Healthy Beginnings

Rolfing for Children: From Scoliosis to Sports Injuries, Rolfing Helps Relieve Pain, Improve Posture

By Joe Dunkley


Postural, structural and functional problems in children can be addressed by the manual therapy method known as Rolfing, which was developed by Ph.D. Ida Rolf in the 1950s. It is a therapy that deeply works with the organizing and underlying fascia or connective tissues in the body. Many of the problems that children experience have a possible solution in this unique hands-on therapy.


Scoliosis, or a spine that is pulled o to one side or the other, affects girls more often than boys but, in both instances, can be a permanent and difficult lifetime structural problem.

Once we reach the ages 18-22 our bones, which have been growing and changing rapidly, begin to ossify and set their permanent position. Once this has happened, scoliosis is especially hard to correct. But while people are young the tissues and bone are still very malleable and changeable, giving an opportunity to correct what would otherwise be a permanent condition.

Scoliosis is often noticed or detected from 10-14 years old, this is also an optimal time to correct this condition. Fascia is the tough fibrous material that holds our muscles and organs together. In scoliosis, the muscle called quadratus lumborum (QL) deep in the low back on one side becomes fixed and does not grow or lengthen with the
growth of the child. This begins to pull at the spine to that side, deforming the spinal column. Rolfing
has the potential to break up the adhesions in this critical muscle, allowing the muscle to lengthen properly and the spine to grow in its natural straight form. There is a small window of opportunity with children to correct this misalignment while the tissues are most pliable. It is a critical time to take action.

Sports Injuries

Children are performing at higher and higher levels of competition at younger ages more than ever before. This determined effort to succeed at young ages can also lead to increased injuries and pain. Rolfing is famous among top athletes, including athletes of the Seattle Seahawks, golfers like Hank Haney, baseball and tennis players, and even rodeo competitors because of the powerful and rapid results it produces for getting out of pain, expanding range of motion and increasing performance. Part of any regimen for achieving top level performance includes mitigating injuries, and keep the body functioning at its nest. Rolfing, by releasing tension and adhesions in the fascia which form from impacts, repetitive motion and overexertion, prevents injuries by keeping tissues flexible and adaptable to sudden changes. Rolfing also enhances performance giving greater strength and precision to muscle groups.


Jaw pain, range of motion (ROM) restriction and TMJ are not unusual side effects of extensive dental work. Rolfers are trained at working inside the mouth on the powerful muscles that operate the jaw to release the tension that may have formed from frequent or intense dental visits. Leaving jaw pain and ROM restriction in place can lead to the more complicated problem called TMJ.

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint where the jaw hinges with the skull near the ears. This joint has a small disk of cartilage that cushions

the joint while chewing. When too much pressure for an extended time is kept on this joint, it can damage the disk leading to long-term problems. Rolfing has the capacity to release the tensions in the jaw taking the pressure o this joint, preventing an injury and allowing it to heal if it has been damaged.


Rolfing therapy is ultimately about establishing optimal posture for maintaining a healthy body, developing a strong commanding presence and preventing difficulties later in life. Many of today’s children are carrying their schoolbooks in large overloaded backpacks, putting powerful strains on their necks and shoulders on

a daily basis. Many children today are suffering with back pain and don’t think of mentioning it to their parents, as they know no different. Backpacks are a major contributor to this problem, and a few sessions of Rolfing can significantly relieve the pain associated with this activity.

Joe Dunkley has been a practicing Rolfer for 17 years, working with children, top athletes in the golf world, working with iron men, runners and bikers, as well as working with sports medicine doctors, business leaders of Fortune 100 companies and the state of Colorado. For more information, call 775-737-2249 or visit