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Rolfing® Structural Integration
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Bodywork, manipulative therapy, postural release, somatic ontology, Structural Integration.


  • Rolfing® Structural Integration involves deep tissue massage aimed at relieving stress and improving mobility, posture, balance, muscle function and efficiency, energy, and overall well being. Practitioners apply slow-moving pressure with their knuckles, thumbs, fingers, elbows, and knees to the muscles, tissue around the muscles, and other soft tissues. Rolfing® Structural Integration, also called somatic ontology, concentrates on opposing muscle groups, such as the biceps and triceps in the upper arms.
  • The methods used in Rolfing® were developed in the 1950s by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, based on the belief that imbalances in body structure can be corrected by manipulating the soft tissue networks of muscle, fascia, tendons, and ligaments. In 1971, Rolf founded The Rolf Institute of Structure Integration in Boulder, CO, which currently owns rights to the registered mark Rolfing®. However though the term rolfing is also used for various therapies based on the teachings of Rolf.


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Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

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Author Information

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Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.