Developed over 50 years ago by Dr. Ida Rolf, Ph.D., Rolf Structural Integration works on the web-like complex of connective tissue (fascia) to release, realign and balance the whole body. It can resolve pain and discomfort from many different causes, including those related to the lingering effects of trauma, back pain, repetitive motion injury and aging.

Rolf Strucutral Integration is also an excellent foundation for and complement to yoga, pilates and other personal wellness practices.


Table of Contents - Select a Topic


About Rolfing - Structural Integration

Rolfing - Structural Integration is the original work of Dr. Ida P. Rolf, which is now commonly called Rolfing.

Rolfing - Structural Integration is designed to restore a person's body to its natural state of alignment in relationship to the constant force of gravity. Results include improved posture, flexibility, balance, and movement. Better organization in the body is achieved by direct manipulation of the connective tissue "fascia" combined with movement education.

Over time, under the influence of the constant force of gravity, bodies become less organized and more restricted. Stress, injury, trauma and poor postural habits will contribute to structural imbalances. Rolfing - Structural Integration takes into account these imbalances that have accrued over a lifetime, and provides a series of 10 sessions, or sometimes individual sessions, to return the body to a more natural state of alignment.

The field of gravity is an unseen force that is consistently interacting with the human body. Rolfing - Structural Integration aims to re-educate the human body so that it lives and moves in harmony with the field of gravity rather than being in constant conflict with gravity. As a fish lives in the medium of water, humans live within the gravitational field. Harmony with gravity enables that medium to become a supporting and energizing factor.

back to table of contents...


How does Rolfing - Structural Integration work?

Good posture is natural and should be effortless and so is health and vitality. Our bodies are made to be in proper alignment and to move painlessly without excessive restrictions. Why does it seem like work or feel unnatural for some to stand with good posture? Why do certain activities make some more tired and sore than they ought to be? Most likely it is because of poor postural alignment and fascial restrictions. With poor alignment, the fascia will tighten and bind the body so that normal movement and posture requires extra effort.

The body falls out of alignment for various reasons; physical, mental and emotional. Physical injuries happen all of the time. A sprained ankle may force one to limp which in turn causes a tight and painful hip. Another person may sit at a desk all day and develop a sore back and a stiff neck. Living with emotional stress like depression may cause ones shoulders to round forward in a slouching posture. These are just a few examples of countless stresses that affect the body. The longer these adaptations to stress go unchecked, the deeper they manifest themselves into the body.

Practitioners of Structural Integration are trained to see where the body has moved away from its natural alignment. They also have been trained to apply skillful techniques to help remove the adhesions that develop from poor posture. When these restrictions are removed, it allows the body to move with more freedom. When tightness and restriction is removed, blood circulation will improve along with lymph flow and much more. After completing the Structural Integration sessions, people often report feeling more energetic and resilient.

back to table of page contents...


Who can benefit from Rolfing - Structural Integration?

Imagine living in a world with no mental, emotional or physical stress. Everybody moves and sits with perfect posture throughout their entire life. There is no excessive noise or air pollution. All of us get plenty of rest every night and eat five light, nutritionally balanced meals each day. We exercise in the fresh air and maintain harmonious relationships with everybody we meet. There are no injuries or accidents because everyone is so mindful of what they are doing. This is a world that might not need Structural Integration. This world is definitely not the planet that I live on.

My point is, unless you're living the ideal life, your body is constantly adapting to the input of your environment. Over time, this environmental input is taking your body further and further away from its original program. Structural Integration is a process that erases the accumulation of this interfering input and "reboots" your system so it can function more like it was originally intended.

Everyone can benefit from Structural Integration at any time. In my experience, I have found that there are no perfect bodies. Even the most perfect bodies have issues and restrictions that can cleared away to optimize health and vitality.

back to table contents...


The Benefits of Rolfing - Structural Integration

(1). Complete body image - the client has access to the information coming from and motor access to the entire kinesthetic body, with minimal areas of stillness, holding, or "sensory-motor amnesia".

(2). Skeletal alignment and support - the bones are aligned in a way that allows minimum effort for standing and action.

