Structural Integration (Rolfing)
Structural Integration is a scientifically validated body therapy. Unlike massage, Structural Integration focuses not on the muscles but on their protective layer, called fascia (also known as connective tissue). Muscles are contracting tissues that give the body and organs physical movement. The fascia surrounds the muscles, bones and organs in the body. The fascia gives muscles their shape and the body its structure.
Structural Integration aligns and balances the body by lengthening and repositioning the fascia. As fascia is lengthened it allows the muscles to move more efficiently. The practitioner will apply pressure to the body, working the entire fascial system in a systematic way. When restricted fascia is released and lengthened the body can return to its structurally optimal position.
The continuing pull of gravity, the stress of daily activities and physical injuries can pull the body out of alignment. The fascia gradually shortens, tightens and adjusts to accommodate the misalignment. When the body is out of alignment it creates inefficiency and imbalance resulting in stiffness, discomfort and loss of energy.
When a body is aligned and balanced it moves with greater ease. It requires less energy to function. Good posture is effortless and breathing is easier. The body becomes more flexible, more coordinated and athletic performance improves.
What will I experience in a Structural Integration session?
Structural Integration is performed in ten sessions. Each session is approximately one hour in length. It is preferable that the sessions are received, one per week for ten weeks in a row. The ten sessions are administered progressively; each session builds upon the last until complete integration of the body is achieved. The process of Structural Integration includes balancing the body in segments and achieving vertical alignment from balancing the body from front to back, side to side, top to bottom and inside to outside.
At the beginning of the first session the client completes a health questionnaire and spend some time speaking with their practitioner about the goals and intentions as applied to their unique situation and structure. Male clients receive work in underwear or swimsuit, women in two piece swimsuits or bra and underwear. The practitioner will observe the client, how they stand, walk and other general movements. In some cases a photograph or digital image may be taken if the client is interested in seeing before and after results. The specific goals of the session will be discussed. The client will lie on a massage table so the practitioner can work with their body. The client will participate in the session often being asked to breathe into the area being worked on or to make small, specific movements.
During the session the client may experience a warm, pleasant sensation from the area that the practitioner is working with. Some individuals do not experience any sensation while others may experience momentary discomfort. The practitioner will apply the appropriate pressure, based on the clients needs and feedback. During most of the sessions the practitioner will help the client to become aware of habitual patterns of movement and imbalances in their body and will help them work toward making changes in these patterns in their daily life.
After the basic ten series is complete a client usually allows a period of time for the body to adapt and fully integrate before scheduling additional work. The waiting period can be anywhere from one month to one year based on the client’s unique experience. After the waiting period the client can return for tune-up sessions or advanced sessions to further the process of integration. In some instances practitioners will work with clients in ongoing sessions to achieve specific goals
What are the benefits?
Structural Integration is a very personal process. It is important to remember that because no two people are alike, their experience and the benefits will never be exactly the same. As a result of the process people often appear taller and slimmer. Some actually gain anywhere from 1/4” to over 1 inch in height. Feelings of discomfort or pain are often alleviated. Other often experienced benefits are greater flexibility, a feeling of lightness and fluidity, better balance, increased breathing capacity, increased energy and greater self-confidence.
While Structural Integration is primarily concerned with physical changes in the body, it affects the whole person. We are made up of emotions, attitudes, belief systems and behavior patterns as well as the physical being. All are related. Align the physical structure and it will open up the individual’s potential. Clients often report positive changes, stating less stress, greater self-confidence and improved ability to handle life’s changes. Such changes have been reported in all age groups.
Does Structural Integration last?
YES! Photographs taken of clients years after the Basic Ten Series show that changes are still present and structure often improved. Keep in mind however, as life changes, bodies change in response. Any injuries, accidents, lengthy illnesses and emotional stress may necessitate additional work.