What is Rolfing Structural Integration?

The Ida Rolf method of Structural Integration is the 10-session 90-120 minute format designed by Ida Rolf that aims to align the bone structure with soft tissue manipulation. Results are also accomplished, and retained, with education that teaches the client every-day movements that waste the least amount of energy. This can give the client a renewed sense of vitality. The 10 sessions are a stand alone program. The series progress in the following way:

1-3 address the outer-most layers creating room for deeper work

4-7 address deeper layers, also known as the “core” of the body

8-10 are the integration sessions, which ask: what does your body, specifically, need in order to move from the core with ease? The answers will become the goals of these sessions.

What are some of the conditions Structural Integration can help with?


Structural Integration is a powerful program because simple alignment of the body
has a widespread effect, reducing the pain of many conditions at once. As a result,
this process can help with various conditions, such as:

• Back pain/lordosis

• Neck/shoulder, stress-related pain

• TMJ related pain

• Helps restore pelvic alignment after pregnancy

• Helps support alignment after knee/hip replacements

• Fallen arches

• Sitting-at-a desk, driving car, etc postural pain

• Repetitive motion strains from any kind of activity

• Various muscle “syndromes”, i.e piriformis or carpal tunnel syndrome

• Muscle tension patterns created by asthma

What are the side effects of Structural Integration?

Similar to massage, a client can feel soreness for a day or two after treatments and may also feel “out of it” at the end of a treatment. Again, taking time to ground oneself is important before heading back into the day.

Since this a profound undertaking in which the goal is to help the client stand and move in the world differently, emotions can come up that may need to be processed. In certain cases, outside assistance from a mental health professional can be helpful. This doesn’t happen to everyone and it doesn’t mean the sessions are not accomplishing their goal if it doesn’t.

Feelings of overwhelm are very common because the client is learning a lot physically and intellectually. Each session asks the client to become present to a different region of the body in order to bring it further into alignment. Each session also teaches a new “cue,”giving the client a reference point to support the process of integrating new information in daily life. It is highly recommended that this program only be taken on during a time when a person feels capable of being open to learn new things, dealing with challenges that come up, and has a spaciousness in schedule.

Additionally, at times the physical process of the program can feel a bit like “opening a can of worms,” which means sometimes the client can feel worse before it gets better. This is partly why it is ideal to do the sessions once a week or in groups as any physical discomfort is often remedied by the next session’s work. Again, this doesn’t happen to everyone and it doesn’t mean the sessions are not accomplishing their goal if it doesn’t.

Is Structural a type of massage?

No, it is categorized under the broad term “bodywork”. Massage therapy tends to focus on a goal that applies to particular muscles and pain, whereas Structural focuses on all the connective tissue that runs through muscles, bones, viscera, etc. and a goal that applies to the body globally each step of the way. Also, the level of participation is quite different in the Structural program, as the client assists with many of the techniques and is much more involved with active learning and feedback. Anyone who participates in the Structural program will have the shared goal of alignment, while anyone receiving massage could have any varied goal.

What should I expect when I come into sessions?

There is standing postural assessment at the beginning and end of each session. Form-fitting sportswear (shorts, sports bra) is recommended. Other movement analysis’ will be performed throughout the series as well. Clients lie on a table, stand, or sit while performing guided movements as the practitioner applies techniques. No lotion/oil is used.

What is scheduling like?

The sessions are grouped into three parts. It is recommended that when progressing through each part (1-3, 4-7, 8-10), sessions occur once a week until that part is completed. It is ideal to do one session per week, for ten weeks. If a break is needed, it is recommended that it not occur until a part is completed, i.e. only between 3&4 and 7&8.

For deeper exploration:  

When Claire Eberhardt, owner of Sovereign Body, went through training to become a Structural Integration practitioner, she kept a blog detailing her journey through the eyes of both a student and a client. Claire hopes the blog can serve as a preview to and an explanation for anyone interested in the process. It also shares personal insights she gained along the way, illustrating how deeply personal the process can be for some.

For clients interested in additional information that can support the Structural process at home, please explore these video links. The exercises and stretches demonstrated in them have been particularly designed with the Structural process in mind:

SI #1 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-mouvement-integration

SI #2 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration

SI #3 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-1

SI#4 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-4

SI #5 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-5

SI#6 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-6

SI #7 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-7

SI #8 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-8

SI #9 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-9

SI #10 https://vimeopro.com/camacro/rolfing-movement-integration-session-10