What Treatment Hopes to Accomplish
Structural Integration is the creation of Ida Rolf, a biochemist and physiologist who established The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration in 1970. She believed that, for optimum health, the body must be in alignment with gravity: Any deviation from the norm requires extra energy for movement and imposes unnecessary strain on the muscles.
She contended that, as the muscles work to compensate over the passing years, the fascia surrounding them tend to bunch up and harden, creating even more strain. Ultimately, she said, the cumulative stress can interfere with normal breathing and impair circulation, digestion, and the nervous system.
The treatments she developed do seem to make a difference. Although research is limited, a controlled study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at UCLA found that people who underwent Structural Integration demonstrated a greater range of motion. They were able to move more easily, smoothly, and energetically. Their posture was improved, and they were able to maintain this posture more comfortably—in other words, they could stand in a given position without straining themselves to hold that position.
Researchers at the University of Maryland obtained similar results. They found that Structural Integration resulted in greater physical strength, less stress, and enhanced nervous-system response. This study also noted an improvement in subjects who had curvature of the spine. Children with cerebral palsy benefited from Structural Integration, as did people with whiplash and chronic back pain.