Research on Rolfing® Structural Integration
- Contact Us about Research
- Fascia Research Congress
- Rolfing Research & References
- Resources for Rolfing Practitioners & Scientists
- Rolfing SI and Cerebral Palsy
- Rolfing SI and Walking, Pain, Motion and Balance
The RISI Research Committee supports and guides Rolfing Structural Integration research. The Committee actively solicits contributions for research into structural integration through the RISI donation page. We also solicit and evaluate research proposals for possible financial support through the RISI. We greatly appreciate your financial tax deductible donations and your research proposal!
Contact Richard Ennis, Chair for more information.
Richard Ennis, MS, Rolf Institute® Board, Certified Rolfer™
Valerie Berg, Rolf Institute® Faculty, Certified Advanced Rolfer, Rolf Movement® Practitioner
Eric Jacobsen, PhD, Certified Advanced Rolfer
Mary Starich, PhD, Certified Advanced Rolfer
Beth McNeill, MFA, Certified Rolfer
The RISI is currently funding research being done in collaboration with Western Washington University and Stolzoff Sportsworks (Title: Structural Integration Effects on Joint Position Sense. Balance, and Power in Soccer Players). We look forward to funding additional research!
Contact Us for:
- Inquiries about submitting research proposals
- Financial Contribution to Research (or visit our donation page)
- Notices of the latest research news, information, and activities.
- Research Information on Rolfing Structural Integration
- Resources for MS and PhD Candidates Interested in Research
- Journalist Inquiries about Research
For the purpose of conducting basic and applied research, the RISI has set up the RISI Research Committee. The Committee reviews research proposals and solicits donations to support meritorious research projects. Again, we greatly appreciate your tax-deductible donations and your research proposals.
The RISI focuses on research literacy of its graduates by including research in its curriculum.
Richard Ennis, MS, Rolf Institute® Board, RISI Research Committee Chair, Certified Rolfer™
Fascia Research Congress
Third International Fascia Research Congress
The third conference took place in Vancouver, BC, Canada in March, 2012. This sold-out conference offered presentations on the theme: "Fascia: What do we notice, What do we know? Continuing the Scientist/Clinician Dialogue.". Complete details can be found at www.fasciacongress.org/2012.
Second International Fascia Research Congress
The second conference at Vrije Universiteit, held in October, 2009, continued the high level of scientific presentations set in the first conference. The Amsterdam, Netherlands Congress was a four day schedule followed by an additional day of post-conference clinical workshops. This added new dimensions – presentation of the clinical practices, both in lecture/demonstrations and in small group sessions, and integration with academic faculty conducting rehabilitation research..For complete details go to www.fasciacongress.org/2009.
First International Fascia Research Congress
The First International Fascia Research Congress was held at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, USA in March, 2007. It was the first international conference dedicated to fascia in all its forms and functions. This conference was intended to be a catalyst. The emphasis and centerpiece was the presentation of the latest and best scientific fascia research for clinical professionals in whose specialties the human fasciae are central in both theory and practice. Many of the scientists attending had little experience with clinical practice and clinicians were often unfamiliar with each other's work. At this landmark event professionals from the separate domains of basic research and clinical practice had an unprecedented opportunity to learn from one another and gain insights to inform and enrich their respective areas of work and lead to new areas of scientific inquiry and improvements in applied methods. More information on this conference can be found at www.fasciacongress.org/2007.
Article from SCIENCE Magazine on the First Congress:
Science Magazine, "the world’s leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary," has an excellent write up about the recent First International Fascia Research Congress in its November 23, 2007 issue (vol. 318, pp. 1234-5).
“Biomedical Research; "Cell Biology Meets Rolfing" and “From Rolfer to Researcher”.
The article by David Grimm is titled "Cell Biology Meets Rolfing: A diverse group of researchers wants to create a new discipline from scratch by bringing together experts in fascia and deep- tissue massage."
