Structural Integration

Richard Wheeler maintains a small private practice in Structural Integration and Movement Education, also known as the Rolf System of Structural Integration, or ''Rolfing®''.  He trained with Dr. Ida P. Rolf starting in 1972 & went on to study and contribute along with all the others involved in starting the Rolf Institute.  When Richard got involved with Dr. Rolf's extraordinary concepts, "Bodywork" was reserved for auto mechanics!  He was fortunate to contribute to the formation of the Rolf Institute & to the inauguration of a new profession. 

Definitely NOT "Massage"!

Biochemist Ida P. Rolf, Ph. D., found after 40 years of study, that the body's internal network of connective tissue, its 'organ of support', actively adapts to patterns of use or misuse. As much as 80% of the protein is used to form connective tissue which can organize to support a normal, balanced posture or it can shorten and toughen, work-harden, thicken or set-up like glue to counterbalance for motion habits and compensate for chronic structural problems.

Dr. Rolf also discovered that the steady application of moderate manual pressure, 'myofascial manipulation', could cause dense layers of living tissue to slowly melt, transform & stretch. Rolf found that systematically applied pressure created new flexibility, released people from old rigidified postural patterns and improved their body’s segmental alignment with Gravity.  Her process can bring genuine tears of relief to people's eyes. 

From the Scientific-Biological perspective, Rolf's work is a breakthrough in the long-term problem known as Functional Morphology.  Rolf demonstrated that a direct but non-invasive, manual process could produced easily observable and measurable changes in the living human organism’s structure and function.  She had a deep understanding of the relationships between physical form and motion, density and inertia, contour and resilience.

From the Artist’s perspective, Ida Rolf’s work has a has deep kinesthetic continuity & resonance within the traditional fine arts because, after all, it is body motion & physical behavior that creates art.  For Rolf, living anatomy was the primal, ‘plastic medium’.  Painters who work with visual interpretation and sculptors dealing with materials & contours understand structural patterns, dynamic plasticity & form.  Rolf-practitioners experience direct, first-hand learning about form & function, image & physical reality.   Kinesthetic lessons learned while working to transform living tissue can guide the hands to express new understandings about form and contour.  

Subjectively speaking, people typically report results that include improved symmetry, deeper and easier breathing, symptomatic release, increased energy and lower tension levels. Benefits can also include new feelings of lightness or 'lift', deeper and more restful sleep and emotional relief consistent with, and furthering the goals of personal centering and psychological therapy. For some the experience is purely physical, for others it can be a deep, spiritual awakening.  Because this work changes human physical structure, it is most outwardly similar to Osteopathy or Chiropractic, but does not include the medical-diagnostic or symptomatic orientation of healthcare providers. 


I have created many new tools and manipulation strategies in my many years of experience and experimentation with Dr. Rolf's ideas.  I made contributions during its formation to the Rolf Institute's educational curriculum, continuity and internal processes, research efforts, publications and teaching.  I have led workshops and in-service seminars introducing Dr. Rolf’s work to hospitals and rehabilitation centers throughout the United States.  A major focus of my professional work & research has been to invent a supportive technology meeting the practical needs of both practitioners and recipients.  I invented a uniquely shaped curved-surface treatment table, the Butterfly Bed, that comfortably supports human body contours in many different positions.  I’ve also invented tools for the practitioner.  Steady, comfortably applied manual pressure is needed to create change in connective tissue.  This can be fatiguing for both practitioners & students.  To solve this problem I invented a set of tools designed to support and protect the practitioner's hands, to improve direct manual contact. 

During my sessions, a person’s body weight, positioning and simple manual contact are all important factors in the process of creating structural change.  I use many different positioning strategies and gentle stretches. At times, especially in the beginning, you may experience intense sensations but the process should never be overtly painful.  You may experience deep relaxation or drift in and out of sleep.  In some circumstances, I have utilized computer-based photography to record images of posture, & process.  This is extremely valuable both for educational feedback and to provide a visually valuable record of change.  Look here to see what kind of results can be produced in a single session of 90 minutes duration. 

I work with people in four different ways

1.  Short-term, acute need

My problem solving is focused locally or regionally. I interpret a problem's presence as being structurally related and I work to change local anatomy and release immediately related tissues. When relevant, I generally ask clients to see an allopathic physician (an “MD”) first, to eliminate any possible medical problems.