(3). Tensegrity/span/palintonicity - the myofascial tissues are balanced around the skeletal structure such that there is a general evenness of tone, rather than islands of higher tension or slackened tissues.

(4). Length - the body lives its full length in both the trunk and limbs, and in both the muscles and the joints, rather than moving in shortness and compression.

(5). Resilience - the body shows increased ability to bear stress without breaking, and to resume a balanced existence when the stress is removed.

(6). Ability to hold and release somato-emotional charge - increased ability to hold an emotional charge without acting it out, and to release it into action or simply into letting go when the time is appropriate.

(7). Unity of intent with diffuse awareness - the term "structural integration" implies the ability to focus on any given task or perception while maintaining a diffuse peripheral awareness of whatever is going on around this focused activity. Focus without contextual awareness is fanatic; awareness without focus is ineffective.

(8). Reduced effort in standing and movement - less "parasitic" tension or unnecessary compensatory movement involved in any given task.

(9). Range of motion, generosity of movement - less restriction in any given activity, and that, within the limits of health, age, history, and genetic make-up, the full range of human movement is available.

(10). Reduced pain - that standing and activity be as free of structural pain as possible.

Tom Myers, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2004) 8, 131-142

back to table contents...


The History of Rolfing - Structural Integration

Dr Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. was born in 1896 and obtained her doctorate in biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. During the late 1920s, she found herself confronting spinal arthritis. Since little medical help was available for this condition, she began her own lifelong exploration into human structure and function in order to help her condition. Her earliest inquiry was into hatha yoga, which she studied and practiced assiduously for some years with Pierre Bernard in Nyack, New York.

When she first began working with clients, it was via the yoga postures or asana's with the added twist that where the client's tissue would not accommodate the position, Dr. Rolf would manually stretch the tissues to help the client achieve the depths of the posture. This technique observation of the specific limitations of the body moving in gravity, followed by sequential selective lengthening of myofascial tissues formed the fundamental basis for her evolving method.

While on vacation in Colorado as a young woman, a kick by a horse left her with symptoms of pneumonia, severe enough to prevent her from traveling home to New York by train. An osteopath in Montana put her back together sufficiently to make the journey, bringing traditional manipulative osteopathy, another major taproot for Structural Integration, into her life.


After her return home, Rolf studied and worked with a number of osteopaths (reportedly including William Garner Sutherland, the originator of cranial osteopathy). One could consider the Structural Integration system she developed to be a soft-tissue subset of the general osteopathic inquiry, with the exception that Structural Integration looks for general systemic improvement, rather than specific correction of "lesions". In this, she was more in step with the original ideas of Still and Sutherland, but a bit off from the thrust of osteopathy at that time, which was seeking more legitimacy through demonstrating its ability to deal with specific pathologies as well as structural issues.

Over the years of the Great Depression and World War II, Dr. Rolf continued to explore the larger relationship of the human being to its (primarily gravitational) environment. For many years she worked on the floor with a mat, as shiatsu practitioners do now, until her work evolved onto a standard treatment table, as it is currently practiced. Aside from yoga and osteopathy, traces can be found in her work of principles from the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Korsybski's General Semantics, the body-centered psychotherapeutic approach of Wilhelm Reich, and homeopathy, which she studied in Switzerland.

Although various claims have been made for the wide scope and efficacy of the Structural Integration process in miraculously curing everything from bad digestion to autism, these are predominantly anecdotal since very little real research has been done on the method. Like yoga, the Alexander Technique, and traditional manipulative osteopathy, Structural Integration explores the domain of "Spatial Medicine". What can be improved through changing spatial relationships within the body? The scope of inquiry within the world of Structural Integration is thus very wide, considering issues of evolution and maturational development, authentic self-expression, the relationship between spatial arrangement and physiology, and of course the complex details of biomechanics.

When reduced to its actual scope of practice, however, Structural Integration, as originated by Dr. Rolf, is designed quite simply to work progressively and systematically with the standing tonus of the parietal fascial planes and myofasciae in order to reduce the rotational moment of inertia of the body.

In simpler terms, Structural Integration seeks to organize the body closely around the vertical line of gravity and lengthen it along that line. (Myers, 2004)

Myers, Thomas W., 2003. Structural Integration Developments In Ida Rolf's "Recipe" - I, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2004) 8, 131-142

back to table of contents...


