Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What is Structural Integration?

As a relatively new member of the Duffy & Bracken team, I want to introduce myself and tell you a bit about what I do.

I offer a kind of deep tissue body work called Structural Integration. I became a practitioner of Structural Integration because it worked for me! In college I started having lower back pain which continued well into my forties, occasionally forcing me to miss work.  At times I was confined to my bed, immobilized by the pain. Then in 2000 a colleague told me about her success in relieving her lower back issues with Rolfing Structural Integration. Having consulted a number of chiropractors who had helped me back on my feet and had stabilized my back for a few months, only to be set back by the next incident of pain, I was pretty desperate. I’d heard that Rolfing was painful, but I was willing to try anything.

To make a long story short, I have been free of lower back pain since completing my series of Structural Integration treatments, assisted along the way by the practice of yoga, stretching, and learning to manage my stress levels. My experience was so positive that in 2003 I left the corporate world and completed my training in Structural Integration. And I learned that Rolfing is not necessarily painful when a practitioner works closely to tailor the work to the client’s experience and feedback.

So what is “Rolfing”? Its original and descriptive name is Structural Integration, so named by its developer, Dr. Ida Rolf, but it was affectionately nicknamed Rolfing by its fans and practitioners. The nickname stuck. A PhD biochemist by training, Rolf was an original genius who evolved the work initially to help a neighbor’s child. To pursue her mission of offering greater well-being through better body alignment, Rolf traveled the world teaching her methods to chiropractors and osteopaths.

Structural Integration works as a systemic approach to re-balance the tone and resilience of your body’s tissues, in order to make space in your joints and better align your skeletal system. With more length and alignment comes easier movement, more energy, and, in most cases, reduced pain. It has since spun off a number of close cousins, including KMI (Kinesis Myofascial Integration), the form of Structural Integration in which I am trained. That’s a mouthful! Simply put, Kinesis Myofascial Integration (KMI) = movement + body structure + awareness. 

Structural Integrators talk a lot about “engaging the fascia.” The fascia is everywhere throughout the body. It’s the connective tissue that wraps and permeates all our muscles, uniting at muscle ends to form tendons and attachments to bones. Over time fascia can lose its elasticity and become shorter, tighter and denser as a result of aging, injury, repetitive activities, or habitual postures that we have acquired along the way. This constricts our movements and “freezes” us in postures that hamper our vitality and sense of well-being. The good news is that fascia can be softened and re-hydrated so that moving parts can move more easily. 

Practicing KMI, I seek to help you restore your natural posture, balance, and ease of movement by freeing bound up and constricted connective tissues. I use manual manipulations which combine movement and deep touch, over a series of sessions. I often describe it as “making new space for you to grow into.” It’s definitely not “relaxation massage,” but I always want my clients to leave the D & B office relaxed, restored, and more tuned into their body’s messages.

The KMI series is designed for 12 sessions, each session with a specific goal and territory. The result is a “full body tune-up” that invites you to a more vital and energetic sense of self. Depending on your needs, we can also design a series of fewer, more targeted sessions. If you’d like to have a free consultation, I am in the Duffy & Bracken office on Fridays or give me a call at 708-275-1279.

RD Hunting, CMT, CST


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