What is Rolfing?
Benefits of Rolfing
Testimonies+NYTimes Article


   The relationship between
     Pilates and Rolfing


   The relationship between
     Yoga and Rolfing


   How Rolfing techniques
     can benefit pregnant

   What is Pranic Healing?
What is it used for?

   What is Spiritual

   What is Transformational




"The human body is not static It's Plastic, and that plastic quality enables a person body to be realigned into a more optimally functioning and feeling human being. Rolfing accomplishes that realignment."—Ida P. Rolf

Rolfing as developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. is a method of integrating human structure for body, mind & spiritual wholeness. Using skillful touch, the deep connective tissue system is manipulated to release out-dated physical and emotional stress pattern of the body. Clients report experiencing vastly improved posture, a release of chronic tension, increased physical performance and a state of deep relaxation. They feel whole, alive, younger and lighter.

Rolfing is a "hands-on" method of bodywork that systematically aligns the human structure through tissue manipulation and movement education. Rolfing works within the body's complex web of connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia surrounds, penetrates and connects every part of the body - our bones, muscles and organs. It gives the body its shape.

When the body loses architectural integrity through sickness, emotional difficulties, continued poor posture or physical trauma, fascia constricts to immobilize the injured area while it heals. This not only establishes restrictive and unbalanced relationships locally, but compensations are created throughout the body as it struggles against the downward drag of gravity. As a result, people develop physical patterns that do not serve them.

Fortunately, length and elasticity can be restored to shortened and thickened fascia because it is pliable and responds to the skillful touch of a Rolfer. As pattern restrictions release, the body changes shape and functions with ease rather than disease.

Most people are significantly out of balance with gravity, but when the stress of physical disorder is reduced, less energy is required to support the structure and a more balanced human being emerges. Rolfings works to reduce structural imbalances while honoring the body, mind and spirit.

The standard Rolf series consists of ten sessions designed specifically for the individual. The results of the work are cumulative with each session building on the previous and preparing for the next. One-hour appointments are spaced one or two weeks apart.

The results of Rolfing are immediate, lasting and progressive. Clients typically report that they continue to feel improvements for several months after their last session and the changes from Rolfing are felt for years. As bodies change and people have physical injuries and emotional stress, additional work may be beneficial.

What are the benefits?

Reduce aches and pains. You will have less pain and tension in your body as it becomes more balanced, allowing bones and muscles to do their jobs according to design.

  • Postural Integrity, flexibility and energy. You will experience sitting and standing more erect without struggle, while breath is felt throughout a lengthened and spacious body. You will enjoy greater range of fluid motion and ease in your body. Feelings of well being reflect the body's higher energy level.
  • Reduce stress and Improve emotional health. You may experience considerable psychological growth as the emotional history stored in the body is released. A freer, more responsive and more comfortable body will support you in every part of your life.
Who benefits from Rolfing?

People from all walks of life and all ages come to Rolfing not only for relief of pain, but to enhance the quality of life. Babies and young children experience relief from birth traumas and injuries, while adults gain postural integrity and body shape. Athletes and performing artists seek Rolfing to improve their physical abilities and prevent injury. People in psychotherapy may also benefit by facilitating a deeper connection to their emotional feelings, and the work can effectively deepen practices such as meditation, yoga and tai chi.

How does Rolfing feel?

Generally speaking, when the body's organization is being improved, the process feels good! New methods have replaced the old in the Rolfing profession making pain a thing of the past. While there may be soreness momentary discomfort, it is no longer painful. I work with you not on you. Immediate effects commonly reported are feelings of openness and spaciousness allowing for more breath, ease of movement, and increased energy.

Rolfing and research

Rolfing is practiced throughout the world and is widely acknowledged as an effective form of somatic therapy.

Scientific studies conducted at the UCLA Department of Kinesiology and University of Maryland validates the benefits of Rolfing. For research publications contact the Rolf Institute 800-530-8875.

Rolfing has long benefited actors, artists and athletes. Dr. Rolf herself worked with Greta Garbo and Georgia O'Keeffe, among others. Contemporary sports figures includes Charles Barkley, Edwin Moses, Mario Lemieux, Ivan Lendl, Tom Seaver and the crew of America, winner of the 1992 America's Cup.

"Rolfing has been stretching out muscle fibers that haven't been stretched for 30 years. When I started, my muscle fibers felt like petrified rock. Now they are getting progressively softer, suppler and gaining elasticity." Leon Fleisher, Concert Pianist

"A wonderful benefit I had right after the first Rolfing session was a sense of lightness, particularly on the ice. I felt very compact and totally in control, I had increased energy, better balance, and extra agility. " - Brian Orser, Olympic Silver Medallist

"Being Rolfed has given me a new desire to move and swim instead of collapsing at the end of the day...I have lost a habitual slump and suffer less from headaches." - -Sue Turner, Aquatic World

"All I can say is it's fantastic. Week to week I could notice the difference. It releases stored-up emotions in the body, takes the stiffness right out and is good for everyone...I feel like 38 going on 23. " -David Brenner quoted in Inside Running.

"The emotional effects are often as dramatic as the changes in body structure. In our experience, Rolfing produces changes in a briefer time than any other system we are aware of. " -Ron Kurtz and Hector Prestera, MD, The Body Recalls.


