Frequently Asked Questions


Most people who come to Rolfing® structural integration are aware that their minor injuries, aches and pains are interfering with the comfort of their daily life. Many have tried other therapies and perhaps found temporary relief but no lasting effect. Rolfing is particularly effective for musculoskeletal problems (back pain, scoliosis, neck pain, RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.) and the majority of such people find a deeper and more long lasting relief from this treatment.

Other people come to Rolfing because they are on a path of personal growth and recognise the holistic benefits Rolfing offers: namely, in significantly affecting the structure of the body there can be corresponding shifts in attitude and emotional balance which are ultimately beneficial.


There are perhaps two main differences. First, the quality of touch is experienced as much deeper than most massage forms which focus on a muscular level. Rolfing works on a myofascial level, including tendons and ligaments; consequently the pace of contact is usually slower. Second, Rolfing differs even from deep tissue massage forms such as myofascial release or Tui Na because of the structure of the Rolfing Series.

The system of ten sessions progressing sequentially from feet to neck is extremely well designed to effect long-term change in the body. As the genius of Ida Rolf’s legacy becomes more widely acknowledged within the field of complementary therapy, this ten-series approach is likely to become more common.

Rolfing seems to have a reputation for being painful, based on sessions performed in the early 70s by some Rolfers. The standard of the Rolfing training is high and the methods taught are constantly being modified in favour of gentler techniques to produce the same results. In my experience as a Rolfing practitioner clients sometimes experience Rolfing as intense but rarely painful.
In fact pain is counter-productive because it activates the body’s defence mechanisms and “kicks out” the Rolfer’s pressure. Rolfing is frequently a co-operative venture between practitioner and client.

It is important to remember that the primary goal of Rolfing is to realign the body in gravity. Rolfers are somatic practitioners not psychotherapists. It is believed that emotions can be repressed within the body’s connective tissues, the medium of Rolfing, so emotional aspects clearly have direct relevance. An example of trapped emotions is a child being told not to cry and suppressing this natural emotion by wilfully contracting certain muscles (e.g. the pelvic floor, shoulders or jaw), an action which, if repeated over time becomes an unconscious holding pattern.

When the chronically tight connective tissue finally releases during Rolfing treatment emotionally charged material can be resolved. In this sense Rolfing can act as a catalyst for emotional growth and change and Rolfers are trained to contain this process safely. This aspect is partly what makes Rolfing potentially such a profound experience.


In my experience it is extremely unusual for a client to regress significantly back to unfavourable patterns, especially if they have conscientiously practiced the exercises I sometimes recommend between sessions or have explored the new options in their existing exercise program, such as yoga. After the Rolfing Series the general tendency of the body is to integrate the Rolfing work and consolidate the postural improvements. Wear and tear is inevitable, however, and it is advisable to receive maintenance from time to time. The good news is that the body tissue seems to remember the Rolfing work (somatic recall). This means that if there has been any regression it is very easy to get back to the body state you felt at the end of the last session of the Series. Any fascial thickening can be easily smoothed and muscles rebalanced as the whole body is “reminded” of the optimal alignment of which it is capable. After the last session of the Series you may choose to do ongoing sessions every six weeks or so.  These sessions both maintain the gains of the original Series and also have the potential to improve the structural integration of your body.  Another option is to do a tune-up of three sessions after a significant amount of time; this can be repeated after further significant intervals.


The normal spacing between sessions is weekly or fortnightly. The spacing does not have to be exactly regular and the Series can accommodate one or two breaks of up to five weeks without compromising the results or necessitating a catch-up session.

For a more detailed explanation please see my blog here.


I often get asked this.  Some people find it hard to believe that only ten or eleven sessions of Rolfing can achieve the kind of postural realignment that we are claiming.  Actually the Rolfing Series can achieve significant and often dramatic improvement with long-lasting effect.  Nevertheless it is advisable to do a session a six to eight weeks after the last session in the Series.  This is to stop any slippage that may have happened owing to negative influences such as repetitive daily tasks. Tune-up sessions can achieve an even finer level of integration after the tune-up.  Also, if a particularly recalcitrant issue was not resolved in the original Rolfing Series, it usually gets resolved in the tune-up.  It is also possible to do a three- or five-session mini Series more than six months after the last session of the original Series.


Please see my biography listed as qualifications and biography in the Homepage.

“So many therapists are striking at the pattern of disease instead of supporting the pattern of health. Rolfers are not practitioners curing disease; they are specialists in health. They are giving attention to the better working of people’s minds and bodies.”Ida P Rolf.

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Rolfing London - Alan Richardson

07957 307616

0208 8837655

07957 307616
0208 8837655
Rolfing London - Alan Richardson