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Q: Who is SI for?
A: You don’t have to be in pain or have the posture of a neanderthal to benefit from structural integration. SI is for anyone who wants to feel better in their body. All that is needed is an investment in the self and a willingness to change. Perhaps there are activities such as hiking, running, gardening, or dancing that you used to do, but now avoid because they cause you pain or discomfort. Perhaps you have always wanted to try something like yoga or rolling skating, but you hesitate to try because you think of yourself as lacking the flexibility, strength, and coordination required. SI can help with those challenges.
Q: What is fascia?
A: Fascia is the connective tissue that envelops, supports, and suspends our body within gravity. Fascia takes many different forms, and has the ability to be highly pliable and elastic and also quite fibrous and rigid depending on where it’s found in the body and what its function is. The fascial system or connective tissue matrix, as it is often called, could be considered its own bodywide system, not unlike like the digestive or circulatory system. It’s an integral component of all our other organ systems. It is an aqueous membranous tissue made up of collagen, elastin, and other molecules. When working at its best, it is able to glide and fold in on itself and promotes smooth, efficient movement.
Q: What does a typical SI session look like?
A: In your first session, we will have a thorough conversation about your health history and any injuries you may have sustained in the past. We will also discuss how you are feeling in your body currently and come up with realistic goals within the context of the series.
I begin every session with a postural analysis or bodying reading, in which you stand while I assess the structure of your body and how it arranges itself in gravity. I may ask you to do basic movements such as walking, bending, or squatting.
During the therapy, I use manual therapy techniques that are performed with the use of fingers, hands, knuckles or forearms. Most of the work is performed while you are on a massage table, but some is performed while you are seated at a bench or standing. You may be asked to breath into or slowly move a particular body part to enhance the technique and aid in release.
Q: What should I wear during a session?
A: I ask that you wear minimal clothing that shows as much skin as possible while still maintaining your modesty. You should feel comfortable getting onto and off the table and standing in front of me in this attire.
For women: A plain, unrevealing bra and underwear or two-piece bathing suit works just fine. If you want more coverage, stretchy yoga shorts and a tank top can also work. The important thing is that I’m able to get a good sense of your structure and access the places on your body that I need to work on. (Clothing that does not work well are bras with overly stiff strapping or rigid underwires. Some sports bras may fall into this category but others work just fine.) Anything you wear should be comfortable and easily stretched or moved to the side to allow access.
For men: Boxer briefs work best for ease and comfort during a session. Briefs also work well. Boxers are not as good because they tend be less stretchy and more prone to accidental exposure.
Q: What is the difference between SI and massage?
A: By definition, structural integration is a series of sessions with a beginning, middle, and end. It approaches the body as a whole organism rather than as a collection of parts. A series could be thought of as a cohesive project you and I are collaborating on, in which we work together to find greater ease and function within your body. It’s an interactive experience that demands presence and engagement from both client and practitioner. In a typical massage, by contrast, the client is often more passive. The treatment is done in an ongoing fashion, without the theory of holism or the framework of a structural integration series.
Q: Is KMI the same as Rolfing?
A: KMI and Rolfing are both based on the pioneering work of Ida P. Rolf. They are merely different brands of structural integration, just as Nike, Reebock, Adidas are different brands of athletic shoe. Currently, there are around eighteen recognized institutions around the world that teach structural integration. In terms of philosophy, there are more similarities than differences among the schools.
Q: Does this form of bodywork hurt?
A: For the most part, structural bodywork should feel good. People often describe the sensations of release as a sense of opening, ease, and warmth, of letting go or of weight lifting from the body. There may be a sensation of slight burning, like the feeling you get from a satisfying yoga stretch. Some techniques provide more sensation than others, but at no point should the work cross the threshold into discomfort or create a sense of apprehension in your body. It is paramount that you are able to stay relaxed and breathe easily throughout the application of all techniques. Everyone is different, so it is important for you and I to communicate clearly, in order to find the appropriate depth and pressure.