WHAT IS STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION?
Structural Integration is a modality of bodywork developed by Dr Ida Rolf (and advanced by her contemporaries) as a combination of soft tissue manipulation, and movement reeducation, designed to help restore the body to its natural state of alignment and balance by lengthening and reorganizing the body's connective tissue system. In contrast to massage (which works on tight muscles), Structural Integration works with connective tissue, or fascia. SI is usually done in a multi-session series that slowly addresses long held postural issues that create pain and restriction in our muscles and joints. Structural Integration (SI) is a scientifically validated body therapy, shown to improve posture, mobility, and body-mechanics.
Fascia is a tissue that holds all of our muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, vessels, and "stuff" together. This connective tissue can become constricted in certain areas due to the pull of gravity, injury, and stress. Fascia adapts to accommodate our history, and slowly gets stuck that way. When we are misaligned, and our connective tissue “glue” has formed to hold the misalignment, we feel stiff, slow, and have less energy.
In a Structural Integration, practitioners use slow deliberate pressure (sometimes called myofascial release) to stretch out areas of “stuck” fascia, reshaping muscles and restoring movement to joints. A Structural Integration “series” is a 8-16 session series where trained practitioners apply a strategy to realign joints and soft tissuesin a systematic way. Whether a full series, or in a mini series of just a few sessions, structural integration can make movement and posture more effortless, improve flexibility, and help relieve painful adaptations to the stiffness we have had.
SI vs. MASSAGE
As a bodyworker with over 750 hours of training, I have experience with a variety of bodywork modalities and can attest to the benefits of a one-time relaxing body work session - but structural integration offers deeper benefits. By taking into account your unique needs and history we can work together to get to the source of the problem. raining in structural integration requires an extensive education in anatomy and kinesiology (the study of movement) -- this unique understanding along with a compassionate attitude - applied over the course of multiple sessions can be a powerful pathway to a different experience in one's body.
WHAT IS STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION GOOD FOR?
Accumulated Problems From Living
Structural integration is an excellent way to change our mind-body relationship. The combined effects of time, gravity, poor postural habits, our physical and psychological traumas, the impact of our belief systems on the way we hold ourselves: these all contribute to our biomechanical (and soft tissue) problems. Structural integration is an excellent model for working (and deeply changing) these patterns.
Stress Related Pain
It is common to say that when we are stressed we “hold” it somewhere. We hold our shoulders up, we hold our jaw tight, we hold our heads forward, our pelvis tucked, or our arches tight. Everyone suffers from a stress related holding pattern at some point. Tight shoulders and upper back, an achey lower back, a tight jaw -- over time these problems can become chronic.
My work combines strategies to loosen what has become tight, and reeducate the way you hold it when you are stressed. Over time, due to our “holding patterns”, our muscles stiffen, shorten, and forget how to move correctly. Also, our body lays down additional connective tissue to help support these tired achey muscles. The fascia, or connective tissue, that now holds together the “holding pattern” keeps us stuck, and limits our ability to feel open, balanced, and free in our bodies. Structural integration, be it 1 session or 12, slowly stretches this fascia out, and teaches the muscles to work in a way that reduces pain, and supports healthy posture.
Current & Former Athletes
Structural Integration is well known and respected in many circles of elite athletes. Golfers, dancers, runners, climbers, triathletes, pilates practitioners, musicians, swimmers, Cross-fit’ers, pole dancers, gymnasts, contortionists, yogis, soccer players, and many others frequent my practice.
Athletes can benefit greatly from work to help reshape and orient connective tissue. Supple fascia is more supportive, flexible, and dynamic, and can help you push yourself to your next phase of performance, or recover from a lasting injury. Structural integration is also a great way to help problems that have been resistant to traditional massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, or physical therapy. I also utilize a lot of home exercises and stretches for clients to use to further their treatment between sessions. Come in and we can develop a plan!
Pregnancy can bring so much joy and change, but along with it: aches and pains and unfamiliar bodily changes. My work with pregnant women is usually brief, and focuses on whatever pain (ruled out by your doctor) might be soft-tissue related. Pregnant women often have pain and “stuckness” between their shoulder blades, in their neck and shoulders, and in the lower back/pelvis. I have extensive specialized training in working with pregnant women to help ease many of these problems, relieving pain and restoring ease and fluidness in movement.
A few issues I have specialized training in addressing include: fixations in the sacro-iliac joints, jaw pain and misalignment, and round ligament pain. Pregnancy massage is something that massage therapists need expertise in, and should be done by a careful and experienced practitioner. I’ve worked with pregnant women since the beginning of my practice in 2006. If you are having dull aching in your lower back, stretching in your abdomen, or a different variety of joint pain during pregnancy, call for a consultation. We can clear it with your obstetrician, and do some work to try and help.
Charles Eckhart is not a medical doctor and does not seek to diagnose any problem. Structural integration is no replacement for medical treatment given by a Medical Doctor. All activities and information taken from this page should be used at your own discretion, and with your own good judgment, seeking medical advice if necessary.