The 10 sessions of Rolfing - Structural Integration

Sessions 1-3: Focus on superficial layers

Session One

This session focuses on freeing the lungs to allow fuller breath, and beginning to free the shoulder and pelvic girdles from the ribcage. This is accomplished by working superficial tissue around the ribcage, shoulders, arms, and hips. Neck and back work is included at the end of almost every session to balance and integrate the work into the body.

Session Two

Next we address your foundation. The feet and lower legs are opened and aligned to better support the body in gravity. Often clients feel a greater sense of support and balance from their feet, as well as better contact between their feet and the ground. Foot problems such as high or fallen arches are also addressed in this session.

Session Three

Now we move to your sides and establish a lateral line. The goal here is to ease strain patterns in the front-back dimension. You might think of it as giving the body depth by opening the "seams" along your sides! We'll manipulate the sides of your torso, neck, and hips to allow these major segments to better support each other; improving the relationship between your upper and lower body.


Sessions 4-7: Focus on deeper layers

Session Four

We move back to the legs in this session, focusing on the inside of the leg from the ankle to the pelvis, at a slightly deeper layer. The relationship of the foot to the pelvis is aligned; torsions at the knee and hip are addressed. Manipulating adductor attachments allows increased range of movement of the pelvis, which starts the pelvis on its way to becoming more horizontal.

Session Five

Work continues up the front of the abdomen, quadriceps, and psoas, lengthening the front of the body and providing lift up the center of the structure. By freeing deeper pelvic and abdominal restrictions, which can inhibit pelvic movement, the pelvis can continue its shift to a more supportive and balanced horizontal position.

Session Six

This session lengthens the deep muscles of the back and hips, matching the change achieved in the front in Session five. Starting in the legs, if necessary, we address the calves, hamstrings, back of the pelvis, and up both sides of the spine to the head.

Session Seven

All the work we've done so far has been necessary before we could organize the head and neck. This session focuses on the upper shoulders, head, neck, and sometimes the arms. After this session clients often feel that their head is more "on." By this time in the series, flexibility, athletic performance and body symmetry are usually noticeably improved.


Sessions 8-10: Focus on integration & overall function

Session Eight

The final three sessions are about integrating all we've done. The human pelvis is an amazing structure that links the upper and lower segments of the body, supports the spine in a vertical position, and allows rotation of the spine. To improve these functions, our work has emphasized freeing and horizontalizing the pelvis. Sessions eight and nine revisit the upper and lower segments of the body and work to integrate them with the pelvis and each other to work as a fluid whole. Session eight is often a lower body session, integrating the legs with higher structures, but many clients will benefit more from upper work at this stage.

Session Nine

This is the other half of session eight. If we worked the lower body in the previous session, this one will target upper structures. The ribcage, shoulders, arms, and sometimes the neck and head are the focus, with the goal always being integration.

Session Ten

The final integration: This session is usually customized to each individual's body and needs. This is our opportunity to complete, for now, all we've been able to free. We will smooth the fascial wrappers over the structural changes that you have gained, and make peace with anything that remains. This session usually involves the whole body at a somewhat more superficial layer.

back to table of contents...

FAQ about Rolfing - Structural Integration

back to table of contents...


Does Rolfing - Structural Integration hurt?

Structural Integration's reputation for being painful came mostly from its earlier days when it was first becoming popular. Over the years, the Structural Integration community has developed and discovered new ways of working more gently with the body. I always put clients in charge of regulating the pressure and depth of the work; the session's work may vary anywhere from deep to quite gentle. Most clients report the feel of Structural Integration as very unique and satisfying as compared to other types of bodywork. Sensations in the areas being worked often range from momentary discomfort to pleasurable warmth and release. Structural Integration should never feel sharply painful or overwhelming.

top of FAQ...

How does Rolfing - Structural Integration differ from Chiropractic and massage?

Chiropractic therapy tends to focus on bone alignment and individual joints, and typically uses high velocity thrusting methods. However, unless the tension and strain in the soft tissue fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments) is addressed, the bones will continue to be pulled out of alignment. Structural Integration, on the other hand, involves slower sustained pressures and addresses the entire bed of soft tissue in which the bones are embedded. The goal is to achieve balanced tension which allows the bones to fall back into their proper relationships naturally. It produces a longer lasting result with less sessions.

