This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Rolfing is based on the premise that physical and emotional stress--as well as gravity--can throw the body out of vertical alignment and cause muscles and the connective tissue known as fascia to become rigid and inflexible. (Fascia encases muscle and connects muscle to bone.) These problems can then lead to more stress, illness, and a loss of general well-being.
Rolfing aims to realign the body by using intense pressure and stroking to stretch shortened and tightened fascia back into shape. The goal is to make the fascia softer and more flexible, and to restore its natural balance in relation to muscles, tendons, and bones.
Practitioners manipulate the fascia rather than the muscles themselves. Pressure from the practitioner's knuckles, knees, elbows, or fingers on this connective tissue is said to release deeply held tension and stress. Rolfing results in ease of movement, improved posture, and overall emotional and physical health.