History of Rolfing

  • Dr. Ida P Rolf was the founder of the Rolfing technique. She earned a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry in 1920, from Columbia University. She was 24 years old.
  • From 1918 to 1927 she was involved in research at the Rockefeller Institute in N.Y.C. This is where she began studying connective tissue and became a student of the “human condition.”
  • She discovered “Structural Integration” (Rolfing) while trying to help a child with a sprained ankle from a horseback riding accident in Montana.
  • In the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s Dr Rolf traveled throughout North America teaching and demonstrating her life’s work.
  • In the 1950’s Dr. Rolf attempted to teach her methods to the Chiropractic community with little success.
  • In California, in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, Dr, Rolf began training pre-med students to practice Rolfing.
  • In 1971, the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration was established In Boulder, Colorado. It is regulated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Private Occupational Schools.
  • In 1977, at UCLA a five year scientific Case Study was completed with many fascinating results.
  • Since 1980, satellite Rolfing schools have been established in Munich, Germany and Sao Paula, Brazil.
  • In the 1980’s many professional and Olympic athletes embraced Rolfing for assisting with injury’s and increasing performance.
  • In the early 1990’s two profound changes occurred in the evolution of Rolfing protocols.
    Contact Styles: Rolfing Techniques and methodology evolved. Increased understanding of the nervous system, lead to the introduction of more refined contact styles. The results could be achieved without pain. Working at the level of client tolerance it was discovered, allowed greater opportunities to facilitate change. Increased client involvement lead to improved ownership of the effects of Rolfing sessions.
    Non-Formalistic Strategies: Development and implementation of a principle based approach enhanced and evolved the Rolfing System. Presently Rolfings system incorporates many years of proven “recipe” type concepts. Additionally it expands on the basis in which it was developed by allowing many “audibles” in which clients can be better served by there structural needs.
  • In 1996, the Rolf Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary. Also in 1996 a Centennial Tribute was held in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Dr. Ida P. Rolf’s birthday. At the accompanying “The Conference of Heirs,” Aline Newton, Chairperson of the Rolf Institutes Board of Trustees, said:
    The practice, education and research of structural integration, the bodywork that was founded by Dr. Ida Rolf. Has advanced and thrived in the past two decades.” “Other organizations – spins offs of Rolfing – such as Aston-Patterning, Hellerwork and Zero Balancing continue to grow as well.”
  • Today Rolfers practice world wide.