(This is the third part of a three-part post exploring the differences between Rolfing and massage. Read part 1 and part 2.)

Old-fashioned anatomy textbook for massage and bodywork

Trainee Rolfers are required to study anatomy to a very high level.

There are also big differences between the training requirements for Rolfers and massage therapists. In order to enter the UK’s three-year training to become a certified Rolfing practitioner, candidates are required to have degree-level academic qualifications in addition to a previous qualification or substantial experience in a therapeutic or movement field. We also have to submit a 7000-word admissions paper that includes questions on anatomy, movement and personal motivation.

In fact, it’s probably fair to suggest that the Rolfing admissions paper is designed to ‘put people off’ as much as anything else: it purposely assumes a level of anatomical knowledge that would be daunting to anyone except medical students. And what they’re looking for, it transpires, are answers which combine technically correct anatomical knowledge with a willingness to dig deep into one’s personal, embodied experience. Answering a question about the mechanics of breathing is straightforward enough with a little help from Blandine Calais-Germain; describing those mechanics via the prism of your own experience requires a little extra: thoughtfulness, creativity, a willingness to bring your own experience to bear.

For all these reasons, embarking on a course of Rolfing is a very different proposition to massage, with the potential to unwind long-held patterns of tension and transform the way you look and feel for years after you receive your ten sessions. On the face of it, it may seem expensive to commit to ten sessions of Rolfing over an occasional massage. But another way to look at Rolfing is as an investment in your future body. The question might then be: can you afford not to try Rolfing?

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