Structural Integration works with fascia to improve our alignment and capacity.
Fascia is the connective tissue membrane that wraps around our bones, muscles, nerves and organs and holds everything in place.
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. Both physical and emotional injuries can be 'held' in the body, in habits of attitude, posture 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 these areas of the body can improve our physical options and increase our emotional bandwidth and resilience.
When the body is out of alignment, gravity takes its toll more severely and we don't function as well and often become injured and uncomfortable, and this reduces our energy. So, by improving our structure we improve our function, increase our capabilities, have more energy and feel better.
ATSI Structural Integration
Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (formerly KMI) is a series of 12 bodywork sessions working with the fascia 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.
The ATSI 12-series starts with a health history 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.
ATSI 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 us 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.
What to wear
Due to the movement component of this work, please wear underwear or minimal sportswear that you will be comfortable in for the session. For women, normal bras are usually better than jog bras (which cover too 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. Please, no Lycra or long, tight shorts. We need to observe and contact as much of the body as possible while respecting your modesty and comfort level.
How does it feel and what about pain?
In the early days, 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.
How does SI differ from massage?
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 under a sheet on the table to 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 Structural Integration session than after a massage.
Likewise, whereas massage sessions often focus on local areas of pain and stiffness, the goal of SI sessions is to integrate your body rather than just focus on the area which is hurting. Pain is often caused by fascial restrictions in other areas of the body. So we are addressing the chronic strain patterns which, in the long run, can reduce musculoskeletal pain.