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Rolfing or Deep Tissue Massage?

posted by Custom Craftworks on November 14, 2018

Rolfing and deep tissue massage are commonly confused, but the two are quite different. They both have the ability to loosen deep and painful tissues, reduce stress and promote relaxation and well-being. So, what’s the difference between them?


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What is Rolfing?

According to the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration, rolfing structural integration is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body.

Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration states that the founder of this technique, Dr. Ida Rolf, recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. 

According to Barry Davison R.M.T, Rolfing is a process of re-education in which a Rolfer seeks to help a client discover the most efficient way of using the body.


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Deep tissue massages typically involve digging deep within the muscle to release trigger points and improve mobility. However, it does not consider the entire body, rather it focuses on one spot only.

 A deep tissue massage differs from Rolfing because it focuses on techniques for each individual muscle strain. It is only a temporary relief, and does not address or release the system wide compensation patterns that some activities can cause. Deep tissue massage is great for temporary relief of tightness in muscles. 



The separating factor between Rolfing and deep tissue massage is that Rolfers have a full-body approach to the treatment that essentially increases your body’s alignment. Research has shown that Rolfing can be effective at reducing back pain as well as educating clients on harmful movement patterns. According to rolfusa.com, through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long-term. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and function.

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This blog was curated from a blog published by Barry Davison R.M.T on barrydavison.com. The original blog can be found here
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Custom Craftworks

Originally founded in 1986, Custom Craftworks supports the vital work of professional manual therapists and educators in the massage therapy and holistic health fields by designing, building and sourcing the best-quality massage tables, chairs, equipment and accessories available. In 2009, the company was acquired by Pivotal Health Solutions based in Watertown, South Dakota.