Rolfing®: A Holistic Approach to Structural Integration, Rolfing Massage and Body Alignment

Experience the life-changing power of Rolfing: reduce pain, improve posture, and increase your overall sense of well-being with a certified expert near you. Get fast and lasting relief from pain and discomfort by finding a trusted and Certified Rolfing expert near you. 

By working directly with the body's connective tissue, Rolfers can help you reduce pain, improve posture, and restore your sense of well-being.

Your Local Rolfing® SI Team

Neal Anderson
Founding Member of Rolfing Community
Certified Advanced Rolfer®
Rolf Movement® Practitioner
Shane Ditlow
Founding Member of Rolfing Community
Certified Rolfer®
Certified Personal Trainer
Lu Mueller-Kaul
Founding Member of Rolfing Community
Certified Advanced Rolfer®
Rolf Movement Practitioner
Stefania Szostak
Certified Rolfer® in Denver, CO
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher
Julianna Nagy
Certified Rolfer®
Issac Hagerling
Certified Rolfer®
Calie Cutler
Certified Rolfer®
Casey Maas
Certified Advanced Rolfer®
Our Partners and Investors
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Treatable conditions with a certified rolfer®

Treat your auto injury, unexpected fall or a sports injury. Realign your body for lasting change with a certified rolfer who has a deep understanding of kinesiology and the human structure. Rolfing is geared towards structural realignment, not just temporary relief. With this specialized approach, you can get lasting change and improved posture in the long term.

If you suffer from these ailments - the Rolfing Community can help.

  • Car Accident Injury
  • Unexpected Fall
  • Sports Injury
  • Chiropractor Injury
  • Whiplash Injury
  • Bulging Disc
  • Herniated Disc
  • Disc Degeneration
  • Balance Problems
  • Gait Problems
  • Chronic Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain Or Tension
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Tendonitis, Tendinosis
  • Nerve Entrapment
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • SI-joint Dysfunction
  • Arthritis
  • Pain Associated With Scoliosis
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries
  • Poor Posture
  • Chronic Low Back Pain
  • Low Back Spasms
  • Back Pain During Pregnancy
  • Tension Headaches
  • TMJD (Jaw Joint Dysfunction)
  • Cervicogenic Migraines
  • Range of Motion Limitations
  • Frozen Shoulder Syndrome(adhesive capsulitis)

Frequently asked questions

Everything you need to know about Rolfing Structural Integration.
What is Rolfing®?
Rolfing Structural Integration (SI) is a system of manual therapy and movement integration. Rolfers focus on how the connective tissues, particularly layers of fascia, tendons, ligaments, but also bone and muscle, interconnect to build a continuous web that gives the body its structure and flexibility. Rolfing treatments aim at restoring easy glide and movement between and through these tissues, and teach the clients to align their whole body with the field of gravity. The results are effortless upright posture and grace in movement, but most clients come to Rolfing for its side effects: reduction of pain and strain patterns, and improved performance for athletes.

Dr. Ida Rolf created her system of “Structural Integration” in the middle of the 20th century, and eventually founded the Rolf Institute together with her students and instructors. The registered service mark “Rolfing” was a nickname based on Dr. Rolf’s last name, since “Structural Integration” was a term already used for buildings. 

Rolfing SI combines deep tissue massage and related manual therapy techniques with movement re-education to help clients improve their posture, lessen discomfort, move easier, and often feel better all around. People who received a “Ten Series” are often surprised that not only chronic aches and pains disappear, but that after the series they continue to improve their posture, sometimes even get taller, and have unexpected benefits for example in regards to confidence, focus, sleep and more. Some Rolfing instructors believe that using gravity consciously leads to less strain on the body and the nervous system.

The core tenet of Rolfing is the notion that our posture and movement patterns are based on the structure of our body's fascia, which surrounds and connects every muscle, bone, and organ.Chronic discomfort, bad posture, and decreased mobility, even problems with balance and coordination can result from the fascia layers becoming constrained or adhered as a result of inflammation, scars, accidents, repetitive motions, being in the same position for too long, and other stressors.

A lot of chronic problems are created by how the body is used over decades, and reversely, problems in using the body lead to a change in posture and movement patterns. Rolfers work with their clients as a team to break through those vicious cycles and often achieve changes that are not only lasting, but self-supporting. We find that many clients keep adapting the improved alignment even after finishing a series of sessions, and we aim at making ongoing “maintenance” treatments unnecessary. 

Practitioners of Rolfing work with clients to release restrictions in the fascia layers and help the body find natural balance and alignment. 

Treatments should be applied by a professional certified by the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (Certified Rolfer®) or at least a practitioner of Structural Integration certified by one of the IASI-approved schools.
What can I expect from a Rolfing® SI session?
A good SI-practioner will not apply a fixed routine, but work collaboratively towards the client’s specific goals. Treatments should feel good overall, occasionally invigorating, often relaxing at a deep level. Clients feel more energized after a Rolfing session than after a massage, but might need a few days to process the change in movement and orientation.

