What is structural integration?
Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that focuses on the connective tissue of the body called fascia. It surrounds and encompasses the muscles, groups of muscles, organs, blood vessels, and nerves connecting some structures together while allowing others to easily slide over each other. The fascia is designed to give muscles their shape and the body its structure.
Fascia is intended to be elastic and freely move with the bones and muscles. Stress, injuries, the continuous gravitational pull, effects of aging, and work-related repetitive movements can cause the fascia out of alignment and lose its elasticity and become tighter, shorter and more dense. Tightened or misaligned fascia can pull the skeleton and muscles out of correct alignment and posture, bringing about discomfort, pain and fatigue.
Structural Integration is helpful in aligning and balancing the body and works to stretch, lengthen and soften the restricted fascia to bring about postural balance, efficient movement, and feelings of being comfortable inside a person’s own body. Structural Integration is performed over several sessions within a specifically designed and customised approach. The practitioner applies pressure to specific points on the body, working the entire myofascial system in a systematic and customised way. When the restricted fascia is released, the body can return to its structurally optimal position.
What to expect from a structural integration session
During a session of Structural Integration, significant changes in the body’s posture, movement, and physical experience are achieved through education, awareness, and therapeutic touch. The bodywork focuses on the fascia rather than on the muscles.
When going for the first time, the practitioner performs an intake process which includes the client’s health and personal history, followed by an initial assessment of how they hold and move their body. Typically, the practitioner observes the standing posture, breath, gait (walking), and other movements. The information gained will be used in designing a session strategy for the client.
The amount of pressure being used by practitioners may vary greatly. The pressure may be lighter or heavier, slow-moving or still, which depends on therapeutic intent and preferences. Additionally, the client may also experience various sensations. The feedback from the client will help the practitioner to adjust the pressure.
Structural Integration emphasize movement education. Movement education might also address issues or habits of standing posture, walking, sitting, breathing, or any specialized movements in everyday life.
Structural Integration is usually performed between ten to thirteen sessions with each session building upon the previous. The practitioner often tailors their approach on addressing individual needs and preferences.
Health benefits of structural integration
The following are some of the health benefits that can be gained from Structural Integration:
- More efficient movement
- Improved posture
- A more aligned and balanced body
- Conserve energy
- Improved sleep
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased confidence
- Maturing emotional expression