfer takes seriously. In each session, Rolfers seek to impart insights to clients to increase their awareness and understanding, to help the client make the work we do their own. Our job is to make ourselves obsolete, by empowering our clients to take charge of their own physical and emotional health. Influencing the structural evolution of man on a global level was Dr. Rolf’s fondest dream.