It’s an odd word for an uncommon practice, which means Rolfing devotees are often asked: “You got what?” The answer is simple for those familiar with the alternative treatment—which focuses on alleviating pain associated with everything from headaches to carpal tunnel syndrome—that has long had ties to Colorado.

Ida P. Rolf founded the Rolf Institute—which has had its headquarters in Boulder since 1971—as the only accredited Rolfing school in the world. But unlike acupuncture, massage, and Reiki, which have soared in popularity nationwide over the past few decades, Rolfing Structural Integration, as it’s officially called, has mostly flown under the mainstream radar since its inception.

That poor market saturation can be attributed to one detail: The treatment has a reputation for being painful. Based on the manipulation the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and nerves, Rolfing goes deeper than a massage. But, according to proponents, it isn’t as agonizing as it’s made out to be—if your Rolfer is well trained. “These days, we are much better at teaching finesse instead of force to achieve results,” says Ray McCall, a practicing Rolfer for 35 years.

For Coloradans, finding a qualified Rolfer is easier than it is for those in other states—even New York, where, according to the New York Times, the practice has seen a resurgence—because of the institute. Of the more than 1,800 certified Rolfers worldwide, nearly 140 practice in Colorado.

Try It Locally

The Rolf Institute lists dozens of certified therapists at or visit one of the following Denver-area providers.

Integrative Health: 5191 S. Yosemite, Suite B; Greenwood Village; 303-641-3416;

Rolfing Solutions at Highlands Wellness Center: 2416 W. 32nd Ave., Denver; 303-621-4028;