A few points from the article…
"The meeting, held here [in Boston] last month, would be the first dedicated to the soft part of the body’s connective tissue system — an important but medically neglected organ. It would bring together top scientists from fields as diverse as cell biology and biophysics, but it would also include alternative medicine practitioners…"
This conference was a first venture within the field of the human fasciae to bring together scientists and clinicians and it was not at all certain that getting these two diverse groups together would satisfy everyone or produce constructive collaboration. Quoting Thomas Findley, MD PhD, the Executive Director of the conference, "Practitioners want to know the science behind what they’re doing…and scientists want to see clinical applications of their work." Partap Khalsa, DC PhD, program officer with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) stated, "You need people who can do good basic science and clinicians who can inform them about their experiences…It’s the only way to advance the field."
By the end of the second day, it was obvious there was a meeting of minds. So much so that a leading researcher in biomechanics, Peter Huijing, PhD, of Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam has agreed to help organize the next conference in Amsterdam in 2009. "Huijing says he also learned new things from the alternative therapists — and he found that he had something to teach them as well."
It should be noted that Dr. Huijing, himself, was originally skeptical of the feasibility and value of such collaboration. "Huijing plans to give a larger spotlight to practitioners and to explore even more of the basic science. He’s adding days, and he’s reserved an auditorium for 1000 people — twice the size of the room at this year’s event. ‘I have a feeling it could be very big,’ he said."
Resources for Practitioners & Scientists
- Robert Schleip, PhD and Rolf Institute faculty, offers the latest research on fascia and its implications for Rolfing SI at www.fasciaresearch.com and www.somatics.de
- Gil Hedley has reference materials that explore the human form through anatomy education and in the laboratory at www.integralanatomy.com and www.somanautics.com
Rolfing SI and Cerebral Palsy
Certified Advanced Rolfer, Karen Price, along with additional researchers, have been conducting a study on the effects of Rolfing Structural Integration (which they refer to as Myofascial Structural Integration since only Karen is a Rolfer) on children with cerebal palsy. The current study began in 2009 and has just been granted two years of funding from the Gerber Foundation with which the project will enroll twenty-four children, ages two to three, with CP for a follow-up study. The grant has also allowed for doubling the size of the research team, which now includes a pediatrician who specializes in children with CP. The current research project will continue through 2013. The team has applied for a second grant to fund children ages three to seven. Price notes that “this is the deepest inroad into the medical profession that Rolfing SI has ever enjoyed, which fulfills a cherished dream of Dr. Rolf.”
A paper on the findings from the pilot study, conducted in 2009-2010, has been published in the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The abstract of the article can be viewed at http://chp.sagepub.com/content/17/2/131.
The pilot study’s poster, created for the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in May 2010, can be viewed at http://www.rolfingchildren.com/stanford.html.
On December 26, 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article highlighting the ongoing clinical research work done by Karen Price and colleagues on children with Cerebral Palsy. This article, "To Help Kids Move, Docs Try Rolfing," by Stephanie Lee, highlights the most advanced stage ongoing clinical research on the effects of Rolfing SI on Cerebral Palsy and is being funded and conducted in association with Stanford University School of Medicine.
To view the article, please visit:
Rolfing SI and Walking, Pain, Motion and Balance
Preliminary clinical studies have been performed with small samples of patients with cerebral palsy,1 chronic musculoskeletal pain,2,3 impaired balance,4,5 and chronic fatigue syndrome.6 The outcomes of those studies suggest that Rolfing SI may have positive effects on walking, musculoskeletal pain and associated limitations in joint motion, and on balance. Preliminary research on the underlying therapeutic mechanisms suggests improvements in movement coordination and efficiency,7 sensory processing,8 self-esteem,9 and relaxation,10,11 and reductions in anxiety.12
1. Perry J, Jones MH, Thomas L. Functional evaluation of Rolfing in cerebral palsy. Develop Med Child Neurol 1981; 23(717-29)
2. Deutsch J, Derr LL, Judd P, Reuven B. Treatment of chronic pain through the use of Structural Integration (Rolfing). Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinics of North America 2000; 9(3): 411-27
3. James H, Castaneda L, Miller MM, Findley T. Rolfing structural integration treatment of cervical spine dysfunction. J Bodywork Movement Therapy 2008;
4. Findley T, Quigley K, Maney M, Chaudhry H, Agbaje I. Improvement in balance with Structural Integration (Rolfing): a controlled case series in persons with myofascial pain. (Poster 147) American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, October 9, 2004, Phoenix, Arizona. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004; 85(9): E34
5. Findley T, Quigley K, Maney M, Chaudhry H, Agbaje I. Balance improvement with structural integration (Rolfing) in persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In: T Findley, Schleip R, ed. Fascia Research. Munich: Elsevier GmbH, 2007a: 242-43.