In a large part of a normal Rolfing session, the practitioner presses deeply and slowly into specific fascial spots with their hands, knuckles, and forearms. This pressure aids in realigning the fascia, releasing adhesions, and regaining its natural suppleness. The force is aimed between structures, not on a structure as in a lot of massage techniques (for example trigger point treatments or cross fiber friction). Particular attention is given to spaces between tendon attachments and big muscle compartments, so that each functional element works without dragging on its neighbors.

Rolfing practitioners may also utilize movement re-education to assist clients in being more conscious of their posture and creating new, healthier movement patterns. Many people discover that Rolfing has a tremendous impact on their whole sense of well-being, lowering stress and boosting energy in addition to reducing pain and improving posture. In more sessions, this educational element is done in short sequences before and after the hands-on work, it rarely takes more than a few minutes but is important to make results last.

People of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from this extremely effective manual therapy known as Rolfing, which can help them achieve better alignment, lessen discomfort, and enhance their overall health and well-being.
What is a Certified Rolfer®?
It's not surprising that scarcely anyone outside the massage therapy industry has heard of Rolfing, given that there are only about  2,500 Certified Rolfers on the planet. Read our stories on the Rolf Institute’s website to find the different paths that brought us to Rolfing as a career. 

Rolfing is frequently discussed in massage schools, sometimes with obsolete or incorrect presumptions attached. Headquartered in the Dr.Ida Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado offers Accredited Rolfing Certification Training.

The program consists of three phases and self-study taking up the 731 hours of training, which is finished in 28 weeks. This also accounts for the three-week pauses in between each training phase.You'll discover your certified rolfer has an education and training in:
  • The Rolfing Structural Integration principles
  • Rolfing Structural Integration's unique perspective on Anatomy, Physiology, and Kinesiology
  • Training in the capacity to distinguish and differentiate via touch
  • Deep knowledge of how to spot structural and functional patterns
  • Expert knowledge and mental capacity to successfully lead a Rolf Ten-Series and Rolf Movement session
  • Through understanding of movement and building techniques
  • Professional ethics
To learn more about our certification please click here. Verify a certified Rolfer here.

In Dr. Ida P. Rolf’s own words:

About Gravity: “We want to get a man out of the place where gravity is his enemy. We want to get him into the place where gravity reinforces him and is a friend, a nourishing force.”
Integration vs Restoration: The Difference in Types of Practitioners
Quote from Dr. Ida Rolf

“This is an important concept: that practitioners are integrating something; we are not restoring something. This puts us in a different class from all other therapists that I know of. It takes us out of the domain designated by the word “therapy,” and puts us in the domain designated by the word “education.” It puts our thinking into education: how can we use these ideas behind Structural Integration? How do we put a body together so that it’s a unit, an acting, energy efficient unit? One of the differences between Structural Integration Practitioners and practitioners of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, etc., is that the latter are all relieving symptoms. They make no effort to put elements together into a more efficient energy system.”

If you’d like to know more about our founder, go to Dr. Rolf’s biography with photos and a video on our UK colleagues’ website, or you can hear audio recordings of her lectures here (scroll down to the clips, they’re on the bottom of the page). We also recommend this book of anecdotes, it gives a good idea about Dr. Rolf’s character and wit.
What is a Rolf® Ten-Series?
The Rolfing Ten Series is designed to promote healing and lasting changes in the whole human being. Most Rolfers recommend starting here, no matter what specific outcome the client is asking for -- the Ten Series will be adapted to both the client’s needs and the way this particular body is organized, but the sequence of sessions stays the same. It is a systematic approach to releasing tension and restoring balance throughout the body, allowing for improved posture, alignment, and awareness in the specific areas each session addresses, with structural and functional goals that work consecutively, each session building up on the results of the previous one. 

The Rolfer uses a combination of soft tissue manipulation, assisted stretching, gently guided movements, and myofascial release techniques to effectively release deep-seated patterns of tension and strain. Each session improves posture, increases flexibility, and evokes natural movement patterns for the specific areas and functions addressed. During a Rolfing Ten Series chronic pain, postural struggles, and physical imbalances become less disruptive and often disappear completely. The process is also used to improve sports performance or help you move with greater ease. The achievement of natural gait is most clients report that they suddenly walk faster without noticing it, and with much more stamina. This powerful bodywork system can help you heal from physical and emotional traumas, reduce stress, and increase overall well-being, most remarkably even after the tenth session. Experienced Rolfers talk about an “eleventh and twelfth” session that the client does themselves, without even trying to, just by using their body in the newly gained alignment with gravity.
What is Done During the Rolfing® Ten Series?
How do the Ten Series Sessions Help You Heal?
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 focuses on freeing restrictions or holding patterns trapped in a particular region of the body. A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client’s entire system during each session, thus ensuring that the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.

