A picture of massage therapist during Rolfing session


Rolfing is a soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organises the whole body in gravity, originally developed by Ida Rolf. Rolfers affects the body’s structure by manipulating the fascial system (connective tissue).

Often considered a deep-tissue approach, rolfing bodywork actually works with all the layers of the body to ease strain patterns in the entire system. Rolfing creates efficiency in muscle and patterns of movement by allowing glide between tissues. Rolfing has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic stress or pain and enhance neurological functioning.


Fascia is the stringy, fluid, gelatinous tissue that fills all the empty spaces between our cells.  Its weblike nature envelopes muscles, bones, blood vessels, nerves and protectively surrounds internal organs from head to toe. Fascia, also known as connective tissue, provides the structural and mechanical framework of the body, allowing tissues to slide and glide against each other during movement. Fascia is constantly changing and adapting in response to demands placed on an individuals body.


Dr. Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979) is the founder of the Rolfing® Structural Integration method that she developed and first taught in California, U.S.A. She is one of the first women to have obtained a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Columbia, New York, in 1920 and furthered her knowledge of the body through her scientific work in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute.

Dr. Rolfs interest in Structural Integration came about through her research for solutions to personal and family health problems for which conventional methodologies had proven unsatisfactory.

Dr. Rolf combined her research with her scientific knowledge to stimulate a deeper appreciation of the body’s structural order, resulting in the theory and practice of Rolfing. 


Dr Ida ROLF portrait
Rolfing session - Kristy Shelley


  • Rolfing responds to the needs of those who feel uncomfortable in their body, run down, stressed or in pain.


  • Rehabilitation from an old injury, trauma, emotional shock or to resolve problems from scar tissue (broken bones, torn muscles or ligaments, overstretched tissue, whiplash, etc.) so that the individual can fully recover and find ease again.


  • People seeking to free lesions from repetitive movements, improving ones posture and decreasing scoliotic patterns.


  •  To improve mobility, balance and well-being, especially for the elderly and for the ageing body.


  • Many athletes and/or artists wanting to improve performance and extend their careers seek rolfing.


  • Or for those who simply want to feel better - to have more energy and flexibility. Rolfing is a way to reconnect with our bodies - emotionally, physically, and spiritually.



While both, Rolfing and massage, involve soft tissue manipulation, the intention is different.


A rolfer affects the body's structure over the long-term. Changing the shape and function of facial tissues. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment, fascial glide and function.


Also, Rolfing is different from deep-tissue massage, in that the rolfer is trained to look at the overall structure of the body. While deep-tissue massage focuses on releasing tension in a specific area, rolfing looks for balance throughout the entire body. This way the overall structure of the body becomes more organised, alleviating chronic strain patterns, hence decreasing pain and stress.


To accomplice this a rolfer will engage movements while working the soft tissues innervating fascial glide, while in a massage the client is most likely passive.


Many forms of massage exist, both rolfing and massage are a great way to compliment ones preferred therapies.

Kristy Shelley - Rolfing session


After an injury or perhaps it starts from how we enter the world through the birth canal, our structure undergoes strain and has to find a way to adapt in movement.

Correcting ones gate involves looking a person walk to determine, through anatomical knowledge, how a person is enabling for an anatomical strain within their structure. During injury, due to the inflammatory processes within the tissues, there is a loss of proprioception making it difficult for the brain to determine accurately where you are in space.


Just like in any ski lesson or any sporting activity with a professional, having someone look at your movement is a more efficient way to resolve habitual patterns.

The process is then knowing your limitations within your gate through education of anatomical function. Resulting in efficiency in movement thus increasing your energy levels, mindfulness and maximum your performance in sport.


If you're an athlete, adaptations to your gate are best preformed at the start your training season, as the work needs to be integrated before you start racing. Integration takes time. When you change something in your biomechanics there is a chain reaction of things that may happen in the nervous system that could look like: the pain is different, a new pain, an emotional release and/or visceral changes.

To know more about Rolfing® and how to become a Rolfer visit:

www.rolf.org , www.rolfing.org