The Structural Integration practitioner, sometimes called Structural Integrator, works in a systematic approach in the form of ten series of treatments to restore the body structure back to its vertical status – in harmony with the field of gravity.
Generally, Structural Integration involves lengthening and awakening the fibrous and imbalanced patterns in the connective tissue called the ‘fascia‘.
In many people, this has become solid, rigid and ’sticky’ due to chronic tension, repetitive usage, emotional and physical trauma (such as from injury or surgery), causing restrictions to the movement of the muscles and joints.
The Structural Integrator applies precise pressure using the fingertips, elbows, forearm, palms, and knuckles to manipulate the connective tissue or fascia.
This makes the tissues soft, re-hydrated and more pliable. It enables the body to return to its natural organization, and thus function in a more efficient, graceful and comfortable way.
Much like a sculptor shaping clay, a Structural Integration Practitioner works with the connective tissue by lengthening and re-shaping the fascia.
This releases restrictions that have created life-long patterns of strain, bracing and tension.
The 10 Series
Called the “sleeve” sessions, session 1-3 strive to loosen and balance the surface or superficial layers of connective tissue.
Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage and diaphragm. Opening is also started along the upper leg, hamstrings, neck and spine.
The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg.
The third session typically involves a “side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are related in position to one another when standing under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.
Sessions 4-7 are referred to as “core” sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head. The idea of core also includes the deep tissue of the legs for its role in support.
Session four begins this journey, its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis.
The fifth session is concerned with balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back.
Session six seeks to enlist more support and moment from the legs, pelvis and lower back, while the seventh session turns its sole attention to the neck and head.
“Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as session 8-10 provide an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements, and ones yet to be made, into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.
During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner is free to decide how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual.
The tenth and final session is also one of integration, but more importantly, serves to inspire a sense of order and balance. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.