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
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.
.Dr. Oz on Structural Integration
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.
Rolfing, Excruciatingly Helpful
By AUSTIN CONSIDINE Published: October 6, 2010
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
developed as a way to "restructure" muscles and fascia.
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
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.
said he could still feel the results two weeks later. "It's something that
actually lasts," he said.
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.
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."
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