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Structural integration (including Rolfing)

Structural integration aligns, balances and lengthens the body by pressing into the connective tissues of the body and maneuvering them back into place.

For what types of conditions would one receive SI? could it be used in place of surgeries of any kind?

David Murphy (New York, NY) on Apr 18, 2012
That is a tough one to answer without specifics, but yes, I hae helped some of my clients avoid surgery, while others have gone on to go ahead with surgeries after doing a series of sessions. It all depends on the specific case. For instance, I worked with one client who avoided a knee surgery and opted for longer term physical therapy and yoga after restoring more balance to her legs, while another client I was seeing at the same time was miraculously no longer limping after a few sessions, but went ahead with a knee surgery to restore full mobility to his knee. I had another client who went from barely being able to walk to gaining full mobility in her legs. She then went to see her doctor. After taking X-rays, the doctor commented that she could not believe my client was walking with almost no cartilage in her knees. Structural integration will not restore lost cartilage, but sometimes that isn't the most important thing for full mobility . I also have sessions where the client is able to move freely after being immobilized.
Howard Rontal (Potomac, MD) on Apr 18, 2012
Structural Integration (AKS Rolfing) was originally formulated to deal with postural issues. Via the manipulation of fascial tissue (the white membrane you see when you pull the skin off a piece of chicken and which wraps not only muscles but every division within muscles) muscles can be relaxed and lengthened and a body restored to its maximum height. But Rolfers (and its derivatives, Hellerworkers, for instance) who have been at their craft for some years will most likely have developed expertise in helping with other problems as well, severe neck pain, low back pain, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome -- all conditions that sometimes require surgery. There are no guarantees, of course, that this work will obviate the need for surgery but it's definitely worth a chance.
Anne Hoff (Seattle, WA) on Apr 18, 2012
Many surgeries are necessary. In these cases, some conditions can benefit from structural integration before surgery to prep and align the body, and after surgery to help with recovery. I'm thinking here of clients I've helped after knee replacements, etc. SI may help you deal with pain issues to avoid or postpone surgery by creating more space around, say, a joint that has reduced cartilage or a disc that is bulging. But it's case-by-case, you'd have to try it and see, there's no blanket answer.
Christina Richards (New York, NY) on Apr 18, 2012
SI work balances the body in gravity. If the body is in balance and flexible it is not prone to injury. After an injury the body lays down scare tissue which decreases range of motion (ROM). To prevent surgery the injury site needs to regain ROM so other imbalances do not occur due to compensating for the injury. SI stretches the fascia network to regain balance and mobility in the entire body. Surgery can be avoided for herniated discs, rotator cuff injuries, pinched nerves, and other conditions caused from compression. I hope that was helpful, Christina
Anne Sotelo (Los Angeles, CA) on Apr 18, 2012
For acute and chronic pains, Rolfing® can be a good alternative to conventional physical therapy. Some disc herniations, rotator cuff injuries, hip pain and motion restriction may be due to co-contractions of muscles around the joint. Easing that problem with STM (soft tissue mobilization: myofascial/nerve work), and neuromuscular re-education may be helpful; if the compensations have not damaged the joint surfaces to the point of surgical repair.
Minki Kim (Astoria, NY) on Apr 18, 2012
Great question! There are a slew of conditions under the sun that Structural Integration can help. Here is a nice link to a Rolfer's website that sums up how Rolfing can help: To answer your second question, yes, Structural Integration can be used in place of surgery. I advise to seek your specialist's or doctor's advice first before you choose between surgery or preventative bodywork, such as SI. SI can prevent the future wear and tear of connective tissue, but in some cases, the damage may be irreversible and surgery may be in order. SI can also serve as a highly effective rehabilitative therapy post-operation. That being said, it depends on the state of the afflicted area. Thanks! Much luck to you! -Minki Kim of MKSI
Matthew Williams (Bend, OR) on Sep 29, 2012
The reasons people seek out rolfers are as varied as the people asking, but there are some very common conditions that bring clients into my treatment room. I see many people with back pain, frozen shoulder, neck pain, hip pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, but also other needs such as treating depression, enhancing athletic performance, post surgical recovery, managing spinal injuries (fusions) and getting zest back in their lives. I am currently working with a client who had shoulder surgery a year ago but still has pain when swimming or Kayaking. I did the series with him and then we continue to work on the scar tissue surrounding the last surgery so that we can try to prevent a follow up surgery. So far so good, he is feeling better and thinks he can avoid any further surgeries for this shoulder. There is a great example of Rolfing reducing a hearing aid companies health insurance premiums after a rolfer prevented carpal tunnel survey (go to the url -