What is Rolfing?Rolfing® is a system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity. Rolfing bodywork affects the body’s posture and structure by manipulating the myofascial 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. Research has demonstrated that Rolfing creates more efficient muscle use, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. Rolfing has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic stress, reduce spinal curvature in subjects with lordosis (sway back), and enhance neurological functioning.
Who uses it?
People seek Rolfing as a way to reduce pain and chronic muscle tension, generally resulting from physical and emotional traumas. Rolfing is used by many professional athletes to break up scar tissue, rehabilitate injuries, and increase range of motion to improve performance and avoid future injuries. Dancers and musicians often use the work to increase increase comfort in their bodies while performing, as well as avoid repetitive stress injuries.
Additionally, some manufacturing companies have employed Rolfing to decrease workers’ compensation costs due to repetitive stress injuries. And, based on the mind/body connection, many counselors and therapists incorporate Rolfing in the therapeutic approach. Greater physical support and flexibility ultimately influences emotions and energy levels.
Where did it come from?
Rolfing® structural integration is named after its creator, Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Dr. Rolf received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1920 and furthered her knowledge of the body through her scientific work in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute. Her extensive search for solutions to family health problems led her to examine many systems that studied the effect of structure on function, including yoga, osteopathy and chiropractic medicine. 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. There are more than 1,200 Certified Rolfers in 27 different countries. The Rolf Institute’s international headquarters is located in Boulder, Colorado, with offices in Germany, Brazil, and Japan. To learn more about Dr. Rolf, visit the Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation website.
How is Rolfing different from massage?
Through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long-term. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and functioning. Rolfing is different from deep-tissue massage, in that practitioners are trained to create overall ease and balance throughout the entire structure, rather than focusing on areas presenting with tension. As a structure becomes more organized, chronic strain patterns are alleviated, and pain and stress decreases.
Furthermore, Rolfing can speed up injury recovery by reducing pain, stiffness and muscle tension; improving movement and circulation around joints; and attending to both the injury and any secondary pain that may develop from favoring the injury.
Structural integration is generally performed over a series of ten sessions. This approach allows the Rolfer to affect the client’s structure in a methodical manner. This includes loosening superficial fascia before working deeper areas, improving support in feet and legs before affecting higher structures, and helping clients find ways to benefit from freer movement in their daily activities.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder with typical treatment being medications and/or psychotherapy. IRI and senior iRest teachers work with those experiencing trauma, their physicians and caregivers to navigate the symptoms of PTSD, and often associated conditions such as phobias, suicidal feelings, mood disorders, insomnia, fatigue, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, all of which can be debilitating. In working with traumas of the mind, as well as severe traumas in the body, iRest has helped navigate recovery and increase coping skills. iRest is integrative in that it heals the various unresolved issues, traumas, and wounds that are present in the body and mind, and restorative in that it aids the body and mind in returning to a natural state of functioning. iRest fosters freedom from stress and trauma, and helps identify and heal destructive tendencies that otherwise can impede the healing process.
In addition to traditional approaches such as psychotherapy, counseling and case work support, the military healthcare system is embracing evidence-based mind-body modalities including iRest, yoga, meditation, massage and acupuncture to address the burgeoning healthcare needs of military communities. A growing body of research indicates that mind-body approaches can help people interweave healthy lifestyle practices into their daily lives that help alleviate pain, promote better sleep, increase resiliency, reduce anxiety and teach self-care management into their daily lives at a fraction of the cost of traditional therapies.
Overall CAM (Complementary and Adjunctive Medicine) use in the military (44.5%) is higher than that in comparable civilian surveys (36.0% and 38.3%). Military personnel reported using three CAM stress-reduction therapies at 2.5–7 times the rate of civilians. Among the military, high utilization of CAM practices that reduce stress may serve as markers for practitioners assessing an individual's health and well-being. (Source: Military Report More complementary and Alternative Medicine Use than Civilians. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Jan 16. PMID: 23323682) iRest offers the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and veterans in all walks of civilian life, a simple tool for healing through the variety of symptoms and issues that they are facing while actively serving or after being discharged from the service of our country.
Testimonials“I am currently the Clinical Director for an Intensive Outpatient Program that treats Wounded Warriors with the invisible wounds of traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder after multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade and more. The Warriors are able to regain their grounding and move forward in their recovery and reintegration into continued active duty service or return to the community.” John Golden, Captain US Public Health Service (USPHS) Military Treatment Facility
“I have been doing this yoga nidra now for about 3 years and I have gotten to a point now that I don’t have to take any medication for my blood pressure. And I don’t take anything for sleeping, so it has made a big improvement.” Tom Rusneck Vietnam Veteran
"Instead of feeling like there is something wrong with us, iRest makes us feel like there is something right with us." Gilbert M. Iraq War Veteran
"I truly believe that iRest helps to save my life every day. It has given me the hope and strength I needed to reconnect myself to the world again.” U.S. Marine Iraq War Veteran (3 deployments.
The origins of IRI and iRest are deeply tied to the service and support of the US Military. In 2006, the Department of Defense conducted research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) on the efficacy of Yoga Nidra (an ancient meditative practice dating back to 2500 B.C.E.). Renamed Integrative Restoration, or iRest for short, the protocol was developed and led by Richard Miller, PhD. The study was conducted with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In June of 2010, iRest was endorsed by the US Army Surgeon General and Defense Centers of Excellence as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Following the 2006 study, the Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) at WRAMC integrated the iRest protocol into its weekly treatment program for soldiers. iRest programs were subsequently set up at VA facilities in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, DC, Illinois and Tennessee. iRest is currently supporting active duty, veterans and families of service members in over 50 veterans administration hospitals and military bases/hospitals across the United States.