Developed and pioneered by Dr. Ida P. Rolf in the 1940’s, Structural Integration (SI) is a systematic form of bodywork that combines myofascial release and movement education. Sometimes referred to as Rolfing (Dr. Rolf was not fond of the term. Some of her students called it Rolfing and the term stuck), Structural Integration focuses on lengthening, restoring and reorganization of the body’s matrix of connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia surrounds and supports every muscle, muscle group, bone, organ, nerve and blood vessel in your body. It is found literally everywhere in your body, from the top of your skull down to the soles of your feet. Deeper layers of fascia give support while some of the more superficial layers allow for structures to guide smoothly over each other.
Due to injury, surgery, chronic tension and habitual movement patterns, areas of fascia begin to thicken and become denser in an attempt to lend better support to those areas that have suffered injuries or are overworked. Your body will quickly begin to move in a compensational pattern attempting to realign and find balance. Generally, the injured area will heal and you may experience minimal symptoms, if any, of the previous injury. At this point, the compensation patterns have already become ingrained in your tissues. These patterns create unbalanced joint and muscle movements which over time can result in chronic pain, tension and stress.
For example An injury to your left knee will result in a shift of weight to the right side of your body when walking or standing. This results in the whole right side of your body adjusting in an attempt to move in a more balanced manner. As your right side slowly becomes overworked the body will look for a way to balance the strain, bringing about a new compensation pattern. Now your left side will have to work differently to balance the extra strain on the right side.
Generally, these changes are minimal and they occur without you being aware that a shift and or a rotation has taken place. Nevertheless, the sum of all the rotational compensations and shifts results in unwanted compression of your joints and muscles. This can manifest itself as physical stress, limited range of motion and pain or discomfort when performing the simplest of tasks or when you are simply sitting at your desk. Over time you blame it on getting older or the stress of work and life, when in fact the issue is that you are literally compressed and stuck.
Structural Integration strongly considers the effects gravity has on daily activities such as sitting, walking and exercising. It also considers the physical effects of thoughts and emotions and how they manifest themselves in your body. Although highly effective in treating particular symptoms, it can have a broader effect on the overall balance, alignment and integration of the whole body. The great news is that you can feel better, move better and play better with Structural Integration!