Does Rolfing Really Relieve Pain?

Does Rolfing Really Relieve Pain?

Most people would go for chiropractic treatments to help in the relief of chronic pain. However, there is another method known as Rolfing. Not only does it help in relieving pain, but it also improves posture and reduces stress. Here is everything to learn about this method and its benefits.

What Is Rolfing?

Dr. Ida Rolf created a method called rolfing. A biochemist from the Big Apple, Dr. Rolf studied unconventional methods of healing and bodywork since the 1920s. She died at the age of 82.

According to her theory, body pains and aches arise from imbalances in one’s posture and body alignment. These imbalances are caused over time due to gravity as well as learned responses among fascia and the muscles. Fascia is the connective tissues that surround and bind the muscles. Thus, her method is focused on “restructuring” the fascia and the muscles.

This method feels similar to a deep massage. However, unlike a massage, rolfing massages not only the fascia and muscles where the pain is felt but the whole body as well. The primary goal is to fix one’s body structure and posture. This, in turn, corrects imbalances that cause pain.


  1. Improves Spine Health and Posture

Studies show that this method is beneficial in treating posture problems, such as curvature of the spine or lumbar lordosis. The method improves one’s musculoskeletal alignment and balance. Apart from improving one’s posture and spine health, research shows that this method improves the parasympathetic nervous system as well. There is an improvement in one’s attention span, a decline in autonomic stress, and an improvement in one’s neurological functions.

  1. Improves Physical Ability

By relaxing the areas of muscle tension, improving ease of tension and posture, there is a marked improvement in one’s athletic abilities. This method also helps the body develop advanced patterns of movement and conserve more energy.

  1. Improves Breathing

Tension and restrictive patterns in the muscles, nerves, and fascia in the chest cause a limitation in the chest’s expansion. This method breaks those patterns and improves misalignments leading to an improvement in breathing. For those who have asthma, this method is considered a natural remedy.

  1. Relieves Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

TMJ is a tightness and inflammation of the joint connecting the skull to the jaw. It is often characterized by pain and a popping or clicking sound in the jaw. This method releases the joint located between the skull and jaw from its restricted state. Thus, pain is relieved, and the jaw is aligned correctly again.

  1. Lessens Chronic Pain

Chronic pain felt in the neck, shoulder, and back are common patterns of stress accumulated over time. This method is effective at correcting these accumulations of stress and tension. Rolfing loosens the fascia, breaks the wrong form of muscle strain, and frees up muscle movement. Once the back, neck, and shoulder muscles are realigned, chronic pain should decline.

What to Expect

If you are curious about this method, then here are just a few things you should expect in a session. Take note to wear clothing that allows ease of movement. A session lasts one to two hours long. The primary goal of each session is to break patterns in areas of the body and free restrictions in movement. Based on the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, Rolfing is divided into three units.

  • Session 1 to 3

This is also known as the “sleeve” session. The primary objective is to balance and loosen the surface layers of the body’s connective tissues.

For the first session, it is dedicated to enhancing one’s quality of breathing. Work is done on the diaphragm, rib cage, and arms. Further work is one on the spine, neck, hamstrings, and upper legs.

For the second session, it is focused on balancing the muscles and of the lower legs and the feet. This helps give one a stable foundation.

For the third session, it entails a “side view.” This is done for a better comprehension of how the hips, shoulder girdle, and the head are related in terms of their position to each other when in an upright position.

  • Session 4 to 7

These are called the “core” sessions. The main idea of these sessions is examining deep tissue in the legs and its role in body support. The pelvis, as well as the top of the head, are also examined.

For the fourth session, the area of focus is the foot’s’ inside arch going up to the leg until the bottom part of the pelvis.

For the fifth session, it is focused on balancing deep and surface abdominal muscles up until the back’s curvature.

For the sixth session, it is dedicated to creating more movement and stable support from the lower back, pelvis, and legs. For the seventh session, exclusive attention is given to the head and neck.

  • Session 8 to 10

The three remaining sessions are called “integration” and are advanced in nature. It allows a Rolfing practitioner to mix previous advancements established with ones yet to be done. This allows the body to move smoothly. It also leads to coordinated and natural movements.

For the eighth and ninth sessions, integration is solely based on the individual.

For the tenth session, integration is also a focus. Moreover, it aims to stimulate a sense of balance and order in the body and one’s movements.

Side Effects

Some individuals may experience pain during or after a session. Pain is mild and recedes after treatment of heat and ice. It is highly advised that you stay well hydrated before as well as after a session.

Take note that pain is common, especially after the first session. One’s level of pain depends on some factors. These include:

  • Degree of Trauma
  • Duration of the Trauma
  • Emotional Link of Pain or Injury to the Individual

The pain or discomfort felt after a session will gradually turn into pleasant sensations. This is because the body relaxes more after each session and is realigned to its natural state.


Before getting into a session, it is vital that you first consult with your primary physician. This is to ensure that the pain or discomfort you feel is not connected to an underlying health issue. Rolfing is not advised for individuals who are breastfeeding and pregnant. It is also not recommended for individuals with a psychological disorder or a connective tissue disorder.

While it is deemed safe, this method is not advised for people with cancer. It is also ill-advised for individuals with an illness that may spread with an improvement in blood circulation. Moreover, individuals who take blood thinners or have a blood-clotting disorder are advised to avoid Rolfing.

benefits of rolfing

Mom Pamper

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