View Full Version : Rolfing

11-28-2003, 10:06 PM
Hi, I was wondering if anyone out there has tried Rolfing? If so, what did you experience? Or, if anyone has an opinion on whether this would be something beneficial for someone with scoliosis. I have no idea what degree curvature I have, just know I was diagnosed at 12 or so and am now 30. Thanks for any info!

11-30-2003, 04:14 PM

I am 35 and have been using many different techniques to maintain my scoliosis, one which was rolfing. I think that is was helpful but found that a deep tissue massage was just as helpful if not more. There are many massage therapist that will also take insurance. I highly recommend it. I even notice a difference in my appearance which last for a good 4-5 days. I also do yoga which helps to lengthen and stretch the spine. Cyn

12-01-2003, 11:14 PM
Thanks for your information, Cyn! I will definitely try the deep tissue massage.

Erica M
01-24-2004, 03:51 PM
I went through the full 10 sessions of Rolfing over 10 years ago. I found it to be extremely helpful. I do believe that it is necessary to go for "tune ups" fairly frequently, however, since the Rolfing doesn't (in my case anyway) do anything to correct the curvature of the spine, so the pain and attendant problems will eventually come back. The main benefit that I got from Rolfing was feeling that areas where I had stored chronic tension were being released. I remember feeling that I could breathe freely for the first time in my life after having my back worked on.

01-26-2004, 11:52 AM
Don't laugh at me, but, what exactly is rolfing? Anyone?

Erica M
01-31-2004, 04:24 PM

This site will provide a good explanation.

02-03-2004, 11:40 AM
Thank you, Erica, for your reply. That was very informative.

02-13-2004, 02:14 AM
Another question for Erica:

You say that it helped release areas where you had stored chronic tension. How painful was that? I have far too much tension, to the point that if someone accidentally touches my neck, it hurts. It seems like rolfing could help with that, but I'm not sure if it would be worth the pain.

Erica M
02-13-2004, 07:02 AM
I didn't find Rolfing to be unpleasantly painful. It did bother me to have certain areas touched, so I'd tell the practitioner and he would lighten up. I was very concerned about the pain of being Rolfed (having heard the war stories about how it's the most painful experience you can undergo without passing out and the like), but I really enjoyed Rolfing. A good practitioner will be sensitive to your needs and work with you so you're not in pain.

06-25-2004, 11:56 PM
I'd like to offer some information on a couple of other types of bodywork that are very beneficial for scoliosis: Myofascial Release Therapy (www.myofascialrelease.com) and Craniosacral therapy (www.upledger.com). I am a therapist who practices both modalities, though I am not affiliated with the above-mentioned websites. (Except that I've had my training through them.)

I'm very familiar with Rolfing, as I have completed the 10-session protocol and them some. I really like the work and I can see where it would be very beneficial to scoliosis. The idea behind Rolfing is that it uses a very deep pressure to stretch the connective tissue and break adhesions in the connective tissue. Connective tissue, when tight, is capable of exerting a tremendous amount of pull on its attachments, more than enough to pull joints into subluxation and to create changes in bone over the years.

Myofascial Release Therapy also concentrates on releasing tight and adhered connective tissue, but instead of forcing it with deep pressure, it uses a very gentle stretch over time to basically melt away the tightness. This is an oversimplified explanation, but as a therapist, it actually feels as though the feeling of tightness and immobility melts away under my hands.

Fascia (connective tissue) is an elasto-collagenous complex. That means that it's a combination of elastin (stretchy coiled) fibers and collagen (dense, tough) fibers suspended in a matrix or ground substance. Many different things, from trauma to habitual bad posture or body usage, to congenital problems, to inflammation and even emotional issues can cause fascia to tighten or become adhered. Over time, especially as the body grows, it is very capable of pulling the spine into a lateral or roto-scoliosis, hyperkyphosis or hyperlordosis, or any combination.

