Rolfing is a system of alternative medicine which involves a particular type of deep tissue massage. Proponents believe that Rolfing releases tightened muscles and enables the body to regain maximum functioning by realigning itself with the natural forces of gravity.

Developed by American biochemist Ida P. Rolf in the early 1950s, Rolfing structural integration, commonly known as Rolfing, is based on the principle that injury, disease, and emotional stress cause muscular tension. Muscles tighten causing the fascia to harden and pulling the bones out of normal alignment. Rolfing separates the fascia, softens the tissue, and allows the muscles to lengthen.  The bones return to their normal position. Rolfing is not designed for the treatment of a particular medical problem but is rather aimed at realigning the entire to enabling a free flow of energy and an enhanced ability to fight disease.

Pain relief, freedom of joint movement, and improved emotional balance are claimed benefits. Rolfing can be beneficial for anyone, but it is often sought by people with chronic pain.

Rolfing consists of ten hour-long sessions, usually spaced a week or more apart, during which the Rolfer uses pressure from fingers, hands, fists, and elbows to manipulate the patientís major muscle groups and tissue. The treatment is sometimes painful.

Rolfers may be medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, athletes, dancers, or others trained and certified by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado.

Go to the next page on Shiatsu.

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Last modified: 07/27/08