What is Structural Integration Rolf Method? The goal of Structural Integration is to obtain balance and alignment, serving both structure and function within the field of gravity by freeing and unwrapping the connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is a thin yet fibrous tissue that is the binding tissue and support of the body. If you’ve skinned chicken breasts, it’s the white tissue that is between the meat and the skin.
What is the Structural Integration ten-series? The Structural Integration ten-series is the typical progression whereby the client receives ten, one-hour sessions addressing every part of the body to achieve balance and alignment as a whole. Sessions range from 55-75 minute in length due to customization. Each hour is a progression of the series and is important to gain the appropriate balance and alignment goals. SI works by lengthening and opening the connective tissue to obtain greater freedom to function in the body riding old patterns of tendencies and creating new, optimal patterns. As a result the thickened, toughened tissue becomes soft, re-hydrated and more pliable, thus allowing movement and flexibility. Structural Integration changes the body's compensations because it organizes the imbalances in the tissue. The systematic approach to relating gravity through the myofascial layers aligns the body and improves posture consequently feeling uplifted and light. Ideally, the ten-series would be performed one session a week for ten weeks.
What does Gravity have to do with Structural Integration? No other force in the world is as dramatic or potent as gravity. We can’t see, taste, smell, or hear gravity, but it’s the law that affects every body on the planet. For example, as we age oftentimes we lose circulation, height, flexibility, and perhaps prolapsed organs occur. These are only a few affects gravity produces, but certainly critical to health and well-being. Because of repetitive motions and overuse of our bodies, imbalances are created - oftentimes without knowing it. Some may call these problems, but they’re merely unavoidable result of the constant force of gravity. Structural integration aims to create lift from gravity working with connective tissue as the medium than a mere downward force that pulls at the body over time.
How do fascia, connective tissue, and muscles relate to SI and what is the difference? Fascia is a thin, fibrous, strong tissue that envelopes and connects muscles. If you imagine an orange, it’s similar to the pith that encases the whole orange and it’s segments. Think of the slice of the orange as the muscle and the shiny protective casing as the fascia. Connective tissue is broad word, but can be classified within four categories. Its main purpose is to create structure and support connecting two or more types of connective tissue across the body. Connective tissue as a whole should be resilient, flexible, effectively responds to the gravitational force, and hydrated. When imbalances are created, connective tissue becomes dehydrated, course, and shortened. Over time, the imbalances create strain in the body that can be felt by stiffness, general discomfort, the reduction of flexibility, and movement.
Will Structural Integration hurt? SI practitioners gained an early reputation associated with pain, but the work has advanced and evolved since then. There are several factors to be considered if SI will hurt. First, there are areas in the body that hold chronic tension or stress. Also account for how long the compensatory pattern has been prevalent in the body. The practitioner and client will gauge the level of intensity and threshold that is best pending the type of sensation present. Sensations range from a ‘hurt so good’ satisfying release, tenderness, or temporary discomfort. My goal is to customize each structural integration session to each client’s goals and that of the overall focus of SI. Structural integration is a very personal process and no one person’s is exactly alike. The client and practitioner work together as a team.
What should I wear to a Structural Integration session? Sessions are completed with comfortable attire for the client. Women commonly wear running shorts and sports bra or tank top, a 2-piece swimsuit, or undergarments. Men can wear undergarments or running shorts. Again, I urge clients to wear comfortable attire. The more comfortable the attire, the more engaged in the process the client can become and less worried about being uncomfortable or uncovered. All clients will have a blanket on them during the session to provide further protection and comfort. The blanket will be gently moved when the practitioner needs to work in a certain area of the body.
What does a session look like? First, the client and practitioner will discuss the goals of the treatment and converse how it relates to the client’s health history and primary concerns. The practitioner will assess how client stands, walks, breathes, and generally moves with dialogue between client and practitioner. Client will receive work from practitioner occasionally asking for small movements on or off the table to further the process of elongating and freeing the body. The practitioner can take before and after photos to track the progression upon client’s request.
What are the benefits? Structural Integration is a personal journey creating overall well-being and balance albeit a very physical process. Many benefits occur throughout the process some being subtle, others more dramatic whether physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc. As a result of these personal journey’s many clients report feeling taller and leaner that may give rise to a better appearance inwardly and outwardly, optimal digestion, heightened sense of self, increased energy, better balance, and flexibility.
Will the benefits of Structural Integration last? Yes, the structural integration ten-series is a launching pad for continued ease, fluidity, and balance. Keep in mind however, as life changes, the body changes in response. Any injuries, accidents, lengthy illnesses and emotional stress may necessitate additional work.
What’s the difference between Structural Integration and massage? Massage and Structural Integration are both healing in nature, but the techniques performed are different. Both therapies include hands-on manipulation, but SI practitioners are broadening and lengthening connective tissue called fascia to create fluidity, whereas massage is primarily concerned with muscles. Although there are various forms of massage, it is commonly used for relaxation achieving short-term results. Structural Integration aims to achieve long-term results via structure and alignment organizing, shaping, and integrating within the field of gravity. Those are not principles massage shares.
Structural Integration and Yoga: Dr. Ida Rolf used yoga as a method to gain length and balance in her own body before she began developing the Structural Integration Rolf method of bodywork. Yoga was a tool to advance her understanding of SI and the human form. Today, yoga can help gain flexibility, length, balance, and structure in addition to the Structural Integration Rolf Method ten-series. Oftentimes clients’ report a deeper understanding and connection to their body when they accompany the 10-series particularly with yoga or other personal wellness regimes.