Many Rolfers describe each session as having three elements: One is “The Recipe”, in which Dr. Rolf did not prescribe techniques but an overall “territory” to address, and goals to accomplish. Another is what this particular client brings to the session, what goals and problems are important to the individual, and what they have experienced so far. The third is the Rolfer’s plan for this particular session and this particular client, based on specific assessments and notes from previous sessions.

See details about the Rolfing Ten Series in our video library. Click here to watch a whole series for one client. 

The Rolfing Ten Series can be divided into three themes: Sleeve, Core, Integration. 

Rolfing Ten Series Sessions 1-3
Called the "sleeve” sessions, numbers one through three strive to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue. Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the ribcage and diaphragm, sometimes the upper arms if they affect the thorax. “Opening the Sleeve” is started along the thigh ,particularly over quads and hamstrings, balancing drag on the pelvis between front and back.

Every session has work on the neck and spine, in the first one that is also related to the breath . The second session gives the whole system a stable foundation by addressing the 33 joints, 26 bones, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments that comprise the foot. An effective Rolfer can soften high, stiff arches and activate fallen ones, and give the client a sensation of grounding while achieving “Lift” through differentiated muscle compartments in the low legs. The work on spine and neck is helping the client feel the length of their whole body balanced over and through the three arches of each foot. Number three typically involves a “side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionaly related to one another when standing under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision, and the client is invited to feel the span between “front” and “back” as a space they inhabit. For many, this opens the third dimension of their perception, and they start feeling that there’s not only “belly” and “back” but the “core” space within. 

Rolfing Ten Series Sessions 4-7
Four through seven are referred to as “core” sessions and  relate to the terrain between the bottom of the pelvis and the top of the head. The idea of “core” in Rolfing includes the deep  layers of the legs, and the inner thighs for their importance in supporting the thorax and head starting from the feet.

Session four begins from the inside arch of the foot and up the inner leg, to the bottom of the pelvis. As in every session, there is work around the spine and the neck which introduces the idea of supporting the front of the spine from the inner leg through the pelvic floor. Clients have started feeling their “core” through the work in Session 3, and now connect the support built in 2 all the way up through the pelvis to the big vertebrae of their low back. When guided by a good Rolfer, they sense the front of these vertebrae balancing easily over the pelvis, without needing tension in the back to lift their head over their shoulders.

The shoulder blades start hanging back and down easily without being pulled back, which sometimes helps long-standing pain in the shoulder girdle. The fifth session is concerned with balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back, it is known to be the session about the “psoas” muscle, but really helps to continue the work of lengthening the whole spine and giving mobility to the joints in the low back. Session six is the “back part” to where #5 opened the front, Rolfers say session #6 is to “free the sacrum”. Here there’s often permanent relief from imbalances around the SI-joint, and the easier gait patterns from previous sessions now reach over sacrum and lumbar vertebrae into the whole spine. Support and adaptability from the feet through the inner line to the front of the spine results in a light rotation of the whole spine with every step. All that’s left for the seventh session is, as Dr. Rolf put it, “put the head on”. The territory here in the smallest of the whole series, often just the uppermost ribs, neck, and the whole head. After session #7, the Rolfer likes to see the head participating in the movement of the spine. For the client, this often feels pleasantly like a “bobble head”, literally as if their head has less weight, which is understandable when you consider how much weight used to pull on neck and back when the head was further forward of the “Line” that Rolfers imagine as gravity’s influence on the structure.

Rolfing Ten Series Sessions 8-10
While previous sessions each had their own areas, themes, and goals, they primarily were about “differentiation” between layers, compartments, joints. Now in the last three we need to make the results we achieved long-lasting. “Integration” is the priority, we’re not taking the body apart any longer, we want to put it together as a whole system.

During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner determines how best to achieve this integration into natural, easy coordination of posture and motion. The protocol is unique for each individual, and the “Recipe” is less prescriptive. Most Rolfers determine whether shoulder girdle (that’s hands, arms, shoulder blades and clavicles) or pelvic girdle (feet, legs, pelvis) needs to be addressed first, so there is an “Upper” and a “Lower” session #8 and #9. Some clients don’t show a clear need here, and their integration sessions might be more about the relationship of spine to limbs. Either way, the result after session nine should be that the client feels that movements in arms and legs start from the core, not from shoulders or pelvis. This is important because it gives stabilizing muscle groups more activation, and muscles necessary for short, strong action are not strained as supporters any longer.

The tenth and final session is also one of integration and serves to inspire order and balance. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.