6. Talty C, DeMassi I, Deutsch JE. Structural Integration applied to patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a retrospective chart review. J Orthop Sports Physical Therapy 1998; 27(1): 83
7. Hunt V, Massey WW. Electromyographic evaluation of Structural Integration techniques. Psychoenergetic Systems 1977a; 2(199-210)
8. Silverman J, Rappaport M, Hopkins HK, Ellman G, Hubbard R, Belleza T, Baldwin T, Griffin R, Kling R. Stress, stimulus intensity control, and the Structural Integration technique. Confinia Psychiatrica 1973; 16(201-19)
9. Pratt T. Psychological effects of Structural Integration. Psychological Reports 1974; 35(856)
10. Cottingham J, Porges SW, Lyon T. Effects of soft tissue mobilization (Rolfing pelvic lift) on parasympathetic tone in two age groups. J Amer Physical Therapy 1988a; 68(3): 352-56
11. Cottingham J, Porges SW, Richmond K. Shifts in pelvic inclination angle and parasympathetic tone produced by Rolfing soft tissue manipulation. Physical Therapy 1988b; 68(9): 1364-70
12. Weinberg R, Hunt VV. Effects of Structural Integration on state-trait anxiety. J Clinical Psychology 1979; 35(2): 319-22
Research on Rolfing SI
Ball, TM. Structural Integration-based fascial release efficacy in systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE): two case studies. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2011 April; 15(2):217:25
Cottingham J. Shifts in pelvic inclination angle and parasympathetic tone produced by Rolfing soft tissue manipulation. Physical Therapy 68:1364-1370, 1988.
Cottingham J, Porges SW, Lyon T. Effects of soft tissue mobilization (Rolfing pelvic lift) on parasympathetic tone in two age groups. Physical Therapy 68:352-356, 1988.
Cottingham J. Effects of soft tissue mobilization on pelvic inclination angle, lumbar lordosis, and parasympathetic tone: Implications for treatment of disabilities associated with lumbar degenerative joint disease. Public testimony presentation to the National Center of Medical Rehabilitation Research of the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD; March 19, 1992. Rolf Lines 20(2):42-45, 1992.
Cottingham J, Maitland J. three-paradigm treatment model using soft tissue mobilization and guided movement-awareness techniques for patients with chronic low back pain: A case study. The Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy 26(3):155-167, Sept 1997.
Cottingham J, Maitland J. Integrating manual and movement therapy with philosophical counseling for treatment of a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A case study that explores the principles of holistic intervention. Alternative Therapies In Health and Medicine 6(2): 128,120-7, Mar 2000.
Deutsch JE, Judd P, Demassi I. Structural Integration applied to patients with a primary neurologic diagnosis: two case studies. Neurology Report 21(5):161-62, 1997.
Deutsch JE, Derr LL, Judd P, et al. Treatment of chronic pain through the use of Structural Integration (Rolfing). Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Clinics of North America 9(3):411-425, 2000.
Findley TW, Quigley K, Maney M, Chaudhry H, Agbaje I. Improvement in balance with Structural Integration (Rolfing): A controlled case series in persons with myofascial pain. American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, October 9, 2004, Phoenix Arizona. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 85(9):e34, Sep 2004.
Hansen, A, Price, K, Feldman, H. Myofascial Structural Integration: A Promising Complementary Therapy for Young Children with Spastic Cerebral Palsey.
