This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
When you first meet with a practitioner, you will probably begin with a discussion of your medical history, including any former injuries, such as broken bones. The conversation may also include such topics as how you tote your shoulder bag and where you "carry your stress." The Rolfer will probably ask you to undress to your underwear and have you lie on a massage table for the treatment.
The treatment itself may begin with the Rolfer manipulating the upper half of your body to free any restrictions around the rib cage. This will help you breathe more easily, which will set the tone for the next sessions.
Typically, a full Rolfing course involves 10 sessions of 60 to 90 minutes each. Sessions one through three, known as the "superficial" sessions, usually focus on the surface layers of the fascia. These layers are associated with the muscles that are near the surface of the body. Sessions four through seven involve the deeper fascia and muscles, and are called the "core" sessions. Sessions eight through ten are the "integrative" sessions. They aim to synthesize the work of the earlier sessions.
As the sessions progress, the course of treatment will involve an increasing amount of pressure on the fascia. Because the practitioner is working so deeply, the treatment can be painful--rather than relaxing--but it should never be unbearable. And you should feel energized after each session.
In recent years, advanced Rolfers have been exposed to an updated curiculum that puts less emphasis on the 10-session model. The curriculum addresses a wider variety of manual therapies, including cranial, visceral, and joint manipulation.