What is Rolfing?

Rolfing is like your 100.000 mileage service


Rolfing is a manual therapy and movement training that reorganizes the connective tissue of the body (fascia) in such a way that it can function better. Over time, events in our lives, such as injuries or trauma, can cause our natural alignment to be lost in gravity. This leads to avoidance and tension, which lead to physical and emotional complaints. Rolfing aims to systematically correct these tensions and thus reduce pain. It relieves movement patterns from stress Rolfing is a manual therapy and movement training that reorganizes the connective tissue of the body (fascia) in such a way that it can function better. Over time, events in our lives, such as injuries or trauma, can cause our natural alignment to be lost in gravity and increase well-being.

Like yoga, Rolfing is one of those practices that your body instantly tells you makes a lot of sense.

Vogue Magazine,March 2007 Issue

What kind of medicine is Rolfing?

I would like to divide medicine into 3 categories: Medicine in chemistry, in time and in space. Medicine in chemistry is the large field of drug medicine, i.e. the disorder is in our metabolic or messenger system and internal medicine is its outstanding representative. The medicine of time refers to disturbances that have happened in the past and continue to haunt us, i.e. mental traumas and formative times. This is the domain of psychotherapy.

Medicine in space refers to our orientation and movement in space. Disorders range from postural problems such as scoliosis to premature joint degeneration, from tension to chronic inflammation due to overuse. The classical medical representative is orthopaedics and as manual forms of therapy osteopathy, the Feldenkrais method, chiropractic and Rolfing.

Extensions in the field of medicine in space have occurred mainly [read more] by Jean-Pierre Barral. Barral has shown that many problems in our musculoskeletal system are caused by spatial restrictions in the organ or nervous system. Tension in the liver can lead to pain in the right shoulder, compression of the renal veins to morning back pain. Therefore, visceral and neuronal osteopathy is an ideal complement to classical Rolfing as medicine in space. [/read]

Why can therapy feel good?

Faszientherapie Rolfing Wohlempfinden

We speak of bitter medicine as if “bitter” were a seal of quality. As if the path to healing and health must always be painful. Pain, especially in manual therapy, is usually an avoidable side effect, collateral damage. Pain corresponds to a negative evaluation of the desired change by our brain. This means that pain hinders changes and healing!

How positive can a painful treatment have an effect at all if the therapy should refer to our tensions in the body, to our orientation in space? In contrast to the treatment of e.g. a wound, our tension, our movement pattern is always dependent on our evaluation and the feeling of security. From this follows for me, medicine in space must not be bitter, but must be sweet.

Does it work at all, if it does not hurt?

Traditionelle Behandlung, junge Frau behandelt Oberschenkel mit mit Holz und Hammer

First of all, Dr. Ida Rolf was a very gifted manual therapist. And, her work was hugely painful. So these two sides came together with Dr. Ida Rolf. But these two sides, pain and success are not conditional! Our body appreciates it when it can let go of unnecessary tension. Mostly it just does not know where, nor how and often fears negative consequences. So it’s more a question of understanding for our body. “Ah, so it is with less effort or force.” This understanding does not speed you up with pain. In other words, you do not expect that good lessons are a matter of volume.

Then there is also the conviction that without force this d*** tissue does not change. Here, sometimes research has tangible results. And this includes that in fascia we need tremendous force to achieve a mechanical change. An elephant would have to step on you to pull your connective tissue apart. Raw violence is only painful, and if it is less than an elephant, then ineffective.

A word about the picture

And finally, there is a certain transfiguration of the good old tradition. The original! Here, as it used to be! Here, we still work with heart and mind! Yes, with reason – please. We’ve become smarter, too. Our understanding has grown and therefore we have more and better solutions. What the young, traditional therapist wants to achieve in the picture can make sense. Falling on the kneecap or pain in the hip joint may be the reason for this. I just think the proverbial grip on the therapeutic toolbox should be different.

What is the concept of Rolfing ?

fascial therapy Rolfing works in gravity
Alignment in perpendicular

We begin our human lives almost as a worm, and then we stand up against gravity. Observing babies reveals the zeal with which we pursue our erection. Despite thousands of setbacks, we finally land on two legs and our body changes shape. We develop a foot arch not to carry the load, but because load acts from above and the tissue in our foot opposes it. This is why Rolfing calls gravity the ordering force that ultimately brings us upright. Nevertheless, we are not all and not always successful in being upright, tall and easy.

