What is Structural Integration?

Structural Integration is a series of ten seventy-five minutes sessions received over a ten week period. Structural Integration is best known by the trade name “Rolfing” created by Dr Ida P. Rolf. The system or “recipe” lengthens and organizes the many layers of fascia. Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body's myofascial system and eventually named her work Structural Integration. Dr. Rolf observed that all structures, organic or inorganic, are affected by gravity. That form and function, pain and dysfunction, are intertwined with the bodies’ relationship to gravity.

In Rolfing, we work in terms of alignment. We align the myofascial structure, which is the connective tissue system. Dr. Rolf referred to the facial layers as “the organ of support or organ of structure” the organ that holds the body appropriately in three-dimensional material world. Fascia is a web of thin elastic tissue, which exists, in continuous layers throughout the body. Muscles and bones are organized and supported in this web, as are all the elements that make up a human body. Fascia is what makes the shape we recognize as an individual. The position, tone and condition of the fascia make John’s leg recognizable; John’s, or Elaine’s neck and head easy to identify even at a distance.

Ida Rolf began doing sessions with the intention of organizing the body structure around the vertical, around gravity. During each session she would ask herself “what does the body want me to do?” Due to the persons’ relationship with gravity and compensations that result form chronic imbalances, Dr. Rolf understood the need to work with the whole body. Dr. Rolf observed that when the physical body gets into difficulties, trouble spreads to the whole being. It affects one’s consciousness, and we call it stress.

Many approaches, physical and psychological, have been used by humanity in their efforts to escape the feeling of stress. In the healing approach of Structural Integration, absence of stress is seen as balanced function - the balance of the body within the field of gravity. This is a new definition; stress is imbalance, visible as the inappropriate position of body components in space.

Dr. Rolfs’ systems objective is to organize the body segments; feet, knees, pelvis, shoulders, and head around a vertical line; so that gravity may flow through, allowing upper body balance over the lower body. The muscles in the front “flexors”  balance with the muscles of the back “extensors.” Structural Integration reestablishes the natural alignment and length in the human structure.  As a result stress is relieved; balance and symmetry are restored, and overall well-being experienced.

What to expect from the sessions.

Each session begins with viewing the client standing. Recommended viewing clothes are a two piece swim suit for women, briefs or boxer briefs for men. Viewing while standing allows the therapist to see how gravity is affecting the structure.  The client gives feedback on how they feel in regards to the balance and body weight upon their feet. After the session we return to a standing position and compare, the results of the session are experienced immediately and can be measured; change in height, an increase in the range of motion, easier movement which creates a felling of being longer, looser, or lighter. At all times the clients’ modesty and security are of the highest priority some clients are a bit intimidated by the idea of viewing please let the therapist know and they will work with what ever is comfortable for you.

Structural Integration is a series of session; each session is 1/10th of the system. The S.I system was not designed to fix the client symptoms; some people come to S.I for specific pain relief, through organizing the structure pain is relieved S.I addresses the cause of the problem not the symptom Dr. Rolf taught “the pain is not where the problem is.”

Session 1, 2, 3 “Lifting the ribs of the pelvis getting a bigger breath” these three are superficial sessions, this is in reference to the layer of fascia, and not how it feels.

Sessions 4, 5, 6 “Freeing the pelvis,” the key stone to a balanced body, Deep intrinsic sessions specifically work on the pelvic girdle.

Session 7 “Getting your head on straight” work above the shoulders neck, and head mandible, specific work on Temporomandibular joint articluation.

Sessions 1 thru 7 these are the lengthening sessions.

Sessions 8 and 9 are balancing sessions for the pelvic and shoulder girdle.

Session 10 is one of celebration and completion. This is the beginning not the end. You have an established foundation. Your structure will continue to integrate and change over the next year. Staying aware and receiving tune-ups will guide this process.

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