Dr. Ida P. Rolf (1896 to 1979) developed Structural Integration in the 1940's, later becoming known as Rolfing. After years of exploration and sharp insight, Dr. Rolf developed a system of body work that creates profound change.
As a biochemist she understood that structure determines function, and was aware of how gravity affects us. Every moment we experience gravity's energy, and will feel either supported or dragged down by it depending on our body's alignment. Dr. Rolf discovered that if the body could be aligned and integrated within the gravitational field, healing could occur, and there would be a greater potential for a more energized and alive being, with less injury, and correspondingly, less misery.
Structural Integration involves a series of sessions whereby the therapist uses their hands to manipulate the soft connective tissues called fascia. Fascia surrounds and envelops muscles and muscle fibres, comprising ligaments and tendons. Fascia is a fibrous membrane forming a network throughout the entire body connecting everything together. It is a living matrix. Lengthening and expanding fascia gives room for the bones to move into a better position allowing for greater balance, and space around the body’s centre of gravity. This makes more space for the organs, blood vessels and nerves thereby improving overall physiological functioning.
Fascia can change shape by the nature of its chemical component- collagen. Applied energy transforms collagen from a solidified state to a more gelatinous state, making it malleable, much like clay. The body is a plastic medium, as Dr. Rolf would say.
"Fascia is the organ of posture. Nobody ever says this; all the talk is about muscles. Yet this is a very important concept, and because this is so important, we as Rolfers must understand both the anatomy and physiology, but especially the anatomy of fascia. The body is a web of fascia. A spiderweb is in a plane, this web is in a sphere. We can trace the lines of that web to get an understanding of how what we see in a body works." -Ida Rolf, Rolfing and Physical Reality.