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Rolfing: What Is Structural Integration?

By Judah Lyons

So what exactly is Rolfing? To many it conjures up as an extremely painful experience. Unfortunately, there is very little truth to this rumor. It can create intense sensation. Pain in massage therapy should always be a brief experience to alert the Rolfer to fascia that is stuck in an adhesive pattern. A well trained Rolfer/Structural Integrationist should be conscious and respectful of their clients needs.

Oftentimes patients are willing to deal with some pain, especially if the session was successful in alleviating the painful condition that brought them to me. My Rolfing technique is more gentle than others, as I believe I can apply the technique a few extra times or longer to get the same results by allowing the body to adapt to the pressure. In reality, it is my opinion that all we are really doing is mirroring for the bodies own homeostatic response. Let me take you in for a deeper look into the world of Rolfing.

The imbalance, caused by force vectors that have entered our geodesic dome like structures that we call a human body, can create changes at the fascial and emotional levels of our being according to Dr. Rolf. These muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments all react to these forces that are inherent in gravity. Rolfers have been trained in the nuances of structural integrity and are able to create balance in bodies that have become imbalanced in gravity, through skillful application of touch.

The plastic connective tissue which links all the internal structures of our human frame is called the fascial network. It is malleable and can be influenced by external responses. Fascia also surrounds internal organs and can impact them as well. Sometimes these external forces can create imbalances which result in painful conditions. Rolfing is a very specific technique, and as I have told my clients, doesn’t resemble the classic Swedish Massage technique that they have experienced prior to coming for a Rolfing session

First of all, the application techniques in Rolfing are much slower strokes then other techniques, often times without lubrication. Fascia responds to slow pressure that is applied in a deliberate manner. Rolfers used a variety of tools including fingers, fists, the elbows and the ulna bones. Many times the tools don’t even move as we ask the clients to to move their body part in an active manner, or we move it for them in a passive manner with our other hand. Rolfing very often creates and improved upright, balanced posture. We often “talk” to our clients and give them movement cues/tools and with some focused effort, the changes that happen in a Rolfing session, last a lifetime.

Rolfing is a chemical free, tactile approach to the management of pain and performance. Athletes always appreciate and our aware of the slightest change in function and balance when it comes to performing at the highest levels. Rolfing has been used successfully for over 50 years not only for preventing the outset of painful injuries, but as a performance enhancement manual therapy. I highly encourage you to include Rolfing as an addition to your wellness regime.

Looking to findLearn more about Rolfer. Stop by Judah Lyons’s site where you can find out all about classes and what it can do for you.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Lyons, Judah "Rolfing: What Is Structural Integration?." Rolfing: What Is Structural Integration?. 16 Aug. 2010. 15 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Lyons, J (2010, August 16). Rolfing: What Is Structural Integration?. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Lyons, Judah "Rolfing: What Is Structural Integration?"

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