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Four Reasons to Try Rolfing by Dr. Andrew Weil January 6th, 2010

Do you suffer from chronic stress, pain or bad posture? You may want to consider Rolfing. Named after Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing is often referred to as "structural integration." It is not simply massage, it is a system of deep manipulation of the connective tissues that aims to restructure the fascia (the sheath of tissue that surrounds a muscle) and relieve physical misalignment.

Basic Rolfing consists of a series of 10 sessions, each focusing on a different part of the body. The practitioner applies firm, and sometimes even painful, pressure via fingers and elbows. The result? You may become more in touch with your body, experience less pain and stress, improve your posture, even release repressed emotions and diminish habitual muscle tension. People who have experienced Rolfing often find an improvement in their professional and daily activities.

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.Dr. Oz on Structural Integration

"Rolfing literally releases the joints. When you talk to folks about the impact it has on them, a lot of them just stand taller. A lot is just freeing you up to live the way you're supposed to live." -Dr. Oz
In 2007 Dr Oz volunteered to get Structural Integration treatment (Rolf Method) on the Oprah Winfrey show to demonstrate its medical benefits.

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New York Times Article:

Rolfing, Excruciatingly Helpful
By AUSTIN CONSIDINE Published: October 6, 2010
A former dancer, 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, yoga.

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," says 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. Once 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," says 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 unorthodox 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, Dr. 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.

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 inflamed fascia is part of what distinguishes it from chiropractic, 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. Breaking up knots and scar tissue along tendons and ligaments is tough work. Rolfers gouge with knuckles and knead with fists, contort limbs and lean into elbows to loosen 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 physical 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 Rolf in 1971 to educate and certify practitioners, 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."

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UCLA Researches Structural Integration

"After Structural Integration, agonist/antagonist muscles contracted sequentially rather than simultaneously, providing more effective control of the movements studie thus mechanical efficiency was improved by a more stable base from which movement could be initiate with less effort." -Valerie Hunt, Ph.D., Director of UCLA Movement Behavior Lab

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