Hunt VV, Massey W, Weinberg R, Bruyere R, Hahn PM. Study of Structural Integration from neuromuscular, energy field and emotional approaches. Research report submitted to the Rolf Institute. UCLA Dept. of Kinesiology. Boulder, CO: Rolf Institute for Structural Integration, 1977.
Hunt V, Massey W. Electromyographic evaluation of Structural Integration techniques. Psychoenergetic Systems 2:199-210, 1977.
Jacobson, E. Structural Integration: an alternative method of manual therapy and sensorimotor education. J Altern Complment Med. 17(10):891-99, Oct 2011.
Jacobson, E. Structural Integration: origin and development. J Altern Complement Med. 17(9):775-80, Sep 2011.
Kerr H. Ureteral stent displacement associated with deep massage. Western Medical Journal 96(12):57-58, 1997
Perry J, Jones MH, Thomas L. Functional evaluation of Rolfing in cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 23(6):717-729, 1981.
Potter C. Children with cerebral palsy. Physical Therapy Forum (Western Edition) June 18, 1986
Pratt TC. Psychological effects of structural integration. Psychological Reports 35(2):856, Oct 1974.
Silverman J, Rappaport M, Hopkins HK, Ellman G, Hubbard R, Belleza T, Baldwin T, Griffin R, Kling R. Stress, stimulus intensity control, and the structural integration technique. Confinia Psychiatrica 16(3):201-19, 1973.
Solit, M. A study in structural dynamics. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 62(30-40), 1962
Talty CM, DeMasi I, Deutsch JE. Structural integration applied to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a retrospective chart review Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 27(1):83, 1998.
Weinberg RS, Hunt VV. Effects of structural integration on state-trait anxiety. Journal of Clinical Psychology 35(2), April 1979.
Descriptive articles, hypotheses and reviews:
Bernau-Eigen M. Rolfing: A somatic approach to the integration of human structures. Nurse Practitioner Forum 9(4):235-42, Dec 1998.
Caspari M, Massa H. Rolfing Structural Integration. Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body. New York: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevire, 2012: 7.3.
Deutsch JE, Judd P, Demassi I. Structural Integration (Rolfing). In Complementary Therapies and Wellness J. Carlson (ed) Upper saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2003.
Deutsch JE,. Derr LL, Judd P, et al. The Ida Rolf method of Structural Integration. In Complementary Therapies in Rehabilitation: Evidence of Efficacy in Therapy. C. Davis (ed). SLACK, 2004.
Froment Y. Therapeutic renewal: Rolfing or structural integration. Krankenpfl Soins Infirm 77(6):68-9, Jun 1984 (Article in French).
Jacobson E. "Getting Rolfed." Structural bodywork, biomechanics and embodiment. In Healing by Hand: Bonesetting and Manual Medicine in Global Perspective. Oths KS and Servando ZH (eds) Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, 2004.
Jones TA. Rolfing. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America Journal 15(4): 799-809, Nov 2004.
Myers T. A Structural Approach. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2(1):14-20, 1998.
Myers T. Structural Integration - developments in Ida Rolf's 'recipe' - I. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 8:131-42, 2004.
Myers T. Structural Integration - developments in Ida Rolf's 'recipe' - part II. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 8:189-98, 2004
Myers T. Structural Integration - developments in Ida Rolf's 'recipe' - part III. An alternative form. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 8:249-64, 2004
Oschman JL. Structural Integration (Rolfing), osteopathic, chiropractric, Feldenkrais, Alexander, myofascial release, and related methods. In Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis. JL Oshman (ed). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston, 2000.
Rolf IP. Structural Integration. Journal of the Institute of Comparative Study of History Philosophical Sciences 1(1):3-19, 1963.
Rolf IP. Structural integration . A contribution to the understanding of stress. Confinia Psychiatrica 16(2):69-79, 1973.
Schleip R. Fascial plasticity – a new neurobiological explanation: Part 1. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 7(1):11-19, 2003.
