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Applied deep tissue massage

Also called Rolf therapy or structural integration, Rolfing is a holistic bodywork system that uses deep manipulation of the body's soft tissue to realign and balance the body's myofascial structure.

Ida Rolf began developing her system in New York in the 1930s with the main goal of organizing the human structure in relation to gravity in order to help the chronically disabled unable to find help elsewhere. Her method which involved a programme of deep-tissue massages was originally called Postural Release.  Later it became know as Structural Integration but became known as "Rolfing" in 1971 when Ida Rolf founded the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.

Rolfing seeks to restore the fascia that surrounds most muscle mass has been put to the test of subjective research and proved effective.  Fascia is is a structure of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding some structures together, while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other and is central to the biomechanical organization and activity of the body. A simple description is that fascia wraps around muscles to give them added support.

New research has found that fascial tissue can replace inactive muscles and that Rolfing, myofascial release and deep tissue massage can balance the muscle / fascial balance and thereby restore function in many cases.

The human fasciae factor prominently in the discussion among professional Structural Integrators as it's primarily concerned with the overall balance of the arrangement of the human body as it lives in the field of gravity.

Research and general acceptance

There is a growing amount of mainstream scientific research documenting the effectiveness of Rolf therapy. A 1988 study published in the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association indicated that Rolfing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which can help speed the recovery of damaged tissue. Other studies done in the 1980s concerned the effectiveness of Rolfing in treating figure skaters and children with cerebral palsy. In 1992 a presentation was made to the National Center of Medical Rehabilitation Research regarding Rolfing in the treatment of degenerative joint disease. A 1997 article in The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy reported that Rolfing can provide effective and sustained pain relief from lower back problems.


Books on Rolfing

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