Why Rolfing Might Be the Answer to Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

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Rolfing: The Massage Technique may Relieve Fibro Pain

What Is Rolfing?

Rolfing is a technique developed by Ida Rolf, an American medical researcher. Rolf was in many ways an accomplished academic, but she also held some ideas that most would think were quite strange today. Rolf believed that all humans had an energy field surrounding their body that interacted with the energy of the Earth.

Based on this idea, Rolf developed a technique she claimed could help orientate the body to work in harmony with the Earth’s gravitational and energy fields. She called this process “Structural Integration.” This Structural Integration is supposed to help lengthen the connective tissue between the muscles, counter-acting the tendency of the Earth’s gravity to make them contract.

By expanding the muscle tissue, Rolf believed that you could reduce the amount of pain someone felt and make them healthier overall. After Rolf’s death, her techniques were expanded by other practitioners and came to be known as “Rolfing.”

It engages the body, mind and spirit.

Since there is no one approach that will cover all the bases it’s wise to pair complimentary approaches that augment each other’s beneficial effects. Rolfing and acupuncture do just that. When administered as part of a treatment plan both disciplines enhance each other. The beauty of these holistic approaches is that they de-stress and revitalize all of the body systems. Our structure reflects our history.

We store old memories and trauma in our tissue. Our experiences literally shape us. Rolfing works directly on the soft tissue to restore posture as well as freedom and mobility in each joint. As the structure changes, people tend to feel more confident and at ease in their bodies.

It involves series of deep tissue massages

Today, people who practice Rolfing perform a series of deep tissue massages that are designed to release tension in the muscle tissues. But “Rolfers” also believe that a person’s mental state is tied to the body. So, by training the body to be less tense, Rolfers argue that you can decrease the amount of tension and pain you feel even when you aren’t receiving treatments. But many scientists who have looked into whether or not Rolfing is effective have concluded that most of the claims made by Rolf about how the method works aren’t based in fact.


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Many have said that the arguments for the Rolf method about how gravity affects the muscle tissues and how the psychological state of the body can be adjusted physically don’t seem to hold up to close scrutiny or even contradict established medical knowledge.

It engages the fascial system

Both Rolfing and acupuncture engage the fascial system. Fascia is a form of connective tissue that provides structural support for the body. While fascia is manually manipulated during Rolfing treatments, facia is also believed to be the medium that conducts energy within the body. Acupuncturists insert needles into specific points along these pathways to improve the health of the body, but also the mind and the spirit.

Does Rolfing Help With Fibromyalgia?

There haven’t been many studies about whether or not Rolfing is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia. And the ones that have been done have had mixed results. At least one study has found that the treatment actually did help people with fibromyalgia reduce their pain and anxiety. But other studies have concluded that Rolfing has no noticeable benefits compared to other forms of therapy.

It is an effective form of therapy for fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is currently considered syndrome with generalized decrease in pain tolerance. Therapeutic interventions recognized as most effective are antidepressants and analgesics, rest, relaxation, heat and massage. Massage is useful to treat fibromyalgia patients because it improves sleep disorders, psychic symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and pain intensity.

FMS pain may trigger reflex protective muscle spasm, which causes further pain and results in progressive movement limitation, stiffness and adoption of inadequate postureMany of the medical claims made by Rolfers have been dismissed as “quackery” or “pseudoscience.” But if we ignore these claims and just look at the therapy itself, then Rolfing is basically just a form of deep tissue massage. And we know that massage is an effective form of therapy for fibromyalgia. If Rolfing is an effective treatment, then it is probably because the treatment is providing the same benefits as any deep tissue massage.

So if you’re interested in getting a deep tissue massage for fibromyalgia, there’s really no reason to track down a Rolfing practitioner, especially when there are not many people practicing the technique compared to traditional massage therapists. Instead, consider looking for people practicing deep tissue massage that have specialized experience treating patients with fibromyalgia.

They will likely know more about what works for their other patients with the condition and be able to provide you with therapy that can help relieve your pain. And while many traditional insurance plans won’t cover massage therapy, you are much more likely to get a standard massage covered than a Rolfing treatment, which is not recognized as an effective treatment by most medical authorities.

How Does Rolfing/Structural Integration Work?

Rolfing, also known as structural integration, focuses its attention on the fascia, strong connective tissue that envelopes and isolates the muscles, covers bones, and surrounds the heart, lungs, and other internal organs. Through direct pressure, Rolfing/structural integration loosens or releases the fascia, restoring the flexibility and elasticity that is lost through injury, repetitive movement, poor posture, or disease. Structural integration relieves pain and reduces stress during movement by correcting misalignment in a natural way.


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Reference: Rolfing(R) Structural Integration via Align

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