What is the Rolfing Massage Technique, How it Works & Its Benefits

Rolfing is a widely used massage therapy technique and you may get to learn about it while in massage school. Whether or not you choose to specialize in this type of massage is up to you, but one thing is for sure: it is an effective form of massage that could definitely deliver the results customers look for.

The basic technique used for Rolfing involves making slow and deep strokes on the client’s body. As the therapist, you have to work on all parts of the body that you feel need realignment, or those that are swollen or tired and need attention.

The basic purpose of Rolfing is to ensure the proper alignment of different parts of the body. This is done by applying pressure on the connective tissues within the body.

The practitioners believe that this enables them to access the hidden network inside the body which connects the muscles and bones. Applying pressure on these points ensures the clients get relief from the stress and pain that they suffer from.

The massage is broken down into three stages, namely Palpation, Discrimination and Integration. This makes Rolfing one of the most comprehensive massage techniques in practice today. This is also why Rolfing sessions take longer than other types of massage learned at the different kinds of schools out there.

The three-pronged approach covers different stages of the process of the massage. Here is an overview of the three stages:

  • The first stage is Palpation. This is when the practitioner determines the areas of the body which need to be worked on. They use their hands to check the tissues and muscles.
  • The second stage is Discrimination. Here, the practitioner looks at the imbalances more closely. He/she determines which imbalances need to be addressed, including the tissues that are out of place.
  • The third stage is Integration. This is where the actually massage is performed. Using their knowledge and expertise, Rolfing practitioners use the various techniques to treat the imbalances in the body.

How Rolfing Works

So how does Rolfing work? The basic purpose of Rolfing is to ensure that different components of the body are working in harmony with each other. The focus of the practitioners is to ensure that there is coordination between the body and the gravitational forces.

For instance, the practitioner might feel that the person’s legs and hips have to be aligned before the upper half of the body can be worked on. During the massage, there is some degree of emotional and spiritual involvement on part of the customer and the practitioner as well.

The feature that sets Rolfing apart from other types of massage is that it can get really painful. Generally, massage therapists avoid applying excess pressure to ensure the customers are feeling comfortable during the massage.

However, when it comes to Rolfing, there are some tissues and muscles that require the application of more force. Hence, the therapist has to apply more pressure. That being said, it would be wrong to say that Rolfing is always painful. Depending on the needs of the customer, there are some types of deep tissue massage that can be more painful than Rolfing.

The Rolfing Technique vs. Traditional Massage

There are many similarities between Rolfing and a traditional massage. However, this doesn’t mean they are the same thing. The purpose of the general deep tissue massage is to manipulate the muscles and tissues in the body to improve blood flow as well as relieve pain and tension.

This way, the clients feel relaxed after a massage, while also getting to release their stress. On the other hand, the purpose of Rolfing is to restore the balance within the body. Any parts of the body that are deemed out of place are treated using Rolfing.

The concept of Rolfing places a large degree of emphasis on achieving emotional harmony by influencing the physical factors. The belief is that physical health and emotional health are interconnected and by treating one, the other can be improved as well. The people receiving Rolfing treatments are encouraged to look after themselves better. In this regard, Rolfing can be a holistic treatment that one can opt for.

Can You Become a Rolfing Practitioner?

The requirements for becoming a Rolfing practitioner are considerably more stringent than for other massage types. You have to complete a two-year training program during which you will receive 731 hours of training and education.

For example, the Rolf Institute for Structural Integration in Colorado provides such training. There are international offices of the Rolf Institute as well in countries like Japan, Brazil and Canada. You will receive a certificate after completing the course, and can then seek continuing education to get more familiar with the advanced Rolfing techniques.

If you are more interested in the spiritual aspect of Rolfing, you can receive your certificate from the Rolf Movement. The education provided by the Rolf Movement veers more towards the spiritual side of things.

You have to make sure that the technique you are being taught to use is the trademarked version. Some experts have come up with their own variations on Rolfing. Yet, the only recognized technique is the one created by Dr. Rolf.

The Benefits of Rolfing

The primary benefit of Rolfing is that it could improve a person’s posture. The practitioner ensures that the different parts of the body are aligned keeping in mind the effect of gravity on the body. This way, you could make the person more flexible and mobile, while releasing any tension built up within the body.

In addition, Rolfing has also been proven to be effective for reducing stress and improving sports performance. It is commonly believed that Rolfing enables your body to work in a better way. All the body systems function optimally after a Rolfing session. This could definitely prevent health problems in the near future.

Rolfing is an effective holistic technique for improving a person’s health and wellbeing. That being said, it is quite different from conventional massage, and therefore it might take you some time to master it. Becoming a Rolfing expert could prove to be another feather in your cap and may help you get more customers as you progress in your massage career. It is especially beneficial if you are looking to specialize in a niche.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Types of Massage Techniques

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