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      Dr. Bruce Rolf Andrews 
      Ida Rolf method of Structural Integration
      Energy medicine
      Personal Growth and Transformation






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What is Structural Integration?

        “Some individuals may perceive their losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in their back, others as the unflattering contour of their body, others as a constant fatigue, yet others as an unrelentingly threatening environment. Those over 40 may call it old age. And yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem, so prominent in their own structure, as well as others, that it has been ignored: they are off balance. They are at war with gravity.” -- Dr. Ida P. Rolf

Chronic pain, fatigue, and impaired functioning can thus be thought of as the result of gravity acting upon a misaligned body. Structural Integration is a system of body restructuring and re-education through movement and touch. Structural Integration releases the body's patterns of tension and allows the force of gravity to flow through the body thus realigning and rebalancing it.

Gravity is the most potent physical force acting on the human body. Although most people realize this tremendous force exists, they somehow believe they are immune to it! Gravity's constant effect on any soft, pliable mass is to make it a formless, chaotic and spherical unit. Since our bodies have a great deal of plasticity and are much broader on the top than at the base, we are greatly affected by gravity when structural imbalances exist.

Most bodies are in a state of imbalance. As we grow older, we often "shrink" in height and slowly lose flexibility. Our bones stay the same length and our muscles can still function, but our connective tissue is what changes the most.

Connective tissue is a very tough, strong tissue. Otherwise known as the myofascial system, it is the support system of our body. All of the major systems in our body -circulatory, digestive, nervous, musculo-skeletal, and organs - are ensheathed in connective tissue, or fascia. A healthy and balanced connective tissue system's characteristics are flexibility, elasticity, length, and resilience. The tissue absorbs and responds to gravitational force, to illness and injury, to emotional trauma and to plain everyday stress. Any of these factors will immediately, or over a period of time, cause an imbalance in our tissue system. When imbalance exists, our system's healthy characteristics are affected. This imbalance can be identified as a shortening, thickening and dehydration of the tissue which impairs joint mobility and muscle function. We usually feel this in our body as chronic pain, discomfort, stiffness, or decreased flexibility and impaired movement.

Another important fact about connective tissue, or fascia, is that it has memory. Any imbalance in the body - no matter what the cause - is imprinted as change in the internal structure and has a long range and cumulative effect. The body may attempt to return to it's original state but without the assistance of Structural Integration it remains misaligned. For example, when someone sprains an ankle it is only natural to protect it by keeping as much weight as possible off the injured ankle and compensating with the other ankle by shifting as much weight as possible to the uninjured side of the body. This natural response to the injury changes the entire body's relationship to the gravitational field, and the neuromuscular system is re-patterned as part of this process.

By patterning what is meant is that patterns of neural activity, blood and lymph flow and muscular contraction are altered. When the ankle heals and pain subsides, the person assumes that he/she is returning to normal movement and function; however, this is not the case. That new pattern created from the shift of weight has been recorded in the internal structure and remains there as part of the that person's movement and support pattern, and the remnants of the injury will be maintained in the structure and function indefinitely.

Although a sprained ankle can be used as an example, this change in the body's compromised support can take place from something as simple as the habit of carrying a heavy bag on the same shoulder or holding the telephone receiver between one's shoulder and ear. In order to remain upright the entire body has to compensate and some muscles are forced to shorten. When a muscle is chronically shortened it loses it's ability to relax which then results in a constant state of tension. When these changes and patterns occur, the connective tissue needs assistance in order to return to its normal, healthy state. Structural Integration is a particularly great benefit at this point.

Structural Integration consists initially of a whole body 10 session series with each session building on the proceeding one. Each session lasts approximately one hour and can be scheduled anywhere from once a week to once a month. At the time of the first session, the client completes a health questionnaire. The client changes to shorts and top or two piece bathing suit. Before session one, optional photographs can be taken to assist with evaluation as the series progresses. Then while the client lies on the table, the Practitioner begins the fascial work. Applying pressure to the myofascial tissue, the Practitioner will use hands, arms, and sometimes an elbow to carefully move and stretch the tissue. The relationship between the tissue, the rhythms of respiration, nervous system responses, verbal dialogue and the body's organization in gravity are all part of the Practitioner's work. The client is a participant and partner, often being asked to breathe into the area being worked on, to make small movements through the joint, and to observe and discuss patterns of movement and the use of gravity through that movement.

Psychological traumas that have become physically locked in our bodies over time are often mobilized and released with Structural Integration. These body-held emotional patterns can include physical and emotional abuse, feelings of inadequacy, attitudes of fear and anger, as well as tightening against pain, holding our breath to block emotions, and slumping in order not to feel to big.

        “…there is an ongoing psychological change as well toward balance toward serenity, toward a more whole person. The whole person evidences a more apparent, more potent psychic development.” -- Dr. Ida P. Rolf

By lengthening and opening the patterns in the connective tissue, the thickened toughened tissue becomes soft, re-hydrated and more pliable, thus allowing movement and flexibility. Structural Integration changes the body's compensations because it reorganizes the imbalances in the tissue. Structural Integration's unique systematic approach to relating gravity through the myofascial layers is what aligns the body and improves posture. The body lengthens allowing muscles the space to work and joints the freedom to function.

The first seven sessions remove strain from specific areas of the body: the lower back, neck, knees, etc. The remaining sessions organize integrate and align the body as a whole, resulting in better balance, enhanced freedom of the movement, less chronic pain, and higher energy level. Following the Basic Ten Sessions Series, advanced on-going work is available depending on client need and desire.

        “…when the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.” -- Dr. Ida P. Rolf