What is Structural Integration?
Structural Integration (SI) is a therapeutic process that uses various techniques and modalities of manual therapies to help bring you into an improved, more efficient structural and functional balance. SI aims to optimize the body you have, and help you to evolve out of inefficient patterns that are contributing to pain patterns, normal wear and tear of soft tissues and joints, and/or general un-ease.
There are a number of variants of Structural Integration, the original being Rolfing. The type of SI that I practice is called Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI), and it is based around the Anatomy Trains myofascial meridians as developed by Tom Myers. The series has 12 sessions, which systematically work through restrictions in the Anatomy Trains myofascial meridians (as pictured below with the colored lines).
The Anatomy Trains is the framework for the ATSI series. Here the Anatomy Trains is represented with the colored lines, superimposed on moving and static postures. Try and picture in your mind’s how posture and movement will be effected if one or more of these lines get pulled short. (Used with permission from Tom Myers and Anatomy Trains)
How is Structural Integration Different?
SI differs from other forms massage in that it happens within a series of sessions, seen as one process broken up into several parts. This process has a beginning, middle, and end. It is not an ongoing therapy.
SI is not a technique of massage, but rather a method of manual therapy that uses any and all techniques/modalities under the umbrella of massage to release and undo inefficient posture and movement habits that contribute to restriction, injury, pain and unease. Although local symptoms are addressed, SI has a global approach that strategically works the whole body to elevate its level of functionality and economy of effort. Often the cause of symptoms lie far away from the symptoms themselves, especially for chronic issues.
WHY CHOOSE STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION?
People usually come to SI because of discomfort, unease, restriction and/or chronic pain issues—which are clear signs that current patterns and habits are not beneficial anymore. However, there could be more subtle signs including, but not limited to, simply not feeling at home in your body, or yearning for new ways of holding yourself and moving. SI is also an excellent adjunct to other therapies – acupuncture, pilates, yoga, personal training, dance, swedish massage, meditation practice, etc…
Results vary from person to person, of course, but common outcomes of going through an SI series include having more options in how to inhabit and use your body, more ease of movement, less aches and pains, increased awareness, more resilience, an overall feeling of being more “settled”, and a subsequent improved disposition.