The MFR therapist will begin with a postural analysis. The technique itself is a gentle stretching. Though there's not a lot of pressure, the focus of the stretch is deep within the fascia. The therapist uses only enough pressure to "engage the barrier:" that is, the level of stretch where the tissue ceases to feel fluid and elastic and becomes stiff. The stretch is then held at precisely that level until release occurs. That can take anywhere from 90 seconds to over 10 minutes. The therapist will follow the transient motion and mini-releases of the tissue during that time in order to maintain the precise pressure needed. Then, as I said before, it just suddenly feels like things have melted underhand.

Craniosacral Therapy uses basically the same understanding of fascia and the same technique, but focuses on the craniosacral system: that is, the semi-closed hydraulic system defined by the meningeal linings of the brain and spinal cord and the cerebrospinal fluid within. Generally, pressures in this therapy are much lighter than even MFR, measured in grams. The bones of the head, face, and spine are used as handles to gentle traction, compress, decompress, unwind, soften, and lengthen the meninges. The meninges are fascia, and when tight, they can also exert tremendous pulling and twisting forces on the spine, from the inside.

When seeing scoliosis patients, I generally perform a mixture of MFR and CST techniques. I see results. The initial results are better overall posture and relief of symptoms. Over months of regular treatment, I see some spinal straightening. In an adult, bone takes it's time reconfiguring. But given enough time, the body can rebuild almost anything. Having the bodywork is a key, but so is eating right and exercising according to the muscles you need to strengthen and those you need to stretch.

Rolfing is a more direct modality, but also more abrupt. My personal opinion is that it does not provide as complete a release as MFR can. (When you pull apart a fascial adhesion, you leave velcro-like tendrils of collagen just waiting to re-adhere. The MFR causes a natural melting and lengthening to the elasto-collagenous complex.) But I think the absolute best results can be gotten by combining Rolfing work (or other structural integration or deep connective tissue work) with the MFR/CST work. In fact, I'm going to be getting preliminary training in structural connective tissue massage later this year, specifically because I believe that it's the key to a magical combination.

I hope this post was not too lengthy. I am only hoping to help those of you who are looking to an alternative to more radical treatments or something natural to prevent your condition from getting worse (or to reverse it.) Even if you do decide for bracing or surgery, these therapies can be a wonderful adjunct to your recovery. Anyone may feel free to email me for more information.

01-26-2005, 10:04 PM
Just a postscript about Rolfing. I also found it very helpful in decreasing my pain, which was very severe low back pain from degenerative disk. At about session 5-6, my pain suddenly decreased. It is hard to tell though whether other Rolfers would be different - my Rolfer is very experienced with people with scoliosis (both with and without fusions) and is knowledgeable about different modalities. But for me, Rolfing was definitely worth the effort and the money. ~Laura

Erica M
01-27-2005, 06:39 AM
Laura -- Would you mind telling me where your rolfer is located? I've been trying to find somebody who specializes in rolfing people with scoliosis.

01-27-2005, 05:06 PM
Hi! My Rolfer is located in downtown Philadelphia. I think she knows a lot of people nation-wide who practice; she may be able to recommend somebody closer to you. If you send me an email, we can communicate. Take care ~Laura

08-24-2005, 11:07 AM
My husband has had the 10 sessions and I have had 10 plus many, many more in about a 2-3 year time period. Hubbie says he understood Rolfing to be a series of 10 with that being all, basically, needed (he doesn't have scoliosis, though). So, it got me to wondering... And I'm looking here for other people's experiences. My experience is that the Rolfing has helped, yet I didn't get the dramatic results I had hoped for and believed I would get. I would do it again, don't get me wrong. I think finding someone who has had a lot, lot, lot of experience with scoliosis would be a big plus. But, we don't all live near someone like that, so we do what we can with what's available. I have much, much more body awareness now than before I began - I'm much more in-tune with my body, and "old", habitual patterns of holding tension, so I can now be aware and make some adjustments. I guess I'd just like to get this (scoliosis) "fixed" and be done with it, when in fact, it is something I will be dealing with the rest of my life, most likely. Hope this is some help, and I sure would be interested in others' experiences.

08-30-2005, 09:37 AM
Flashcrimson -

Thanks so much for that explanation, I found it very helpful. Do you need a referral to get into such a program, or where how would I go about seeking such services in my local area?