Rolfing – The Medical Benefits of Rolfing

Rolfing is named after its founder, Dr. Ida Rolf (1896-1979), an American biochemist whose therapy was intended to integrate manipulative forms of treatment with bioenergetics (the study of energy in living systems). Rolf recognized that when we are well aligned, gravity can flow through us, allowing us to move easily. A poorly aligned body is pulled down by gravity and must struggle to keep its balance, trying to compensate for misalignment in one area by making changes in another, until the entire structure is weakened. The aim of the rolfer is to realign body structure, restoring it to balance.

Rolfing relies predominantly on deep massage of the muscles and connective tissues (fascias). It does not focus on any specific area of symptoms but rather on manipulating the connective tissue to allow the body to return to a state of balance. When the body is balanced, the mind, nervous system, and all the organs and tissues to which it relates, function more efficiently and our innate healing system can work at its optimum.

Elements of Therapy

A full course of rolfing involves ten treatments, lasting about an hour each. Each session features a different part of the body, but is meant to fuse it with the parts that have been treated earlier, ultimately leading to complete integration.

Tension in the fascial network is returned to normal by deep, slow pressure, allowing it to lengthen and separate where it has been shortened and compacted.

Movement and psychology have become part of the training, and practitioners do not simply use deep manual pressure to stimulate changes. Emotional and physical problems may surface during treatment.


Rolfing practitioners have suggested its use for a wide variety of medical conditions. Some scientific studies have reported possible improvement from using Rolfing for low back pain, cerebral palsy, and chronic fatigue syndrome, however, there is insufficient data to endorse its effectiveness as a therapy.

Rolfing is generally regarded as safe. Because it involves deep tissue manipulation, pregnant women and people with skeletal, vascular, or clot disorders should consult a health care provider before undertaking Rolfing sessions.

Why a Ten Session Series?

Rolfers, in a broad sense, start their work with a client on the outside of the body, then move to the inside, then integrate the inside and outside. When a client commits to ten sessions, this gives the Rolfer plenty of time to consider the whole body and how that body relates to its self and to the earth. The ten sessions may be received in a short time–ten weeks–or over a longer time, ten months. This allows each client to integrate the Rolfing changes at their own speed.