What is Structural Integration?
Structural Integration is the systematic reorganization of the myofascial planes of the body to support the dynamic movement and upright posture of the human body in gravity.
Structural Integration is not the same as massage or myofascial release
Massage releases muscular tension and myofascial release restores fluid glide through layers that wrap, encase, and penetrate muscle tissue, organs, and bones. Structural Integration reorganizes the entire human frame through the medium of the myofascial layers. Myofascial sheaths are indeed released, but they are also organized systematically in relation to their partner layers, which supports their function and stability into the future.
Who can benefit from Structural Integration?
Chronic pain that is not disease-related in origin and that has not responded to physical therapy or massage.
Chronic Pain that IS disease-related will be researched and discussed with your therapist regarding the suitability or effectiveness of myofascial work. For example, fibromyalgia can be helped in some circumstances.
Pains that are related to movement and that worsen with physical exercise can be reduced or eliminated by structural work. It is important that you first determine with your Medical Practitioner that the pain is not due to a medical condition such as a bulging disc, or a tumor.
Structural issues and discomfort that your physical therapist, trainer, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist recommend you for myofascial alignment to assist or deepen the work that they are doing with you.
Pain that has developed progressively after an accident or surgery, when the body never regained full functioning.
Structural Integration is an overhaul of how a person has developed habits of movement, that may have hardened into patterns in a person’s stance, attitude, capacities, and emotional and mental outlook in life. Many people are instinctively attracted to Structural Integration during times of change in their life situations. They realize they need their body to change to update themselves to their present circumstances, letting go of old circumstances, or preparing for the situations and new demands that they are about to enter into.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to seek out Structural Integration when they are:
- Changing careers or jobs
- Getting married or divorced
- Preparing for childbearing or entering menopause
- Having a midlife “crisis”
- Entering or finishing a phase of their education
- Moving or having just moved to a new location
- If you feel that you need an “overhaul”
Loss of mobility, capacity, and strength, the causes of which are related to tightening of myofascial planes, rotating of shoulder and hip girdles, as well as smaller joints.
Loss of flexibility or alignment that makes basic balancing more difficult.
The structural issues relating to osteoporosis can be addressed through gentle cranial sacral therapy in combination with Structural Integration techniques and myofascial release that is altered to meet the need for extremely delicate manipulation in relation to the spine.
Physical Expertise: Athletes, Dancers, Performers, Practitioners of Yoga, Pilates
Any individual who has a passion or livelihood depending on top alignment or capacity involving their body can improve their performance capacity, breathing capacity, balance, and stamina through structural integration.
Structural Integration and Craniosacral therapy assist and often speed the physical changes and pain associated with braces.
Does it hurt?
Myofascial release has a reputation for being painful. Is it true that “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” applies in the process of Structural Integration?
Only in very rare instances.
Pain is the result of many factors. The degree of pain that a client feels in the lengthening of myofascial sheaths, or release of myofascial bands that are rotated, adhered, or “stuck” together, is the result of the approach that the practitioner takes to the tissue in combination with the client’s response to the sensation.
These factors can be worked with so that the experience of pain is either minimized or absent. Many people feel wonderful while fascia is being freed from tension.
The amount of successful change in tissue is not dependent on the amount of pain experienced during the change, in fact, pain can be counterproductive. Pain is stressful. The anticipation of pain causes many people to tighten their muscles, hold their breath, and grip their joints. This creates the counterproductive situation in which the client and practitioner are wrestling each other to get the client’s body to “let go”.
Structural Integration Practitioners work with the pace, location, angle, depth, and degree of pressure that they make contact with a client’s tissue. They may engage the nerves, muscle, myofascial, and cranial response in a tight area in different proportions in order to address where the holding is coming from. All of these levels of effect minimize and balance the experience of change as pain.
Your practitioner may ask you to breathe, to feel, or to move your body, when there is pain in an area. You will also be asked to inform your practitioner as to what your experience of pain is. Your practitioner will educate you on what the actual tissue change is so that you can feel the release and expect the lessoning of both discomfort and pain that comes with lengthened and hydrated myofascial layers.
Do not be afraid that your practitioner will not go “deep enough” to create the change you are looking for. Pain and depth of change are not equivalent! Structural integration is a layered and balancing process. The deepest layers of the body, and any binding that is buried there, get uncovered and released when there is enough space in the surface layers to accommodate the change from the inside to the outside. This also makes the deep changes “stay”.
You may proceed without fear of pain in this process.