Before you arrive
What is Structural Bodywork?
Postural imbalances contribute to compensatory movement patterns which impede athletic performance and contribute to chronic pain. By addressing these imbalances directly--through advanced manual techniques combined with your own movement and awareness--structural integration unlocks stuck tissues, awakens your nervous system and facilitates a brighter, more "alive" way of moving through the world.
Structural integration is a transformative process that offers a means to developing a greater awareness of your body, improving your movement efficiency and optimizing your relationship with gravity. The 12-series is a rewarding movement and manual therapy experience for anyone seeking greater comfort and ease in their body. Unlike traditional massage, Structural Integration (developed by Ida Rolf) consists of a discreet number of sessions, in other words, a beginning and an end. Over the course of twelve 90-minute sessions, we will free tissues that are tight or glued, creating more space in your body and allowing for a more aligned and pain-free posture.
For more information, or to schedule a series of structural bodywork treatments, contact Marylee Bussard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to expect in your session
Each session starts with a careful posture analysis, called "body-reading," which takes place in your underwear or a bathing suit (two-piece suit for women). If you like, the therapist will review her observations with you in the mirror. The session is conducted alternately on a massage table and a bench, and you will be asked to participate actively in the session by bringing movement to areas as the therapist glides through and between the tendons, muscles, fascia and bones, and together you create more freedom in your form.
Note: Please do not wear any lotion to your session. Oils and lotions are not used in Structural Integration, as this prevents the therapist from engaging the all-important fascial tissue (the cobweb-like “matrix” found within and around all of the muscles and organs of the body), our primary focus in structural bodywork.
Is it painful?
Structural integration addresses fascial tissues at multiple layers, from superficial to the deep core. Stuck tissue can be painful, but your therapist will take great care to move through your tissue progressively, honoring your comfort level and what your body is open to receive. You can expect to experience fleeting but relieving pain, like when a knot in a muscle melts, as well as an occasional skin-burning sensation, when certain fascial areas are being stretched. You may likely visit remote areas of tension where no massage therapist has ventured before, and sometimes the sense of soreness and relief can be quite unique and intense. Occasionally, a client may experience some bruising or lingering soreness for up to a day or two after the session. Typically, the feeling when you get off the table can be described as a one of exilharation, lightness, and a new sense of balance in your body.
About Anatomy Trains Structural Integration
Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) was developed by Thomas Myers and evolved from the work of Ida Rolf. The following description of the ATSI 12-series is from the Anatomy Trains website:
ATSI sessions can be used to resolve particular problems, as a “tonic” for your posture, movement, and what used to be called “carriage” – how you carry yourself through the world. Your body is your most proximate tool. How do you use it? ATSI can be seen as an extended course in reacquainting yourself with your body in motion, whether you are a finely-tuned athlete, or a computer-bound couch potato.
Most of us have collected extra tension through the course of our lives, either from injury or surgery, imitation of our parents or heroes, from our repetitive activities, or attitudes we’ve acquired along the way. These injuries and tensions form a pattern in our bodies. Exercise, and our mother’s nagging to ‘Stand up straight!’ may help, but most of this patterning happens below our conscious awareness and becomes part of “who we are”. These patterns become written into our muscular tensions, or skeletal form, and into the tissues that go between: the connective tissues.
The ATSI approach is to free the binding and shortening in these connective tissues, what we refer to as the “fascial network”, and to re- educate the body in efficient and energy- sustaining (as opposed to energy-robbing) patterns.
This process happens over a series of sessions. The ATSI process has 12 separate and progressive sessions, although the actual number you need may vary. To begin these sessions, your ATSI practitioner will talk over your history and help you set realistic goals for the process. He or she may take pictures of your body posture to have a record of where you started or may just examine your postural pattern with you in front of a mirror.
Most ATSI sessions are done in underwear or a bathing suit. Your comfort is paramount, but we need to get directly to the tissues that are restricting the free flow of movement. Much of the session work is done on a treatment table, though some moves are done on a stool or even standing.
The practitioner will contact tissues and ask you to move, thus freeing old restrictions and encouraging the tissues back to a freer place called for by your body’s inherent design. You and your practitioner can work out how deep or how gentle you want the progression to be.
The sessions progress through the body: the first four sessions are generally more superficial, freeing the tissues on the front, back, and sides of the body and freeing the shoulders and arms from any binding to the trunk. The middle four sessions address the “core” of you body, working into the central stabilization muscles closer to the spine. The last four sessions integrate “core” and “sleeve” into your habitual movement (and address specific problems you bring to the table), leaving you with a lasting and progressive change that will echo throughout the rest of your life.