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  • Writer's pictureAlex W

Do you want to understand Structural Integration Therapy and from where it comes? Is Structural Integration better than massage?

Updated: Jan 25

What is Structural Integration?

A body out of alignment and balance can cause pain and difficulty. A body in alignment can feel great and easy.

The emphasis on fascia, a connective tissue network and the pursuit of body alignment, distinguishes Structural Integration (SI) from other bodywork therapies. Fascia envelops the entire body and surrounds muscles, organs, nerves, bones, blood vessels, and more. Structural Integration can be a game-changing element in a well rounded holistic wellness regiment. The techniques to release fascia and the strategies of Structural Integration can be significantly different from the techniques to release muscles and the strategies of massage. Therefore massage may not be best for what ails you.


Where does Structural Integration come from?

Dr Ida Pauline Rolf, founder of Structural Integration

SI was started by Dr Ida Rolf in the 1920s.Rolf, a Ph.D. in biochemistry, pursued research in organic chemistry. This scientific background heavily influenced her approach to the body. Dr Rolf had two sick children and delved into various healing systems, including yoga and osteopathy, to find long term cures to their health issues. These experiences planted the seeds for her own method.


Initially called "Structural Dynamics," the method later became known as "Structural Integration" or "Rolfing." Rolf began teaching her work in the 1950s, primarily in private sessions and summer courses. Publications such as articles and books started appearing, including Lawson-Woods' 1958 paper and Solit's 1962 book, showcasing the method and its potential benefits. Rolfing was considered unorthodox in its early days, facing skepticism from established medical fields. In 1971, the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration was established, marking a crucial step in formalizing practitioner training and research.



Anatomy Trains: The book and one of the schools leading the Structural Integration movement.

Dr. Rolf passed away in 1979, leaving a rich legacy. The Rolf Institute continued to evolve and variations of Structural Integration schools emerged, like Anatomy Trains, Heller Work, The Guild for Structural Integration, SOMA, and more. This creation of these other centers both enriched the field and divided efforts for the modality’s growth, diminishing the awareness of Structural Integration’s understandings and offerings.


The "ten series" of sessions, a core Rolfing protocol, emphasizes a sequential approach to addressing the entire body's structure. Other schools of Structural Integration have variations of their own protocols, like Anatomy Trains’ 12 series, that differ in both the number of sessions and objectives for each session.


Today, Structural Integration is practiced by thousands of practitioners worldwide, helping individuals address pain, improve posture, enhance quality of movement, and gain a deeper understanding of their bodies. Research efforts continue to yield strong science backed evidence on the importance and influence of fascia health on one’s overall well being. The benefits of Structural Integration can include relief from headaches, lower back pain, sciatica, scoliosis, nerve issues, frozen shoulder, hip issues, and mouth and jaw dysfunction. Structural Integration can strongly reinforce one’s athletic performance, yoga practice, meditation, exercise routine, flexibility, and movement in everyday life.


IASI is one of the effort to bring groups of Structural Integration schools, practitioners, and scientists together.

Efforts from the International Association of Structural Integration, Fascia Research Congress, and The International Alliance of Healthcare Educators are creating common grounds for schools, practitioners, and researchers to have a greater positive impact in healing arts related to SI, including standardization of education, credentialing of practitioners, promotion of the services and schools, funding and awareness of research, collaborations with other areas, and more.


Is SI better than massage?

While many people would say SI is better than massage, the truth is that it depends. Massage can be great for relaxation and relief. There is also a significant cross-over between massage and SI. If deep tissue, Swedish, sports or other forms of massage therapy in Fort Collins or Boulder is not working for you, try Structural Integration bodywork.  Contact Wholesome Therapies to schedule an appointment.


Call or Text: 303 900 8937

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