Structural Integration (SI) Rolfing
This is a series of powerful bodywork sessions based on the principles of Ida P. Rolf. It is a holistic approach of rebalancing the body within gravity. We are always resisting gravity, but we are never taught how to do this effectively. Strain in our tissues and joints is caused by poor postural habits, injuries and compensation for those injuries, as well as embodiment of our life's stresses. Over a long period of time this strain becomes solidified in our structure (connective tissue) and prevents a return to healthy, light, graceful movement.
Structural Integration Rolfing is a scientifically validated body therapy. Unlike massage, Structural Integration focuses not on the muscles but on their protective layer, called fascia (also known as connective tissue). Muscles are contracting tissues that give the body and organs physical movement. The fascia surrounds the muscles, bones and organs in the body. The fascia gives muscles their shape and the body its structure.
Structural Integration Rolfing aligns and balances the body by lengthening and repositioning the fascia. As fascia is lengthened it allows the muscles to move more efficiently. The practitioner will apply pressure to the body, working the entire fascial system in a systematic way. When restricted fascia is released and lengthened the body can return to its structurally optimal position
KMI Structural Integration focuses on how these structural tissues affect our posture and movement. Each of the 10-12 sessions deals with a specific aspect of your individual pattern, engaging you in the process of reclaiming and rebalancing that part of you. Unlike Massage, Structural Integration is not a passive form of bodywork, but an active, educational exploration of your body. The more excitement and curiosity you bring to this process, the more you will gain.
The History of Rolfing
The founder of Rolfing, Ida Rolf, received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1920. She went on to further her research in organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute as one of very few women working in the field. Driven to find solutions to her own health problems as well as those of her two sons, she then began studying and experimenting with different systems of healing and manipulation.
She explored many forms of alternative healing including homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractics and yoga. The notion that proper alignment, physiologic function and anatomical structure are related is the basis of many of these healing methods.
She believed that the imbalances in structure placed demands on the body’s pervasive network of soft tissues: muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments, thereby creating compensations throughout the body structure.
Dr. Rolf posed this question: “What conditions must be fulfilled in order for the human body-structure to be organized and integrated in gravity so that the whole person can function in the most optimal and economical way?”
Her life’s work was devoted to this investigation, which led to the system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education known as Structural Integration or Rolfing. In order to pass along her work to others and to make the education process accessible, she developed an expedient series of ten sessions, which came to be known as The 10-Series.
Dr. Rolf passed away in 1979 after 50 years of study and work. She continues to be recognized as a pioneer and leader in soft tissue manipulation and movement education. It is estimated that more than a million people have been Rolfed to date.
Things to know before you begin
Structural Integration Rolfing is a process that builds on itself with each session. A steady, consistent rhythm is important for creating momentum for change in your body. It is best to schedule at least half the series (5) sessions in advance to insure that the times convenient for you are reserved for you.
Structural Integration Rolfing focuses on very ingrained habits in very tough tissues. Changing these tissues is not an easy thing and is often accompanied with rather intense and unexpected sensations (pulling, burning, pressure, shearing, tingling, pins and needles, etc). These are often lumped together as pain. It is helpful to ponder on how you relate to the difficult things in your life and to delve into the sensations/feelings/ emotions/memories that come up as you go through the process. "Breathing through the pain" is helpful too.
Each S.I. Session starts with a postural evaluation. This consists of standing in front of the practitioner who then evaluates how your body manages the strain of gravity. The clearer I see your body the more informed my work will be. This can be uncomfortable for some people but, in my professional experience, it will be easier than you imagine.
Structural Integration Rolfing is an active process. The more you bring each session into your daily life the more you will benefit. This could entail strengthening exercises, awareness exercises, or simply changing how you do things. Start to increase you awareness levels now. Pay attention to what causes discomfort and what alleviates it. Notice when you are limited by your body and how. This will help you set your goals and evaluate your progress.
Transformations come in all shapes and sizes. Be open to anything...
The origin of KMI Structural Integration
Many of you might have heard of Rolfing, but be a little confused how it relates to Structural Integration. Rolfing is the original SI as developed by Ida P. Rolf in the 60s. When the Rolf Institute was formed, the term. Rolfing was trademarked. There are currently 8 different schools of Structural Integration, all based on Ida's principles, but none can use the term Rolfing. I studied under Tom Myers, founder of Kinesis Myofascial Integration (see links page for more info).
Myofascial Release Fascia is the three dimensional connective tissue web that surrounds every structure in the body. When a person has experienced a traumatic event, the body protects itself by creating a disassociation of the event and the energy becomes trapped within the fascial web. Over time, the tangled layers of fascia create painful pressure in the body. With myofascial release, the therapist follows the fascia layers, barrier through barrier, to elongate the tissue. When the correct body position is discovered, the cranial rhythm stops, energy is released and past trauma is brought to conscious awareness. The end result is restored motion and lasting pain relief.
The Rolfing Ten Series
Most clients coming to Rolfing for the first time will benefit most from a ten-series. While people often come to bodywork for relief from pain, Rolfing takes a longer view than simple pain relief and works to reorganize the body. While massage on a specific spot usually creates temporary relief from that pain, the alignment issues creating that pain will often cause the problem to crop up again within a few weeks. By realigning the entire body over 10 sessions, Rolfing creates long-term health as a more permanent solution to pains or disfunctions.
For a fairly typical complaint such as neck or lower back pain there are often extentuating circumstances. Shoulder rounded forward from hours at a keyboard take the shoulders away from the support of the hips, various shoe issues keep you from effectively using your whole foot when standing or walking, the head is held out in front of the body rather than balanced on top of the spine, and often more than just one issue contributes to the pain. The back pain, while important to relieve, is often a symptom of a larger systemic problem which must be dealt with to achieve a long-lasting pain solution.
Dr. Ida Rolf designed the ten-series as a blueprint for covering the entire body in a way that the body can support the change with minimal relapse. Each session builds on and finishes up the work of the prior session and builds support for the body to integrate the next session.
While the ten-series provides a general blueprint, each person and body is different and will have different needs. While structural and functional goals are similar, the specifics of achieving those goals will vary greatly based on a client's body, movement patterns, daily routine, etc. Ten-series are varied from client to client.
The Ten Series can be divided into three distinct units
Sessions 1-3: Called the “sleeve” sessions, numbers one through three strive to loosen and balance surface 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. Number three typically involves a “ side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionaly related 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: Four through seven 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. Number 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.
Session 8-10: “ Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as eight, nine and ten 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.