Rolfing – A General Guide

Rolfing – A General Guide

Rolfing is a new form of body workout that involves fitness and deep tissue manipulation. Manipulating the deep tissue of the body releases tension and aligns the body in the correct way, improving general wellbeing, functionality and muscle function.

The three key principles of Rolfing are:

  • Releasing tension
  • Realigning posture
  • Balancing the body


In 1950, Dr Ida Rolf, an American biochemist, recognised that our bodies are not a collection of separate parts but rather a network of interconnecting tissues and muscles that link throughout the entire body. So, rather than trying to repair a certain part of the body, Rolfing actually takes on a holistic overview of the entire body.

The Importance of the Fascia

The fascia is a deep connective tissue that envelopes a large part of the body. It acts like a band or blanket and is primarily made of collagen. It sits beneath the skin and attaches and stabilizes muscles as well as many of the vital organs. Rolfing manipulates these layers of fascia by a method of “kneading” where the masseur will use the thumb or knuckles of the hand by work into the fascia.

The fascia has three layers: the visceral layer is in between the superficial layer (which is on top) and the deep layer which attaches to the muscle and organs throughout the body. By manipulating parts of the fascia a patient can benefit from pain relief, reduce discomfort and create a sense of well-being and bodily calm.

Early sessions of Rolfing determine how the individual body reads. We all have differences in our gait, stance and posture, so the art of body reading when Rolfing is paramount. An instructor will watch the way you stand, walk, sit and move in everyday activities like jogging or dancing.

The Rolfing instructors will prescribe certain exercises that will be tailored to you. Those suffering from long-term or chronic pain will often have a poor organisation of tension in the fascia. This is the body’s way of reacting to an injury or accident.

The early sessions of Rolfing will also work on breathing properly, achieving maximum stability as we stand and walk and integrating the ribcage, stomach and back.

Freeing up the pelvis and abdomen come later in the sessions and the final program would include releasing tensions in the shoulders, neck and skull. Tensions in the face are also released by working on the mouth and nose. Skull work is also used to balance the head properly on the spine.

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