Imagine a tent. The supporting guy wires are equal in length and tension, the center pole is upright without effort, the tent is balanced and firm. When tension is unevenly distributed, the tent leans and the center pole twists, yielding to gravity thus losing strength and balance. Our bodies are similar and more complex, because we are in a constant state of movement.
As a result of stress, injury, habitual posture, and/or trauma, the fascia chronically shortens, constricting muscles, organs, nerves and blood vessels. This causes disorganized patterns in the body. When the fascia is released and the body's segments, namely the head, neck, rib cage, pelvis, legs and feet, are stacked on top of each other in a way that balances the body in gravity, magic happens and we experience all kinds of positive changes in our health. We feel better and move better.
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, and comprises 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 allows more space for the organs, blood vessels and nerves thus improving overall physiological functioning.
Video of fascia:
Long lasting change is only possible when addressing the whole body because everything is connected via the fascial matrix. Working in only one area shifts the strain elsewhere making changes temporary. Compensating strains must be addressed in order for change to be progressive. The pressure applied is slow and firm. People often experience a pleasant feeling of deep relaxation during the session.
The initial process of Structural Integration is referred to as the ten series. Or the Recipe, as Dr. Rolf called it.
"This is the gospel of Rolfing: When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself." -Ida Rolf, Rolfing and Physical Reality.
The Ten Series
First, Second and Third Hours
Here the more superficial layers of the upper, lower and midline of the body are addressed. Although the intention is superficia, the work penetrates deep into the body and creates space, preparing for deeper layers to expand into. People notice dramatic changes even with the first session.
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Hours
In these sessions, deeper layers are addressed to re-organize the body so that the head, neck, rib cage, pelvis, legs, and feet relate and balance with each other. The practitioner is much like an engineer in knowing how to work with the architecture of the body.
Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Hours
These are the "integration hours". We continue to open up and make space, integrating and bringing things together in a way that allows tissues to contract and expand with cooperation and efficiency.
Follow up sessions within the next few months to a year are optional and always beneficial for continuing to get more changes and maintaining good health.
How often and how many sessions one requires after the ten series depends on each individual's needs.