Rolfer looks at the plumb bob of a body to see how efficiently it can be erected against gravity. Deviations from an ideal line always lead to more and too much tension and thus to unnecessary energy consumption and ultimately to more wear. The visible goal of Rolfing is the improved erection at the perpendicular of gravity.

Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of movement.


Who invented it?

Ida Rolf - Gründerin von Rolfing

Not the Swiss, but the American daughter Swiss emigrant: Dr. Ida Rolf. She studied biochemistry and worked for 12 years at the Rockefeller Institute in New York from 1920. During these years she also studied mathematics and physics in Switzerland.

Her later life led her to manual medicine. She used concepts from osteopathic medicine, yoga and other manual therapies to develop an organized approach to analyzing and adjusting the tension in the fascial layers of the body. Dr. Ida Rolf called her method “structural integration” herself, her students have introduced Rolfing as the working title. The aim of her work was to change the structural alignment of the body so that it functions better and can adapt to external forces. Their basic premise was that every body must organize itself in space and gravity, especially in the upright position. She was willing to call any work that served this purpose “structural integration”.

The strength idea has effort in it; this is not what I’m looking for. Strength that has effort in it is not what you need; you need the strength that is the result of ease.

Dr. Ida Rolf

Why the 10 Series?

The 10 Series in Rolfing is a basic concept to systematically balance tensions in the body. The sequence of Rolfing sessions has an inner logic. This enables the gradual adaptation of one’s own statics to changed body tension. Thus, for example, the first session allows a change in the load absorption in the foot, which is a goal of the second session. Only this meaningful sequence allows a lasting change. Since the adaptability in the upper body is a prerequisite for the reorientation in the foot and calf.

This basic concept is not a sequence of manual techniques, but a sequence of different goals. How the goals are implemented depends on the client’s complaints and wishes and therefore the 10 series differs from client to client. It is like the “concept of pizza”, which consists of a sensible sequence of dough, tomato sauce layer and topping. Even this quite simple basic pizza concept allows an infinite number of variations. The same applies to the much more complex basic concept of the Rolfing 10 Series.

The Rolfing 10 Series is like the 100,000 km inspection on your all-time favourite car. It makes sense, there is less wear and tear, everything runs “somehow” rounder and certain repairs are carried out immediately. Even if you may have spent more time on foam washing, lotus shine and rim changes, in case of doubt now is the time for a major inspection.

Do I have to do the 10 series if I have acute problems?

No, the range of Rolfing possibilities is so large that you can also work outside the 10 Series. This is even the explicit aim of the “Advanced” certification in Rolfing, in order to use fascial therapy specifically for clinical complaints. In contrast to soul-related forms of therapy such as osteopathy or chiropractic, Rolfing increasingly searches for existing tensions and compensations that have arisen as a balance to the actual clinical symptoms. Holistic means looking at what is needed in addition to symptom-oriented treatment in order to achieve structural integration.

tension do not let go on its own like an unleashed dog
What changes without a leash?

To illustrate this with a ispicture. You lead a dog on a leash into the forest to give him free run. Although this dog is left on a leash in the forest, it does not use the freedom to romp, but continues to trot next to you as usual. And also encouraging shouting “Run!”, “Play!” does not change anything about his constant, familiar side trotting. Only the release of the line does not lead to the desired and used freedom of movement. Additional understanding, ingenuity and patience are needed so that the freedom from the leash can also be used and enjoyed.

The holistic approach of Rolfing

The same applies to symptom-oriented therapy. It is therefore usually not enough just to release the leash and hope for a good use of this freedom. This applies all the more the longer complaints have existed. Holistic means here, as with the mentioned dog, to start a positive and safe learning and perception process. Only in this way can changes be achieved and sustainably anchored. This is why it is so important to me that manual therapy and change are combined with well-being. Even though we are tall and grown-up, our own body perception reacts too easily like a frightened dog, volume and pain do not promote confidence in change.

Summery about Rolfing as a fascia therapy

Rolfing Fascia Therapy
What is the goal of Rolfing?

„Rolfing is like the 100.000 milage service.”
Rolfing intends to systematically correct tension. This allows you to reduce pain, relieve movement patterns of wear and tear, and thus increase overall well-being. In other words, you can improve your mobility again.

Is Rolfing Wellness?

No! Rolfing considers itself as medicine in space. In other words, Rolfing treats the entire body structure. That Rolfing focuses on reducing competing tensions. The result is an efficient, wear-free movement.

Is Rolfing painful?

In the old days it was like that. But Rolfing has evolved! As a result, understanding has changed. Above all, this is my point of view: pain in body treatment hampers sustainable change and improvement.