The goals of most types of massage focuses on relaxing individual muscles whereas Structural Integration looks to realign and re-sculpt the entire body into a better working (and feeling) unit. The goals of Structural Integration require clients to be actively involved during sessions by performing specific movements, noticing sensations, and lots of times getting off of the table to sit, stand, or walk.

top of FAQ...


Do the changes from Rolfing - Structural Integration last?

Yes. The changes from Structural Integration are long lasting if not permanent. Structural Integration helps the clients body return to homeostasis. The "struggle" is over when body alignment is restored back to a healthier, more neutral position. Modifications to our alignment and relearning proper usage patterns while sitting, standing and walking will help the body maintain its new alignment.

top of FAQ...

Do I have to commit to an extended series of sessions?

No. While Structural Integration is most effective in the context of a 10-15 session series, it is not always necessary for an individual to complete over 10. A series of at least 10 session allows the practitioner an opportunity to fully address the entire body and the way it works as a whole. Most people complete the initial 10 sessions and return periodically for "maintenance" sessions. Some people never stop and continue on a regular basis to further their body's evolution.

top of FAQ...

Can children receive Rolfing - Structural Integration?

Absolutely. In addition to correcting structural patterns, Structural Integration can serve as a preventative measure to reverse potentially problematic patterns in the young. One of the things children learn from watching us is how we carry ourselves and they will naturally imitate their parent's language, movement and other modes of expression. From colicky newborns to rebellious teenagers, children will almost always benefit from Structural Integration. Some of the childhood structural patterns that respond well to Structural Integration are scoliosis, pigeon toes, knocked-knees, rounded legs, poor posture, and even general adolescent growing pains. Work with children is always gentle comfortable and rarely requires the time that adult bodies do.
top of FAQ...


How often should I come?

Most people find once a week to be a beneficial and convenient time frame. However, others find that they respond better to the work if they have more time between sessions to settle into the new patterns of their body. Up to three weeks between sessions is fine in most cases. With maintenance type sessions, an hour per month is the average frequency recommended.

top of FAQ...

What should I wear?

Rolfing - Structural Integration Practitioners need to see your structure before, during, and after the session. Most clients, both men and women, go through the sessions in their regular underwear. However, your comfort is the most important thing. To feel comfortable, some choose to wear gym shorts and sports bras.(the less area of the back that the sports bra takes up the better). Once you are on the table, you can have a sheet or blanket to cover up with if you wish.

top of FAQ...

How long are Rolfing - Structural Integration sessions?

Appointments typically last an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. Initial visits often run longer to take time for a detailed health history and general questions.

top of FAQ...


How much does it cost?

Most people pay for each session individually. The rate for Structural Integration sessions are $110 each or $1100 for the 10 session series. Payments can be made by cash, check or charge.

top of FAQ...

Does insurance cover Rolfing - Structural Integration?

Unfortunately, most carriers do not cover Structural Integration. However, if needed, a receipt can be provided for insurance reimbursement. Please call me with specific questions in regards to insurance coverage. Often, Structural Integration is covered by flexible spending accounts.
top of FAQ...

back to table of contents...

  • Myofascial Therapy

    Direct Release Myofascial Techniques

    Almost instantaneously reducing pain and improving range of motion, Direct Release Myofascial Techniques (DRMT), are a fast and effective way to resolve issues of pain and stiffness. Unlike massage, no lotions or oils are used.

    Read More
  • Medical/Orthopedic Massage

    Medical and Orthopedic Massage Therapy

    (Insurance may reimburse) Your Dr. will provide a prescription for massage that will inform the therapist of the diagnosis, treatment plan and treatment codes. The treatment will focus on the areas of the body related to the diagnosis and prescription.

    Read More
  • Deep Tissue Massage

    Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

    Realigning deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.

    Read More
  • I.A.S.T.M.

    Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

    Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization treatments consist of the highly skilled use of specially designed tools to mobilize soft tissue for pain relief and improved function.

    Read More