skip to Main Content

Rolfing®Structural Integration: the Big Picture


It is not that often that I find myself hanging out with folks who have a real Picasso drawing hanging in their bathroom, but I can do it.

What first impressed me about these folks and their guests was that they assembled a party in support of an adult musician and his fiancee. Many love supporting the young cute musician and his school, you could so like be the discoverer of an artist before he is discovered by the world and the New York Times. That is easy, unknown. After the dust settles for a few years, that is harder. I was impressed.

Then I was impressed a second time about a half hour into the party when the Rolfing SI questions began. What!? No pain questions? Instead try this: “Everyone wants to have someone have better structure, how is yours different?”  (Emphasis on a different way of organizing, with functionality with good easy overall posture was the answer, in an “elevator” speech version.)

After some intelligent questions to flesh that answer out (haha) then an unusual question knocked me back a bit, but not to the point that I became a Wookie (“UUNNnHH”).

The question, “Is Rolfing SI international?” spoke to these not only cultured but accomplished business folks and how they could think of the Big Picture.

“Yes” came my answer. I couldn’t have said that when I first was certified, 1984.

I couldn’t say it when I needed a Rolfer™ in Japan, 16 years ago, and there were only 2 there, Americans who had come to study aikido. Germany and Brazil were dim versions of themselves as Rolfing SI nations then.  Some of what happened in those places was that one charismatic person came and trained in the United States, and then inspired growth in their countries. (Now up to 200 Rolfers in Japan, last I heard.)

The countries have since outgrown their founders, and have schools and stories which have taken on their own flavors. Of course, they believe their own flavor is better.

Sadly, one can find hardly any trace of the international growth of Rolfing SI on the flagship website, the mother ship website,

You could try Google for:  European Rolfing Association, Japanese Rolfing Association, Australian Rolfing Association, and Brazilian Rolfing Association. These groups elect representatives to the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration and expect the RISI to police trademark issues, but can’t be bothered to lobby to have a presence on the RISI site, which is used by people all over the world, and the US RISI has its own excuses for its provinciality.

As for that one Rolfer in Croatia, etc. good luck on finding that one. The lack of a big picture is obscuring the little picture, big time.


What is the discipline of structural integration?


“It feels so good” just won’t do the job here.

The original Granny’s recipe was designed by Ida Rolf to provide an approach to her subjective and artistic world of integration. The design always was capable of adaptation to differing structures, including people with flat feet, people with too high fixed arches, people with differing feet, even people who were missing feet.

I hope you get the idea here….the “recipe” was always meant to be adaptable.

Today I speak of one issue of integration brought out when studying this structural integration discipline, that of the legs not dragging on the torso. This is an interesting integrational problem which could be phrased in the reverse: we don’t want the torso  dragging on the limbs!

Consider: the leg muscles cover the whole hips and midsection, inside and outside. (We could also speak of the arm muscles covering the whole front, back, and midsection, but won’t, here.)

We must seek clues as to how the legs may drag on the torso, perhaps creating functional problems, even a “bad back” issue. Consideration of the whole leg complex makes it easy to see that psoas/iliacus complex work without associated issues can bring disorganization.

How much function do we have, especially for a desired activity? Are the stabilizer leg and the kicker foot leg balanced as well as can be, both in standing and movement? Here we may find the famous “short leg”, and balance the functions better through soft tissue manipulation and functional assignments.

Most think it is easier to speak of “fixing” the joints and exercising away our pain and lack of function than to actually consider integration.

However, the discipline of structural integration addresses the kind of issues we speak of above in a non-linear way, winding about through the complexities of structure while pausing to make sure the joints are lined up–if you can say “lined up” about a complex saddle joint such as the thumb joint–and the soft tissue pulls and even nervous system stimulations are evened out in such a way as to maintain the structure of the joint.

This idea requires a flip-flop of thought about one’s body. The body could become a portal to ease in the gravity and sensory world around us, rather than a living lump to be driven, dragged, and measured into submission.

Discipline does not have to mean bringing out the whips and chains and measurements. Just so you’ll know. (Wink)


You can find a certified practitioner of Rolfing®Structural Integration here:

Back To Top