Rolfing supports a healthy body. When Dr. Ida P. Rolf founded the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in 1971, she created a never-ending legacy.
To be "Rolfed" means to undergo a ten-session series of deep tissue manipulation. Rolfing is a head to foot process that seeks to rebalance the body by altering of the placement of connective tissues known as the myofascial system.
Dr. Ida Rolf was the Worlds First Rolfer
Born in 1896, Ida Rolf studied biochemistry, chemotherapy, mathematics
and atomic physics, and in 1920, she received a PhD in biochemistry. She
subsequently devoted more than fifty years to studying the effects of gravity
on the human body. Her research led to the development of a new method of
helping the body to help itself.
Though she called the process she developed, "Structural Integration",
the work eventually came to be commonly known as "Rolfing". She believed that
a healthy body was one wherein the bony structure could function freely within
its connective system of muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments.
"This is the gospel of Rolfing: When the body gets working appropriately,
the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself." ~ Ida P. Rolf
The Rolf Institute
The Rolf Institute was created as a nonprofit corporation engaged in educational and scientific research. At the Colorado facility, Dr. Rolf taught her methods to others so that healing could spread to all who could benefit from her life's work. Even today, certification as a Certified Rolfer or an Advanced Certified Rolfer can only be obtained from the Institute.
About sixteen hundred Rolfers practice in twenty-six countries and have Rolfed nearly a million people. Training centers are located in:
The Act of Rolfing
Certified Advanced Rolfer, Donna Griffiths, described her work in this way: "A healthy body is a body that allows a range of experience. Rolfing releases an infectious joy, for a body with free motion defies boundaries." And Brazilian Rolfer, Julia Zatta, shares on her website that the experience of being rolfed by Ms. Griffiths so changed her life that she decided to dedicate herself to the work as well.
Rolfing fosters physical and emotional transformation. Compressed and rigid bodies that suffer from years of repetitive holding habits can experience life resurgence from Rolfing. Old injuries and chronic complaints can be relieved.
Rolfing is not massage. While massage is effective in loosening
tightness, relieving stress, detoxifying and fostering a sense of well-being,
Rolfing's approach is deeper and more complex. Rolfers palpate connective
tissues to free muscles and realign the core of the body, encouraging free
movement within the gravitational field. It is a consistent body restructuring.
Further, during each session, Rolfers teach their clients how to nurture and
maintain the positive structure of their own bodies. Rolfing also integrates
beneficially with other wellness disciplines like Yoga and Pilates.
The Benefits of Rolfing
The Phoenix Suns were the first NBA team to provide an on-hand Certified Advanced Rolfer to its team. Figure skaters Michelle Kwan and Elvis Stojko, Minnesota Twins pitcher, Bob Tewksbury, and US Paralympic Gold Medalist Skier, Sarah Will, are just a few of the athletes who have found Rolfing to be an irreplaceable whole body asset.
Corporations who provide access to Rolfing for its employees have experienced financial benefit through improved employee performance and consistent attendance.
A 1996 New York Times article related how virtuoso concert pianist, Leon Fleisher, who had suffered the crippling of his right hand, enjoyed remarkable results from Rolfing. The work helped facilitate his return to playing the piano with two hands, something he'd not done for thirty years.
Actor Levar Burton discussed his Rolfing experience on the Oprah TV show, and celebrities from singer Willie Nelson, to actress, Sean Young, to best selling writer, Sam Keen, have all shared personal accounts of how Rolfing has benefited their bodies and their lives.
The Practice of Rolfing is Growing
Rolfing is becoming more prevalent as the availability of Certified Rolfers increases. Research has also increased, and studies performed by universities such as UCLA and the University of Maryland confirm that Rolfing improves muscle performance, frees movement patterns and reduces chronic stress.
In addition to improving flexibility, posture, coordination, breathing and energy levels, this holistic application has also proven successful in reducing spinal curvature (sway back,) enhancing neurological function and minimizing or alleviating chronic pain.
For adults and children, the positive results of Rolfing can literally be physically and emotionally life altering.
*The Donna Griffiths photo is used with permission of the Illinois State Journal Register
Julia Zatta website
The New York Times
The Rolf Institute website
*The Ida P. Rolf photo and quote, and the ˜Rolfing Hands photo are used with permission of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, 2009