Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rolfing® SI the Same as Massage?

No. Rolfing SI and massage are two separate bodywork disciplines with different training as well as different goals.  A common misconception about Rolfing SI is that it is no more than a very deep massage. Usually after one session a client will quickly realize that Rolfing SI is nothing like massage.

Massage is used primarily to achieve relaxation, relieve pain, increase range of motion, reduce adhesions and promote better circulation. Rolfing SI shares these benefits. In fact, most deep-tissue therapies or myofascial release techniques trace their origins to Rolfing SI. What differentiates Rolfing SI from massage is the goal of changing how the body works—both in posture and in movement. Rolfers™ look at the whole body to determine how an imbalance in one area can affect other areas. They make adjustments to gain better balance, organization and alignment throughout the body.

Imagine a massage therapist and a Rolfer working side-by-side on clients in the same room. The Rolfer could be doing the same thing as the massage therapist, with the same benefits, but the Rolfer has the advanced training and supervised experience to build on this work by aligning the body in gravity. What this means is that the Rolfer is considering the relationship of a fascial segment to other fascial segments throughout the body. The goal is to affect  the organization and alignment of the biggest fascial segment of all—the body as a whole.

In the terminology of Rolfing SI instructor Jeff Maitland, Ph.D., Rolfing SI is a third-paradigm modality that serves the goal of wholism. In contrast, much of the typical fascial work of massage is working in the second paradigm of ‘fix-it work’ and corrective action.

Do insurance companies, HSAs or FSAs cover Rolfing SI?

Rolfing SI may be covered by your health insurance - but we have yet to come across that in the State of Wisconsin. A prescription or letter of medical necessity is usually required from your doctor or chiropractor; it is best to check with your insurance provider to identify their requirements. Sometimes it is a matter of wording – "myofascial release" or "neuromuscular re-education” may be terms they use. New Possibilities Integration LLC of Appleton, WI, is happy to provide a receipt, but does not bill or accept insurance. 

Some employers offer flexible spending options (sometimes called a “medical spending account” or "cafeteria plan") while others offer Health Savings Accounts. These plans set aside a portion of your annual pre-tax to be used for medical, dental and childcare expenses. Plans such as these usually cover Rolfing SI, but you still may need a letter of necessity from your Doctor or Chiropractor.  The open enrollment for these employer-sponsored or personal plans is usually in October or November. 

Does Rolfing SI Hurt?

In its early days, Rolfing Structural Integration gained a reputation for being highly effective but rather painful as it was believed that more pressure on the body’s tissues created more change. Over 50 years later, the work is still highly effective, but it is no longer nearly as painful. Research has shown that Rolfing SI works on a neurobiological level and affects the autonomic nervous system by contacting extremely sensitive mechanoreceptors residing in fascia. These receptors react to far less pressure than previously thought. Rolfers have since adjusted their techniques and have created an experience of Structural Integration that is as comfortable as it is transformative.

It is the duty of the Rolfer to work within the client’s comfort level. A client receiving a Rolfing SI session is an active participant in the process and is ALWAYS in control of the intensity level. 

How can I expect to benefit from Rolfing SI?

Each individual’s experience is unique. Experiencing Rolfing Structural Integration may facilitate profound and lasting shifts on so many levels as releasing fascial restrictions often improves posture and alignment, frees up energy and may enhance the functioning of breathing, digestion, circulation and the nervous system. Because of balance and better body symmetry (improved posture), chronic pain and tension decreases because bones and muscles can now do their proper jobs. As physical tensions and armoring dissolve, long-held emotional blocks may gently unwind as well. Energy levels increase as the body no longer automatically resorts to inefficient movement patterns or guards against traumas of long ago. Overall, after receiving Rolfing SI, individuals report that stress, physical and otherwise becomes a far less threatening element in their lives. 

Where Does one learn to practice Rolfing SI?

A Certified Rolfer™ has completed a rigorous and intensive program considered ‘post graduate’ in nature at the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration (the only school in the world that certifies Rolfers) located in Boulder, Colorado. This training includes in-depth study of biological sciences, physiology, anatomy, structural body reading, the theory of Rolfing SI and extensive clinical work under supervision. Through this program, students learn to see the world with a different set of eyes while eating, sleeping and breathing all things Rolfing SI. A student of the Rolf Institute does not study how to “do” Rolfing SI, but rather, learns how to “be” a Rolfer.

Rolfing SI is a complex and dynamic system of soft tissue manipulation and somatic education that restores the body’s alignment. It is not a simple procedure or collection of "techniques" that can be taught in a webinar or weekend continuing education workshop.

What is the Significance of the Dandelion?

The dandelion is a well-known perennial flowering plant often greeted with mixed emotion. Landscapers and those in search of the perfect lawn have branded this sunny little flower as a ‘pernicious weed’ because of its hardiness and adaptability in disturbed habitats such as lawns and sunny open places. On the other hand, herbalists and healers rejoice in the many culinary uses and medicinal properties of the roots, sap, leaves and flowers of this plant.

Many of us remember dandelions with fondness from our childhood years. We learned early on that the dandelion was one of the safest flowers for us to pick and so we picked dozens of dandelion bouquets for those we loved. We delighted in the color that the bright fragrant flowers left on our skin. Best of all, when the cycle of the dandelion came to a close and the flowers dried, we wished hard as we blew and scattered the puffball of parachuted seeds into the wind. At some point, we learned that each windswept seed signified a new possibility and new life.

One might look at the dandelion as an annoying weed or as a healing tool…much like one might choose to look at pain. Whatever outlook or perspective a person may have, when natural cycles end and seeds disperse…similar possibilities eventually take root.