Change happens with this work, and is experienced in many different ways by different people. It is an individual process. Also, not everything happens at once. Much of the change takes place between your KMI sessions and can continue for months or even years afterwards as your body responds over time. Some of the benefits people have experienced from KMI sessions are:
Kinesis Myofascial Integration (KMI) is a style of Structural Integration developed by Thomas Myers, who was a student of Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais and Buckminster Fuller. KMI is a series of 12 bodywork sessions working with the fascia or 'connective tissue' of the human body to free up constricting patterns with the goal of allowing more freedom of movement and an easier, more efficient relationship to gravity. The 12-series has a specific recipe, based on the pioneering work of Ida Rolf and Thomas Myers, which is tailored to each individual. The first four sessions deal with the superficial  fascia of the body, the next four explore the deeper 'core' structures, and the last four sessions integrate and prepare the body for the future.
 
Myers says that Rolf told her students to stand on her shoulders and further develop the work, and he has done that. He is a pioneer in the fields of SI, bodywork, holistic anatomy and fascial research, as well as a prolific writer and educator, and we have much to thank him for. Ida called her work Structural Integration, among other things, and her students later called it Rolfing. Today there are several schools that are based on Ida's work. They're all slightly different and some call the work by other names. People who have been trained at the Rolf Institute call themselves 'Rolfers' and their work 'Rolfing'. Myers has added two sessions to the Rolfers' 10-series, which is why KMI is a 12-series. He practiced as a certified Rolfer for over 25 years, is former chair of the Rolf Institute's Anatomy Faculty and conducts KMI and Anatomy Trains professional training seminars internationally through Kinesis, Inc. I graduated from his 550-hour  KMI certification training program in January 2008.
ALEXANDRA HAMER, LMBT
LICENSED MASSAGE & BODYWORK THERAPIST
(919) 682-8102
DURHAM & CARY, NC
NC Lic. #83
What is KMI?
KMI STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION
KMI STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION
What is Structural Integration?
What is a KMI session like?
What do I wear?
How does it feel and what about pain?
How does KMI differ from massage?
The KMI 12-series starts with a health history which is reviewed and discussed so we can get a clear idea of previous trauma to the body, medical status, what you do with your body, what your discomforts are and what your goals are for the series. Each session begins with a comprehensive body reading and structural assessment and this is integrated with the information you provide with a view towards the goals of the 12-series. We are looking at major features of your structure in terms of balance, symmetry, relationships between different areas of the body, and fascial strain and compression patterns. Photographs are taken before each session and are used throughout the series as a visual aid to evaluate and strategize for future sessions. All photographs are confidential.

KMI sessions include movement. Standing and walking at intervals during the session allows you to feel the effects of the work in your body and lets me observe gait and movement. You also move your body to participate in the work we do. Chronic restrictions and holding patterns are usually in areas of limited motion. Movement brings the work more deeply into the body and recruits your nervous system to allow your body to organize and make sense of the changes it is experiencing. Many sessions include some movement 'homework' that you can experiment with between sessions to increase awareness. Going for a walk after each session is recommended to give you some time to 'be' in your body for a while before going on to other activities.
Structural Integration (SI) was developed by Ida Rolf (1896-1979), an extraordinary woman who spent her life studying and working with science and the human body. Her studies ranged from biochemical research, mathmatics, atomic physics and a PhD in biological chemistry from Columbia University, to osteopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic medicine and yoga. She was fascinated by the posture of the human body and its relationship to gravity, and over the years she figured out how to work with human fascia, the connective tissue membrane that wraps around the bones, muscles, nerves and organs and holds everything in place, to improve human alignment and capacity.
 
She started by working with people in yoga postures and people with chronic disabilities and manipulating their fascia to undo restrictions and allow them to move in ways they could not before. She saw people's physical structure as being organized around a vertical 'core' line, rising up the center of the body, and functioning either optimally or less than optimally in relation to its alignment with gravity. The basic idea is that if body parts are out of alignment, then gravity takes its toll more severely and the parts don't function as well (and often become injured and hurt) and this saps the energy of the human being. So, by improving people's structure you could improve their function and increase their capabilities, give them more energy and have them feel a whole lot better.
 
