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Complementary Therapy: Rolfing Away Tension
Written by Hans Diehl   

Realign your fascia for a pain-free body.

RolfingRolfing is a special kind of bodywork. It is truly holistic. Usually done over a series of ten sessions, each session has a purpose of deep alignment of a specific segment of the body (e.g., one session is dedicated to aligning the feet and legs; another, the pelvis). As better aligned segments get “stacked” on their neighbour segments, whole body posture is improved long term. We stand and move with greater ease from a more centered and grounded place. Also, as a natural result of achieving this deep balance in alignment, the source of much chronic pain is addressed and the pain is typically reduced or alleviated. Each segment can then “talk” to its neighbour segment in a more kind manner, and we begin to feel like one functioning unit again.

A Strange Name

Though named after its founder, Dr. Ida Rolf (1896-1979), Dr. Rolf had originally named the procedure Structural Integration. As the story goes, her first students preferred to use the more memorable and affectionate name, and that’s the name that stuck.

Dr. Rolf deserved the admiration of her students. She was a biochemist, a pioneer scientist and researcher with a clear understanding of how the body needs to function as one unit through the continuous wrapping of the fascia. From a young age, she practiced daily meditation and yoga with her father. From these experiences and having studied with many therapists from varied backgrounds, she understood energy movement at an advanced level and applied this science to her new form of bodywork.

How Rolfing Realigns Posture

RolfingAccidents, injuries, scars from surgeries, chronic illnesses and stress all affect the body’s shape and structure. The fascia compresses at the site of injury and can get as hard as rock. It then pulls us out of alignment. When one area gets compressed the whole body compensates by torsioning from head to toe like a twisted rag. Automatically, our bodies adjust so that we can, among other things, maintain a horizontal eye level. Fortunately, through the skilful manipulation of Rolfing, this can be reversed. The fascia can get soft and realigned in harmony with the whole body. Our whole body shape improves, becomes less rigid, and step by step begins to feel like a drapery hanging from a balanced center.

Good alignment and posture are important for more than aesthetic reasons. It allows less stress on vital structures, like the internal organs and our joints, minimizing the risk of future organ and joint problems. A Rolfed body stands and moves with more surety and grace than before.

I Heard it Hurts...

In the early day Rolfing earned the reputation of a painful therapy, and today it may be the only thing some people know about it. But time and experience have shown that most pain can be avoided and that even the deepest work can be done subtly. When a more direct manipulation is called for, it should be done only within the comfort zone of each individual client.

Who Can Benefit from Rolfing?

I recommend Rolfing to anyone who wants to enjoy a better quality of life; anyone who wants to move with less pain, more freedom and achieve greater balance and better posture. People of all ages come to Rolfing for help with neck pain, back problems, impaired mobility and other difficulties that originate with internal strains. Others seek to improve their appearance, to improve athletic performance, and to enhance personal growth toward a fuller realization of their potential.


Fascia is our organ of shape and structure. It’s been likened to a body glove, or a woven three-dimensional sweater that permeates and courses through muscle, bone, organs, nerves and vessels, communicating with each cell of the body. At the macro level, it is arranged in sheets, in both superficial and deep levels. If the fascia is balanced, it will permit the muscle to pull squarely on a joint, but if accident or injury have caused an imbalance, the muscle can only pull off-center on the joint and will cause misalignment and often pain.
If the fascia of the outside ankle is injured, it will pull directly on the outside hip just above it, the shoulder on the same side and the side of the head on the same side, just like a pulley. We may experience shoulder pain long after an ankle injury, but the main problem is not the shoulder, it’s the ankle. The hardened ankle fascia must be freed and reintegrated with the rest of the body, and typically the other pain subsides. Fascia literally makes every part of the body interrelated!
Hans Diehl -

Hans Diehl is a Certified Rolfer in Vancouver, BC and has been practicing Rolfing since 1999. He received his training at the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado 10 years ago. In addition to many ongoing trainings, Hans is presently in the final stages of training for a Diploma in Manual Osteopathy at the Canadian College of Osteopathy. Tel: 604-431-7661