Cerebral PalsyMassagePainRolfing

Rolfing: “Scientifically validated” body restructuring and movement education?

One certified Rolfer says it is, but she offers no links to studies to support the statement.

So, I searched PubMed for any articles with “Rolfing” in the title or text.

There were slim pickings. Only 8 studies and reviews were published since 1981, and only 2 about treating something.

Myofascial pain syndromes

  • This condition is caused by trigger points (a focus of hyperirritability) and their associated reflexes.
  • The effect of the Rolfing pelvic lift, a soft tissue mobilization procedure, was studied in 40 healthy adult men aged 26 to 41 years and 55 to 68 years.
  • The younger group showed a significant increase in parasympathetic tone relative to durational touch and baseline conditions.

The researchers concluded, this explains why Rolfing has “been clinically successful in treating myofascial pain syndromes and other musculoskeletal dysfunctions characterized by reduced parasympathetic tone and excessive sympathetic activity.”

OK. But it seems that the obvious test to determine the effectiveness of a treatment for a pain syndrome is a measure of pain response, which was not done here.

Cerebral palsy

  • Muscle strength and electromyography were not altered appreciably in any of the 10 patients treated.
  • The effects of treatment on range of motion were variable,
  • Rolfing was associated with improved performance in mildly affected patients.
  • But there was increased muscle tightness in the hip and lower anatomy.

The researchers concluded, “The increased muscle tightness which occurred probably outweighs any benefit, which moderately or severely impaired patients may derive from the treatment.

More background on Rolfing is here.

7/12/07 16:26 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.