Structural Integration, Rolfing, Myofascial Release… oh my!
Ok, so I talk about “structural integration” umm, a lot!
What can I say, I’m a BIG fan of this particular physical touch modality and I’ve decided to shift my entire practice around it! Woohoooo!!
That’s right, I’ve recently transitioned from offering primarily Remedial Massage Therapy (and I also ran a successful Yoga studio for a number of years) to offering specialised myofascial release bodywork sessions and the more advanced protocol: Structural Integration.
But, what does that all mean?!
Let’s look beneath the layers and flesh out some definitions.
What is Structural Integration?
Structural Integration (SI) is based on the work of biochemist Dr. Ida P. Rolf and is a specialised type of bodywork that manipulates the connective tissue or fascia of the body.
Fascia surrounds our muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, organs, and nerves. It binds some structures together while allowing others to slide smoothly over one another.
This extensive network of connective tissue is uniquely designed to be elastic and move freely with muscles and bones.
However, injury, stress, and work-related repetitive movements and, of course, the effects of aging, can cause the fascia to lose some of this elasticity and become shorter, tighter, and denser. Knottier, if you will.
You can probably visualise the tightened fascia pulling on our muscles and skeletal structures causing misalignment and poor posture.
This, in turn, can cause pain, discomfort, debilitating fatigue, and even conditions affecting mental health like depression and anxiety.
Structural Integration works to lengthen, stretch, and soften this thickened tissue to restore postural balance, hence bringing back ease of movement and a feeling of being more “at home” within your own body.
You’ve only got one body, right? Best to pay attention to the signals it’s giving you!
So, how is Structural Integration different from a deep tissue massage?
While Structural Integration might feel similar to a very deep massage, SI practitioners will manipulate the muscles AND fascia, not only where you’re feeling pain, but at other key points on your body.
Structural Integration works by releasing and, in a sense, reorganising your body’s fascia. For example, manipulation of the visceral fascia (the connective tissue surrounding your organs) helps with functional and structural imbalances throughout the body.
Talk about interconnectivity!
As you can see, Structural Integration is a much more holistic approach to the body than remedial massage therapy or using other singular physical touch therapies.
What is Rolfing?
It is just another term for Structural Integration, which was originally called Rolfing SI or just Rolfing, after its creator Ida P. Rolf. Essentially it was the original “brand” name for SI.
What is Myofascial Release – and how is it related to Structural Integration?
Due to the fact that SI is essentially a hands-on process of repetitive, and often deep, fascial and myo-fascial (myo = muscle) releases, combined with slow, active movements…
We can then think of Structural Integration as a series of advanced myofascial release techniques – that I use in my own clinic.
These are generally performed directly on the skin without oils, creams or machinery. The true definition of hands-on touch therapy!
When employing myofascial release (also known as Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy), it enables me to zero in on the body’s fascial restrictions and apply the right amount of sustained pressure to facilitate the release of the fascia.
What is Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI)?
The ATSI framework is another “brand” of SI, and I’ve chosen to use it in my own practice because…
✓ It is system-oriented, rather than based entirely on symptoms
✓ Treatment is applied gently and sensitively, with full client participation and autonomy
✓ ATSI-certified practitioners welcome and value the input of other disciplines
Who should perform Structural Integration?
Structural Integration, especially when it’s for treating chronic pain, needs to be performed by a certified and skilled practitioner. It’s also suggested that you find one who you connect with on a personal level as it really can be a more intimate process than say just getting a massage.
“Emma is a talented, knowledgeable, empathic and caring bodyworker.”
~ Helen M.
Some clients come to me to ease their chronic pain and stress while others are hoping to improve their athletic performance, while still others simply enjoy having regular bodywork for general health and wellbeing.
But, no matter what your health status is or the reason why you’re seeking it out, the great news is that there’s virtually no risk of trying an SI or Myofascial Release Bodywork session as there are no harmful side effects – only benefits!
What is my mission as an ATSI Structural Integration Practitioner?
The stresses of daily life, physical injuries, and imbalanced movement patterns are all things that can really take a toll on the physical body.
Our soft structures will shorten and tighten over time to accommodate these stresses in an attempt to protect the body. Thus creating the telltale stiffness, pain, fatigue and general lack of well-being.
My mission as a Structural Integration Practitioner & Myofascial Bodyworker, then, is to give my clients the full benefits of my training, including:
- Improved posture
- Improved flexibility
- Better spine health and function
- Better joint function
- Less pain, stiffness, and fatigue
- Increased athletic performance
“I began seeing Emma for treatment for a debilitating back injury about 3 years ago. I am so glad to have found her, as I sincerely believe her treatment regime saved me from a surgical procedure and all its associated risks.”
~ Geoff P.
And with results like that, who wouldn’t love their job?!
Are you ready to discover what your body feels like when it’s been unburdened by knotty fascia?