What is Structural Integration?
Structural Integration was created by Ida Rolf & developed further by Tom Myers (a student of Ida Rolf). It has elements which are similar to a remedial massage, however there is more focus on the posture & the patterns which your body has created (over
many months, years or your entire life) to deal with/compensate with pain & everyday activities. Now there is no such thing as the "perfect posture" however our focus is to correct & realign these patterns to give you the best posture you can handle at this moment in time. We are trying to "create" a bit more space within your body.
How does it work & how is it different to a remedial massage?
After taking a thorougher medical history we will look at the patterns your body has created. The therapist might even show you exaggerated poses (using their body) to show you the patterns that you have created & explain how this patterns would be causing your pain. Next the therapist might get you to do certain movements - this is to check whats working or what's stuck in dysfunction. Then we get you to hop on the massage table or a bench where the therapist will use myofascial techniques (myo = muscle & fascial = band or sheet of connective tissue) to influence the muscles, bones, tendons & ligaments. Throughout the session you will be asked to do certain movements to help the area release, not to mention this will help with the re-education process which is necessary to create new patterns. At all times YOU are in control & the movement plays a big part in allowing the area to release when its ready.
As well as doing certain movements throughout the session you will also be asked to get off the table & go for a little walk. This gives you a chance to feel & experience the changes taking place in your body as they happen, & to bring an awareness to a particular area of the body which you might not have been aware of before. This helps your body to get use to the idea that a change has occurred & its OK to feel different.
What should I wear during the session?
As you will be required to get on & off the table, walk around the clinic & do certain moves throughout the session it is recommended that underwear, two piece bathing suit or loose fitted gym shorts is to be worn. During the treatment the therapist will need to see your body (& the patterns you are creating, & how they changing) & clothes will limit what I can see. In NO WAY will the therapist judge or body shame you - we are all human & all have areas of the body that we don't particularly like to show off (including me!), but please know that you are in a safe & comfortable environment & will be treated with respect at all times.
How many sessions do I need?
As you can imagine its taken many months, years or even your entire life to create your current patterns, naturally it will take some time for your body to let go of the old & welcome new ones. Therefore structural integration works best if the full series is done.
The full series consist of twelve session which go for 60-90 minutes. Each session in the series has a different area of focus. The first four session focus on opening, freeing, & releasing the superficial layers of the body. The next four sessions focus on the deeper layers & then finally the last four session integrate or bring all the work from the previous eight sessions together.
What if I can't commit to the full series but still want to try it?
Well the good news is that you can always do the first four session, then take some time off & continue at a later stage. The other option is you can do what we call the three series.
The three series is like an overview. It consist of three sessions, again 60-90 minutes long. However rather than having dedicated time to spend in a certain area in each session, there is one session for the lower body, one session for the upper body then an integration session.
Can I do the full series after having done the three series?Yes, however because of the way it is structured you can not do a three series then pick up on say session four of the twelve series. No, if you do a three series then wish to do a twelve series you will have to start at session one of the twelve series. If however you are unsure if you want to do the full twelve my
advice would be to start with the first four sessions of the twelve series & decide after that whether you wish to continue (hope I'm not confusing anyone here). If you decide to only do the first four session & stop that is completely OK - there will be no pressure on my end for you to continue, & people can still have great results with just the first four.
How often should I do a session?
This is completely up to you! If you feel like you can handle two sessions a week for several weeks then we can do that, if you want to do one session a month that is OK too. You can even do say one session a week for four weeks, take a month off then do another block of four. You can space it out over 2 years if you wanted!
Ideally though (if time, money & commitment was not an issue) one session would be done every 1-2 weeks. If the therapist feels or can see that you have had a huge change or shift they might ask you to bring your next appointment forward or push it back slightly to give you more time to adjust - however this is only a recommendation & you have the final say.
How do we track my progress?
During the initial appointment your therapist will ask if you would like photos to be taken. This is completely up to you! Photos are a great tool to see the changes taking place. They also act a reminder as to how far you have come & to remind you that you don't want to go back to those old patterns. If for whatever reason you feel uncomfortable with having the photos taken that is completely fine - again I am not here to judge in anyway.
Apart from seeing the changes you will quite often feel the changes, & this can be enough for some people (others on the other hand want to feel & see the changes - again completely up to you). After the first session some other suggestions such as you keeping a journal of your experience will be
What benefits can I expect to get from the work?
Many results can be expected, some include: greater body awareness, the body is aligned, reduced effort in standing & movement, greater range of movement, reduced pain, feel taller & sometimes looking leaner, improved physical/emotional or spiritual expression, feeling better & at ease "within your body", more resilience in terms of being able to bear more stress & still recover to a place of balance & much more!