Do you suffer from chronic tension, aches or pains?
Do you wish you had better posture but maintaining it feels uncomfortable or exhausting?
Do you want to be more active but stiffness or pain is taking the fun out of moving?
Structural Integration (SI) is a form of advanced bodywork designed to help with these and other issues, and right now, I am looking for a small group of clients who are interested in experiencing SI first hand.
Between November 2018 and February 2019, I will be offering a three-series (more info below) to sixteen clients, as part of my Anatomy Trains Structural Integration certification.
To apply for a three-series, please read the following post to make sure SI is a good fit for you, then fill out the brief form at the bottom of this page. Questions? Contact Melissa here.
P.S. If you Google image search “Structural Integration” or “Rolfing” “before and after,” you can see all sorts of transformations, like these:
Is Structural Integration right for me?
Structural Integration is designed to give you a holistic view of your body’s postural and movement patterns rather than looking at your achy low back or “wonky” shoulder in isolation.
While standard massage often directs the work at the area(s) where you feel pain or discomfort, SI zooms out to see, for example, how your feet are creating an imbalance in your hips, which is creating pain in your low back.
Then, throughout a series of sessions, the larger pattern is addressed and unraveled.
This unraveling creates a window of opportunity where it will be easier for you to move into a new pattern, and you will be given tools to do precisely that. Long term results come from the one-two punch of the hands-on work and your efforts following the session.
Here’s an example:
Many of us go around wearing our shoulders as earrings. We might know that we need to drop our shoulders, but doing so takes constant mental and muscular effort, and we eventually give up.
Over time, having our shoulders in this elevated position leads to any number of issues, from rotator cuff tears, tension headaches, decreased shoulder mobility, impaired gait, etc.
SI can help release tension in the muscles and fascia that are holding your shoulders up, while also sending feedback to your nervous system to cue the shoulders to drop.
After the session, your efforts at shoulder dropping will be easier, because you won’t be fighting against so many signals to the contrary.
If you’re tired of battling symptoms without addressing the root cause, and you’re prepared to be an active participant in shifting the underlying patterns causing your aches and pains, Structural Integration can help.
How is Structural Integration different from regular massage?
In a nutshell, SI specifically targets what is known as your fascia, a type of connective tissue that permeates your entire body in one continuous web.
One of the key differences between fascia and muscle in terms of bodywork is that, generally speaking, fascia has the property of plasticity while muscle exhibits elasticity.
Say what, now?
The reason why this is so important is that muscle, with its elastic properties, will return to its normal resting state soon after your bodywork session. Think of the muscle like a rubber band. During the session we can shorten or lengthen the rubber band, but it won’t take long for it to return to the length it’s accustomed to.
Fascia, on the other hand, exhibits plasticity. Picture a plastic grocery bag: If you stretch it, the bag doesn’t snap back into place; it retains that stretch. Your fascia, when worked slowly and in the proper direction, will hold the work.
Yes, if you return to business as usual after the session, you can retrain your fascia to revert to the old pattern, but this process doesn’t happen as quickly or automatically as it does with muscle.
How a session works
Here’s a chart to give you a quick overview, and below I’ll explain the differences in more detail so you know what to expect at your session.
Before we do the hands-on work, we need to come up with a strategy that is tailor made to your unique body. Prior to getting on the table, we’ll take some time talking about your health history and how you feel in your body.
We’ll also do some visual assessments, both in static positions and with simple movements. This process is as much for me–so I know how to direct the treatment–as it is for you–to increase your awareness of your body’s unique patterns, because this self-awareness is, in and of itself, transformative.
What to Wear
Unlike a regular massage, where you undress and are under a drape, you’ll be asked to wear specific clothing for your SI session. This is largely because you’ll be moving around a bit more–either making small movements on the table as I do hands-on work, occasionally getting off the table to move around and see how something feels, or sitting on a bench for certain techniques.
A two-piece bathing suit, opaque undergarments, athletic shorts, or full-coverage boxers are all great options. The idea is for you to be comfortable while also allowing me to make skin contact for the hands-on techniques. Please avoid wearing really bulky clothing, like cargo shorts with tons of pockets, as it’s difficult to work through heavy fabric.
Depending on the session, we may be more focused on one area of the body, in which case you’re more than welcome to layer on more clothing in other areas. I’ll also have sheets and blankets available.
For the visual assessment, this is best done while wearing one of the clothing options listed above (sports bra and underwear, for example) so we can get a clear sense of your body’s unique patterns. All of this will be done in the privacy of the treatment room.
If you have any questions about particular items of clothing, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I certainly don’t want you to feel as if you have to buy a new wardrobe for your sessions, and it’s quite likely you already own things that will be just fine!
Some examples of what to wear (minus the shoes):
Where the Work is Done
I’ve already touched on this above, but unlike a regular massage that is entirely done on the massage table, SI work moves around a bit more.
The majority of the work will happen on the table, but you will be asked to change positions (face up, face down, side lying), and for most techniques you will be given a small movement to do, such as reaching down with your hand while I work on your arm or flexing/pointing the toes while I work the lower leg.
Sometimes you might be asked to stand up and move around to see how something feels, and a few techniques are done while you’re sitting on a bench.
SI is done without the use of oils or creams, and it’s important that you not apply lotions, oils, creams, etc. before your session. The techniques require that I maintain contact with a precise layer of tissue, and oils and lotions make this very tricky.
If you are wearing lotion, I might need to clean the area we’re working on with a bit of soap and water. I’ll use a nice, hot towel to make it feel more spa like! 😉
While SI work can certainly be relaxing, sometimes profoundly so, because you are being asked to create small movements through much of the session, it has a different feel than a regular massage.
SI sessions require that sufficient energy be available for us to do the work, because we’re shifting patterns that are often decades in the making, so if you’re feeling completely drained, it’s often best to practice some self-care, book a regular massage, or visit your healthcare provider first.
You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls to be ready, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re dragging yourself into my office with your last ounce of energy.
SI is typically done in a series of 90-minute sessions. Currently, I am offering a three series (lower body, upper body/breath, and spine), and pending my certification in June, I’ll be offering a full twelve series.
In between series, you can also come in for occasional standalone “tune up” sessions.
While every body is unique, it’s best to give yourself some time, often months, between series to really allow yourself to embody the changes that we’ve made, including giving your nervous system time to adapt and rewire to the shifts in your body.
In the interim, you’re welcome to book regular massages for relaxation and tension relief, but it’s best not to overload your system by doing back-to-back SI series.
Ready to sign up?
Please fill out the following brief questionnaire, and I’ll be in touch within 72 hours.
By applying for a three-series, you agree to commit to three 90-minute sessions between November 11, 2018 and March 1, 2019 at $75 per session. SI sessions are typically $110-150 per session, and this discount will only be available during my training.