The facts

Rolfing is a form of bodywork in which a therapist uses deep tissue massage to realign the connective tissues of the body.

Also known as structural integration, Rolfing was developed in the 1930s by Ida Rolf, PhD. Rolfing aims to put the body in proper alignment and promote overall ease of movement and well-being. A rolfer, as Rolfing practitioners are called, would use their fingers, hands, elbows, and knees to stretch and manipulate the body's fascia, or connective tissue.

Though the effectiveness of Rolfing has not been scientifically proven, proponents of the practice believe it to be helpful in terms of overall body movement, awareness, and alignment.

A word of caution

Rolfing is thought to be safe for most people. But like other forms of deep tissue massage, this technique can be uncomfortable or painful to some.

The same people who are advised against receiving deep tissue massage should avoid Rolfing. This would include pregnant women. People with bleeding disorders and blood clots or those with joint, skeletal, or connective tissue disorders should speak to their doctor before taking part in a Rolfing session.

Rolfing should not be relied upon as sole treatment for a medical condition, but rather as a complement. Be sure to inform your health care providers of any Rolfing therapy in which you take part.