(Investigator 96, 2004 May)

Rolfing, or structural integration, is a system developed by the late Swiss biochemist Ida Rolf. It is a technique whereby a trained practitioner attempts to change and align the physical structure of a human body in order to improve the physiological and psychological functioning of the person.

Rolf believed that as human beings evolved in the gravitational field of the Earth they developed a general structure, a muscular system and a physiology related to this energy field. To profit from the flow of gravity, a man must be so organized that he operates as though he existed symmetrically around such a gravity line.

To achieve what she considered to be the ultimate relationship between a human body and the gravitational force, Ida Rolf developed a system of vigorous massage of the fibrous tissue between the muscles and blood vessels to correct any deviations from the vertical alignment of all the structural segments of the body: the head, the thorax, the pelvis and the legs.

The causes for the deviation from the vertical plane may be the result of physical accidents or have an emotional origin, the latter in accord with many other body-mind theorists such as Wilhelm Reich, F.M. Alexander and Moshe Feldenkrais.

The massage technique differs from other methods in so far as the pressure, kneading and rubbing of the muscles is deep and can be quite painful.

While the theory is suspect, the overall result is the release of muscle tension, and the usual feeling of relaxation and well- being associated with other types of massage.

Speaking from personal experience, I am not convinced that my sore neck and shoulder muscles, the result of a Rolf massage, were worth it.


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[From: Edwards, H. A Skeptic's Guide to the New Age]

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