Rolfing® Structural Integration


When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through.  Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.”

~ Ida P. Rolf

Rolfing Structural Integration and: The 10 Series / Visceral Manipulation / Movement Education

Rolfing Structural Integration:

Named after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing® Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body.  More than fifty years ago, Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts.  These connective tissues surround, support, and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs.  Rolfing® works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign, and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations, and alleviating pain.

Rolfing® Structural Integration aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy, and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.  The Rolfing® process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and freedom of movement.  Research has demonstrated that Rolfing® creates a more efficient use of the muscles, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. 

Rolfing® Structural Integration helps Athletes, dancers, musicians, children, business professionals, and people from all walks of life improve their performance in professional and daily activities.  It is also an excellent foundation to complement all personal wellness practices including: Pilates, Gyrotonic®, Weight Training, and Yoga.

Rolfing is not a quick fix.  One of the distinguishing features of this work is that it is designed as a series of ten sessions.  It systematically and methodically works through the whole body to provide long lasting structural change and integration.  This effects the individual on the physical, psychological, energetic and psychological realm.  It is a methodical process to release, re-align and re-educate the body and the nervous system.

*Typical Rolfing® attire for men and women can be regular underwear or loose fitting gym/yoga wear.  Access to skin is ideal but your level of comfort is most important.


The Rolfing® Ten-Series:

The hallmark of Rolfing® Structural Integration is a standardized “recipe” known as the Ten-Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of Ten Rolfing® sessions.  Each session builds upon the previous and prepares you for the next.  A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client’s entire system during each session, thus ensuring the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.  

Rolfing® builds new neurological pathways and fascial relationships, all of which influence your structure, movement, and experience.  The ten sessions allow us to devote appropriate time to specific areas and issues that are common structural challenges.  It customizes work that is meaningful to your unique body and lifestyle to establish a healthier relationship to gravity.   

The Ten-Series can be divided into three distinct units:

(Sessions 1-3):

These sessions, referred to as the “sleeve” sessions, initiate defining the body in 3-dimensional space while striving to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.

Session One works with orientation to space (reaching), and is concerned with the relationship of the thorax to both the pelvis and shoulder girdle.  It is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage, and diaphragm.  Also the upper leg, hamstrings, neck, and spine are addressed.

Session Two works with orientation to ground.  It helps seek to improve the relationship and coordination of the feet and lower legs to give the body a stable foundation.

Session Three involves the lateral view for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionally related to one another when standing under the influence of gravity.  Then the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.

(Sessions 4-7):

These sessions, referred to as the “core” sessions, examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head.  This also includes the medial line of the legs for its role in support.

Session Four begins this process, extending from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg to the bottom of the pelvis.

Session Five continues where Session four left off.  The territory is from the pubic bone to the front of the throat.

Session Six seeks to enlist more support and movement from the posterior legs, pelvis, and spine.

Session Seven turns its sole attention to the neck and head.

(Session 8-10):

“Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, providing an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements (and ones yet to be made) into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.

During Sessions Eight and Nine the practitioner determines how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual.  The pelvic and shoulder girdles will determine these sessions.

Session Ten, the final session, is also one of integration.  But more importantly, Session Ten serves to inspire a sense of order and balance.  Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing® Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.


Rolfing Structural Integration and Visceral Manipulation:

Thanks to the dedicated work of Jean-Pierre Barral, a Physiotherapist (RPT) and Osteopath (DO), healthcare practitioners today can use the rhythmic motions of the visceral system as important therapeutic tools.  Barral’s clinical work with the viscera led to his development of a form of manual therapy that focuses on the internal organs, their environment, and the potential influence on many structural and physiological dysfunctions.  The term he coined for this therapy was Visceral Manipulation

Visceral Manipulation (VM) is based on the specific placement of soft manual forces to encourage the normal mobility, tone, and motion of the viscera (organs) and their connective tissues.  These gentle manipulations can potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body.

Due to the delicate and often highly reactive nature of the visceral tissues, gentle force precisely directed reaps the greatest results.  As with other methods of manipulation that affect the body deeply, Visceral Manipulation works only to assist the forces already at work.  Because of that, trained therapists can be sure of benefiting the body rather than adding further injury or disorganization.

VM assists functional and structural imbalances throughout the body including musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urogenital, respiratory, digestive, and lymphatic dysfunction.  It evaluates and treats the dynamics of motion and suspension in relation to organs, membranes, fascia, and ligaments.  VM increases proprioceptive communication within the body, thereby revitalizing a person and relieving symptoms of pain, dysfunction, and poor posture.


Visceral Manipulation can benefit:

* Headaches and migraines
* Chronic musculoskeletal pain
* Liver and gall bladder disorders
* Restrictions of the diaphragm
* Bladder incontinence
* Chronic pelvic pain
* Digestive disorders
* Swallowing difficulties
* Gastritis and constipation
* Stomach ulcers
* Acid reflux and heartburn
* Fibroids and cysts
* Endometriosis
* Concussions
* Colitis


Rolfing Structural Integration and Movement Education:

Movement Education is a unique system of integration that supports and advances the goals of Rolfing® Structural Integration.  While Rolfing@ changes structure directly through fascial manipulation, Movement Education integrates long-term structural change by altering well established movement patterns.  It helps the client explore the sensations of freer and more fluid motion during breathing, walking, bending, lifting and other simple daily movements.  Movement Education is blended throughout each Rolfing® session to address specific functional challenges.


Movement Education can benefit:

*  Sitting
*  Standing
*  Walking
*  Running
*  Balancing
*  Proprioception
*  Body awareness
*  Fluidity in movement
*  Motor coordination
*  Athletic performance

Benefits of Rolfing Structural Integration

Rolfing® Structural Integration can benefit:

* Postural awareness
* Balance & coordination
* Joint range of motion 
* Breathing
* Flexibility
* Mental focus
* Recovery from injury
* Recovery from surgery
* TMJ dysfunction 
* Athletic performance

History of Rolfing Structural Integration

The History of Rolfing Structural Integration:

In 1920 Ida Pauline Rolf received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.  Despite the resistance she faced as a woman in the field of science, she furthered her knowledge of the body through research in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute.

Driven to find solutions to her own health problems as well as those of her two sons, she spent many years studying and experimenting with different systems of healing and manipulation.

Throughout most of her life Dr. Rolf was intrigued with and explored many forms of alternative healing including homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, and yoga.  The notion that proper alignment, physiologic function, and anatomical structure are related is the basis of many of these healing methods.

Dr. Rolf agreed that the body functions best when the bony segments are in proper alignment.  She added her observations that lasting improvement in alignment and an overall sense of well-being required a closer look at the effects of gravity on our bodies.  She believed that the imbalances in structure placed demands on the body’s pervasive network of soft tissues:  muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments, thereby creating compensations throughout the body structure.

Dr. Rolf posed this fundamental question: “What conditions must be fulfilled in order for the human body-structure to be organized and integrated in gravity so that the whole person can function in the most optimal and economical way?”

Her life’s work was devoted to this investigation which led to the system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that we now call Rolfing® Structural Integration.  In order to pass along her work to others and to make the education process accessible, she developed an expedient series of ten sessions, which came to be known as the “Ten Series”.

Dr. Rolf continues to be recognized as a pioneer and leader in soft tissue manipulation and movement education.  Since her death in 1979 at the age of 83, the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration has continued to further her work by certifying Rolfers™ and Rolf Movement® Practitioners, and by supporting research.

The genius of the work rests on Dr. Rolf’s insight that the body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is balanced in gravity.  


“It is gravity that is the tool;  it is gravity that is the therapist.”  

~Ida Rolf