2.  Medium-term, chronic problems or symptom free

We may do a series of structurally specific sessions designed to systematically work with your whole body.

3.  Long-term, anti-aging, stress relief, preventive maintenance

This involves steady, ongoing work spread out over time. Regularly spaced sessions help  maintain body resilience and compensates for postural patterns, pre-existing problems, chronic stress and aging. Benefits include enhanced alignment and motion efficiency, improved awareness, vitality and stress reduction.

4.  On-demand, performance enhancement, transformation

My focus is with your specific interests and activities.  I work to improve flexibility, vitality, alignment, resonance and balance. I have helped many people with differing concerns such as symptomatic relief, improved alignment, balance, flexibility, anti-aging, energy and sensuality, comfortable sitting in meditation, deep rest and sleep enhancent. I specialize in the performing arts and love working with musicians, actors, and dancers.


I have a limited private practice.  Sessions can last 60-90 minutes, or more.  An introduction to how the process works & feels generally only takes a few minutes to produce subjectively-felt results.  It is possible to benefit dramatically from single, short sessions, extended sessions or sequence of sessions, or a longer-term treatment schedule.  I schedule sessions based on need, real-world circumstances, and in response to demands of both time and process.


Fees range depending on the length of the session and whether the work is being done in the US or Ecuador.  I do not take insurance, I prefer cash or personal check on a local bank (US only).

Workshop fees vary depending on time, the number of participants, content & travel.  Please contact me with your specific request:

For fees in Ecuador, please click here.


I am currently living near Vilcabamba Ecuador.  Come vacation and receive sessions in Ecuador where you can also experience one of the richest ecosystems in the world!  You may view this project here.


My academic background includes the University of the Seven Seas, Reed College and the California Institute of the Arts where I studied modern dance with Bella Lewitsky and Donald MacKayle.  I am trained in the visual arts of calligraphy, choreography, painting, drawing and scientific illustration.  I have traveled extensively and lived at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  I learned vertebrate structure and comparative anatomy at the Los Angeles Page Museum (“La Brea Tar Pits”) for 18 years as a research volunteer and as staff senior excavator.  My publications include original research on saber-toothed cat cranial morphology.  My photography from inside the excavation was given a one-man art show at the Page Museum and in the Director’s Gallery at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. 


I offer occasional workshops, small group events and also may teach, educate or mentor individuals.   I am in the process of establishing a facility and school for Structural Integration in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.  Come study with me and experience physical transformation in one of the world’s most beautiful places! 

Resources For Students & Practitioners


International Association of Structural Integrators. 

Certified Advanced Rolfer® & Rolfing® Practitioner,

Rolfing® Movement Teacher & Mentor, Rolf Institute.


Rolf Institute:  RI

International Association of Structural Integrators: IASI

Guild for Structural Integration:  GSI

International Professional School of Bodywork: IPSB

Hellerwork International:  HW

Kinesis Myofascial Integration:  KMI


Dr. Rolf invented her famous 10-session series to be used as a teaching tool for her students to practice.  Each session or unit she taught functioned like the elements of an alphabet.  Dr. Rolf used her own experience and working vocabulary to ‘write’ prose and poetry (much to the amazement of her students!).  Each session she gave was different, specifically tailored to the structural needs of each individual person, yet all her sessions served her purpose of visibly transforming each body in it’s relation to Gravity.  Dr. Rolf insisted that her manipulation strategies be understood, practiced and judged by their outwardly visible results, not by any number of sessions, set of techniques or degree of symptomatic relief. 

Redefining Dr. Rolf's Lateral Line,  Journal of the Rolf Institute Nov 2015-33.pdfStructural_Integration_files/Redefining%20Dr.%20Rolf%27s%20Lateral%20Line,%20%20Journal%20of%20the%20Rolf%20Institute%20Nov%202015-33.pdfStructural_Integration_files/Redefining%20Dr.%20Rolf%27s%20Lateral%20Line,%20%20Journal%20of%20the%20Rolf%20Institute%20Nov%202015-33.pdfStructural_Integration_files/Redefining%20Dr.%20Rolf%27s%20Lateral%20Line,%20%20Journal%20of%20the%20Rolf%20Institute%20Nov%202015-33.pdfStructural_Integration_files/Redefining%20Dr.%20Rolf%27s%20Lateral%20Line,%20Richard%20Wheeler.pdfshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2

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