Q: What are the benefits of Structural Integration, and who’s a candidate for the work?

A: SI is a very personal process, and no two people will experience precisely the same benefits. That said, some commonly reported benefits include:

· alleviation of chronic pain
· improved posture and flexibility
· ease and fluidity of movement

· increased breathing capacity
· reduced tension
· increased energy

The work can also be helpful in managing whiplash injuries, TMJ problems, and musculoskeletal limitations.

While Structural Integration’s primary focus is restructuring the physical body, we are complicated beings with many interconnecting facets. Clients often report positive changes that extend beyond the physical to include feeling more centered and accepting of themselves, greater confidence, and an improved ability to handle life’s challenges.

The work benefits people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and levels of activity. One needn’t be experiencing problems to appreciate the work: many clients — athletes, musicians, and other performing artists among them — frequently use SI to enhance performance and maintain their bodies. Clients involved with yoga and martial arts have noted improved balance and body awareness. Anyone looking to take care of their body and experience ease and quality movement is the perfect candidate!

Q: Are Rolfing® and Structural Integration the same thing?

A: The name that Ida Rolf gave to her body of work was Structural Integration. Later, it became known as Rolfing®. The terms Rolfing® and Rolfer® have since been trademarked for sole use by the Rolf Institute and its graduates. I chose to learn Dr. Rolf’s work at the Guild for Structural Integration in Boulder, CO where her senior students are dedicated to passing along her original teachings.

Q: Is this a type of deep tissue massage?

A: No. Structural Integration is a unique practice focused on aligning physical structure to improve posture and efficiency of movement, allowing for greater ease in the earth’s gravitational field. It bears mentioning that SI is an active and cooperative process – it is not something that is done to you. During the work you will frequently be asked, for instance, to direct your breathe, focus on an area or sensation, or to get up and move around.

Q: What is fascia , and how does SI work?

A: Fascia, often called the organ of structure, is the body’s fibrous connective tissue which gives the body its shape. It forms a connective web, wrapping and enmeshing everything from the organs, joints, and muscles, down to the individual muscle fibers and the blood and lymph vessels. Areas of stress appear in the web when the body is out of alignment.

Fascia is densely innervated by mechanoreceptors which supply the brain and nervous system with feedback. SI works by stimulating these sensory receptors, which respond to manual pressure and movement within the body. Complex neurochemical responses are triggered in the surrounding tissues, affecting tissue tone and facilitating change in the body’s structure. At present, scientists are still looking for a more comprehensive explanation of SI’s mechanics.

Q: Does Structural Integration hurt?

A: People often hear Structural Integration and think pain. During the work’s infancy there was some truth to the association. Things have changed, and effective practitioners understand that the physiological contraction that comes with pain is counter-productive to the goals of SI. Sometimes stronger contact on particularly stuck tissue can be uncomfortable. That said, clear client/practitioner communication guides the work, and you are always in control of your SI process.

Q: Why ten sessions?

A: Through many years of experimentation, Dr. Rolf’s work in effect organized itself into the ten-session format. Ten sessions is the number it generally takes to address the entire body and achieve the goals and principles inherent in the schema of the work. It is an appropriate timeframe that allows the client to integrate the experience of each session into daily life and return for the next session, which will build upon the previous one.

Q: How long is a session, and how long does the Ten Series take?

A: Sessions are generally 75 minutes, though the first one runs closer to an hour and a half. In a world focused solely on SI, the Series would take ten weeks to complete, but who lives there?!. There is a lot of flexibility in timing, and there are some natural “pause points” in the Series which nicely accommodate longer breaks, should the need arise.

Q: Can I try one session, just to see what it’s like?

A: Sure! The first session serves as a great introduction to the work, and is a complete experience in and of itself. Even the first three sessions can stand alone as a safe, balanced, and eye-opening introduction to Structural Integration.

Q: What do I wear?

A: Structural Integration entails observation as well as movement and touch, and is best done minimally but modestly clothed. The “Rolf uniform” for men is typically briefs or boxer-briefs. Women usually wear a bra & panties or a two-piece swim suit. Sports bras that cover the back are best avoided, as is anything that ties around the neck. If you are not comfortable with this level of undress, running shorts (but not spandex) and a tank top work, too. More coverage is an option; less is not.

Q: Do you take insurance?

A: I do not currently take insurance, and clients are responsible for payment at the time of each session.