Rolfing, Excruciatingly Helpful

A FORMER dancer of 14 years, Anna Zahn is in touch with her body. To gain more flexibility, and to counteract some of the strain from dancing, she has tried a number of remedies: Reiki, Acupuncture and Yoga.

Anna Zahn, 20, a former dancer, receives a Rolfing treatment.

But she still felt tight, her body tense. So she started getting Rolfed — a kind of deep-tissue bodywork that can be so intense that some jokingly liken it to masochism.

“It’s not going to massage and lighting aromatherapy candles,” said Ms. Zahn, a 20-year-old student at New York University, who gets a Rolfing treatment every week or so. “It’s tough to go to these sessions. It’s painful, very painful, emotionally and physically. But you feel such a relief when you leave that it’s just the most amazing feeling.”

Others are feeling it, too. Popular in the 1970s, Rolfing once evoked hairy-chested, New Age types seeking alternative therapies — perhaps most famously spoofed in the 1977 football movie “Semi-Tough,” starring Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson.

But today, Rolfing is experiencing something of a resurgence, especially among younger city dwellers for whom the novelty of yoga has worn off, and who are now seeking more intense ways to relieve the stresses of modern life.

“Back in the day, Rolfing’s growth was word of mouth,” said Rey Allen, a Rolfing practitioner in lower Manhattan, who has noticed an increase in its popularity. He attributes the rise partly to the Internet, which has introduced the treatment to a new generation.

“Over half of my clientele are in their 20s,” he added. “Since I opened my practice in the city a few years ago, the average age of my clientele has always been 35. But that has drastically changed since the summer.”

Could Rolfing be one Madonna endorsement away from becoming the next Pilates?

Rolfing is named after its creator, Ida Rolf, a biochemist from New York City who studied alternative methods of bodywork and healing beginning in the 1920s. She died in 1979 at the age of 82.

Dr. Rolf developed a theory that the body’s aches and pains arose from basic imbalances in posture and alignment, which were created and reinforced over time by gravity and learned responses among muscles and fascia — the sheath-like connective tissue that surrounds and binds muscles together. Rolfing developed as a way to “restructure” muscles and fascia.

The focus on manipulating fascia is part of what distinguishes it from chiropractics, which deals with bones, and from therapeutic massages, which works on muscles.

That also explains why Rolfing has a reputation for being aggressive, even painful at times. Fascia is stubborn material, particularly if it is marked by knots and scar tissue. Rolfers gouge with knuckles and knead with fists, contort limbs and lean into elbows to loosen tendons and ligaments. Patients, meanwhile, need the fortitude to relax and take it during the hourlong sessions.

Russell Poses, a 39-year-old international equities trader on Wall Street, who started getting Rolfing treatments after injuring his back, likened the experience to “paying $150 an hour for an Indian burn.” But the benefits, as far as he’s concerned, are well worth it. Chiropractors and years of physcial therapy couldn’t accomplish what two or three Rolfing sessions did, he said.

Plus, he said he could still feel the results two weeks later. “It’s something that actually lasts,” he said.

It is hard to find reliable statistics on the prevalence of Rolfing. But the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, which was founded by Dr. Rolf in 1971 to educate and certify practioners, says it has noticed a rise in student enrollments at its Boulder, Colo., headquarters.

Kevin McCoy, a faculty member at the institute with a practice in Milwaukee, said he had seen annual class sizes swell to 100 from 75 students in recent years. In the mid-1980s, he said, the school graduated fewer than 50 a year. Despite the bad economy, he said, “our numbers have been maintaining or growing.”

An endorsement in 2007 on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” by the cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz certainly didn’t hurt. Now the host of the syndicated daytime program “The Dr. Oz Show,” he says he sees the growing popularity of Rolfing as “a general perception by the public that taking medications for discomfort is not giving you the panacea benefits that you would desire.”

In that regard, he said he viewed the treatment as an extension of practices like yoga, which also offers relief without drugs. “Yoga is in many ways analogous to Rolfing because it takes tendons and it stretches them into a position of discomfort,” Dr. Oz said. “They’re just doing it for you without your doing it yourself.”

Rolfing practitioners say they have also noticed a shift that may explain why younger clients are seeking out their services. It’s not just to treat injuries, but also stress. “Health is one area where we can find a sense of control,” said Mr. Allen, who has been practicing for about nine years. “The real trend is that people are starting to look within the boundaries of their own skin for meaning in their lives, and to find a sense of security in the world.”

As with other holistic practices, Rolfing seems to leave the door open for a certain mysticism. Even those who have little use for New Age-type practices like meditation can verge on the metaphysical when discussing Rolfing.

Beau Buffier, a 35-year-old partner at a corporate law firm in New York, says he started Rolfing treatments after he injured his neck and shoulder in a fall. Despite three MRI’s, surgery, physical therapy, a chiropractor, acupuncture and deep massage, the pain remained. Stress from his high-stakes job didn’t help.

But somehow Rolfing did the trick. “It’s dealing with the physical manifestations of something that’s kind of emotional or spiritual,” Mr. Buffier said.

He has since gotten in touch with his body in other ways. He began exercising more and eating better. He lost 20 pounds. His blood pressure dropped. “It’s almost as if your body locks up emotions,” he said.