Physiological Studies involving Rolfing — Brief Summary

A recent investigation demonstrates that the basic Ten Series of sessions is capable of significantly decreasing pain and increasing active range of motion in adult subjects, male and female, with complaints of cervical spine dysfunction, regardless of age [1].

Previous physiological studies demonstrated already that a single Rolfing session significantly decreases standing pelvic tilt angle and significantly increases vagal tone [2,3]. The results provide theoretical support for the reported clinical uses of soft tissue pelvic manipulation for certain types of low back dysfunction [4] and musculoskeletal disorders associated with autonomic nervous system (ANS) stress.

Early electromyography evaluations already pointed to improved organization and greater balance in the neuromuscular system following the intervention with Rolfing [5]. Studies that are more recent have confirmed an improvement in balance in persons with myofascial pain [6].

Several additional case studies evaluated the effect of Rolfing on persons with specific conditions [7-11].

  1. James H et al. Rolfing structural integration treatment of cervical spine dysfunction.  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.  Article in press, accepted 1 July 2008.
  2. Cottingham J. Shifts in pelvic inclination angle and parasympathetic tone produced by Rolfing soft tissue manipulation.  Physical Therapy, 68:1364-1370, 1988.
  3. 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.
  4. Cottingham JT. 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.
  5. Hunt V, Massey W. Electromyographic evaluation of Structural Integration techniques.  Psychoenergetic Systems 2:199-210, 1977.
  6. Findley TW et al. Improvement in balance with Structural Integration (Rolfing): A controlled case series in persons with myofascial pain.  Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 85(9):e34, 2004.
  7. Deutsch JE, Derr L, Judd P, DeMasi I, Reuven B. Outcomes of Structural Integration applied to patients with different diagnosis: A retrospective review.  Proceedings of the XIV International World Congress of Physical Therapy, Barcelona, 2003
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Deutsch JE, Judd P, DeMassi I. Structural Integration applied to patients with a primary neurologic diagnosis: two case studies.  Neurology Report 21(5):161-162, 1997
  11. Perry J, Jones MH, Thomas L. Functional evaluation of Rolfing in cerebral palsy.  Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 23(6):717-729, 1981.