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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Rolfing Explained

Jan 15, 2017 06:10PM ● By By Dr. Thomas Findley, MD, PhD

The human body is not static. It’s plastic, and that plastic quality enables a person’s body to be realigned into a more optimally functioning and feeling human being. Rolfing accomplishes that realignment.” ~ Ida P. Rolf

Rolfing, also known as structural integration, was developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, a biochemist who was influenced by osteopathy, physical therapy and yoga. It is a holistic, hands-on approach for the evaluation and treatment of what Rolf believed was the primary cause of pain and dysfunction: the fascial system. Rolfing is a form of massage that opens fascial restrictions and reduces pressure on the body as a whole.

       Fascia is a tough, densely woven sheet or band of connective tissue that runs throughout the body. In its normal, healthy state, this tissue is relaxed and unrestricted in its ability to stretch and move. But traumas, such as accidents or extreme emotional upsets, can create restrictions in the fascial tissue. These result in binding, hardening or sticking, which can cause pressure on nerves, muscles, organs, bones and blood vessels. By manipulating and releasing stuck or imbalanced fascia, Rolfing frees the unhealthy binding of tissues, allowing muscles and bones to return to a balanced position.

       By addressing the body as a whole, Rolfing often produces positive and lasting results. It follows a 10-step protocol in a specific order. Each step addresses a different segment of the body so that restrictions are opened from the inside out, resulting in better lift, movement and vitality.

       Whether it’s those who simply want to improve their posture and, thereby, improve their appearance, or those who suffer from chronic work- or sports-related injuries, Rolfing can alleviate pain and discomfort. It often results in a feeling of better balance, more flexibility and greater self-confidence.

       By taking into account each person’s physique, Rolfing balances each body’s structure in gravity. A Rolfer looks at how one’s entire body has compensated and shortened over time. The 10-session format allows the Rolfer to systematically open the body to deal with those compensations, not just fix a local problem. During a session, participants may experience a warm, pleasant sensation from the area that is being worked, though there may be moments of temporary discomfort. The practitioner will apply the appropriate pressure, based on the client’s needs and feedback. Rolfing differs from massage—which focuses on relaxing and releasing muscular tension and stress—by changing biomechanical patterns of movement and making long-term postural changes. It also provides psychological benefits as it affects the person as a whole.


Edward Hemberger, LMT, has been a Rolfing practitioner for the past 15 years with offices in Livingston and Boonton. Mentored by Thomas Findley, M.D., Ph.D., Hemberger was also selected to work with two U.S. Olympic teams and works for the Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange, NJ. Connect at 973-462-3112.

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