Click here to watch the whole series, one video per session, as an example for one particular client.
What are the benefits of Rolfing® Structural Integration?
The benefits of Rolfing Structural Integration vary based on a person’s specific needs. For example, if you have a shoulder injury, you may see an improvement in your shoulder function and shoulder range of motion. If you have back pain, you may experience an improvement in your core strength and posture, and your Rolfer will teach you to let your back rest even while you sit and stand upright. Or, if you have joint pain, you may experience reduction in both frequency and intensity of the pain, while learning to move “around the pain” so inflammation and injury can heal sustainably. 

Many beginning Rolfers are surprised that arthritis responds so well to a Rolfing series, they can’t work on the inflamed cartilage, so they think there’s not much to expect. But the position of each part of the joint is dependent on the soft tissues attaching to it, and so for example one hamstring tendon might have caused an uneven torque on the knee, thus causing the cartilage to be strained. Once that tendon is released, the synovial fluid inside the joint space can nourish and hydrate the cartilage surfaces, and the pain stops.  Regardless of the specific benefit you are seeking, Rolfing Structural Integration can help you. Every Certified Rolfer can work through a Ten Series with you, and most will be happy to find a different strategy if your current situation calls for symptom relief or if you only have time for one, two, or three sessions.

Certified Advanced Rolfers learn to create a completely individual series of sessions, outside of the frame of the “Ten Series”, but usually with similar goals in mind. 

See our practitioners here.
What happens during Rolfing® SI Treatments?
During each session, a Rolfing practitioner uses a series of joint-by-joint movements to “restore movement” and “restore function.” Rolfing Structural Integration is a hands-on approach that often requires several visits to a practitioner. The scope and frequency of these visits depends on a person’s specific health needs and the degree to which they are affecting daily life. Because Rolfing Structural Integration is a hands-on healing modality, the effects of this work may be felt by you immediately.
What should I wear or bring to a Rolfing® SI session?
Good attire for treatments is a loose tank top and soft running shorts for men and women. If you bring your “Rolfing clothes” with you, just tell your Rolfer that you’d like to change before they start the session. Yes, some of us need to be told -- even within the country there are a lot of different cultural habits around dressing and undressing, and Rolfers who have not worked as massage therapists are used to casual habits where clients drop the top layer while talking. 

For many bodywork clients in the US, the idea of being assessed in posture and motion before and during treatment is unfamiliar, so it’s probably better if you think of physical therapy, not massage. Most Rolfers will explain clearly that “whatever you’re comfortable” is best. So please ask for extra cover during the session if you feel better with a top sheet. We’re all happy to help, but we also got used to walking around in underwear during our training, and so some preferences are best stated clearly. 

If it’s necessary for you to feel comfortable, we can even work around a pair of jeans, but don’t be surprised if a Rolfer asks you to “get into your Rolfing uniform”, and for most of our clients that means their favorite Rolfing shorts. 

Once the initial conversation is completed, you will be assessed on posture and mobility - with often just a simple stroll - to check the body's relationship to gravity, joint alignment, movement of the pelvis, spine, and shoulders in a few steps back and forth across the room.

From there, your Rolfer might review motions that limit, produce pain or alter your body composition and take notes, so that after one or several sessions you can both go back and compare “before and after”.

Traditionally, Rolfing treatments are done with the client wearing minimal clothing, for example underwear, bra and panties, or even swim suits. Nowadays many clients wear sports shorts and loose-fitting tops they feel comfortable being seen in, and most Advanced Rolfers® work through clothing just as well as on bare skin. 

You are encouraged to ask questions at any time and share what you are feeling, especially during hands-on treatment. That is not only important if something hurts you or is otherwise uncomfortable - you might feel immediate benefits, especially in range of motion and reduction of pain levels, and your Rolfer needs your feedback.
What is Rolf Movement® Integration and what are the benefits?
Rolf Movement is a somatic sensory-motor approach to movement education that helps clients optimize and sustain structural ease and function through balanced movement behavior. The “structural” work in Rolfing Structural Integration is what you expect, hands-on deep tissue work towards integrity of form, mobility and vitality. Individuals differ, however, in how readily and sustainably they embody the new way of being in their bodies, and that’s where specific education helps to anchor the results of the structural work in day-to-day life. In most sessions, Rolfers use Rolf Movement techniques in just a few minutes during assessment and at the end of the session to clarify and remember what has been achieved and to give the client “homework” so that new patterns become accessible and normal.

Distortions of body structure are primarily caused by responses to life experiences that engender habitual ways of perceiving and moving in the world. Over time, such patterns of response distort the body’s natural form and movement so that structural imbalance becomes self-perpetuating, and may even block opportunities for personal growth. Sustainable transformation of imbalanced structure involves revising the movements and perceptions that underlie the imbalance.

Find a Certified Rolfer® in your area

Get fast and lasting relief from pain and discomfort by finding a trusted and Certified Rolfing expert near you.