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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.

What is the difference between massage and Rolfing?

Jon Stange (Santa Monica, CA) on Jan 20, 2012
Massage therapy is primarily used as a soothing, calming or rehabilitative measure for musculature due to stress, sports training and injuries. Its focus is on blood vessel dilatation and bringing fresh oxygenated blood to muscles for repair. Rolfing is basically about permanently changing the physical structure into a balanced whole by manipulation of fascia, which is the all-covering connective tissue of the body that has the large job of supporting it. Its focus is on working through the layers of fascia with, at times, very deep pressure that is sustained for up to a minute. The mechanical force combined with active movement helps to make structural change.
Della Melville (Plainfield, IL) on Jan 20, 2012
Rolfing deals mainly with connective tissue and how it relates to the body's structure. Massage can also deal with connective tissue, but it works with the muscles as well, and can be used for anything from pain to relaxation.
Christine Gross (Grand Rapids, MI) on Jan 20, 2012
The main difference is the type of pressure used. You will detox more from Rolfing and be more sore. Deep tissue massage can relieve a lot of tension.
Brian Wah (Herndon, VA) on Jan 20, 2012
Rolfing is more targeted to reestablishing a body's structure and integrity as a whole. It requires a series of sessions to do the entire body. Rolfing involves very deep work. It is often painful but offers good results. Massage therapy can be just as good. Much depends on the skill level of your therapist.
Anne Hoff (Seattle, WA) on Jan 20, 2012
There are many types of massage, but in general massage focuses on muscles and on moving fluid (blood, lymph) through muscles. Rolfing Structural Integration focuses on fascia or connective tissue, the "shrink wrap" that surrounds each muscle and holds it in a shape or relates it to other muscles and body parts. Rolfing SI has the goal of creating structural balance and alignment in the body as a way to bring lasting relief from pain and postural issues. While some massage therapists work with fascia, even then Rolfing and massage approach this work differently. I wrote an article about this for Massage Magazine online that you can read here: http://www.wholebodyintegration.com/blog/2011/07/massage-magazine-publishes-my-article-how-a-rolfer-looks-at-fascia.html
Minki Kim (Astoria, NY) on Jan 20, 2012
This is a frequently asked question about the Rolf Method of Structural Integration. Massage therapy mainly works with the musculoskeletal system of the body, while Rolfing manipulates connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, intervertebral discs, bone, etc), and specifically the fascial matrix supporting the human structure. Fascia is considered the"organ of support" and surrounds every major muscle, bone, organ, blood, and nerve vessel, and connects every structure with each other. In other words, Structural Integration is an integrative approach that has as its goal the reorganization of the all-encompassing fascial matrix. In massage therapy , the client takes a passive role with the goal of relaxation. Structural Integration encourages the client to take a more active role with her health by educating them with postural and movement awareness lessons and performing micro-movements while receiving the hands-on bodywork.
Sally Cina (Saint Louis, MO) on Jan 20, 2012
Structural Integration (Rolfing is a brand name of Structural Integration) works to align the body in the gravitational field, to teach postural awareness, and integrate the functional sectors of the body, among other goals. Massage has distinctly different goals than Structural Integration. Massage focuses on muscles, and Structural Integration focuses on the muscle's protective layer, the fascia (also known as connective tissue). Relaxation is by-product of a Structural Integration session. It differs from a massage where the client is passively receiving the treatment. There is more dialogue and communication, and clients are viewed as an active participant in this type of bodywork. There is no limit to the number of massages one can receive; however, it is recommended that after the initial 10 sessions of Structural Integration, one wait six months before receiving further structural work because it is so powerful.
Shari Auth (New York, NY) on Jan 20, 2012
Rolfing addresses postural alignment.
Deborah Gilmore (Golden, CO) on Jan 20, 2012
Massage is typically less painful than Rolfing.
Julie LaFrano (Breckenridge, CO) on Jan 20, 2012
Massage is the rubbing and kneading of muscles and joints of the body with the hands, especially to relieve tension or pain. Rolfing, or structural integration, is a massage technique aimed at the vertical realignment of the body, deep enough to release muscular tension at the skeletal level.
Scott Gauthier (Denver, CO) on Jan 20, 2012
One way to answer this question is to look at the history and scope of the two arts. Massage is a very broad term that covers a lot of different arts that have been developed through the centuries. Rolfing, or as its founder Dr. Ida P. Rolf called it, Structural Integration, was developed in the 20th century. She based her work on principles of osteopathic medicine and various movement therapies. She was the pioneer in looking at the effect gravity has on us. Her idea was that we could reshape the body into a more "normal" shape so that we could become more fluid and balanced in the way we stand, walk, and move. She said that "gravity was the therapist," in that when the body becomes more balanced, the chronic aches and pains that most people experience disappear. A Rolfingor Structural Integration session is much more active than an average massage. You will be asked to move and walk around. You will receive work standing and sitting and lying down. You will most likely be given movement cues and awareness practices.
Mark Carlson (Costa Mesa, CA) on Jan 20, 2012
Rolfing is the stretching of connective tissue by pulling on the tissue. It can be very painful. A regular massage is just controlled inflammation of the muscles.
Michael Wolfes (Palm Desert, CA) on Jan 20, 2012
IMassage is the gentle and firm manipulation of soft muscle tissue with the goal of relaxation. Rolfing can be considered the chiropractic form of massage. Chiropractic treatment deals with the realignment of skeletal/nerve structure in the body. Rolfing is the realignment of muscular tissue to its more natural position in the body.
Devinder Singh (Damascus, MD) on Jan 20, 2012
According to Wikipedia "Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being.The word comes from the French massage "friction of kneading", or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle" or from Latin massa meaning "mass, dough", Greek verb Ã'''Ã''Ã'¼Ã'''Ã''Ã'¬Ã''''Ã''''Ã'''' (massÃ''...') "to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough". Whereas Rolfing Institute of structural integration defines Rolfing as "Named after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body. More than fifty years ago, Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body. Whereas massage deals with muscles,fasciae,connective tissues, inner organs, whether superficially , intermedially or very deeply.
Carin Piacente (Putnam Valley, NY) on Jan 20, 2012
Rolfing is a form of massage that is very deep. It usually does not involve lubrication.
Kit Knowles (Portland, OR) on Jan 20, 2012
Rolfing (structural integration) is generally focused on realigning the skeletal system to relieve pain from postural compensations. It concentrates on realigning the deeper fascia, and usually is performed systematically, over 10 sessions, with each session building on the last. It could be considered a massage technique, but requires separate training and certification.