Schleip R. Fascial plasticity – a new neurobiological explanation: Part 2. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 7(2):104-116, 2003.
Travazich J. Rolfing, Hellerwork and Soma. In Complementary Therapies in Rehabilitation. Thorofare NJ, Lack, Inc., 1997.
Varela F, Frenk S. The organ of form: towards a theory of biological shape. Journal of Social and Biological Structures 10: 73-83, 1987.
Research and reviews related to Rolfing SI:
Chaudhry HR, Schleip R, Ji Z, Bukiet B, Maney M, Findley TW. Three dimensional mathematical model for deformation of human fascia in manual therapy. Journal of American Osteopathic Association in press
Chaudhry H, Huang C, Schleip R, Ji Z, Bukiet B, Findley T. Viscoelastic behavior of human fasciae under extension in manual therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 11(2), Apr 2007.
Langevin HM, Fox J, Koptiuch C, et al. Reduced thoracolumbar fascia shear strain in human chronic low back pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 12:203, 2011.
Langevin HM, Rizzo D, Fox J, et al. Dynamic morphometric characterization of local connective tissue network structure in humans using ultrasound. BMC Systems Biology 1:25, 2007.
Langevin HM, Sherman K. Pathophysiological model for chronic low back pain integrating connective tissue and nervous system mechanisms. Medical Hypotheses 68:74-80, 2007.
Langevin HM, Stevens-Tuttle D, Fox J, et al. Ultrasound evidence of altered lumbar connective tissue structure in human subjects with chronic low back pain. BMC Systems Biology 10:151, 2009.
Leask AD. TGF-beta signaling and the fibrotic response. FASEB J 187(7):816-27, 2004.
Panjabi M. A hypothesis of chronic back pain: ligament subfailure injuries lead to muscle control dysfunction. European Spine Journal 15(5):668-76, 2006. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 10:151, 2009.
Porges SW. Vagal tone: A physiologic marker of stress vulnerability. Pediatrics 90(3):498-504, Sep 1992.
Schleip R, Findley T, Chaitow L, Huijing P., Eds. Fascia: The Tensional Netowrk of the Human Body. Edinburgh, New York: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevire, 2012.
Schleip R, Klingler W, Lehmann-Horn F. Active fascial contractility: Fascia may be able to contract in a smooth muscle-like manner and thereby influence musculoskeletal dynamics. Medical Hypotheses 65(2):273-277, 2005.
Schleip R, Klinger W, Lehmann-Horn F. Active fascial contractility: Fascia is able to contract and relax in a smooth muscle like manner and thereby influence biomechanical behavior. Acta Physiological 186 (Suppl 1)247, 2006.
Schleip R, Naylor IL, Ursu D, Melzer W, Zorn A, Wilke HJ, Lehmann-Horn F, Klingler W. Passive muscle stiffness may be influenced by active contractility of intramuscular connective tissue. Medical Hypotheses 66(1):66-71, 2006.
Schleip, R Lehmann-Horn F, Klinger W. Letter to the editor concerning: "A hypothesis of chronic back pain: ligament subfailure injuries lead to muscle control dysfunction." (M. Panjabi). European Spine Journal, 2007.
Schleip R, Zorn A, Lehmann-Horn F, Klinger W. Active fascial contractility: an in vitro mechanographic investigation. In Fascia research - basic science and implications for conventional and complementary health care. (TW Findley and R Schleip (eds) Munich: Elsevier Science, p. 82, 2007.
Threlkeld AJ. The effects of manual therapy on connective tissue. Physical Therapy 72(12):893-902, 1992.
Vleeming A, Pool-Goudzwaard AL, Stoeckart R, Van Wingerden JP, Snijders CJ. The posterior layer of the thoracolumbar fascia. Its function in load transfer from spine to legs. Spine 20(7):753-58, 1995.
Weinberg RS, Hunt VV. Interrelationships between anxiety, motor behavior and electromyography. Journal of Motor Behavior 8(3) 219-224, 1976.