How does Rolfing® work?

Rolfing® works with the connective tissue matrix of your body (also knows as fascia) which is a complex web that goes head to toe, side to side, front to back, surface to deep, and is also in layers. It puts everything in your body in connection and relationship with everything else.

Just like the membranes of an orange which give the orange its shape, the fascial web is the stuff that shapes and supports you. This web is meant to be fluid, flexible, adaptable, and resilient. For most of us, however, who have habitual patterns and may have experienced physical, mental, or emotional trauma at some time in our lives, the fascial web tends to shorten, thicken, stick to itself, and accentuate our imbalances. An imbalance in one area sets up a progression of compensations and distortions which, over the years, causes further distortion and compensation. As gravity acts upon our imbalances, it wear us down. Common motions take more effort to do. All of this explains how a person can mildly strain his/her back, and, 10 years later, bend over to pick up a pencil and get a chronic back problem.

You might think of this work as having three aspects: (1) hands-on work to release habitual patterns and to organize the tissues of your body; (2) your participation in this process; and (3) education to find and use the smart patterns in your body which make living easier and more comfortable.

Rolfing® is best known for its traditional, 10-session, Rolfing® Structural Integration process which was designed over forty years ago. These days, it is a bit more common for clients to complete their Rolfing® processes in 10-14 sessions. Each Rolfing® session is usually about 70 minutes long. Sessions are spaced about a week apart, and each session builds on the results of previous sessions. You don't have to commit to complete the full process at the beginning. In just one session, you'll become more familiar with the Rolfer, you’ll experience this work, and will feel some changes in your body.

What is highly typical is that once a client has completed the traditional Rolfing® process, the client continues to integrate the experience and the physical body continues to improve on its own. Those who have been through the traditional Rolfing® process might decide to do a tune-up session after a year or after a few years. They also might choose to do a mini-series of tune-ups to assist with a recent injury or to help them through a stressful life experience. Some people do one session or a mini-series of Rolfing® sessions to get immediate help for an acute structural problem.

Fundamentally, Rolfing® consists of some simple ideas about human structure:

  • most human beings are significantly out of alignment with gravity;
  • we function better when we are lined up with gravity; and
  • the human body is so plastic that its alignment can be brought into harmony with gravity at practically any time of life.