"My goal is to assist the client's body in finding and enhancing its internal forces and mechanisms for better health; mechanisms that make it stand straighter, feel stronger, be more balanced, and have greater ease of movement and relief of pain".
Rolf Method of Structural Integration
NEW TO STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION?
Structural Integration is a manual therapy that focuses on improving the organization of the entire body structure. It works with restrictions in the connective tissue (fascia) in multiple systems of the body (musculoskeletal, visceral, nervous, craniosacral, etc.) in order to restore postural balance, ease of movement, and resolve associated pain and discomfort.
Structural Integration is based on the work of Dr. Ida Rolf and practiced in an organized series of sessions or individual sessions by persons trained in Structural Integration at schools in accordance with the standards established by the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI®).
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Structural Integration practitioners go through extensive training to be able to see and address the complex ways in which the body is relating to itself and to its environment. They are able to identify when it is out of balance and alignment, and then formulate an intervention. This task may require a single or a series of sessions of hands-on bodywork.
The type of tissue being manipulated is called connective tissue or fascia. Fascia surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, organs, and nerves, binding some structures together while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other.
Fascia is strongly influencing posture as well as muscular tension. It holds the shape of one's body and affects the body's balance, strength, and flexibility.
Injury, stress, work-related repetitive movements, and the effects of aging can cause fascia to lose its elasticity and become shorter, tighter, and more dense. Tightened fascia pulls our muscles and skeleton out of proper alignment and posture, which can cause pain, discomfort, and fatigue.
Structural Integration focuses on this complex matrix of connective tissue in a way that brings all the body's parts to smoothly functioning relationships.
INDIVIDUAL VS SERIES OF SESSIONS
Series of sessions
Traditionally, Dr. Ida Rolf method of Structural Integration uses a series of ten sessions. The ten session series is designed to uncover a structural ease and kinetic balance that is unique to each client. Each session in this process is a continuation of the previous session and an introduction to the next one. This specifically designed sequence step by step releases patterns of stress and impaired function. It has predictable results and is proven to be effective.
The Structural Integration ten session series is known to be remarkably successful in resolving chronic pain and stress conditions of a structural nature. In many cases, these conditions are merely symptoms resulting from long-term imbalances and asymmetries, and this unique sequence of sessions allows to address both, long-term compensations and the root causes.
About the 10 sessions:
Session 1. Freeing the breath
Session 2. Lower body, relationship with ground
Session 3. Hips and shoulder girdle relationship
Session 4. Preparing the core, pelvic floor stability
Session 5. Freeing the abdomen
Session 6. Balancing the hip and back
Session 7. Balancing the head and neck
Session 8. Lower body integration
Session 9. Upper body integration
Session 10. Whole body integration
Anyone can receive structural integration sessions out of the series format. Individual sessions are often used:
- for maintenance, to ease the effects of life, to undo an occupational body overuse, to increase sports performance;
- for periodic tune-ups by people who previously went through the series of 10 sessions;
- as a preventive measure, especially for kids, teenagers, and elderly people;
- to ease musculoskeletal discomfort, pain and stress;
It’s important to note that many people who experience discomfort are not fully aware of the total scope of their problem. In this case the practitioner might recommend 10 session series or refer the client to another healthcare professional.
A TYPICAL SESSION
A typical session includes: assessments, hands-on bodywork, and, if needed, movement education.
In the beginning of each session the practitioner assesses client's balance, alignment, mobility and movement patterns.
Much of the work is done with the client lying on the standard treatment table, while some may be done seated or standing.
The practitioner applies a precise amount of shearing pressure to different parts of the body, in coordination with the client's breathing and movement, slowly releasing and unwinding restrictions in the fascia.
The process is unhurried and deliberate and always within the client’s comfort level. The touch is always gentle and specific, wether the work is superficial or deep. Most people enjoy the process and find it being deeply relaxing while therapeutic and transformative.
Because the nature of work requires movement on the table, seated and standing with continued reassessments during the session, it is important to wear something as comfortable and moveable as possible with the greatest access to the skin. Some people simply wear hugging covering underwear or a bathing suit while others are more comfortable in shorts and tank top. The client's comfort level is important and other options are discussed as needed.
There is an option to take photos in order to create a visual record of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ for both the client and the practitioner, since there can be visible postural and structural changes.
Common perceptions after a session include a feeling of lightness, feeling taller and straighter, greater awareness of body posture, greater ease of movement, relief of pain, and a difference in the way the body is carried.