Innovator of Structural Integration, Founder of The Rolf Method of Structual Integration aka Rolfing, and The Rolf Institute of Structual Integration
The most amazing story Darla recalls about Dr. Ida Rolf was when she helped a four-year old boy named Tim Law who was suffering from a rare bone disorder called Legg-Perthes disease. Tim’s physicians in 1959 recommended puttinng young Tim in a cast for five years.
The expected outcome was that he would be confined to life in a wheelchair for the rest of his life by age 20. Instead Tim received Treatment from Dr. Rolf.
The results were remarkable as Tim went on to become a Champion surfer in high school and college! Tim Law is now a healthy father of two children. Ida P. Rolf earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in 1920.
Across her tenure of twelve years, she worked at the Rockefeller Institute in the Department of Chemotherapy and later in the Department of Organic Chemistry. During her time at the Institute, she took a leave of absence to study atomic physics at the Swiss Technical Institute in Zurich. Dissatisfied with existing medical care in the 1930s, Dr. Rolf continued to search passionately for answers to family health problems.
This led her to study many systems including Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Yoga, Homeopathy, the Alexander Technique, and Korzybsji’s work on states of consciousness. By 1940, Dr. Rolf began applying her more than twenty years of studies, utilizing specific physical manipulations to treat chronic disabilities. Bringing together a rich variety of perspectives, Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system.
She eventually named her body of work “,” embracing a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity. Recipients of Structural Integration found that the work dramatically altered both their posture and structure.
Increasingly, people sought out Dr. Rolf to receive Structural Integration as a way to ease pain, address chronic stress, and improve performance in their daily activities. With patients in hand and mind, she devoted 30 years to refining and developing her technique and training curriculum, ultimately opting to train other practitioners and instructors by the mid-1960s.
She would ultimately find it necessary to create her own school and subsequently a formal organization. Boulder, Colorado became the home for her school the Guild for Structural Integration took form by 1967. Her ambition to bring Structural Integration to as many people as possible took Dr. Rolf all over the world. Her desire was not simply to help others but to teach future generations the fruit of her life’s work.
Dr. Rolf dedicated the rest of her life to developing and teaching the technique that was to later take her name. Clients and practitioners dubbed this work “Rolfing®” and the name stuck.