She also saw people's emotional and psychological integration as intimately linked to their physical structure. Our fascia holds the patterns we have adopted both emotionally and physically to get along in our lives and the structure of our bodies reflects this. Certain postures are associated with emotional states: the foetal curling up into flexion of sadness and depression versus the extension of exhilaration with a swan dive or open arms. Both physical and emotional injuries can be 'held' in the body, as habits of attitude, stance and movement (or lack of it) and the fascia can become adhered, dehydrated, thickened and less functional. Gently releasing and reshaping the fascia and bringing movement, circulation and awareness to the affected areas of the body can both improve our physical options and increase our emotional bandwidth, tone and resilience.
 
Ida Rolf was not just interested in removing pain by alleviating symptoms, she was interested in addressing the structural causes of 'dis-integration' and thereby increasing human potential. That's why it's called Structural Integration, rather than just 'structural bodywork', because it affects the whole person.  How your body moves and feels and relates to gravity, how well your various body parts relate to each other, and how much energy you have, affects how you are in the world and in your life, what you can do and how you feel about it. This is not to say that SI can do everything and cure all ills, but it has extraordinary potential, as do you.
 
More information about Ida Rolf and the history of Structural Integration
Structural Integration is really a partnership between therapist and client where we both work together to free up and integrate your body. It is more participatory and involves more movement than the typical massage model, where folks often lie passively on the table and receive massage. The primary goal is to organize the structure of the body, and this is best done with your awareness, breath and conscious movement. Although fascial work can be deeply relaxing, relaxation is not the goal of our sessions; in fact people often feel more energized after a KMI session than after a massage.

Likewise, whereas massage sessions often focus on local areas of muscle pain and stiffness, the goal of KMI sessions is to improve your alignment rather than focus on the area which is hurting. Pain is often caused by structural misalignment in other areas of the body. How your feet contact the ground affects the alignment of your knees, hips, spine and neck; and how your pelvis is aligned affects the mechanics of your knees, feet, spine and neck. So, rather than treating the symptoms (working where it hurts), we are addressing the chronic strain patterns which, in the long run, can reduce musculoskeletal pain.

You may want to have massage appointments between your KMI sessions for such things as stress relief or local trigger-point work. Some people alternate during a 12-series. It really depends on what is going on with you.
Benefits
Due to the movement component of this work, people wear underwear or some kind of minimal sportswear for sessions.
Please wear underwear that you will be comfortable in for the session. For women, normal bras are usually better than jogbras which cover much of the upper back, and briefs or small shorts or two-piece swimsuits are fine. For men, briefs, swimming trunks or short boxers are fine. We need to observe and contact as much of the body as possible while respecting your modesty and comfort level.
increased range of motion
reduction of stress in the body
improved alignment
increase in energy
a feeling of lightness and 'lift' in the body
opening of chest and ribcage
more movement available in the hips and back
feeling more grounded through the feet
better balance
enhanced body awareness
increased core support
improved athletic performance
increased endurance
feeling more adaptable
ease of movement
more efficient posture
emotional resilience
In the early days, when Ida Rolf was teaching, Rolfing had a reputation for being very painful: often life-transforming but brutal. Much has been learned since then and Structural Integration techniques have changed. Practitioners differ in their intensity and how they work with clients. The way I like to work with people is to keep the communication lines open and find what works for each person. Sometimes intensity is good and sometimes it works better to back off and go more gently. I have found the best results when I meet the tissue where it will move fluidly - where the fascia 'flows' - and those of you who have felt this will know what I mean. It's kind of an amazing feeling... There's no point in forcing anything. You find what will move and work with it, and then things open up and you get more movement.
Tom Myers on pain
Getting the most from your KMI sessions
What makes KMI different?
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feeling better!
reduction of chronic pain
more coordination and comfort when walking
being more at home in your body
increased breathing capacity
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