Who should consider Rolfing® Structural Integration

Rolfing® Structural Integration is for everyone who wants to experience more comfort while upright in gravity, more length in their body, and more refined movement in their sport / art.


People who have Rolfers™ on their team of wellness practitioners

include people who want:

  • to maintain a balanced posture while they age
  • a performance edge to their sport / art
  • to recover after traumatic stress experiences
  • to align their mind and heart with a body free from old behavioural patterns
  • freedom from chronic structural pain
  • greater balance while sitting, standing, and walking
  • increased mobility in their whole body during their movements
  • length in their spine, to feel more upright
  • their feet to have a dynamic range of motion
  • their breath to have three-dimensional ease, greater mindfulness

Contraindications to Rolfing® Structural Integration

There are some conditions that would require caution and even be prohibitive to receiving Rolfing work.  Clients who have unique medical circumstances are encouraged to speak to their doctor to find out if deep tissue manipulation will support their wellness. The following conditions would warrant caution, please let your Rolfer™ know if you have:

  1. Abscesses – Not recommended to work near infections.
  2. Aneurysm – Deep touch work not recommended.
  3. Atherosclerosis – a build-up of plaque in artery walls.  Care needs to be taken so that any thrombi are not dislodged
  4. Arteriosclerosis – hardening of the arteries.  Care is needed because there is usually some atherosclerosis and high blood pressure associated with this. No bodywork in advanced stages. Get medical clearance if taking medication for circulatory problems.
  5. Autoimmune Diseases – The immune system produces antibodies against the body’s own tissues.  No work for acutely inflamed tissues.
    • Lupus – attacks the connective tissue mainly in the skin, kidneys, joints and heart.  Structural Integration not recommended during acute flares.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis – immune system attacks the joints, and its associated muscles, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.  Structural Integration not recommended during inflammatory stage.
    • Scleroderma – a buildup of collagen fibers around organs and in the dermis of the skin increasing stiffness at joints along with muscle weakness. Structural Integration not recommended during inflammatory stage.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis – inflammation of tissues around the spine causing the connective tissues of the sacrum and spine to solidify.  Structural Integration not recommeded on areas of pain and inflammation in acute episodes.
  6. Bipolar disorder (manic – depressive) – during the manic phase, deep bodywork could be contraindicated, it could increase the amplitude of the extreme mood swings.
  7. Bone fractures or acute soft tissue injuries – wait for full healing (6 weeks to 3 months)
  8. Borderline – a psychological diagnosis where the person is on the border between neurosis and full psychosis.  All touch therapy should be performed with supervision by a psychiatrist.
  9. Cerebral Palsy – a group of movement disorders that appear in early childhood. Symptoms include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. In mild and moderate cases Structural Integration has been helpful. See research section to see peer-reviewed articles about Rolfing and Cerebral Palsy. In serious cases Structural Integration is not recommended, might make symptoms worse.
  10. Cancer – Connective tissue can often act as a barrier to the spread of cancer by encapsulating the cancerous cells.  The problem is that deep work could theoretically cause the cancerous cells to metastasize (move through circulatory or lymphatic system to other places in the body).  Usually okay if the person has a clean bill of health for 5 years.
  11. Cortisone treatments – Structural Integration is not recommended concurrently with cortisone treatments unless cleared by physician.  Best to wait 2 to 3 months after cortisone treatment.
  12. Diabetes – Caution suggested about tissue condition and loss of sensation.  Work not recommended around insulin injection sites.
  13. Embolism or Thrombus – blood clots in the vascular system.  Deep bodywork is not recommended because of the risk of dislodging a thrombus. If taking blood thinners as a medical precaution against clotting, medical clearance by your physician is recommended.
  14. Epilepsy – a group of neurological disorders characterized by seizures.  Caution recommended and client suggested to avoid hyperventilation.
  15. Headaches – some types of headaches get worse with any kind of massage around the head/neck/shoulder area.  This is quite common for migraines in the acute stage.  Tension headaches tend to respond more positively to Structural Integration sessions.
  16. Heart conditions – Structural Integration is okay if client is not restricted from exercise.
  17. Hemangioma – These are congenital benign tumors, made up of newly formed blood vessels.  There are different types, usually on the skin, yet sometimes also in brain and viscera.  Deep touch work not recommended for visceral type, in the area, because of the severe danger of internal bleeding.
  18. Hemophilia – Structural Integration not recommended.
  19. High blood pressure (extreme) – Caution when receiving Structural Integration, make sure not to hold your breath while receiving the work.  It is recommended that these clients have medical supervision.
  20. Inflammatory conditions (tendonitis, bursitis) – During the acute stage, Structural Integration is not recommended.
  21. Infectious conditions (HIV) – Medical supervision recommended.
  22. I.U.D. – Important to disclose the use of this device to your Rolfer so they know to avoid any deep abdominal work.  It is possible that an I.U.D. may become displaced, possibly leading to complications.
  23. Osteoporosis – Structural Integration not recommended.
  24. Pain medication use – Caution recommended due to the client’s reduced sensation, there is a greater possibility of tissue or nerve damage.
  25. Pregnancy – No deep abdominal work.
  26. Surgery, Scar tissue – Structural Integration not recommended until scarring process is complete (usually at least 6 weeks).
  27. Varicose veins – Direct work on veins not recommended.
  28. Whiplash – If the neck is inflamed, it might get worse with Structural Integration.  After the acute phase, Structural Integration may be very useful in restoring length to the neck.

List by Robert Schleip, Til Luchau, and John Schewe, 2008

The Rolfing® Association of Canada recommends consulting your doctor about your interest in receiving Rolfing Structural Integration sessions, your medical practitioners are the most informed to know if deep tissue myofascial work will support your wellness and recovery.