Scientific literature in support of the Rolfing® method
Empirical values show that Rolfing can effectively change body structure, posture and movement of clients, with lasting effects. Psychological effects of Rolfing are often described, too. Since the seventies, researchers have published scientific results about several effects of Rolfing. Some studies are listed below (non-exhaustive).
The growing field of Fascia Research provides additional scientific references, important for the Rolfing method. Related Research lists studies of potential interest for Rolfers and the Rolfing method.
The European Rolfing Association is looking for partners in Science and Research in order to conduct or support further studies about the effectiveness of Rolfing.
1. Physiological Studies
A recent investigation demonstrates that the basic 10 sessions of Rolfing Structural Integration, when applied by a physical therapist with advanced certification, 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 .
Previous physiological studies demonstrated that already 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  and musculoskeletal disorders associated with autonomic stress.
Early electromyographic evaluations already pointed to improved organization and greater balance in the neuromuscular system following the intervention with Rolfing . More recent studies confirmed an improvement in balance with Structural Integration (Rolfing) in persons with myofascial pain .
Several case studies evaluated the effect of Rolfing in persons with specific diagnoses [7-11].
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.
- 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 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
- Hunt V, Massey W. Electromyographic evaluation of Structural Integration techniques. Psychoenergetic Systems 2:199-210, 1977
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Perry J, Jones MH, Thomas L. Functional evaluation of Rolfing in cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 23(6):717-729, 1981
2. Psychological Studies
A controlled clinical study indicated that Rolfing caused a lasting decrease in state anxiety when compared to the control group. Results were discussed in terms of the release of emotional tension stored up in the muscles due to Structural Integration . In a psychophysiological study, changes after Rolfing structural integration were indicative of increased openness and better modulated sensitivity to environmental stimulation .
- Weinberg RS, Hunt VV. Effects of structural integration on state-trait anxiety. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35(2), 1979
- Silverman J et al. Stress, stimulus intensity control, an the structural integration technique. Confinia Psychiatrica 16(3):201-19, 1973
- Hunt VV, Massey W, Weinberg R, Bruyere R, Hahn PM. A study of Structural Integration from neuromuscular, energy field & emotional approaches. Research Report submitted to Rolf Institute, UCLA Dept. of Kinesiology, 1977.
- Pratt TC. Psychological effects of Structural Integration. Psychological Reports, 35(2):856, 1974