Ida Rolf, a Biochemist and Inventor Of “Rolfing”

Ida Rolf by Samantha Hahn
Illustration of Ida Rolf by Samantha Hahn

Ida Rolf (1896–1979)

Ida Rolf was a biochemist and the inventor of Structural Integration, a form of soft tissue manipulation that aligns the body with the forces of gravity. Now known as “Rolfing,” the process is a holistic approach to optimizing body function by helping the connective tissues and muscles work together, while also focusing on movement retraining. Born in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1896, she would publish 16 academic papers and two papers in scholarly journals based on the practice. Though not yet fully accepted in the mainstream health community, in 2007 the Ida P. Rolf Fascia Research Foundation was created to help fund research studies exploring the positive impact of Structural Integration.

Samantha Hahn is a New York-based illustrator and author. With a focus on exploring the female experience, her ethereal watercolor paintings have been exhibited around the world and featured in publications from The Paris Review to Vogue Japan. She has published two books, “Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines” and “A Mother is a Story: A Celebration of Motherhood.”

This feature originally appeared in the Body issue. Find more inspiring stories from the Body issue here or check out our Women in History section.

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