People often ask what the difference is between Rolfing and deep tissue massage. This is an understandable question because both techniques employ soft tissue manipulation to loosen painful tissues, reduce pain and stress, and promote relaxation and feelings of well-being. However, a quick analysis shows that the two techniques are vastly different.

Deep tissue massage focuses on a single problem area at a time. The massage therapist digs deep into the muscle tissue to improve mobility by releasing trigger points. Deep tissue massage is defined by how deep a touch the therapist uses, while Rolfing varies the depth of touch dictated by the patient’s needs. Deep tissue massage works well for temporary relief of tight muscles but does not address the whole body or the movement compensation patterns that may well cause the muscle pain to recur.

Conversely, Rolfing primarily focuses on a full body treatment called Structural Integration. The Rolfer works the connective tissue between muscles (the fascia) to improve body alignment. Rolfers treat the body as a network of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts and proceed to reorganize connective tissues through the layers of your body. The Rolfer’s goal is to relieve pain, of course, but most importantly, to help the patient correct the movements that are negatively affecting his or her body through preventive measures and education.

While Rolfing provides significant benefits for nearly all patients, it is considered an exceptional form of therapy for professional athletes and dancers who are either recovering from an injury or looking to improve their overall performance.

Before treatment, make sure to discuss your activities and appropriate training regimen with your therapist to help you decide your best course of treatment. However, keep in mind that Rolfing is designed to provide permanent rather than temporary relief from pain.

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